8. The Innocents (1961)
Jack Clayton’s ghosts are both metaphorical and literal Innocent, where sexual repression and childlike curiosity are a deadly mix. Novel Henry James 1898 Turn the screw has been adapted for the screen 27 times. Innocent is the most accurate, even though it personalizes details on broader brush strokes. The screenplay was co-written by Truman Capote and William Archibald, the playwright of the 1950 film adaptation. They envisioned it as a ghost story. It’s possible that the governess is acting on ghostly evidence that only her mind can see, but from the camera’s perspective, the ghosts are real. Young Flora (Pamela Franklin) and Miles (Martin Stevens) have recently lost their parents, and their hastily hired new governess, Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr), has a lot to learn about them and the manor they call Bly.
A former governess, Miss Jessel (Cleety Jessup), has resigned under unclear circumstances, but may have left something behind. The sacked valet, Peter Quint (Peter Wingard), was a drunkard and debauchee whose musk can still be discerned in the walls. Although she may find the ghostly evidence attractive, Miss Giddens is a generation older than the book’s character and is troubled by the responsibilities of more mature themes. “I care about the kids the most,” she insists, but the kids are, to put it mildly, confusing.
Precocious and vaguely unnatural, every phrase from their mouths oscillates between innocent flattery and menacing suggestion. When Miles is expelled from school for being a bad influence, Miss Giddens sympathizes. She likes a spiritual boy and has a sense of an older soul. “Oh Miss, are you afraid he will spoil you?” housekeeper Mrs. Grose (Megs Jenkins) laughs, perhaps too condescendingly. It’s terrible.
7. The Legend of Hell House (1973)
Directed by John Huff The legend of the hell houseadapted by Richard Matheson from his 1971 novel Hell’s house, is a creepy paranormal investigation film with an infinite number of chandeliers to pull down. Rich Rudolph Deutsch (Roland Culver) wants to know what lies after death and there is almost ready to kill himself to find out. He hires physicist Dr. Lionel Barrett (Clive Revill), his sensitive wife Anne Barrett (Gail Honeycutt) and psychic medium Florence Tanner (Pamela Franklin) to go that extra mile. Roddy McDowell plays physical parapsychologist Benjamin Franklin Fisher, who is reluctant to join in on the fun. He is the sole survivor of a preliminary investigation of Belasco House, infamously known as “Hell House” after its infamously decadent owner disappeared following a massacre within its walls
“What in God’s name has he done to make this house so evil?” Ann asks. “Murder, vampirism, cannibalism, drug addiction, alcoholism, sadism, mutilation,” Fisher replies. How did it end? “If it ended, we wouldn’t be here,” warns Fisher. Strapped to biomonitors and surrendered to the abyss, the researchers discover the fates of previous victims who now haunt the estate. Careful enough to dip leftover ectoplasm into jars, the ghostly bully gathers strength from the meddling investigators. But he’s powerless against Fisher’s incessant height shaming. Be sure to lock the door when you leave.
6. Ghost Story (1981)
A ghost story begins with Sears James, Esq. John Houseman, who tells a terrible story as if he were sitting by the fire at John Carpenter’s The fog (1980), which opened with the same unmistakable voice. He’s talking to the Chowder Society, an informal men’s club who sip cognac, sniff cigars, and scare each other with creepy improvisations. The elderly lawyer who speaks usually drinks alone in his den all night, every night. He is afraid to sleep; nightmares also plague his former partner, businessman Ricky Hawthorne (Fred Astaire); and Dr. John Jaffrey (Melvin Douglas) screams as he wakes up from a nightmare. The mayor of the snowy New England town of Millburn, Vermont, Edward Charles Wanderley (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) delivers a double dose of night terrors. His son David Wanderley (Craig Wasson) seems to be engaged to a rotting corpse and she looks like a Chowder Society muse.