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You may have seen our top ten paranormal films that we compiled a few months back. Lingering just outside that list was Burnt Offerings, a tour de force of paranormal cinematography.

Reed with romantic clinch in Burnt Offerings

For those of you who aren’t acquainted with the film, here’s a short synopsis:

Oliver Reed goes spastic and acts his socks off when an a haunted mansion sends him and his man-beast of a wife ga-ga. Here’s a sneak preview.

It’s great. Reed’s quality shines through and some chilling moments of genuine suspense (check out the swimming pool scene and the final minutes of the film). A slightly wonky support cast, including Bette Davis and Karen Black, add to the slightly peculiar feel of the movie.

The film works because you don’t actually see any ghosts. Just Oliver Reed and his family slowly deteriorating into a violent, bloody mess. Brillo.

However, Burnt Offerings didn’t quite make it into the Looking For Ghosts top ten paranormal films because it lacks inventiveness. Its storyline is a bit weak; bog-standard ghoul fare really. And, at times, it fells like a vehicle for Reed’s fantastic acting (which, incidentally, isn’t such a bad thing).

*MOVIE TRIVIA* The house used in Burnt Offerings is the same one that’s in So, I Married an Axe Murderer.

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Needless to say, this lack of genuine paranormal evidence was getting us down. So Looking For Ghosts retreated to a place where ghouls and ghosts are plentiful… the local film rental shop!

We rented out some old favourites and delved into our film collection for a night or three of unparalleled horror. As we watched film after film of wooden acting, hilarious make-up and stupefying plot twists, it became clear to us that the best horror films are the ones that remain scary, even after numerous watches.

This can be said of The Blair Witch Project. Its realism scared the living daylights out of us as under-age patrons in the cinema and, eleven years later, its effect still remains. Also, did anyone know it’s based on a true story…

Blair Witch Project: quite bloody scary

More recently, we’ve enjoyed REC, The Orphanage and Paranormal Activity. In addition to this we also cowered from The Ring and The Tale of Two Sisters, both efforts from Eastern cinema.

However, some of our favourites paranormal movies come from an era where special effects were not available. This, in fact, works in some films’ favour, giving them a believable quality. The Innocents and Whistle and I’ll Come To You fall into this category.

Here are Looking For Ghosts current top ten paranormal films:

2.4 Children: a fun-loving comedy for all the family

1. The Blair Witch Project

2. The Exorcist

3. Ringu ( リング)

4. REC

5. The Shining

6. Paranormal Activity

7. A Tale of Two Sisters (장화, 홍련)

8. The Orphanage

9. Whistle and I’ll Come To You

10. The Innocents

So there it is; our top ten. Just missing the cut was Nutty Professor Two: the Klumps and also Three Men and a Baby, possible one of the only movies ever to capture a ghost on film. No, not the ghost of Ted Danson’s career… look a little closer.

Nevertheless, we are far from horror film aficionados. We would like to hear from you what your favourite spooky films are. Be it old or new, a box office hit or an undiscovered gem. Please leave your comments.

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