The Scariest Ghost Movies of All Time

The scariest ghost movies, from "The Haunting" to "The Conjuring," combine elements of mystery and supernatural horror to produce cocktails of pure terror. These are movies to watch at night while you're tucked safely under the covers, next to your trusty baseball bat. The films below aren't necessarily the best ghost movies of all time, but for sheer fright-value they can't be beat.

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The Shining (1980)

The Shining ghost movie
Warner Bros.

Almost every haunted house movie seems to have a scene in which the evilness of the building is touted in dramatic tones, but rarely does the actual evil live up to the legend. "The Shining" has no such letdown. Its iconic imagery, courtesy of legendary director Stanley Kubrick, will give you nightmares for years.

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The Blair Witch Project (1999)

The Blair Witch Project ghost movie

Cheap and simple yet ingeniously executed (and marketed), "The Blair Witch Project" is a documentary-style first-person account of the search for a legendary spirit rumored to haunt a forest in rural Maryland. The mind-numbing scares come from the realism of the film, which features mostly improvised dialogue, natural lighting, shaky camerawork, and spooky ambient noise.

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The Ring (2002)

The Ring ghost movie

Perhaps the only Hollywood remake of an Asian horror movie to improve upon the original, "The Ring" features haunting, jaw-dropping visuals. The movie introduced Americans to the "yūrei" ghost figure that would go on to be featured in dozens of Asian horror films.

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The Sixth Sense (1999)

The Sixth Sense ghost movie
Buena Vista

"The Sixth Sense" generates its scares by putting you in the position of a helpless child who discovers that there really are monsters in his closet ... and under his bed ... and hanging from his ceiling. The film's now-famous "I see dead people" line and well-worn twist ending make people forget how many terrifying moments are packed into its 107 minutes.

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The Amityville Horror (1979)

The Amityville Horror ghost movie
American International Pictures

This iconic haunted house flick was savaged by critics, but despite some over-the-top acting, it stands up well to classic supernatural fare like "The Omen" and "The Shining." The film is aided its eerie "moaning children's chorus" score and spooky visuals, including bleeding walls.

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Poltergeist (1982)

Poltergeist ghost movie

It's easy to forget how scary this PG-rated movie about a suburban family's house haunting was in its day, especially to little kids with clown dolls in their rooms.

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The Haunting (1963)

The Haunting ghost movie
Argyle Enterprises

This old-fashioned ghost story about experts investigating a haunted house delivers ample scares without the appearance of a single ghost. Instead, director Robert Wise expertly manipulates sounds and shadows to convey the sense of being surrounded by malevolent forces. Even in black and white, ​"The Haunting" still manages to make an impact today—much more so than the bland 1999 remake.

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The Baby's Room (2006)

6 Films to Keep You Awake - The Baby's Room ghost movie

In this frantic entry in the Spanish TV movie series "Six Films to Keep You Awake" from cult filmmaker Alex de la Iglesia, a couple discovers that they can view ghosts in their new home through a baby cam.

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The Conjuring (2013)

The Conjuring ghost movie
New Line

"The Conjuring" is a haunted house pic in the classic tradition of "The Amityville Horror," "The Haunting," and ​"The Innocents": a low-key fright flick focusing on atmosphere more than dazzling effects or blood and guts. It's also unusually emotional for a horror movie.

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Paranormal Activity (2009) / PA 2 (2010) / PA 3 (2011)

Paranormal Activity

The "found footage" films in the "Paranormal Activity" series use recovered "footage" to document the haunting of suburban couples by an evil presence. The plots are minimal, but the visceral scares are potent—at least, for the first three entries in the franchise.

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The Innocents (1961)

The Innocents ghost movie
20th Century Fox

Based on the Henry James novella "The Turn of the Screw," this tale of a governess who comes to believe the two young children she's taking care of are possessed by ghosts mixes Gothic horror with modern sexuality. The film raises questions about what it means to be haunted and features several genuinely scary scenes.

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Insidious (2011)

Insidious ghost movie

A couple is tormented by ghosts that seem to be targeting their comatose son in this relentless scare-fest.

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The Changeling (1980)

The Changeling ghost movie
Associated Film Distribution

In "The Changeling," a recent widower (George C. Scott) moves into a spooky old house that turns out to be haunted. The ghost is a young, sickly boy whose wheelchair and ball produce some classic scares as the man struggles to understand the tragic mystery behind the boy's death.

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Lake Mungo (2010)

Lake Mungo ghost movie
After Dark

This superbly crafted faux documentary peels back layer after layer of supernatural mystery, proving just as creepy as "Paranormal Activity" and "The Blair Witch Project."

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Session 9 (2001)

Session 9 ghost movie

It's debatable what exactly the "presence" is in this movie—ghost, demonic force, or swamp gas—but whatever it is, it is downright creepy. A group of workers encounter the malevolent force while they are cleaning up asbestos in an abandoned mental hospital. One of the workers begins listening to audiotapes of psychiatric "sessions" with a former patient, and by the time he gets to session number nine, every hair on your body will be standing on end.