Saturday, August 25, 2012

Top 5 Movie Guide: Ghost Movies

For this week's edition of the Top 5 Movie Guide, we left things fairly broad, to give ourselves yet another bit of a challenge. "The Apparition" released this weekend, and while it's not a film that really any of us are interested in, it does lend a very specific genre: the supernatural. And I guess in that sense, "supernatural" is still pretty ambiguous and can be defined by a variety of different mediums. So even if it's not the specific focus of the film, it did get us to a point where we wanted to compile a list of our favorite Ghost Movies.


Where trouble lied with these lists is that there are so many different genres that have covered ghosts over the years. Of course horror is the main focus here, but we've all seen plenty of comedies, dramas, romances, etc. How does one compile a list for a category containing all of those other genres?

It's too extensive to detail in this intro, but there are a lot of great breakdowns on how the genre has changed from decade to decade on the Wikipedia page about ghosts in film. As most cases go, it's interesting to associate the different trends for the genre with different cultural climates taking place in the real world at the same time.

For now though, let's just take a look at 25 different films that this category has had to offer over the years, and see which ones we found to be the best!

Alex Schopp -
What made this list particularly difficult for me was balancing the different genres of this category. It was so hard to compare all of these different genres of film. This is what felt right though, but I'm not sure if it's perfect.

     1. Beetlejuice (1988)
I already knew it was my number one selection, but I just re-watched this film last night, and it was even better than I remembered. There isn't a dull moment in the entire thing; the score and imagery is some of the best I've ever seen in any film ever. Great comedy, great creepiness. If you haven't watched this film in the last five years, go do so. I bet it's even better than you remember.
     2. The Shining (1980)
Is there a better pure horror film about ghosts than this? This movie is so intense, and still very powerful. The length gets to you after you've seen it handful of times, but I still can't think of any other horror film on the subject that would even come close to competing with the quality presented here.
     3. Field of Dreams (1989)
This was the hardest film for me to rank. I love the movie, and it gets better the older I get. How it fits in between "The Shining" and "Ghostbusters" though, I have no idea. Still a quality drama though that every man needs to watch at some point in their life.
     4. Ghostbusters (1986)
As classic as this movie is, I didn't realize how "little" (still on my Top 5) I cared about the comedy in this movie. It's always a fun watch, and the actors in the film are great, but it dipped quite a bit lower than I initially thought it would.
     5. El Orfanato (The Orphanage) (2007)
This could have been a bunch of films, and since I didn't have strong passions about any of them, I went with a pick that probably won't be featured on any lists below. Guillermo del Toro produces here, and there is plenty of great imagery to suggest he had a noticeable hand in the film. There are a variety of very tense moments throughout as well that make this film better than most cut from the same cloth. If you don't mind the subtitles (Spain), this one is a fun late-night watch.

Ben Foutch -
I didn't realize how challenging this list would be until it came down to putting it together. This easily could have been all comprised of horror films, but there are also some excellent comedies that just can't be ignored. To compile the list, I mainly thought about aesthetic/technical qualities backed by some watchability and nostalgia. My heart mourns for the gems that didn't make the cut.

     1. The Shinning (1980)
Easily one of the best horror films ever made. Over thirty years old and it is still a force to be reckoned with. And you are right for noticing, I said "film" and not "movie".
     2. The Changeling (1980)
This is an archetypal ghost story that benefits from a killer production. Atmospheric, touching and downright creepy.
     3. Beetlejuice (1988)
This is equal parts creepy and hilarious. Michael Keaton was born for this role.
     4. The Frighteners (1996)
It's uncanny how Peter Jackson can make something so visceral, but also funny as hell. Hopefully he will return to the genre that he helped invigorate.
     5. The Innkeepers (2011)
This knocked out one of my favorite comedies in favor of the killer aesthetic Ti West created with this classic ghost tale.

Derek Clem -

     1. Ghostbusters (1986)
One of the most quotable movies ever.
     2. Beetlejuice (1988)
I was Beetlejuice for Halloween when I was little. it was Epic! Plus I loved that spinoff cartoon show. Beetlejuice was HUGE back in the day! I miss Michael Keaton.
     3. The Sixth Sense (1999)
I saw this right away when it was released on VHS. Amazingly the ending was still a shock! How did I not hear about the twist between Theater release and VHS release?
     4. Poltergeist (1982)
for being a PG, this movie scared the crap outta me when I was a kid. Especially Tangina, YIKES!
     5. The Frighteners (1996)
This movie had a great VHS box cover. I always read the title of this movie as, "The Frighteneers." Be sure to check out this amazing blooper for the movie. so so so great!

Nathan Hinds -

     1. The Sixth Sense (1999)
See my comments on the Top 5 August Releases list.
     2. Ghost (1990)
Yeah that's right,"Ghost". Deal with it.
     3. Beetlejuice (1988)
Why isn't Michael Keaton still one of the biggest actors out there? I don't understand it.
     4. Ghostbusters (1984)
I like horror/comedies "although comedy/horror is more appropriate" way more than I like actual horror films. This will be right towards the top whenever we compile that list as well.
     5. Casper (1995)
Yeah that's right, "Casper". Deal with it. This has more nostalgic value than any film on this list, which is why it made it in over more deserving titles.

Andy Schopp -

     1. Ghostbusters (1984)
The serious/funny atmosphere is perfect.
     2. Beetlejuice (1988)
As everyone else has stated...Keaton, where did you go!?
     3. Scrooged (1988)
I used to watch this all the time; still do around Christmas.
     4. The Changeling (1980)
One of the creepiest and greatest spook stories of all time!
     5. The Sixth Sense (1999)
Still a good movie even if we all know the ending already. Astonished me when I watched it the first time!

So there we have it. Another week with plenty of great titles to go around! It feels like it's been forever, but we finally have a movie that hit on all five lists again this week: "Beetlejuice". This Tim Burton classic is one of the best from his extensive career, and does a perfect job of mixing horror with comedy. And, as just about everyone mentioned, Michael Keaton steals the show; seriously - where is that guy hiding?!

"Ghostbusters" might have done the best on a per-list ranking, as it nabbed two first-place votes, most of any other film. It garnered only four total votes though, but is still an obvious staple of the genre. One film had three selections, "The Sixth Sense", while three others had two, "The Shining", "The Frighteners", and "The Changling". Those are the only films with multiple selections this week, but all seem like pretty great films to start your explorations of this genre. A few in there seem like they might be hidden gems this day in age, so if any of these titles passed you by, definitely be sure to give them a watch.

But as always, we hope that each of these selections helps you to expand your knowledge and appreciation of some of the best films that this testosterone-fueled genre has ever had to offer, and guides you to better and more enjoyable all-around viewing experiences.

Happy watching!