The Freelings are enjoying the pleasures of suburb life while living  the American dream, but there's a storm rolling in. As the thunder crashes,  the national anthem can be heard marking the end of another TV night.  Silently as the screen fades to snow, little Carol Ann (Heather O'Rourke) is drawn out of her sleep by some unknown force. Although nothing can be seen or heard coming from the set, she seems to be communicating with someone through it.  Then suddenly a bust of spiritual energy blasts forth from the box and Carol Ann announces "There heeere!!!!

Although at first it appears to be a playful entity, it quickly turns malicious as Carol Ann is taking away to the other side. Still in shocked by her strange disappearance, the Freelings call upon the services of Dr. Lesh (Beatrice Straight) and her research team for help. At first a little skeptical, Dr. Lesh soon realizes that the spectral activity in the house is a little more than she can handles and promises to bring back help.

"There is no death"...says Tangina Barrons (Zelda Rubinstein), "It is only a transition to a different sphere of consciousness", but sometimes people have trouble accepting it. She, a season pro when it comes to combating the supernatural, feels that a dark force is using Carol Ann to control these lost souls, keeping them from crossing over. A fierce battle enrages as they attempt to get her back. When Carol Ann does finally  reappears clutched in her mother's (Jo Beth Williams) arms, Tangina declares "This house is clean", but is it???

Poltergeist

 
Links to the Supernatural

1982

A classic film directed by the master, Tobe Hooper, and produced and co-written by Steven Spielberg. The controversy has raged from the beginning with rumors that Spielberg really directed the film, but in fact he took out a full page ad in Variety when it was released praising Tobe's accomplishment. Sure it's got that warm cuddly Spielberg feeling.  Why not???  He wrote the screenplay, but it also oozes with Hooper's macabre approach. Well, enough of that, "Poltergeist" definitely took the "haunted house" film to the next level by incorporating out of this world special effects brought to life by  Industrial Light & Magic. The film was followed up by two lesser sequel, a TV series that has nothing to do with it, and rumors of a supposedly cursed set, which has claimed the lives of a few of  its' main players, such as Heather O'Rourke and Dominique Dunne (Dana). 

 

As three doctors of parapsychology, Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis), and Ray Stanz (Dan Aykroyd) are being evicted from their offices at Columbia University, they decide to use all the information they have gathered and go into the field of  Professional Paranormal Investigation and Eliminations, otherwise known as,  "Ghostbusting" . They quickly set up shop in an old abandon fire station. They announce to the world,  "We're ready to believe you."

In steps Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver), a sexy cellist,  who has had a strange encounters with a  minion of "Gozer" called  "Zuul"  in her apartment refrigerator. When she seeks the help of the Ghostbusters, Dr. Venkman is immediately smitten by her and offers up his personal services. 

At the same time, the spectral activity in the New York City begins to go right off the chart and newest team member, Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson) suggests that it might have biblical implications. When the EPA comes in and shuts down the containment center, all hell breaks loose.  Quickly, Egon and Ray determine that Dana's apartment building is the focal point for spook central, serving as a huge conducting structure able to draw spiritual turbulence into itself.  As "Key Master" (Moranis)  and the "Gate Keeper" (Weaver) prepare for "Gozer's" arrival the Ghostbusters are gearing up for an encounter of revelational proportions.

Ghostbusters

 
Links to the Supernatural

1984

Originally "Ghostbusters" was developed as a vehicle for John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, but that dream vanished with the death of Belushi in 1982. Winston's character was writing with a young Eddie Murphy in mind and the part of Louis (The Key Master) was to be John Candy's part. The film was eventually masterfully directed by Ivan Reitman ("Stripes", "Meatballs", and "Kindergarten Cop"). The script by Aykroyd and Ramis offers up a wonderful mixture of comedy and the supernatural, delivering one of the funniest ghosts and haunting films of all-time. The cast for this film was also real plus. I consider "Ghostbusters" along with "Stripes" to be among Bill Murray's best films.  The film was followed up by a sequel in 1989 that was no where as good as the original, but still entertaining. The film also led to an equally awesome cartoon series called "The Real Ghostbusters". Check it out!!!!

 Vietnam-vet turned successful horror writer Roger Cobb (William Katt) is haunted by painful memories; memories of the war, and of his of his young son's mysterious disappearance. On top of that, he hasn't come out with any new material in over a year, and his publisher is getting edgy. Finally, Roger takes refuge in the house of his Aunt Elizabeth (Susan French), who recently hung herself in the bedroom. Meanwhile, next door, he also meets and befriends (sorta) everyman Harold Gorton (George Wendt of "Cheers").

Elizabeth always said that her house was haunted, and unfortunately for Roger, she was right. It isn't long therefore, before he starts running afoul of various paranormal phenomena. Tools with a mind of their own, a cackling demon on high-heels, a doorway behind the bathroom mirror that leads to another dimension, etc. As he battles the supernatural, and his own inner demons, he comes to one conclusion - his son is somewhere nearby, and with that he embarks on a perilous journey into the land behind the mirror on a daring rescue mission. But will either of them make it out alive?

House

 
Links to the Supernatural

1986

Both a horror and a comedy piece, director Steve Miner brings laughs and chills to "House". In a way, watching Roger and Harold together reminds me of the old haunted house comedies of the 1940's that starred everybody from Abbott & Costello to the Bowery Boys. The opening, where a grocery boy discovers Aunt Elizabeth's body hanging from a noose, is genuinely creepy, while later in the movie, there are some hilarious jokes like a chopped-up body being buried in as many places as there are pieces and a child running around with a severed, living hand crawling on his back. The slapstick inherent here reminds me a lot of Sam Raimi's work, and helped bring a needed, light touch to the horror cycle that was starting to wane by the time "House" was released. Another Friday-night rental waiting to happen. Guest Contributor....Jeremy Lunt.

 

For years the town of Fairwater has been synonymous with death. In 1964 John Charles Bartlett and 15 year old Patricia Bradley went on a murderous rampage killing 12 people. Now present day, a series of mysterious heart attacks have claimed over 30 victims in four years and the people believe once again that the shadow of death has descended upon the quiet town of Fairwater.

 Enter Frank Bannister (Michael J. Fox) a former architect turned psychic investigator. Frank hasn't been the same since his car accident and near death experience gave him the uncanny ability to see the spirits of the deceased. What Frank doesn't tell you though is he's got a working relationship with three spirits who haunt people's houses until they call on Frank's special brand of services to rid them of the disruptive ghouls.

Unfortunately as one of Frank's spiritual partners "the Judge" (John Astin) explains "Death ain't no way to make a living" and when bodies start popping up around Frank with the mysterious heart condition FBI agent Milton Dammers (Jeffery Combs) believes Frank to be responsible. When Frank confesses that the figure of death is the killer no one believes him least of all agent Dammers. Armed with the ability to see Death and the number of his next victim carved into their foreheads Frank and his motley crew of spirits try to defend the helpless people targeted by Death's hand. However when the next victim turns out to be Frank's love interest Lucy Lynskey (Trini Alvarado) it's a race against time for Frank to rescue her from Deaths claws and to stop the mysterious figure before he claims his latest victim.

The Frighteners

 
Links to the Supernatural

1996

"Frighteners" is a very entertaining horror/comedy. It's directed marvelously by Peter Jackson who keeps the action at a steady pace. Peter Jackson's special brand of humor comes through this film very clear and the overall feel of the film is very reminiscent of Dead Alive (Braindead). Frighteners also has an excellent score  by Danny Elfman which really helps to highlight the film. The special effects in the film are also fantastic and hold up very well by today's standards. Probably best of all are the actors who put in strong performances especially Jeffery Combs (Re-Animator) who portrays the funny psychotic Agent Dammers. With his acting and Peter Jackson's direction the character really comes to life. Combs also has one of the funnier lines in the film "Yes I am, I'm an asshole with an uzi!" it's one of those laugh until it hurts moments. I highly recommend this film to ghosts & hauntings fans and fans of horror/comedy. Guest Contributor....STYX.

 

Other Recommendations
"Ghost Story", "The Old Dark House", "13 Ghost", "Beetlejuice", "A Chinese Ghost Story",
"Lady in White", "The Uninvited", "The Blair Witch Project", "The Beyond",  and "The Innocents".

Check out "Cinematic Hauntings" for an in-depth look at some of  the greatest ghosts  & haunting films.


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