It is fast approaching that unique portion of the year when all true matters arcane and diabolical are given the festive treatment.
1.The Sixth Sense
Imagine if you will, an antediluvian filmic era. Before The Happening. Before The Village. Before Signs. Welcome to the golden age of M. Night Shyamalan, when The Sixth Sense briefly transformed him into the hottest new film-maker in Hollywood and he could deliver a twist ending that had viewers choking on their pop corn in surprise, rather than weakly sobbing at the lameness of it all.
2. The Shining
Much of Stanley Kubrick’s take on The Shining has undeniably become the stuff of all-too frequent parody; the Diane Arbus-inspired twin girls, the elevator of blood, the revelation of ‘REDRUM’ in the mirror, and Jack Nicholson’s manic cry of “Heeeeeeeeeere’s Johnny!”.
A second entry in the list for director Hideo Nakata and the movie that ensured we would spend the opening years of the 21st century being deluged with J-Horror and J-Horror remakes alike.
And we reach the first haunted house movie of the list. Tempted as I was to include The Legend of Hell House (which sees the astral presence of Michael Gough’s devilish Emeric Belasco spreading misery as an expression of the resentment he harboured about his titchy little legs), I decided to plump for this successful collaboration between writer-producer Steven Spielberg and director Tobe Hooper.
5. The Others
It may have been penned way back in 1897, but Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw still seems to exert a sizeable influence over the motion picture ghost story.
6. The Haunting
Blimey, wait for one haunted house movie and then a pair of the blighters show up at once. What are the odds? Well, probably significantly better than finding someone who prefers the Jan de Bont-directed remake of The Haunting to the 1963 original.
7. The Fog
Gar! Me hearties! Spectral seadogs resurface to wreak vengeance upon the small coastal town of Antonio Bay, as Jamie Lee Curtis collaborates with director John Carpenter on a more expansive chiller than their earlier Halloween.
8. Don’t Look Now
Ah, I have to confess to a bit of con-job on this one. Because, rather than sitting here resplendently in fourth place on my list, Don’t Look Now should face technical disqualification on the grounds that there aren’t actually any ghosts in it.
9. Dark Water
Leaky plumbing becomes an unlikely source of spine-tingling terror in this J-Horror offering from director Hideo Nakata, the man who had previously attached creepy connotations onto video cassettes and cold-calling in the first two Ringu films.
10. The Devil’s Backbone
Better known for the bizarre, tactile mutant bodies that inhabited his Pan’s Labyrinth and Hellboy movies, The Devil’s Backbone saw Guillermo del Toro adopting a rather less-outré approach to the paranormal than that which we have come to expect from the fuzz-faced Mexican auteur.