What Are the Scariest Haunted House Movies?

The Best Haunted House Scares in Film History

Ever since the silent era, movies about haunted and creepy houses have thrilled audiences. That tradition continues in 2016 with The Disappointments Room, directed by D.J. Caruso and starring Kate Beckinsale and Lucas Till, which is about a family terrified about a secret room in their house with a dark history.

There have been dozens of haunted house movies released, though not all of them have been scary or even entertaining. Here are ten of the best that have ever been released.

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House on Haunted Hill (1959)

House on Haunted Hill
Allied Artists Pictures

The original House on Haunted Hill stars horror legend Vincent Price as a wealthy eccentric who offers five people $10,000 each if they can stay in a haunted house for one night – a plot that has since been reused in all kinds of media. The film was a critical hit and a huge box office success, helped in part by director/producer William Castle rigging some theaters to feature a plastic skeleton that would dangle over the audience during a key part of the film. Forty years later a remake was released starring Geoffrey Rush as the millionaire (now with the prize money upped to $1 million), and a 2007 sequel, Return to House on Haunted Hill, followed. However, neither movie reached the critical success of the original classic.

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The Amityville Horror (1979)

The Amittyville Horror
American International Pictures

The granddaddy of them all when it comes to haunted house movies, The Amittyville Horror was based on a 1977 novel that told the "true story" about a family who moved into a Long Island house where a mass murder had been committed and the frightening experiences that force them to flee. The film, which starred James Brolin, Margot Kidder, and Rod Steiger, was a big box office success despite negative reviews. The Amittyville Horror has become one of the most successful horror franchises since the original film was followed by over a dozen sequels, spinoffs, and remakes, most of which went direct-to-video. The latest, Amityville: The Awakening, will be released in January 2017.

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The Shining (1980)

The Shining
Warner Bros. Pictures

Though The Shining actually takes place in a haunted hotel, this film has influenced nearly every horror film that has followed. Loosely based on the Stephen King novel, The Shining was directed by masterful filmmaker Stanley Kubrick, is about a family who serves as caretakers of a hotel during the winter, though being confined in a hotel with such a supernatural history drives the family patriarch, played by Jack Nicholson, insane. To this day, horror fans still analyze the film to try and discover what Kubrick’s ghostly film really means.

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Poltergeist (1982)


The Texas Chain Saw Massacre creator Tobe Hooper directed this supernatural movie about a family who seems to be haunted by the strange signals coming out of their television set. The Poltergeist was so acclaimed that many believed it was actually directed by the movie's producer/co-writer Steven Spielberg, which is still debated today. After several members of the cast and its two sequels died – including young Heather O'Rourke, best known for the signature line "They're here!" – the media speculated that there was a "Poltergeist Curse."  A 2015 remake of the original was far less successful.

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Beetlejuice (1988)

Warner Bros. Pictures

Though it's not really scary like the other films on this list, no haunted house movie list is complete without mentioning "The Ghost with the Most." Beetlejuice is a comedy directed by Tim Burton about a ghost couple who live in their former home and want to scare the new family in their home away. Michael Keaton plays the title character, a memorable "bio-exorcist" ghost who hilarious tries to get rid of the new family. This comedy was a box office hit, and a long-rumored sequel is in the works.

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The Grudge (2004)

The Grudge
Columbia Pictures

Based on the acclaimed 2002 Japanese horror film Ju-On: The Grudge, The Grudge is about an American family who moves into a house in Tokyo where a man murdered his family. As in so many cases, their spirits still haunt the house. The Grudge stars Sarah Michelle Gellar, which helped make it a huge box office hit. Gellar returned for the 2006 sequel, and The Grudge 3 was released in 2009.

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Paranormal Activity (2007)

Paranormal Activity
Paramount Pictures

The found footage haunted house film Paranormal Activity is about a couple who sets up cameras in their home when their suspect their home is haunted. Paranormal Activity grossed $193.4 million worldwide and is believed to be the most profitable film ever made because its production budget was just $15,000. With results like that, it's no surprise Paramount Pictures has continued to make sequels – with the sixth entry, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, having been released in 2015.

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The Haunting in Connecticut (2009)

The Haunting in Connecticut

The 2009 movie The Haunting in Connecticut claims to be based on a true story (don't they all?). A family rents a house – which was a former funeral home – close to the hospital where their young song is receiving cancer treatments. You can imagine what sort of horror pop up to scare them while living there. The Haunting in Connecticut had moderate success at the box office, and a 2013 sequel (inexplicably titled The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia), which was also based on a true story, was released but was far less successful.

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The Conjuring (2013)

The Conjuring
New Line Cinema

Directed by Saw creator James Wan, The Conjuring is set in 1971 and is about a pair of real-life paranormal investigators played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga investigating a Rhode Island home that was once owned by an accused witch connected with the Salem witch trials. The Conjuring was a massive success and grossed $318 million worldwide. Wan directed a sequel which was released in 2016 that grossed $319.5 million worldwide, which makes it the most successful haunted house film of all time. Like Paranormal Activity, it's likely The Conjuring will be followed by many more sequels.

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Crimson Peak (2015)

Crimson Peak
Universal Pictures

Crimson Peak -- directed by masterful filmmaker Guillermo del Toro -- adds elements of romance to the haunted house formula and features a stellar cast, including  Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, and Charlie Hunnam. Crimson Peak is about how a haunted mansion affects the lives of two lovers, and is filled with stunning visuals. Though it was not a financial success, it was critically successful and well-received by horror fans.