I know you’ve seen Paranormal Activity and Insidious but there have been many films which included paranormal or psychical researchers throughout the years, most of them comedies, that go unseen. These films are not only entertaining but they provide hindsight as to how and why the public may associate the paranormal community with it’s recognized identity of, at best, bumbling and at worst unreliability. These films should be readily accessible through NetFlix, Hulu or maybe even just on YouTube. If you have nothing to do why not give them a watch, it’s better than what we’re being given on “reality” TV these days.
8. Hold that Ghost
From 1941 and starring the comedy team of Abbott and Costello Hold that Ghost is more of an “old dark house” film than an actual movie about ghosts. Why this film is included in the list is due in part to the constant screaming of “Help” and “what’s that?” The premise of 2 gas station workers inheriting a mob bosses tavern and a trying to find a stash of hidden money makes this one of Abbott and Costello’s weaker films haha!. If you try and figure out how the characters resolve the “paranormal” happenings in the house throughout the film you might go a little batty. Also, the beginning of this movie has some very racist moments… as films from the 40’s often did.
7. Little Rascals: The Haunted House
The gang have formed EEgle Eye Detctive Agency as well as procured some fake mustaches and beards, (paranormal goatee anyone?) and after hiding in a wooden crate are delivered to a Haunted House attraction where hilarity ensues. I know what you’re thinking, “But if there are no ghosts and the haunted house is just a haunted attraction then what does this have to do with ghosts?” Okay, now think about that question again and realize how many people go on ghost hunts at haunted attractions…then watch this film.
Seriously, you know what this movie is about.
5. Spook Busters
Another film from the 1940’s featuring The Bowery Boys and Huntz Hall! Huntz who? Exactly. A group of newly graduated exterminators decide to rid a creepy old house of it’s spectral residents only to find a crazy old scientist. No spoiler here as the scientist is on the poster for the film. Bonus points for this movie since it contains the obligatory gorilla most “scary films” had for some reason back then. The Bowery Boys do a great job of bumbling and fumbling around looking for ghosts which is actually somewhat reminiscent of a typical episode of Ghost Adventures or Ghost Hunters.
4. The Others
This film is often panned by critics for being too slow paced but it contains some real chills and a pretty clever, although foreseeable, resolve. The Others plays like an early 1970’s Hammer film with solid acting from everyone involved. What about the paranormal researchers? Well, I can’t get to into it if you haven’t seen the film…spoilers.
The special effects are dated and some of the moments that audiences thought were most frightening about this film are now laughable but many people forget just how heavily a part paranormal researchers played in this film. Seeing the team setting up cameras and recording devices gives you a backwards glance at what would soon become standard fair for not only future paranormal films but the future of paranormal reality TV.
2. Mr. Vampire
I don’t even know where to begin with the Mr. Vampire films. Are there paranormal investigators in this film? Kind of. Do people fight ghosts? YES! Mr. Vampire came out in 1985 and it is a ghost, vampire, ass-kicking extravaganza! Whoever thought blending Kung-fu and vampire Chinese-hopping-ghosts is a genius. Not only is there some incredible fighting but you’ll learn all sorts of tricks and tips to help in your paranormal investigations should you ever some across a Chinese ghost, like holding your breath or jumping up and down on sticky rice. Wow, simply wow.
1. The Changeling
The Changeling from 1980 and starring George C. Scott is an oft overlooked film but for those who are “paranormally” minded it should be seen. Allegedly based on the true experiences of playwright Russell Hunter this movie may be plodding at some points but is far more creepy and disturbing than many modern “scary” films. Also, if you can find a copy of the original soundtrack buy it because it is wonderfully weird. As a side note, Martin Scorcese put The Changeling on his personal list of scariest movies of all time.