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This Terrifying Haunted House Will Give You $20,000 If You Can Make It to the End — but No One Ever Has (Video)

scariest haunted house of all time

McKamey Manor in Summertown, Tennessee may lay claim to being the world’s scariest haunted house. It’s so scary that no one has ever completed it — but if you do, you’ll win $20,000.

All it costs to enter is a bag of dog food. Russ McKamey, the owner and mastermind behind the manor, has five dogs to feed.

The haunted house has several eye-popping preconditions. Contestants who want to enter must get a letter from their doctor asserting they are physically and mentally fit, and there’s a drug test day-of. Signing the 40-page contract alone takes three to four hours. Oh, and you have to have medical insurance because you’ll probably get hurt.

“I’m a very straight laced conservative guy, but here I run this crazy haunted house that people think is this torture factory, fetish factory,” McKamey told local news WFLA. “All of these things that it’s not, but people believe that based upon the films that I have made.”

McKamey concocts each “show” for every individual contestant who visits, cooking up particular stunts and tasks suited to their particular fears. It’s been featured on the Netflix show Dark Tourism and Haunters: The Art of the Scare .

McKamey is adamant that nothing weird goes on in the manor, despite a report from The Guardian that said visitors may be “bound, masked and held under water, slapped and stomped on, and compelled to eat your own vomit” during the eight-hour tour — if they last that long. McKamey insists it’s a more of a “mental game” between him and contestants, which he wins using hypnosis.

Each contestant’s entire journey through the manor is filmed, which McKamey says is to protect himself against false accusations.

“When I use the hypnosis I can put you in a kitty pool with a couple inches of water and tell you there’s a great white shark in there, and you’re gonna think there’s a shark in there,” he told WFLA . “And so, when you have that kind of power over people, and have them do and see things that you want them to see, then they can leave here thinking it really happened, and they’ll go to the authorities and say, ‘oh, whatever,’ and I have to come back and show the footage and say, ‘it didn’t go that way at all.'"

There’s also a required two-hour video you must watch if you think other people are sissies and you’re made of stronger stuff. “And Then There Were None” is one hour and 48 minutes of people giving up the haunted house, telling the camera and future visitors “you really don’t want to do this.”

If you think you’ve got what it takes, you can contact McKamey online to set up your own terrifying tour. For something a little less terrifying, here are houses with haunted pasts you can visit without signing away your life.

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The 20 best haunted house films of all time, ranked

From The Innocents to Paranormal Activity, most of these haunted house movies will have viewers leaving all their lights on at bedtime.

Georges Méliès' Le Manoir du diable (1896) deserves much reverence for its impact on scary movies over the years, and even though the silent film is only a few minutes long, The House of the Devil marks the beginning of the horror genre. Released as The Haunted Castle in the United States, Méliès' motion picture is the precursor to all haunted house movies.

Films in the following century like The Cat and the Canary (1927), The Old Dark House (1932), and Rebecca (1940) certainly presented creepy, decrepit manors, but their walls were haunted by earthly threats. However, The Uninvited (1944) creates the supernatural template by which horror films like The Haunting in Connecticut (2009), Crimson Peak (2015), and Hereditary (2018) still follow today.

Now, enjoy EW's ranking of the 20 best haunted house movies of all time.

20. The Amityville Horror (1979)

Not even Fixer Upper 's Chip and Joanna Gaines can salvage your house when its walls start bleeding. George Lutz ( James Brolin ) and his wife, Kathy ( Margot Kidder ), get the deal of a lifetime when they buy a home in the quaint, seaside town of Amityville, N.Y. — but their new digs come with a sordid history and house full of haunting horrors.

The Amityville Horror , a somewhat underrated flick, is based on the real-life Lutz's unsubstantiated claim that the house was actually haunted. The Dutch Colonial-style home still stands in Amityville, but its address has been changed from 112 Ocean Ave. to 108 Ocean in order to throw off curious tourists.

Where to watch The Amityville Horror : Max

19. The Curse of the Cat People (1944)

Irena isn't Casper, but she certainly is a friendly ghost, and she still haunts her husband Oliver Reed (Kent Smith) and his new wife, Alice (Jane Randolph). However, Irena only allows Oliver and Alice's daughter, Amy (Ann Carter), to see her when the Reeds' lonely child wishes for a friend.

The film marks the first directing credit for Robert Wise (later of 1951's The Day the Earth Stood Still and 1965's The Sound of Music glory), since he was uncredited for directing additional sequences in The Magnificent Ambersons two years prior. While virtually every character — and performer — from 1942's Cat People returns, The Curse of the Cat People is, to this day, argued by most film historians as being a sequel in name only.

Where to watch The Curse of the Cat People : Amazon Prime Video (to rent)

18. Paranormal Activity (2007)

Do not wait around for the entity haunting your house to fully possess you or your partner. Don't do it! Filmmaker Oren Peli 's supernatural take finds a young couple ( Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat) haunted by an unseen force, as the audience watches the couple chronicle the ghost's movements via their home security cameras.

The movie cashed in on the found-footage phenomenon that 1999's The Blair Witch Project proved to be a potential gold mine. Paranormal Activity grossed more than $193 million worldwide, and it only cost $15,000 to produce. Steven Spielberg saw the original cut of the film prior to its release in which Katie dies, and convinced Peli to reshoot the more ominous ending where Featherston simply goes missing.

Where to watch Paranormal Activity : Amazon Prime Video (to rent)

17. Beetlejuice (1988)

Barbara ( Geena Davis ) and Adam ( Alec Baldwin ) Maitland might be dead, but they don't have any intention of sharing their home with its new residents, the Deetz family — parents Delia ( Catherine O'Hara ) and Charles (Jeffrey Jones) and their goth icon daughter, Lydia ( Winona Ryder ). When the Maitlands' attempts to frighten the Deetzes away fail miserably, Barbara and Adam turn to the mysterious and mischievous Beetlejuice ( Michael Keaton ) to rid them of the living.

Keaton's portrayal as the unscrupulous "ghost with the most" garnered him a Saturn Award nomination, even though he appears on screen for less than 15 minutes, and the actor acknowledges Beetlejuice as his favorite film from his own library of work.

Where to watch Beetlejuice : Max

16. The Others (2001)

While the living and dead coexist in Beetlejuice , The Others teaches horror fans a different life lesson: Sharing isn't always the answer. Grace ( Nicole Kidman ) and her two children, Anne (Alakina Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley), live together in a Gothic country house in the aftermath of World War II, but it seems increasingly likely their Bailiwick of Jersey home is haunted.

The Others offers scary movie enthusiasts one of the genre's most memorable twists, and it's unlikely the filmmakers really wanted audiences to laugh at the very last shot of the film. It's hard not to chuckle, though, and the comedic moment certainly lends itself to the storytelling. The Others also marked the final time Kidman worked with her then-husband, Tom Cruise (executive producer), prior to their divorce.

15. House on Haunted Hill (1959)

Eccentric millionaire Fredrick Loren (Vincent Price) is throwing a party, and he promises each of his guests $10,000. The catch: They have to spend the night in a haunted house and survive until morning. Filmmaker William Castle couldn't afford to pay Price the salary the actor had become accustomed to, so he offered him a percentage of the profits to land the horror movie maestro as a cast member.

House on Haunted Hill also features one of Castle's vaunted gimmicks: Emergo . When the skeleton terrorizes Mrs. Loren (Carol Ohmart) on screen, a plastic skeleton would swoop over the heads of audiences all across the country. Ever the showman, Castle wanted to give moviegoers something even better and more exciting than 3-D could ever deliver decades later.

Where to watch House on Haunted Hill: Amazon Prime Video

14. Scrooge (1951)

While there have been many fine adaptations of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol , Alastair Sim's performance as the miserly, penny-pinching Ebenezer Scrooge elevates this version to must-see status. With Christmas soon approaching, Ebenezer's old friend, Jacob Marley (Michael Hordern), returns from the grave to offer Scrooge a chance at redemption through the haunting of three spirits.

Invariably and inexplicably, A Christmas Carol is absent from many best-of haunted house lists, but Dickens' tale is the preeminent example of this type of supernatural story. Now, despite the positive critical and fan response to this 1951 version, there is a famous bit of dialogue omitted from this particular film: "If I could work my will, every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips should be boiled in his own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through his heart."

Where to watch Scrooge : Plex

13. Poltergeist (1982)

The real estate market is always a monster, but the Freeling family lucks out and gets a good deal on a nice house. There's just one little catch: The home was built on a Native American burial ground. And those spirits are not happy about the new tenants. Poltergeist pairs two Hollywood heavyweights, with Steven Spielberg behind the story and Tobe Hooper in the director's chair — and the result is pure movie magic.

The infamous TV scene , with Carol Anne (Heather O'Rourke), is well-known, but it's nothing compared to what happens to the television in the last shot of the movie. No spoilers here, but viewers are bound to roll with laughter. Drew Barrymore auditioned for Spielberg for the role of Carol Anne, but, despite not landing the part, it was her Poltergeist tryout that led to her being cast in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982).

Where to watch Poltergeist : Max

12. A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)

Filmmaker Kim Jee-woon 's heartbreaking horror film gives audiences valid reasons to avoid adultery. Su-mi (Im Soo-jung) returns home from a mental facility after her mother dies, but there's a strange family dynamic between her father and stepmother, Eun-joo (Yum Jung-ah). Su-mi is also very protective of her younger sister, Su-yeon (Moon Geun-young).

The film's twist is one of those watercooler moments that rivals any horror movie ending. Without spoiling the climax, A Tale of Two Sisters uses the haunted house motif almost as a window dressing to obscure the psychological aspects at play in this immensely enthralling, supernatural flick.

Where to watch A Tale of Two Sisters : Kanopy

11. The Conjuring (2013)

Lorraine Warren ( Vera Farmiga ) and her husband, Ed ( Patrick Wilson ), are paranormal investigators hellbent on helping the Perron family as they're haunted in their own farmhouse. The Warrens were real people who dedicated their lives to exploring the paranormal (or as some see it, duping the vulnerable), and they also investigated the real-life mystery of the Amityville house purchased by George and Kathy Lutz.

The Perrons, too, were not just characters, and The Conjuring is based on what happened to them in their Rhode Island home. The Perrons often visited the set while the film was being shot, and Farmiga and Wilson met with the Warrens to further their understanding of the characters they were portraying.

Where to watch The Conjuring: Max

10. The Orphanage (2007)

Thomas Wolfe wrote You Can't Go Home Again , but Laura (Belén Rueda) doesn't heed the novelist's advice. Rather, Laura takes her family back to the closed orphanage she was adopted from with the hopes of reopening it to help children with disabilities. But things take a bizarre turn when her son, Simón (Roger Príncep), goes missing.

The Orphanage , which also features a cameo from producer Guillermo del Toro as the doctor attending to Laura in the emergency room, received a standing ovation when it premiered at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival . Filmmaker J. A. Bayona found inspiration for The Orphanage from watching 1961's The Innocents and 1977's Close Encounters of the Third Kind .

Where to watch The Oprhanage : Amazon Prime Video (to rent)

9. We Are Still Here (2015)

One hundred and twenty years of haunting and horror isn't going to stop Anne Sacchetti ( Barbara Crampton ) and her husband, Paul (Andrew Sensenig), from buying a rural home, but perhaps they're blinded by the death of their son, Bobby. It isn't long before the couple realizes the house is alive — and it is hungry for a blood sacrifice.

We Are Still Here is loaded with homages to other horror films, and one of the most obvious is the appearance of the home's original residents, the Dagmars. They look like the vengeful ghosts in John Carpenter 's The Fog (1980), and the stair scene is a clear nod to Nancy ( Heather Langenkamp ) trudging up the staircase in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984).

Where to watch We Are Still Here : Amazon Prime Video

8. The Haunting (1963)

Very few horror films evoke a creepier vibe than 1963's The Haunting , even with its black-and-white cinematography. Dr. John Markway (Richard Johnson) assembles a team to investigate the paranormal activity of the Hill House in Massachusetts — but escaping the haunt unscathed may prove futile.

The film is based on the 1959 novel The Haunting of Hill House by author Shirley Jackson. Director Robert Wise was coming off his immense success with West Side Story (1961), which he codirected with Jerome Robbins , while another west-sider joined him for the Hill House horror: Actor Russ Tamblyn , who portrayed Riff in West Side Story , tackles the role of Luke Sanderson.

Where to watch The Haunting : Max

7. The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)

Lucy Muir (Gene Tierney) starts her life anew when she buys a cottage in a quaint, seaside village, but her house is purported to be haunted by a seaman, Capt. Daniel Gregg (Rex Harrison). The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is by far the most romantic of the haunted house films, and its storytelling — rather than fright and fear — makes it one of the top supernatural tales of all time.

Natalie Wood portrays Lucy's daughter, Anna, when she's a child, and the actress shot to stardom later that same year by appearing in Miracle on 34th Street . The screenplay for The Ghost and Mrs. Muir was also adapted by Amanda Duff, and she claimed Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn were originally courted to play the lead roles.

Where to watch The Ghost and Mrs. Muir : Amazon Prime Video (to rent)

6. Lake Mungo (2008)

Alice Palmer's (Talia Zucker) drowning isn't the end of her tragedy when it comes to her family trying to cope with their loss and move on. Instead of closure, the Palmers are plagued by unexplained sightings of Alice, and, later, an even more mysterious, bloated-faced doppelgänger emerges.

Lake Mungo is chilling from start to finish, employing a mockumentary and found-footage style of filmmaking to exude an atmosphere of realism and tension that is supremely frightening to the senses. The fun of Lake Mungo , without spoiling the film's well-executed jump scare, is its use of modern technology to frighten audiences when they least expect it.

Where to watch Lake Mungo : AMC+

5. Hausu (1977)

Gorgeous (Kimiko Ikegami) and her friends find themselves facing off against a haunted house that murders its victims like a serial killer straight out of a slasher film. The same studio that produced the Godzilla franchise, Toho, masterminds one of the most horrifying and disturbingly humorous psychedelic films to date.

Hausu's over-the-top subject matter isn't for everyone, but horror fans — particularly of Evil Dead II (1987) and Army of Darkness (1992) — will find the movie resonating with them. The success of Jaws (1975) inspired Toho to make Hausu , and none of the lead actresses were trained thespians. Rather, the seven women were all models.

Where to watch Hausu : Max

4. The Evil Dead (1981)

Before becoming the "this is my boomstick" housewares expert of S-Mart, Ash Williams ( Bruce Campbell ) makes the unfortunate mistake of spending his vacation in a haunted house with some friends. There, they find the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis in the cabin, also known as the Book of the Dead, and all hell breaks loose into two sequels (1987, 1992), two remakes (2013, 2023), and a TV series Ash vs Evil Dead .

If you don't know what the "tree scene" is, you'll never get that imagery out of your head after watching The Evil Dead for the first time. It's one of the most appalling and unforgettable scenes to appear in any horror film, ever. The Evil Dead was the feature film debut for both Campbell and his best friend since high school, director Sam Raimi .

Where to watch The Evil Dead : Amazon Prime Video (to rent)

3. The Uninvited (1944)

Rick (Ray Milland) and his sister Pamela (Ruth Hussey) make the spur-of-the-moment decision to buy a lovely seaside home, and, as a result, Rick meets and becomes quite taken with young Stella (Gail Russell). The Uninvited is one of the first full-length haunted house movies, making it a cornerstone model moving forward for all other films to follow.

While Martin Scorsese called it one of the scariest movies of all time , The Uninvited kindles a wonderful romance between Rick and Stella. In fact, the serenade Rick writes and plays for his love, "Stella by Starlight," was composed specifically for the movie. However, it became a sensation when lyrics were later added, and it was even performed by Frank Sinatra .

2. The Innocents (1961)

Miss Giddens ( Deborah Kerr ) is hired to be a governess for Flora (Pamela Franklin) and her older brother, Miles (Martin Stephens), once he returns from boarding school. While Giddens takes an almost instant liking to Flora, she soon fears the children's secretive bond when Miles returns. And things grow even more disconcerting when Giddens begins seeing things and hearing voices.

The film is based on Henry James' 1898 horror novella, The Turn of the Screw , and both Truman Capote and William Archibald won the Edgar Allan Poe award for their screenplay. Jack Clayton directed and produced The Innocents , and he later went on to direct Hollywood icon Robert Redford in The Great Gatsby in 1974.

1. The Changeling (1980)

It's hard to have your car break down on the side of the road and not think about The Changeling . John Russell ( George C. Scott ) watches helplessly as his wife and daughter are cut down by a tow truck in the snow. Russell moves on and buys a house once owned by the family of Senator Carmichael (Melvyn Douglas), but he soon realizes he's not as alone there as he previously felt.

The character of John Russell is a music composer, but Scott wasn't musically inclined. Even so, the actor practiced the piano pieces Russell plays so that he could actually tickle the ivories on screen. Also, the actress who portrays historical society agent Claire (Trish Van Devere) was Scott's wife in real life, and they made five feature films while they were married, as well as a made-for-TV movie and a play.

Where to watch The Changeling : Peacock

Related content:

  • The 20 best slasher movies of all time
  • Poltergeist director Tobe Hooper 'deserved' directing credit, not Steven Spielberg, says filmmaker
  • It's showtime: Beetlejuice 2 is officially happening in 2024

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While some horror movies derive thrills and chills from ghosts , goblins, witches , vampires or other kinds of mad killers, others make the setting itself the centerpiece of the plot. The best haunted house movies don't just have to be about houses either — sometimes the genre sets the scene in haunted hotels, hospitals, farmhouses or other buildings where strange secrets lurk in dark corners, attics or basements.

The flicks on our list of the best haunted house movies are for adult eyes only. If you're in need of some family-friendly scary movies, check out our list of scary movies for kids . So whether you're setting up for a movie marathon for Halloween or any other night of the year, get ready for a home movie night that might make you wonder what skeletons are hiding in your very own closets...

The Haunting (1999)

haunted house movies the haunting

As if chronic sleep deprivation isn't scary enough, this 1999 film follows three insomniacs who agree to sleep in a haunted mansion as part of a sleep study. Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Owen Wilson star.

The Haunting (1963)

haunted house movies — the haunting

Want to watch the original? In this classic '60s-era horror film, a group confronts supernatural forces in a 90-year-old New England haunted house. What they find is truly horrific.

The Shining (1980)

haunted house movies — the shining

A bestselling writer and recovering alcoholic, played by Jack Nicholson, hopes to find a cure for his writer's block at the Overlook Hotel in Colorado. Needless to say, things get interesting.

Winchester (2018)

haunted house movies — winchester

Helen Mirren stars as the widow who occupies a possessed mansion in this chilling story, inspired by real events.

Poltergeist (1982)

haunted house movies — poltergeist

This classic '80s horror film is nothing short of iconic. In it, a family moving into their new house hits, uh, a few snags while unpacking their things. The biggest being their young daughter gets abducted by evil ghosts.

The Amityville Horror (2005)

haunted house movies — the amityville horror

This 2005 remake of the 1979 original inspires serious chills after a young family moves into a house with a sinister past. The film stars Ryan Reynolds, Melissa George and Jesse James.

The Conjuring (2013)

haunted house movies — the conjuring

This movie is based on real case files from paranormal investigators, who try to assist a family terrorized by some creepy force lurking in their farmhouse.

The Houses October Built (2014)

best haunted house movies — the houses october built

In this creepy, found-footage-style flick, five friends hit the road in an RV for an adventure in search of the scariest haunted houses.

The Sixth Sense (1999)

haunted house movies — the sixth sense

Even if you've never seen this timeless horror movie, you probably already know its most famous line: "I see dead people!" But nothing compares to seeing it uttered for the first time ...

Let's Scare Jessica to Death (1971)

haunted house movies — let's scare jessica to death

In this creepy ’70s flick, a recently institutionalized woman moves into a country farmhouse, where weird things happen to her. Is she going crazy, or…?

The Attic (2007)

haunted house movies — the attic

Elisabeth Moss stars in this 2007 haunted house flick from Mary Lambert, the director of Pet Sematary . In it, Moss' character moves with her family to a new house... where a doppelganger lives in the attic.

haunted house movies — boo

Five teens trapped in a hospital on Halloween night must figure out who is alive and who is dead as spirits take them over.

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2010)

haunted house movies—don't be afraid of the dark

Katie Holmes stars in this flick written by Guillermo del Toro, based on the '70s telefilm by the same name. In it, a girl sent to live with her dad and his new girlfriend believes that she has released creatures from a sealed pit in the basement of the house.

Beetlejuice (1988)

haunted house movies — beetlejuice

Tim Burton directs this iconic '80s Oscar winner, in which a dead couple's spirits face off with the family that has moved into their home. Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, and Michael Keaton are all in the all-star cast.

The Resort (2021)

haunted house movies — the resort

What's more fun for chills and thrills than a haunted house? Well, a haunted resort, of course! In The Resort , friends head to Hawaii to investigate a haunting in paradise.

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You really don’t want to do this.

If you haven’t yet heard about McKamey Manor in Summertown, Tennessee then you might want to turn back now, because the details will chill you to your very core.

If you're curious about what it entails, watch the video below.

Warning: This is graphic!

The requirements alone are enough to send you packing. You’ll need to check off all of the following boxes:

  • Be 21 and above, or 18-20 with parents approval.
  • Completed “Sports Physical” and doctors letter stating you are physically and mentally cleared.
  • Pass a background check.
  • Be screened via Facebook FaceTime or phone.
  • Proof of medical insurance.
  • Sign a detailed 40-page waiver.
  • Pass a portable drug test on the day of the show.

The physical cost is cheap—all Russ asks for is a 50-pound bag of dog food that he donates to an animal shelter. But the emotional stakes are incredibly high.

Some people are tasked with eating cockroaches, being buried alive, fighting to survive Saw- like contraptions, and more. The Nashville Scene also mentions eels, tasers, paintball guns, and whips. Fun!

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Megan Stein is the executive editor for The Pioneer Woman, and oversees entertainment, features, and news for the website. Whether it's catching up on the latest true crime podcast, or re-watching the best '80s movies for the zillionth time, she's always here to talk about anything and everything relating to pop culture.

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15 Of The World's Scariest Haunted Houses

It's almost that time of the year: that time when summer starts winding down, kids go back to school, temperatures begin to cool, and pumpkin spice everything hits store shelves. It's also when we sta

It's almost that time of the year: that time when summer starts winding down, kids go back to school, temperatures begin to cool, and pumpkin spice everything hits store shelves. It's also when we start making plans for Halloween, which means costumes, horror movies, and partaking in activities that gives us chills, thrills, and scares.

That's right: the season of the haunted house is almost here, but some haunted attractions are spookier and more fun than others. Many serious Halloween aficionados will search the country for the next big scare, and thanks to them, we now know which haunted houses in the country to hit during this season. But remember, most of these haunted houses are not for the faint of heart because here there will be ghosts, demons, spirits, and zombies. Enter if you dare.

15 ScareHouse - Pittsburgh, PA

When film director Guillermo del Toro Gómez says a haunted attraction is one of the best, you're likely to believe him. And one of his favorites is ScareHouse in Pittsburgh, which just so happens to be located inside a 100-year-old building with a history of being haunted. Add new scares to that, including a hellish army of clowns and demons, and it's no wonder that ABC once referred to it as "the scariest haunted house in America."

The attraction features Hollywood quality special effects, sure to make even the bravest soul tremble in terror. This house pushes boundaries by messing with your mind and your emotions: that's why you must sign a waiver before you ever enter its doors. Do you dare face the nightmare fuel waiting for you there?

14 The Dent Schoolhouse - Cincinnati, OH

Haunted houses are fun, but they're even scarier when they take place in locations with creepy histories. This is the case with The Dent Schoolhouse . Here, between 1942 and 1952, several students went missing. Legend states that after that, there was a strange smell coming from the school's basement, but the janitor convinced everyone it was just backed up pipes. But the smell continued to pervade the school's halls, and eventually, a mob stormed the basement and found the rotting corpses of the missing students. The janitor, though, disappeared and supposedly still haunts the ground, searching for more victims. Word has it this story isn't true, but it's enough to bring people in droves to the haunted attraction at the Schoolhouse year after year. After all, who doesn't love a good ghost story?

13 The 13th Gate - Baton Rouge, LA

The 13th Gate doesn't just take you through one nightmarish realm, but forces you to face horrors in 13 separate dimensions. This is one of those extreme haunted houses, where the lines get blurred between fantasy and reality. Imagine being forced to crawl through an old crematory oven and getting lost in a maze of underground tunnels. Because most of the makeup and special effects artists are Hollywood-trained, this is the haunted house you come to where the details are so real, you'll believe you've awakened in your own worst nightmare. Be warned, though: if you have an aversion to live rodents and snakes, you may want to cross this one off your list. This one is definitely not for those with heart problems or weak bladders.

12 Cutting Edge - Fort Worth, TX

Most haunted attractions offer about 20 or 30 minutes of non-stop thrills and chills. But the Cutting Edge in Fort Worth, Texas, will take you on a nightmarish journey that lasts a whole hour, making it the longest walk through a haunted house in the world. It also holds a Guinness World Record for the world's largest haunted house, meaning everything that scares you is right there, all in one location. Even creepier? The house resides on the property of an old meat packing plant, but before that, the area was "Hell's Half Acre" because it was one of the most deadliest neighborhoods of the Old Wild West and a former hideout for outlaws such as Jesse James. This, obviously, means that the building itself is reportedly haunted.

11 Freakling Bros.: Gates of Hell - Las Vegas, NV

Las Vegas is often seen as the home to glitz, glamor, and gambling, but it also has a dark underside, at least for those who visit the Freakling Bros. haunted attraction there. Here, you won't find any dancing showgirls (at least any alive) and there are no Elvis impersonators singing sweet love songs in your ear. Instead, you'll find yourself inside the Gates of Hell , the only R-rated haunted attraction in Nevada. This is one of those attractions where guests get touched, so if you have an aversion to that, stay away: reports state that at one point, someone in the group gets attacked and dragged down a hallway, while another gets subjected to electrical shocks. Yikes! There's also a clown who breathes fire and likes to bite guests' ears.

10 Frightworld Scream Park - Buffalo, NY

Frightworld Scream Park is not just a single haunted house. The park includes five haunted attractions sure to get your heart rate up and your adrenaline soaring. It's also certain to make you scream. It takes about two hours to go through each attraction, although due to popularity, long lines probably mean it will take a little longer. Each haunted attraction there has its own theme: Grind House (think Texas Chainsaw Massacre ), Condemned, an "interactive flashlight experience" called Night Stalkers, the horror movie-inspired Eerie State Asylum, and the maze-based Insanity. That's enough scares to last you throughout the year. Each attraction is carefully constructed to deliver the most scares as possible, meaning that guests usually leave the park screaming and running back to their cars.

9 Pennhurst Asylum - Spring City, PA

What's scarier than an old mental asylum that once held insane patients often subjected to tortures and electroshock therapy? That's Pennhurst Asylum , which isn't just a haunted attraction in October, but also a haunted building throughout the rest of the year. Once known as the "Eastern Pennsylvania State Institution for the Feeble-Minded and Epileptic," Pennhurst Asylum pulls out all the stops for Halloween and uses its haunted history to recreate what life was like for those who once lived and worked within its walls. Expect to see live lobotomies and lots of shock therapy and a basement that will have most guests screaming for their mommies. Those running the attraction set it up in such a way that guests' screams get heard by those on the outside, setting up the perfect scare even before you walk through the front door.

8 13th Floor - Denver, CO

Here's another haunted attraction that's been featured in the media many times, including ABC News, USA Today, and the Discovery Channel. The 13th Floor in the Mile High City will plunge you down into the depths of your most dreaded fears and leave you shivering in terror once it's over. This year's theme includes "Undead Abominations" where subjects that were once experimented on and became mutations eventually, gave rise to something that "emerged from the bowels of the earth." There's also "Slasher Remix" that takes you to a lonely cabin in the woods where you'll face things with chainsaws that are much louder than simple bumps in the night. Finally, "Cursed" puts you face to face with werewolves and creatures brought back to life via necromancy.

7 The Hex House - Tulsa, OK

The Hex House is another haunted atttraction based on the city's real haunted history: it's the location where a woman kept other young women as slaves back in the 1940s: people believed her to be a witch who cast spells on the women to keep them in her service. The original Hex House got demolished, but that legend serves as fodder for the extreme haunted attraction that now bears its name. The attraction offers an altered reality of dimly-lit hallways and terrifying rooms that eventually carry guests into a journey of nightmarish proportions. The Hex House promises to take you out of your comfort zone and into the dark unknown where terror remain supreme. This year's attraction features two separate adventures: The Hex House and Westside Grim.

6 Statesville Haunted Prison - Crest Hill, IL

Prisons are naturally scary and creepy places, even more so when they're converted into haunted attractions, just in time for Halloween. Enter Stateside Haunted Prison and face the terror behind the bars.

"The Prisoners have rioted, the guards have fled, a darkness has seized control of this Maximum Security Prison and our Warden has opened the gates for visitors," reads the official website ." After the prisoners have processed 'The Meat/Visitors,' you will be forced to find your way through 23 maximum security cells and come eye to eye with over 100 criminals that were too evil to die. Statesville Haunted Prison. No one escapes."

There's also a second attraction on the premise for those who need even more of an adrenaline ride: City of the Dead.

5 Bennett's Curse - Baltimore, MD

There's a large group of evil beings awaiting your arrival at Bennett's Curse in Maryland. With three individual attractions under one roof, thrill seekers are bound to find the scares they're looking for here (and often many they don't want to see). The actors are not just talented, but also aggressive, which means that they'll do anything to hear you scream. This attraction is known for its great special effects, including realistic props, costumes, and animatronics.

One attraction takes you back to the medieval ages where Army of the Dead suddenly becomes real and guests must face the executioner. There's also a 3D attraction for those who need things to seem even more real and as the website says, "Abandon hope all ye who enter here."

4 The Darkness - St. Louis, MO

Deep within the heart of America's midwest, The Darkness awaits all who would dare face it. Possibly one of the best haunted houses in America, The Darkness features extraordinary set design, cutting edge special effects, live actors, and lifelike animations. The owners bill the place not as a haunted house, but as a horror movie straight out of Hollywood. Here, though, you are the star of the show and your screams serve as the only dialogue needed. This year, The Darkness added an Escape Room that takes you deep underground into hidden subway tunnels that act as a maze to confuse and terrify guests. For those looking for a little sport, there's also a zombie laser tag that lets guests hunt and kill the undead.

3 McKamey Manor - San Diego, CA

McKamey Manor is so scary that many who visited it, have actually spoken out against it, believing that it goes way too far in terrorizing guests, although it made its reputation on doing just that. The "live your own movie" experience simulates an abduction that is so real, you'll forget you paid to get into the building. Touching is not taboo here and guests get thrown to the ground and pulled around by the hair. There's a reason they sign a waiver before entering, after all. The attraction also has a minimum age of 21 to enter. The experience stops becoming entertainment and begins to feel real, and that's its appeal. The extremely terrifying attraction is now so popular, though, that the waiting list includes nearly 25,000 names.

2 Erebus Haunted Mansion - Pontiac, MI

Erebus Haunted Mansion once held the record for the longest walk-through haunted attraction in the world. Although it no longer has that distinction, it still provides a lot of scary entertainment for guests who dare step into its dark halls. This one starts with guests getting sent back through time to experience some of the more horrifying events that happened throughout history.

The attraction is four stories of unbridled and horrific fun that includes some excellent special effects, props, and animatronics. One year, guests reported seeing a hungry human-eating dragon on the property. Although the live actors at Erebus Haunted Mansion can't touch guests, other things can, including spiders, monsters, and bugs that fall from the ceiling. The building also moves of its own will.

1 Netherworld - Atlanta, GA

Welcome to the South, where the ghosts are crazier than most and the otherworldly creatures come out to play. This is Netherworld , in Atlanta, Georgia, a place known for its terrifying actors, over-the-top special effects, crazy details, and scares that will make you jump out of your skin. This haunted attraction doesn't come with a tour guide, though: guests must traverse its horrific corridors and rooms on their own without any indication of what lurks around each corner and behind them. The nightmare starts before you ever get inside, though: some of the creatures often escape the building and roam the parking lot in search of their next victims. The idea is to transport visitors to another world, and for the past 19 years, Netherworld can consider itself a success in doing just that.

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13 of the BEST Halloween Horror Nights Houses of All Time at Universal Orlando

scariest haunted house of all time

It’s a personal favorite day of the year since Halloween is not only an excuse to stuff your face with candy, but it’s the time when being scared is actually FUN.

scariest haunted house of all time

And, you know that Halloween Horror Nights is basically the way to spend your spooky season, if you’re looking for the most thrills and chills possible. While we weren’t able to attend a full event this year , Universal Orlando still incorporated two daytime houses , a decked out Tribute Store , terrifying treats , and grown-up trick-or-treating into its parks.

Maybe it’s our affinity for the fears that we’ve encountered during Halloween Horror Nights from the past, but we can’t help but think about all the outstanding houses, scare zones, and shows we’ve seen at previous events when October 31st hits.

scariest haunted house of all time

We’ve learned some awesome insider details from RIP Tours and gone down many rabbit holes about past events. And, there are over 180 houses (!!!) to consider from the past 30 years of Halloween Horror Nights in the parks. But, there are some that have really rocked our world and changed the game for horror events as we know them.

scariest haunted house of all time

In honor of (arguably) the best day of the year, we’re giving you a look at 13 of the BEST Halloween Horror Nights houses over the past 30 years of events!


If multiple horror documentaries and critics place a house as a renowned work of art , you know it’s got to be good. Screamhouse at Halloween Horror Nights 12 literally changed haunted houses as we know them. It changed how Universal Orlando continued to build its event, setting a bar with the level of detail put into its facade and story.

scariest haunted house of all time

The set design was unsettling as you tried to maneuver through hanging body bags as you smelled the scent of rotting flesh, all while you could hear the voice of the Caretaker overhead. Universal also instituted its famous mirror trick during the finale of Screamhouse, which has become a major component of other houses for years to come.

All-Nite Die In

Also at Halloween Horror Nights 13, the All-Nite Die In was a predecessor for many combination houses that we’ve seen later. The attraction took horror giants like Jason, Freddy, Michael Myers, and Leatherface and let guests walk through their own slasher movie extravaganza. And, that’s not even a joke, since the facade was actually a movie theater with a torn screen!

scariest haunted house of all time

The sets for each of these movies in the houses were crazy good, making you feel like you were actually outside at Camp Crystal Lake or inside the boiler room from The Nightmare on Elm Street . Each time we binge these scary movies at Halloween, part of us wishes we could turn back the clock and experience All-Nite Die In another time.

Body Collectors

Although there were past Body Collectors houses, one of the stand-out houses during Halloween Horror Nights 15 was its Body Collectors attraction that year. The Gentlemen were brutal characters that really turned up the gore factor. The story played into the Terra Queen prophecy that was prominent in the parks that year (and will hopefully be fulfilled during HHN 30 next year), tying both plot and character development together neatly.

scariest haunted house of all time

And, we can’t pass up the opportunity to talk about the gruesome SPINE RIP that the Body Collectors house showcased. This house was all about the blood and guts of the Halloween Horror Nights franchise (and there’s a reason it’s so well-known by fans today).

The Thing: Assimilation

The reason that The Thing: Assimilation from Halloween Horror Nights 17 has become such a favorite was that it kicked off the growth of puppeteering in Universal Orlando’s haunted houses. The design and tools used in the house really paved the way for later houses (which we’ll note again later) paired with the amazing scare actors and sound queues used throughout the walk-through.

But, honestly, this house has remained one of the most intense experiences to date. The costumes were terrifying, taking gore to the next level with ripped-open bodies and distorted faces. The scare actors ran after people, making The Thing: Assimilation feel incredibly real and terrifying (our hearts are pounding a little just thinking about it). If you want to see what we mean, you can look behind-the-scenes of the attraction in Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights series !

An American Werewolf in London

A few years later during Halloween Horror Nights 23, The Thing: Assimilation paved the way for the An American Werewolf in London  to become such a hit. While the house found its origin in a classic movie, it continued on an upward climb with the realistic puppets and special effects brought to life in the house. An American Werewolf checked everything off the “haunted house” necessity list as it contributed a great story, detailed elements, fantastic facade, and life-like puppets into the realm of Halloween Horror Nights.

Jack Presents — 25 Years of Monsters and Mayhem

The 25th anniversary of Halloween Horror Nights was a big one as hosts from past years came together to scare the socks off guests that year. And, Jack Presents — 25 Years of Monsters and Mayhem called back to key elements from past mazes. While the entrance was set in a house of horrors, the entrance set up what a trippy event it would be with a creepy carnival atmosphere.

scariest haunted house of all time

There are a LOT of hosts from other Halloween Horror Nights that show up in the house, but we are still obsessed with the flying gargoyles that were used in Jack Presents — 25 Years of Monsters and Mayhem. As Halloween Horror Nights 30 is already in the works, we honestly cannot WAIT to see how past events are incorporate into the milestone occasion.

The Shining

If you’re a massive Stephen King fan, you were likely in high anticipation when Universal announced that they would be constructing a house based on The Shining .

scariest haunted house of all time

And, the Halloween Horror Nights 27 attraction lived up to ALL the hype and ticked each of the boxes it needed to in order to really pay homage to both Stephen King and Stanley Kubrick. Guests really felt like they were entering the Overlook Hotel and winding down corridors (complete with bloody elevators and axe-wielding psycho husbands).

The ending, though, was the best part as the temperature dropped considerably when you went into the hedge maze outside. Jack Torrance popped out at the right moments, making you unaware of where he was lurking just inside the hedges. I’m really gunning for a house based off the It movies after the success of Universal adaptation’s of The Shining .

scariest haunted house of all time


It’s not always easy to take such a beloved scary movie and do it justice. But, Universal Orlando created an INSANE Poltergeist house that stayed true to the heart of its source material. It’s one of those houses you can’t help but think about time and time again because the detail was just that good .

scariest haunted house of all time

The entry facade alone is worth noting with this house as you literally rose up from the ancient burial ground, made your way past all the skeletons, and entered the house. But, unlike the movie, guests would actually act as Carol Anne in the Halloween Horror Nights 28 house and enter the portal to the other dimension. The huge masks, ghosts, and figurines used throughout the atmosphere brought your childhood fears to life in the best ways possible!

scariest haunted house of all time

Scary Tales: Deadly Ever After

The Scary Tales series has been an ongoing set of twisted fairytales at Halloween Horror Nights (that even the Revenge of the Tooth Fairy has taken a few notes from this year). However, the version at Halloween Horror Nights 28 was outstanding with the Wicked Witch of the West flying above guests as they entered the “story book” of Scary Tales: Deadly Ever After .

scariest haunted house of all time

The house really played up the fact that original fairytales written by Hans Christian Anderson and others are pretty dark (like cutting your tongue off in The Little Mermaid dark). The walk-through flipped stories like The Wizard of Oz , Hansel and Gretel, Humpty Dumpty and more on their head, giving the house one of the most creative narrative and sets at Halloween Horror Nights 28.

Stranger Things

Since the hit Netflix show has become a fan-favorite for people of all ages, Universal Orlando snatched Stranger Things up right away for its Halloween Horror Nights events. The first year when the Season One house debuted in 2018 blew everyone away as the Upside Down’s particles floated through the air and the Demogorgon was ridiculously life-like.

scariest haunted house of all time

Universal spared no details on the monster, individually 3D printing each of the teeth on the masks the scare actors would wear. Some of them even opened and closed, which made it all the more terrifying when the Demogorgon would pop out at guests.

scariest haunted house of all time

The 2019 house for Season Two and Three was a bit of a let-down if we’re going to be honest with less special effects used than the previous year. However, the HUGE Mind Flayer animatronic was breath-taking (and made up for some of the other lacking elements in the Halloween Horror Nights 29 house).

Universal Monsters

Halloween Horror Nights 29 actually had some of the most incredible houses we’ve ever seen. And, although many houses are about the scares for some people, Universal Monsters used an incredibly detailed set that revealed something new to guests each time they walked through it.While each room shifted from imagery of Dracula to the Phantom of the Opera and even the iconic Frankenstein duo, most people probably didn’t notice some of the tiniest details (but it’s a cool fun fact for horror fans).

scariest haunted house of all time

At the end of each room, there were decorations that keyed into the next scene’s theme. So, pieces of seaweed or other subtle underwater elements were incorporated into the previous The Hunchback of Notre Dame scene to allow a smoothless transition between sets. And, it just tied the entire the entire house together with seamless precision that Universal Orlando has mastered.

scariest haunted house of all time

Killer Klowns from Outer Space

An interactive house that allows you to spray your friends with water while they get scared by human-eating clowns? Yes, please. There were plenty of fear factors at Halloween Horror Nights 29, but Killer Klowns from Outer Space was a surprise slam-dunk of a house. The film has become a cult classic with the its strange story, but hilarious and semi-scary clowns.

scariest haunted house of all time

However, the HHN 29 house was a hit due to its giant circus tent facade, MASSIVE clown costumes that towered over guests, and buttons that let you actually interact with the attraction. It really did give that “fun maze, but make it horror” vibe you’d find at an actual carnival or fair. But, the best part of the house was the insane Klownzilla puppet that hung from the ceiling, snapping at guests as they walked through.


It was only a matter of time before Halloween Horror Nights hopped on the Ghostbusters franchise, considering the fact that Beetlejuice and Bill and Ted have both been a central part of the Universal Orlando event. The Halloween Horror Nights 29 house was meant to be more fun than something scary as a “lighter” option for scaredy cats out there.

scariest haunted house of all time

Yet, it was easily one of the best film to house adaptations that Universal has ever made. Honestly, it’s the fact that this house used its projection tools and special effects SO well that I actually thought I was passing a ghost in the Public Library or that Slimer was barreling towards me.

The proton energy streams the Ghostbusters used literally flickered and sparked, which made my heart more happy than I can describe. And, it just looked awesome. Oh, we also can’t forget the EPIC finale with the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man burning and filling the room with the scent of toasted marshmallows (which is better than the rotted flesh and literal POOP that past houses have smelled like).

scariest haunted house of all time

Honorary Mention: Beetlejuice

Universal Orlando can’t help but keep us on our toes since the parks are wrapping up their modified Halloween Horror Nights with one last surprise! A Beetlejuice house opened for guests to walk right into the movie on October 31st and November 1st as an extra treat.

scariest haunted house of all time

And, we have to say that we are REALLY hoping this house returns for next year’s event because two days is not nearly enough time to experience how awesome it is! Guests were taken into the Land of the Living and the Neitherworld as they walked through the Maitland’s house and then the iconic Waiting Room.

scariest haunted house of all time

Similar to Ghostbusters, the Beetlejuice house stayed true to the parts of the film that have made it such a classic, all while adding special effects and insanely accurate set designs. You even get to experiences the “Day-O” scene and a real life SANDWORM! (Do you think Universal would let us move in with the Maitlands and Lydia as another friendly ghost??)

scariest haunted house of all time

As Halloween Horror Nights 30 is underway, we’ve gotten a sneak peek at the Puppet Theatre: Captive Audience house that will be debuting in 2021 . However, the years-worth of amazing houses over the past 30 events have us expecting that there will be attractions that literally shake us to our core. While we’ll have to patiently wait for more details on the anniversary event coming soon, we’d LOVE to hear some of your favorite experiences you’ve had during the past “30 Years, 30 Fears” of Halloween Horror Nights in Universal Orlando!

Here’s how we think that Halloween Horror Nights 30 could see some big changes!

What are some of your all-time favorite houses? Let us know in the comments below!

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Rachel Franko

Rachel Franko has been going to Disney Parks since she was a baby, and her love of Disney has only grown into a SLIGHT obsession since! She's been writing for AllEars since 2019 and loves sharing the magic with all the readers. When she's not writing, you can catch her heading to Disney and Universal Studios with a heart full of dreams and a backpack full of themed ears!

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Bloody Disgusting!

The 20 All-Time Best Haunted House Horror Movies

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Haunted houses are a standard in horror for a reason. Inhabiting a space where the disembodied spirits of the deceased comes with compounded fears. It’s not just that there’s an unsettling invasion of the very space that’s meant to provide comfort and security, but the chilling level of unpredictability that comes with ghostly presences. A masked maniac can be stopped, or at least temporarily subdued, but all bets are off in haunted houses.

Both housing and ghost stories have evolved over the decades, too, keeping this subgenre fresh. From decrepit gothic mansions to newly built subdivisions in suburbia, any abode can be haunted. Even submarines or space ships. That’s a whole other article, though. Here we look back specifically at homes and living spaces whose ghosts spook audiences in spine-tingling ways.

These 20 are the all-time best haunted house horror movies.

The Sentinel

scariest haunted house of all time

This underseen horror movie arrived at the tale end of a wave of Satanic/Catholic-centered horror that began in earnest with Rosemary’s Baby , peaked with the Exorcist , and started to wind down with The Omen . Though the eerie hauntings at the heart of the film are occult in nature, The Sentinel adheres to the rules of a haunted house story. Allison Parker moves into an apartment in an attempt to gain some independence, and it doesn’t take long before she starts hearing strange noises. And meeting her neighbors means bizarre encounters; that’s before she discovers through her real estate agent that she doesn’t actually have any neighbors. There may be hellish reasons behind it all, but this is one haunted apartment building.

The Legend of Hell House

scariest haunted house of all time

Based on the novel Hell House by Richard Matheson, who also penned the screenplay, the haunted abode in this one is the Belasco House, a sprawling estate formerly owned by a rich serial killer. Physicist Lionel Barrett and his wife lead a team of mediums to investigate the “Mount Everest of haunted houses.” A set up that’s not unlike another classic haunted house feature also on this list, but the execution couldn’t be any more different. What it lacks in special effects it makes up for in atmosphere and one very menacing entity.

scariest haunted house of all time

Or simply House , this Japanese cult classic takes the haunted house concept to wacky extremes. The premise has a group of seven high school girls traveling to a remote home belonging to one of their aunts, and it happens to be haunted. That doesn’t adequately prepare the viewer for the madness within. Take the haunted house tropes, like spooky cats, bleeding walls, vengeful ghosts, and combine it with hallucinogenic visuals and funhouse sensibilities, and you have the most bizarre haunted house horror movie you’ll ever see. I mean that as a compliment.

Paranormal Activity

scariest haunted house of all time

The 2007 found footage film that launched a franchise proved you don’t need much to create atmosphere. For Micah and Katie, moving into a new home turns into an inescapable nightmare when strange activity becomes a nightly occurrence, ramping up with every passing night. The personalities of the two lead characters and the slow build of tension and scare-crafting has proven divisive in the years since release, but it’s hard to discount a movie that delivers such chilling moments. And the original kickstarted a series with even better sequels.

The Sixth Sense

The Sixth Sense

The breakout hit of M. Night Shyamalan’s career and the movie that embedded “I see dead people,” into the pop culture collective pulled at our heartstrings thanks to Cole Sear, the shy boy terrorized by ghosts in his own home. The scares are extremely effective, and the emotional arcs of the central characters grounds the supernatural aspects. It’s not the twist that makes The Sixth Sense such a doozy (though that’s memorable), but that it’s not actually Cole’s home that’s haunted- it’s him.

The Uninvited

scariest haunted house of all time

Horror taught us from its early stages that if the price tag on a home seems too good to be true, well, it is. For a composer and his sister, they’re elated to acquire a seaside mansion for a bargain. It’s due to an unsavory history, of course. Though not scary by modern standards, this is a bonafide classic and early pioneer of some of the tropes of the subgenre. The ghostly mysteries, the atmosphere, and a chilling score makes for a fantastic, traditional ghost story.

Ju-On: The Grudge

scariest haunted house of all time

The third entry in Takashi Shimizu’s terrifying franchise introduced Kayako and her equally terrifying son Toshio to international audiences. While most haunted houses bear the imprint of past traumas through its ghostly residences, Ju-On takes it a step further by ensuring that house is irrevocably cursed. Kayako and Toshio suffered horrible deaths, and their pain manifested in the form of vengeful spirits that doom anyone who steps foot into their former home to suffer the same fate.

scariest haunted house of all time

A haunting portrayal of a family coping with loss after the drowning of 16-year-old Alice during a lake outing leads to some unexpected discoveries about the daughter and sister the family thought they knew. Handled mockumentary style, Lake Mungo uses interviews with the family to help piece together the puzzle of Alice’s secretive life, and with it, the potential of her spirit still lingering within their home. There are twists, chills, and a lot of heartbreak in one of the best haunted house tales you might not have seen.

scariest haunted house of all time

This made for TV movie stirred up controversy for the BBC upon initial airing, as its mockumentary style left viewers convinced what they’d just watched had been real. It plays like a live TV special with a camera crew on-site attempting to investigate the truth behind the most haunted house in the country. Neither they nor the viewer was prepared for the scares that would ensue. That mockumentary, TV special style is precisely why this show works- you aren’t expecting the scares, so you’re caught completely off guard every single time. Even the subtle ones.

The Orphanage

Best Horror Films

What a debut by director J.A. Bayona ( A Monster Calls , Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom ). As an adult, Laura returns to the closed down orphanage in which she grew up with plans to reopen it as a center for disabled children. But when her HIV positive son learns he’s adopted and goes missing soon after, strange things begin happening within the expansive orphanage. Laura’s former friends from childhood may never have left at all. It’s creepy, it’s moving, and it takes a few unexpected turns in terms of plot. Kids in horror are creepy, but kid ghosts? Even creepier.

House on Haunted Hill

scariest haunted house of all time

Produced and directed by the king of the gimmick, William Castle, this Vincent Price vehicle followed a group of people who agree to be locked in a large haunted house overnight for a chance at $10,000. Their millionaire host and his wife have all sorts of spooky plans to help scare them out of their chance at cash, making for a fun twist on the haunted house tale. Despite some scares and suspense building, there aren’t any actual ghosts in this movie- just a vicious spousal spat that culminates in murder plots. The 1999 remake made sure to include them, but of course, we pay our respects to the original.

The Innocents

scariest haunted house of all time

With Mike Flanagan’s adaptation of The Turn of the Screw heading to Netflix next year, as The Haunting of Bly Manor , now is a perfect time to revisit the earliest screen adaptation. Despite no job experience, a wealthy bachelor hires Miss Giddens to care for his orphaned niece and nephew so he can resume his travels abroad without a care. Miss Giddens soon comes to suspect that both the house and the children are haunted. The Innocents takes an ambiguous approach that works; is Miss Giddens having a mental break down or is there an actual haunting? That psychological turmoil, combined with the subtle and well-crafted chills, makes this a classic.

scariest haunted house of all time

After a string of haunts in suburbia and modern settings, this one brought the ghost story back to its gothic roots. Set in 1945, a mother cares for her light-sensitive children while her husband is away at war. Things start going bump in the night, and soon the children claim to see other people inhabiting their home with threats that the house actually belongs to them. This traditional ghost story eventually gives way to a tragic reveal that changes the perspective of the entire film. If there’s one recurring theme of haunted houses, it’s residual grief that refuses to mend.

The Amityville Horror

scariest haunted house of all time

Rapidly approaching its 40th anniversary, this adaptation of a novel of the same name launched an ongoing franchise that refuses to die. The plot sees newlyweds purchase a large lakeside house for a bargain price, unaware of the gruesome murders that had taken place prior. It doesn’t take long for evil to present itself in ominous ways, and this haunter is among the first to present a plausible reason the family simply can’t flee- they’ve sunk everything they have into this new home. The Amityville Horror was a huge hit at the box office thanks to the popularity of the book and the cast. The iconic scares helped too.

The Conjuring

The Conjuring

James Wan took everything he’d learned from Insidious and Dead Silence , poured it into this franchise starter and perfected the art of the scare. Like the Lutz family from The Amityville Horror , the Perron family sink everything into their purchase of a fixer-upper farmhouse only to find they’re unwanted guests of the entities who live there. The Lutz family didn’t have the Warrens to aide them, though. The Conjuring offers up an all-you-can-scare buffet, but with characters you sympathize with. The box office never stood a chance.

Burnt Offerings

scariest haunted house of all time

Adapted from a novel and brought to life by horror TV master Dan Curtis ( Dark Shadows , The Night Stalker ), a lot of the familiar tropes in haunted house horror took their cues from this one. The Rolf family get an opportunity to trade their cramped New York apartment for a mansion on the cheap for summer vacation. The only caveat to the low rental fee is that they have to consent to bringing the owners’ elderly mother three meals a day up in the attic room. But despite the familiarity with modern haunted house fare as we know it, Burnt Offerings presents the most unique haunted house of them all. I won’t spoil it, but between the refreshing concept and its talented cast, this is a must.

The Changeling

scariest haunted house of all time

After suffering the devastating and traumatic loss of his wife and child, composer John Russell relocates across the country, renting a historic Victorian mansion. The mansion’s history means that Russell has ghostly encounters to deal with in addition to his still raw grief. Peter Medak’s seminal haunted house film is definitely slow burn, but with the deliberate unraveling of the mystery behind the unhappy entity and the bone-chilling scares, The Changeling is an all-timer. You’ll never look at a seemingly benign red ball the same way ever again.

The Haunting

scariest haunted house of all time

Based on Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House novel, The Haunting sees Dr. John Markway enlist a team to investigate the reported paranormal activity at 90-year-old mansion Hill House, the original home to the Crain family before tragedy befell them. One of the investigators, Nell, came into the investigation already wracked with guilt over a loss, making her fragile mind susceptible to the house. The Haunting takes a two-prong approach to the terror; Nell’s psychological deterioration and the legit paranormal activity. Director Robert Wise delivers a masterful treatise on grief and horror, and proves even a G-rated movie can get under your skin.


scariest haunted house of all time

We can thank this seminal horror film for the advent of the PG-13 rating system, as this PG film isn’t for the faint of heart. The Tobe Hooper-directed, Steven Spielberg-produced haunter is a special effects bonanza that helped transition the haunted house away from the sprawling decrepit estates that were customary and into the familiar setting of suburbia. In a brand new neighborhood, no less. Of course, we soon learn it’s because the developers built it upon a cemetery. And the poor Freeling family suffered most of all for it.

The Shining

scariest haunted house of all time

Yes, the Overlook Hotel technically isn’t a house, but the Torrance family did use it as living quarters during Jack’s tenure as hotel caretaker during the offseason. For all intents and purposes, the Overlook became their home. At least until the ghosts of its past helped usher in Jack’s mental breakdown. Stanley Kubrick focused on the psychological element of Stephen King’s haunting novel, but that didn’t make it any less supernatural or horrifying. Kubrick’s disturbing vision, the talented cast, and the memorable iconography of this adaptation forever solidified its ranking as an all-time cinematic masterpiece.

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Horror journalist, RT Top Critic, and Critics Choice Association member. Co-Host of the Bloody Disgusting Podcast. Has appeared on PBS series' Monstrum, served on the SXSW Midnighter shorts jury, and moderated horror panels for WonderCon and SeriesFest.

scariest haunted house of all time

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“I Don’t Wanna Die in Canada!” – Celebrating the Absurdity of ‘Tusk’ 10 Years Later

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From man-eating beds to serial-killing gingerbread cookies, there’s no shortage of absurd premises in the horror genre. However, not all of these weird movies are created equal, and I’d argue that a silly premise is only half the battle when crafting a legitimately entertaining piece of absurdist genre cinema. Personally, I think that the very best of these strange projects succeed because they take an utterly ridiculous concept and play it completely straight, often revealing unexpected terrors as filmmakers show us worlds where tumors can go homicidal and mad scientists can stitch people into human centipedes.

One of my favorite examples of this kind of cinematic absurdity done right is Kevin Smith’s controversial horror-comedy Tusk , a divisive feature that’s almost equally loved and hated by the horror community. And with the flick currently celebrating its 10 th anniversary, I thought that this might be a great time to look back on the only film that dares to question if man is truly a walrus at heart.

Appropriately enough, the idea for Tusk originally came about on Kevin Smith’s SModcast back in 2013, with the director and his friend Scott Mosier finding out about a supposedly real ad where a landlord would set up a lodger for free if he agreed to dress up as a walrus. Naturally, Smith and Mosier proceeded to make up a humorous backstory for this bizarre agreement, and while the ad was later revealed to have been a hoax orchestrated by writer and prankster Chris Parkinson, this memorable episode of the podcast ended up becoming the basis for Smith’s next film.

Still waiting on approval for Clerks III (which would ultimately only come out in 2022), Smith developed the idea into a proper screenplay and began to shop the project around as another opportunity to “showcase Michael Parks in a fucked-up story” after their collaboration in Red State . The cast would eventually grow to include genre veteran Justin Long and even Johnny Depp as the French-Canadian detective Guy LaPointe (though Smith had originally envisioned the role for none other than Quentin Tarantino after seeing his brief performance in Django Unchained ).

scariest haunted house of all time

“So if you wish to continue living, you will be a walrus, or you’ll be nothing at all.”

In the finished film, which somehow ended up being distributed by A24 , Justin Long plays jaded podcaster Wallace Bryton as he embarks on a trip to Canada and gets kidnapped by the mysterious seaman Howard Howe (Michael Parks). When Howard reveals that he plans to transform Wallace into a freakish recreation of a walrus, it’s up to Teddy ( Haley Joel Osment ) and Ally ( Genesis Rodriguez ) – as well as the French-Canadian inspector Guy LaPoint (Johnny Depp) – to track him down before it’s too late.

Unsurprisingly, a lot of reviewers didn’t really get the movie when it first came out, with the flick being accused of being both too disturbing and too silly by different outlets. Some critics even went so far as to call Tusk one of the worst films of all time, something that I find baffling when one of the funniest parts of the experience is the fact that it’s often too well made when compared to its ridiculous origins. That being said, even the harshest critics had to concede that the film’s casting was impeccable.

While Justin Long is always a joy to watch in horrific situations and Johnny Depp’s near-offensive portrayal of a bumbling French-Canadian is impossible to look away from (though I can only imagine what Tarantino would have done with the role), I think it’s pretty well established that Michael Parks is the real stand-out of this talented ensemble.

The late, great character actor’s unhinged take on Howard is so iconic that it feels like the film only exists as an excuse to allow the veteran thespian a chance to completely let loose. Smith has even gone on record claiming that watching Parks and Depp ham it out onscreen together was akin to witnessing two wizards battling with ancient magic, and it’s precisely this disproportionate level of dedication that I think makes the film so damn hilarious.

scariest haunted house of all time

“I’m so very tired Mr. Tusk, battered by a life of cruel fate and poor decisions and the terrible consequences of both.”

Much like the very best classic comedies, the characters here are unaware that these situations are supposed to be funny, with Tusk taking itself extremely seriously as Justin Long’s humanity is forcibly stripped from him in increasingly insane manners. The difference here is that the horror elements are so well executed that you’ll often forget that you were laughing only a couple of minutes ago.

I mean, the concept alone is terrifying enough if you dare to take it seriously and contemplate the body horror of an irreversible transformation at the hands of a madman. The scene where Parks sharpens a tusk while speaking to a wheelchair-bound Justin Long only to imply that the bone is in fact his tibia is truly the stuff of nightmares – which only makes the film’s bizarrely mean-spirited depiction of Canada that much funnier (something that I actually appreciate even more having grown up in Ontario).

Tusk may not be a perfect film, suffering from a slightly bloated runtime and some uneven jokes, but if Smith’s goal was to create a unique cinematic experience that both shocks and entertains in equal measure, I think he really hit the ball out of the park here. Your enjoyment of the flick will likely depend on how accepting you are of the director’s particular brand of humor, but this is a deeply weird story that only gets better with age.

So whether you’re in the mood for some extreme body horror or just want to enjoy Michael Parks chewing up the scenery like it’s made of homemade poutine, this bizarre little thriller is still worth revisiting a decade later.

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Screen Rant

10 scariest haunted house movies to never watch alone, ranked.

From The Witch in the Window to We Are Still Here, these are our picks for some of the most frightening haunted houses movies of all time.

Among all the types of stories found within the horror genre , haunted houses have to be one of, if not the, most common. Examples of this kind of tale have been recorded throughout history. Every region in the world has them; everyone claims they know where a haunted house lies.

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What makes haunted house movies so appealing is their unpredictability. The setup may not always be diverse, but the execution is, in a way, almost comforting. Which kind of makes sense seeing as home is where the heart is. So, it's no wonder haunt houses affect us to our core so much. As we search through the history of horror cinema, let's visit ten of the scariest haunted house movies ever made.

The Echo (2004)

Marvin is enthused over having his own apartment, but there is one problem. Down the hallway, a couple is constantly having loud arguments. These disputes eventually become violent, and Marvin is conflicted about what to do when the building manager is of no help. When Marvin finally gets involved, he is thrown into a supernatural situation he never could have foreseen.

Yam Laranas' The Echo (originally Sigaw ) is a slow burn of a ghost movie that defies its limited resources. It rallies around the idea that everyday transgressions can continue in death, and it's never too late to do the right thing. Laranas directed an English-language remake in 2008, and it stars Iza Calzado of the original movie from the Philippines.

Sweet Home (1989)

A film crew visits a reclusive painter at his mansion in hopes of documenting the artist restoring his own paintings. During their stay, the crew experiences a series of paranormal incidents tied to the painter's innermost secrets.

Sweet Home  was a tie-in film for the Capcom game of the same name, the influence of which can be seen in other  survival horror  titles that came after. Despite its familiarity, the Sweet Home  movie boasts eyecatching practical effects because Dick Smith ( The Exorcist ) helped with the visuals. Unfortunately for fans, Toho hasn't released  Sweet Home  on a home video format beyond Laserdisc.

The Pact (2012)

After her mother dies, a woman returns to her childhood home. As she stays there, the anxiety she feels about her upbringing triggers a chain of supernatural occurrences tied to the house.

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The idea of people returning to a place they grew up in and dealing with their past is one of the oldest tropes in horror. Dread manifesting from adolescent trauma is particularly popular. The Pact , however, taps into the emotional baggage of familial pangs. It's never the most exciting film, but you can't deny that it makes you feel the whole weight of the protagonist's ordeal.

The Innocents (1961)

A woman named Miss Giddens wins the role of governess in a Victorian home, despite her lack of experience. The owner, an uncle of two children, would rather travel and fraternize than care for his niece and nephew. Miles and Flora are orphans who were left in their uncle's care when they were just infants. Now, Miss Giddens tends to the children, unaware of a supernatural force that may or may not be influencing her charges.

Based on Henry James' novel The Turn of the Screw , this 1961 adaptation represents some of the finest psycho-horror storytelling to date. It's finely acted, and it's eerily unequivocal. There is no doubt modern horror classics like The Others were inspired by The Innocents .

The Haunted (1991)

The devout Smurl family moves to a new town. They quickly take to their new community, but that same community turns its back on the Smurls when the family's house is faced with a paranormal problem. In a bid to exorcise the malefic entity inhabiting their home, the Smurls enlist the help of the Warrens, ghost-hunting husband and wife of The Conjuring fame.

This TV-movie first aired on Fox.   The Haunted is an effective creeper that succeeds due in part to its mood and acting more than its production values.

The Witch in the Window (2018)

A divorced father brings his son to the house he is trying to flip. While they work on the place, they learn of the previous owner, who they now think is a malevolent spirit haunting the property.

As generic as the basic plot sounds, The Witch in the Window is actually a coup for supernatural dramas. Foremost, the film's main goal is to address the strained relationship between the son and father. By the story's end, you're not only concerned about their safety, you're also invested in their emotional well-being.

We Are Still Here (2015)

After losing their son, a couple moves to an isolated house in the New York countryside. Their grieving, however, awakens a family of dormant, sinister spirits looking to hurt someone.

This ghost story feels more 'realistic' than its contemporaries. The acting is very natural and never too obtrusive. The scares are accented by exceptional visual effects that sit in your memory bank long after the movie ends. Something also worth noting is the soundtrack. Or rather, the lack thereof. Keeping the music to a minimum actually elevates the degree of tension.

The Legend of Hell House (1973)

Researchers and their crew enter the infamous Belasco House, a mansion once home to a now-deceased serial killer. It's said that the spirits of his victims are still in the house. The team's leader, Lionel, is highly skeptical, whereas his colleagues are believers. Together, they enter this murder house in hopes of debunking — or proving — the existence of paranormal activity.

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Based on Richard Matheson's novel of the same name, The Legend of Hell House is one haunted house movie that does its source material justice. In terms of scares, the movie is an underrated ghost romp from the 1970s.

The Entity (1982)

A single mother who has been physically violated is led to believe the incident never happened. This is simply because there is no physical evidence indicating someone broke into her house. When the woman seeks help from two parapsychologists, however, she's informed that she may actually have a ghost problem.

The Entity scares us on an entirely different level. For one thing, the movie hits closer to home for people than a mere ghost story might. Barbara Hershey gives a fantastic, raw performance that just has to be seen, too.

Ghostwatch (1992)

As part of a live television investigation, a field reporter is sent to a council house in Northolt, North London. The residents — a single mother and her two daughters — are convinced their home is being haunted. As Halloween night comes to a close, the reporter and the show's hosts all realize there's more to the family's bizarre story.

This event aired on BBC1 on Halloween night back in 1992. Until after the fact, audiences assumed this special was legitimate. As in, not staged. Since  Ghostwatch  was so controversial, the movie hasn't been shown again in the UK since its original airing.

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The Uncorked Librarian logo 2023 with gray cat, green suitcase, and pile of books with glass on wine on top and tv remote

27 Best Haunted House Books To Totally Creepy You Out

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Get ready to travel around the world with enthralling haunted house books to read right now. We dare you not to get the shivers.

From historic homes and old hotels to creepy boarding houses and churches converted into rentals, you’ll never find a shortage of books about haunted houses.

The recipe for the perfect haunted house book usually includes some inexplicable paranormal activity, a murder mystery, and a few unreliable narrators.

Are there really ghosts hiding in the walls or is something or someone manipulating their surroundings? Is this the work of witchcraft or vengeful lovers?

Below, head to the Mexican countryside, secluded Scotland, and across the U.S. in the best haunted house books sure to keep you awake all night – whether from reading or in sheer terror.

Of course, “best” is subjective, and we’d love to know your favorite haunted house novels in the comments. Let’s get started!

Read even more creepy and spooky books to keep you up at night.

Haunted House Books with photo of spooky old house with red glow in windows and cloudy sky surrounded by barren trees

Grab your favorite books about haunted houses here:

  • Audible Plus : From Amazon, listen to Amazon Originals, podcasts, and audiobooks. They add new titles every week.
  • Book of the Month : Get the month’s hottest new and upcoming titles from Book of the Month. You might snag an early release or debut author. Along with selecting a book a month, find terrific add-ons, both trendy and lesser-known titles.
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  • Express VPN – Using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) allows you to view movies worldwide – and they help keep your information safe. Our writers couldn’t have such diverse film reviews without using a VPN.

Table of Contents

27 Engrossing Haunted House Books

The Haunting Of Hill House by Shirley Jackson book cover with water and home covering half of a person's face all hued gray

1. The Haunting Of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

You can’t put together a list of the best haunted house books without including The Haunting Of Hill House – the clue’s right there in the name!

Shirley Jackson’s 1959 Gothic horror novel has become a classic of the genre, widely considered one of the best ghost stories of the 20th century, and with good reason.

Jackson was inspired by the true story of a group of “psychic researchers” who solemnly reported their “scientific findings” of a haunted house to the Society For Psychic Research.

In Jackson’s version, one such researcher – Dr. Montague – rents the supposedly – haunted Hill House for the summer.

He invites several friends who he believes have had genuine supernatural encounters, with the hopes of proving that the ghosts of the mansion’s horrific past are real.

If you enjoy The Haunting Of Hill House , don’t miss these fantastic books with ghosts .

Read The Haunting Of Hill House : Amazon | Goodreads

The Shining Stephen King

2. The Shining by Stephen King

Here’s Johnny!

Before it was a terrifying Stanley Kubrick film, The Shining was one of the best haunted house books of the ‘70s.

It was Stephen King’s third published novel, one that established him as the King Of Horror, master of the psychological thriller, and the contemporary Gothic.

King drew inspiration from his own visit to The Stanley Hotel in 1974, and his own struggle with alcoholism, to develop this haunted house book.

It’s the story of Jack Torrance, a struggling writer and recovering alcoholic who takes a job as a winter caretaker of a hotel with a horrific past – a past that his psychic son has the preternatural ability to sense.

If you love books like The Shining , explore even more books set at hotels – both creepy and luxurious.

Or, find another King novel on our werewolf reading list . Read The Shining by Stephen King : Amazon | Goodreads  

The Turn Of The Screw by Henry James book cover with title in yellow over entire cover and grayed out home in background

3. The Turn Of The Screw by Henry James

Henry James called The Turn Of The Screw a “tale,” but it’s really the haunted house book that inspired all other haunted house books, from its original publication in Collier’s Weekly magazine in 1898 to the present day.

The plot is what we now consider to be the classic Gothic ghost story, but at the time, James actually turned a lot of the usual tropes on their heads.

Instead of explicitly inventing actual ghosts to service the plot, he left the “haunting” of his novel ambiguous.

Perhaps the new governess, looking after two young orphans, really did experience a paranormal torment – or maybe it was something entirely natural, a day-to-day trick of the mind that drove a young woman to madness…

Readers are still arguing about the “truth” of The Turn Of The Screw to this day. Read The Turn Of The Screw : Amazon | Goodreads

The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson book cover with image of a house with red glow

4. The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson

You might be more familiar with The Amityville Horror from the film franchise of the same name, but that cinematic universe was actually based on the 1977 book by Jay Anson.

At the time, Anson presented his haunted house book as non-fiction, but (unsurprisingly) a number of complaints about its veracity emerged soon after publication.

It’s now most often shelved in the horror fiction section. What’s not in doubt is the true crime story that kicked things off.

In 1974, Ronald DeFeo Jr. shot and killed six members of his family in their large Dutch Colonial house, a mighty shock in the Long Island suburb of Amityville.

A year later, the Lutz family moved into the cursed house – only to flee shortly thereafter, claiming to have been chased away by terrifying paranormal phenomena.   Read The Amityville Horror : Amazon | Goodreads

White Is For Witching by Helen Oyeyemi book cover with silhouette of person and two other heads coming out in side like a collar

5. White Is For Witching by Helen Oyeyemi

The best haunted house books don’t just give you chills – they give you something to think about, too.

That’s what you get with White Is For Witching by Helen Oyeyemi, a story about what can only be described as a racist haunted house (one that even serves as a narrator, in part!).

The prologue reveals that the protagonist, Miranda, is missing – dead, actually, with a chunk of apple in her throat, and homesick (or “home sick ”, as the house puts it).

Oyeymi then takes the story back to the beginning, with Miranda and her twin, Eliot, moving into their mother’s childhood home – which is the racist house, the one that chases away the guests and staff that upset its xenophobic sensibilities.

This is a particularly strange and unconventional haunted house book, with hints of the vampiric and allegorical.   Read White Is For Witching : Amazon | Goodreads

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier book cover with two people's faces in sky with person standing on cliff and crashing waves

6. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Haunted house books don’t always feature literal ghosts. Sometimes the haunting is metaphorical, as in Rebecca , where a nameless narrator’s marriage is haunted by the death of her husband’s first wife.

The housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, resents the arrival of a new young bride at the Manderley estate and will go to great lengths to keep Rebecca’s memory alive.

Rebecca seems to be hiding around every corner of the Manderley mansion – so why does her husband refuse to so much as mention her name?

This 1938 Gothic novel has become a classic of the genre, and it has never gone out of print.

It was the basis for a 1940 Alfred Hitchcock film adaptation, which was rebooted by Ben Wheatley for Netflix in 2020. Read Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier : Amazon | Goodreads

Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix book cover with image of yellow sofa with coffee table, bookcases, and pictures on wall

7. Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix

If you’ve ever found yourself lost in IKEA, you’ll immediately appreciate the premise of Grady Hendrix’s 2014 horror-comedy (books about haunted houses can be funny, too–who knew?).

Horrorstor is set in a fictional ORSK store, quite closely based on the real-life Swedish furniture empire, which seems to be under attack by supernatural forces.

The store manager and a few of his staff decide to stay overnight in the store, to try to get to the bottom of the random acts of vandalism that have plagued their workplace, but they might find more than they bargained for…

(Psst: the paperback design, by Quirk Books, is particularly clever and visually stunning–this haunted house book is worth checking out for that alone!)   Read Horrorstor : Amazon | Goodreads

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The Uncorked Librarian Logo with graphics of gray cat, stack of books, glass of pink wine, green suitcase

8. Bone China by Laura Purcell

If you’re looking for the best haunted house books to curl up with on a cold winter’s night, look no further than Bone China .

In Laura Purcell’s homage to Daphne du Maurier, a dangerous experiment might prove to be the cure for the illness that ravaged the Pinecroft family… or it could be their undoing.

The patriarch of the family, Dr. Pinecroft, moves his daughter Louise to the Cornish seaside, believing (as many did at the time) that the salty air and ocean spray would protect her against the disease of consumption.

Forty years later, Hester arrives at that same Pinecroft home, to care for the near-paralyzed and totally-mute Louise.

It’s here the nurse finds strangely superstitious staff and dark secrets from the past.   Read Bone China : Amazon | Goodreads

The Turn Of The Key by Ruth Ware book cover with large black keyhole

9. The Turn Of The Key by Ruth Ware

As the title suggests, Ruth Ware’s 2019 book The Turn Of The Key is a contemporary adaptation of the classic haunted house book Turn Of The Screw .

All the essential ingredients are there: two young children, a new live-in nanny, and a house that holds far too many secrets.

Ware carefully combines classic gothic elements with modern technology to produce one of the best haunted house novels to genuinely scare anyone with a “smart” device in their home.

Plus, the frame of the novel is cleverly turned on its head in the final pages; you’ll be gripped, and left guessing the truth of this haunted house book until the very end.  

If you enjoy The Turn Of The Key , find even more books based in Scotland – funny, scary, and full of thrilling and suspenseful mystery. Read The Turn Of The Key : Amazon | Goodreads

The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse book cover with gray hued hotel with mountains behind it

10. The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse

There is perhaps no spookier setting for a haunted house book than an abandoned sanatorium – unless it’s one that’s been refurbished with ultra-modern conveniences to host paying guests.

That’s the premise of The Sanatorium , Sarah Pearse’s 2021 atmospheric winter thriller .

Elin Warner is on leave from her job as a detective, plagued by anxiety from the trauma she experienced on the job.

She heads to the Swiss Alps, the sanatorium (now branded as a luxury hotel, Le Sommet), to celebrate the engagement of her estranged brother.

But when his new fiancée disappears, and a fearsome storm isolates them all from even the nearest town, Elin has no choice but to put her detective skills to use.

Unfortunately, uncovering the truth might be worse than not knowing…  

Read The Sanatorium : Amazon | Goodreads

Beloved by Toni Morrison

11. Beloved by Toni Morrison

There aren’t many haunted house books that have received the literary acclaim of Toni Morrison’s Beloved –but that’s not all that makes this heart-wrenching and thought-provoking story of a former slave unique.

Morrison’s novel is actually based on the real-life of Margaret Garner, an escaped slave who fled to the free state of Ohio.

Margaret chose to kill her children rather than have them returned to plantation life under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.

In Morrison’s version, the protagonist, Sethe, is haunted by the ghost of the daughter she killed, a child known only by the one word Sethe could afford to have engraved on her tombstone: Beloved.

This essential book is dedicated to “sixty million and more” – the estimated number of Black men, women, and children killed in the African slave trade.

Explore even more of the most notable books published in the ’80s . Read Beloved : Amazon | Goodreads | Book Information

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn book cover with eye with yellow pupil and lines radiating out from it

12. The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

In Gillian Flynn’s The Grownup , an award-winning homage to classic haunted house books, a young “psychic” con woman gets more than she bargains for when she visits the Victorian home of the wealthy and enigmatic Susan, her latest mark.

Carterhook Manor, according to Susan, is under the control of a malevolent spirit. The narrator goes along with it, pretending to believe, but soon finds she doesn’t need to pretend at all.

Susan’s 15-year-old stepson, Miles, doesn’t help matters – he has a grisly imagination, and something has clearly disturbed him.

Fans of Flynn’s realist thrillers will find the spook factor turned way up in this story.

Although a short horror novella , The Grownup still features all of the hallmarks of Flynn’s other best-sellers: an unreliable narrator, a curious mystery, themes of vengeance, and heart-stopping scares.   Read The Grownup : Amazon | Goodreads

Coraline by Neil Gaiman book cover with person in white top with redish hair holding a candle

13. Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Illustrated by Dave Mckean : When Coraline’s family moves into an old mansion, (relatively) recently converted into flats, she can’t shake her curiosity about what’s behind the locked door.

The “crazy old man upstairs” tells her not to go in there. The two elderly women next door see danger when they read her tea leaves.

But still, Coraline’s curiosity overcomes her.

Neil Gaiman’s Coraline is a dark children’s fantasy for fans of haunted house books that – like a spoonful of sugar – help the story go down.

This is a story about innocent curiosity gone wrong, and a warning against anything that seems too good to be true.

Sometimes, doors are locked for a reason! (Be sure to pick up the original version, with beautiful and iconic illustrations by Dave McKean.)  

If you adore Coraline’s feline friend, don’t miss these books with cats for adults .

And, don’t miss the animated film ! Read Coraline : Amazon | Goodreads

Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth red and black book cover

14. Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M Danforth

Plain Bad Heroines combines the best of dark academia and haunted house books, with a queer love story and Hollywood glamour to boot!

The story is set across two timelines.

In 1902, at the Brookhant’s School For Girls in Rhode Island, two young girls are infatuated with each other and with the writing of bisexual feminist author Mary MacLane.

They meet a young and tragic death when they are stung by eastern yellowjacket wasps in the orchard where they had clandestine trysts.

In the present day, a film crew has taken over the abandoned Brookhant campus to make a movie about the school’s strange history.

Two celebrity actresses are cast as the young girls, and they work closely with the author who wrote a best-selling book about the school.

It’s not long before the past and present become entangled, and the haunting of Brookhant becomes all too real.

This is an illustrated story-within-a-story that places strong queer women front and center. Read even more fabulous LGBTQ+ books for teens . Read Plain Bad Heroines : Amazon | Goodreads

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger book cover with person in dress moving on brown and green landscape

15. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

Audrey Niffeneggger is perhaps best known for her romantic stories about true love ( The Time Traveler’s Wife – one of the most well-known time travel romances ), but in Her Fearful Symmetry , she proves she’s got the chops to write brilliant haunted house novels, too!

The story is set in London’s Highgate Cemetery (where Niffenegger once worked as a tour guide) — what better setting for a spooky haunted house book?

When Elspeth dies, she leaves her apartment overlooking the cemetery to her twin nieces, Julia and Valentina.

The two American girls move to London, to their aunt’s apartment, and slowly become enmeshed in the lives of her former neighbors.

Only, it would seem that their aunt isn’t quite ready to leave them, or the apartment, behind…

Her Fearful Symmetry is a wonderfully moving haunted house book, one that explores the bonds of sisterhood and the strength of secrets.   Read Her Fearful Symmetry : Amazon | Goodreads

More Books About Haunted Houses From Christine:

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia book cover with Mexican woman wearing a maroon dress holding flowers

16. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

One of the most talked about haunted house books of 2020, head to the Mexican Countryside during the 1950s in Moreno-Gacia’s Mexican Gothic .

It’s here you’ll meet Noemí Taboada, one kick-butt woman in historical fiction , as well as the creepiest home on this list, High Place.

High Place’s walls are filled with dark demons and swirls of death.

Noemí receives a disturbing letter from her cousin, Catalina, warning that home is taking a toll on her health.

When Noemí arrives, she instantly realizes that something much more sinister is at play.

The depressing atmosphere masks secrets and possibly even murder. Will these cousins escape the home alive?

Find dazzling details juxtaposing gore with the brilliant and golden darkness. The suspense and imagery promise to engross unsuspecting readers. Read Mexican Gothic : Amazon | Goodreads | Book Information

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager book cover with chandelier glowing in a green light

17. Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

Travel across the 50 States to Vermont with Sager’s ghost thriller and haunted house book, Home Before Dark.

Upon the death of her father, Maggie begrudgingly returns to her childhood home, Baneberry Hall — her inheritance that is in dire need of restoration.

Unfortunately, it’s also been foreshadowed that Maggie will die on this visit.

No one wants her there. Maggie’s father’s bestselling and famous nonfiction book changed all of their lives — and not for the better.

Plus, general consensus is that Maggie’s father lied about Baneberry Hall’s paranormal activity to make a few extra bucks.

Still, something more is wrong.  Was daddy dearest also covering up something darker and deadlier?  

If you love spooky books with haunted houses, dressers you’ll never want to open, and Ouija boards, Home Before Dark is for you.

Read Home Before Dark : Amazon  |  Goodreads  |  Book Information→

Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney book cover with snow over trees and church

18. Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney

Feeny’s Rock Paper Scissors is one of the best slower-paced, keep-you-guessing, and suspenseful haunted house novels on this list.

Find a story chock full of surprises you won’t see coming.

Similar to the storyline of Goodnight Beautiful , meet multiple unreliable, unhappy narrators — each with their own agenda.

Adam and Amelia are hoping that a weekend getaway to Scotland will ignite the quickly diminishing spark in their marriage.

Mysteriously, Amelia won a free stay at a historic church converted into a creepy home and rental property. Something or maybe someone is out to get them. (Please know that Bob the dog will be OK.)

Those traditional anniversary gifts and fluffy white rabbits are much more hellish than they appear.

A book about stories — the ones we write as well as the ones we tell ourselves — Rock Paper Scissors questions if can ever really know the person we married.

Heck, can we distinguish the truth from the lies we tell ourselves? Encounter themes of raging revenge and guilt in one of our most-anticipated books of 2021 . Read Rock Paper Scissors : Amazon | Goodreads

The Widow of Pale Harbor By Hester Fox Review

19. The Widow of Pale Harbor By Hester Fox

For books with Salem Witch Trials themes , travel to Maine in Hester Fox’s The Widow Of Pale Harbor.

Fox, the author of  The Witch of Willow Hall – an equally creepy haunted house book set in MA – is back at it with another eerie story filled with Gothic romance and murder. 

Castle Carver – the setting for this story – is based on real-life Castle Tucker , which is located in Wiscasset, Maine.

It’s here in small-town Maine, ruled by fear and hatred, that Sophronia Carver stays self-imprisoned in her home, accused of murdering her husband.

Of course, the story of a spinster and witchy maid paired with a reclusive, stunningly beautiful, and deadly widow fits right in 1846.

To the conservative townspeople, something is brewing between the two outcasts and alleged occultists .

As Sophronia manages her husband’s literary magazine, disturbing and threatening gifts arrive at her front door: hurt birds and candles with notes promising fatal outcomes.

Is this merely the crime of bored school children? Unlikely .

And now, people are dying and all of the murders mimic scenes from Edgar Allan Poe’s stories and poems.

Add in a love affair with an alleged minister, and The Widow of Pale Harbor has a cauldron full of suspenseful and mysterious elements perfect for a wickedly enchanting haunted house novel. Read The Widow Of Pale Harbor : Amazon | Goodreads | Review

The Broken Girls by Simone St James book cover with person's back in orange coat

20. The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

Simone St. James is the goddess of paranormal books about haunted houses, hotels, and boarding schools.

In dark academia novel, The Broken Girls , St. James takes readers to a petrifying and dilapidated closed boarding school that’s about to be reopened by a mysterious donor.

Beginning in Vermont in the 1950s, Idlewild Hall was where families would abandon their ‘unwanted’ or secret children.

The worst part, though, is that – to this day – Mary Hand haunts the school, and Mary is not a happy, peaceful soul.

Terrorizing the four main characters, all young women, one will eventually end up dead.

Flash forward to 2014. Fiona Sheridan is determined to find answers about the murder of her sister. An assigned story takes her back to Idlewild where the past and present collide.

Also from St. James, The Sun Down Motel is one of the most haunted hotel stories set in New York – complete with a murder mystery and double timeline.

Explore more books demonstrating the power of friendship .

Read The Broken Girls : Amazon | Goodreads

The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling book cover with male and female witches on broom flying over town gazebo and moon

21. The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling

For non-spooky haunted house books, travel to Wales and small-town Georgia in The Ex Hex . If you enjoy spell-binding and wickedly witchy romances , this recommendation is for 100% you.

“Never mix vodka with witchcraft,” which is quite sound advice when heartbroken teenage girls are involved.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what Vivi does when her summer fling, Rhys, breaks her heart. Rhys is betrothed to someone else and just happens to conveniently leave out that part.

As Rhys returns home to Wales, Vivi jokingly places a hilarious curse on him. Of course, it won’t work. Cough, cough .

Nearly a decade later when Rhys returns – and he seems completely out of luck – he must enlist the help of Vivi and her quirky family to rid him of the curse.

Can Vivi and Rhys re-kindle their romance too?

Meet angry ghosts, a haunted house, and a talking cat. Plus, shop at the best witch store in town.

For a light-hearted rom-com, especially perfect for the fall, The Ex Hex promises all of the fluff.

Read The Ex Hex : Amazon | Goodreads

The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James book cover with house and car out front in rain

22. The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James

Although a repeat author on this list, you cannot overlook 2022 book release , The Book of Cold Cases . This is the ultimate thriller, murder mystery, and haunted house book.

Shea Collins is a doctor’s office receptionist. At night, Shea transforms into an intuitive true crime blogger, fascinated with serial killers since her traumatizing childhood abduction.

One day, Beth Greer — the alleged 1970s Lady Killer (who was acquitted) — walks into the office. Shea cannot resist dropping back into the black hole of details and research about the case.

Even more enticing, Beth grants Shea an unheard-of interview at her creepy Oregon mansion. Spoiler alert: the mansion is both haunted and dangerous.

Does sexy AF and cold make for a murderess or merely the perfect scapegoat? Is Beth innocent? And if so, who is the real Lady Killer?

The Book of Cold Cases is full of thrilling and chilling suspense with quite a few plot twists. The character depth and development make for one unforgettable and thought-provoking paranormal story.

Read The Book of Cold Cases : Amazon | Goodreads

A Castle In The Clouds by Kerstin Gier book cover with illustrated Swiss hotel and young red haired maid

23. A Castle In The Clouds by Kerstin Gier

Translated into English by Romy Fursland : We know our readers pretty well, and along with The Ex Hex , we knew that we needed at least one or two more light-hearted and sweet haunted house novels on this list.

Travel to the Swiss Alps in Gier’s YA romance and mystery novel, A Castle In The Clouds .

Of course, this castle is more of a hotel than a house; however, many of the staff live permanently on-site – so, put those thumbs away and back away from our comment section!

Sophie is a high school dropout and a new hotel intern. As internships tend to go, along with her housekeeping duties, Sophie is also tasked with the hotel’s surplus of children.

Between paranormal activities, the Forbidden (possibly immortal) cat, and rather wealthy guests with large diamonds, Sophie is in for one wild ride, including a little romance with the hotelier’s son.

You might also get Janet Evanovich vibes here when you meet Sophie’s other love interest…

It doesn’t help that the hotel isn’t making money and there might be a criminal (or two) on the loose.

Can Sophie help save the hotel, her heart, and this luxury Swiss hotel? Encounter secret identities, and waltz on the rooftop. Read A Castle In The Clouds : Amazon | Goodreads

The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas book cover with woman in red dress walking away from house at night

24. The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas

Fans of Mexican Gothic and Rebecca retellings will devour 2022 book release The Hacienda.

Set in Mexico after the Mexican War of Independence, Beatriz knows that she must strategically marry to save her mother and herself.

Marrying Don Rodolfo Solórzano is clearly the answer, even though his wife mysteriously died in their country estate, Hacienda San Isidro.

For books about haunted houses, San Isidro is chock full of horrors, including a skeleton with glowing red eyes and one ticked-off and vengeful spirit. No wonder the house staff sleeps elsewhere.

Who is haunting this family, and can the local priest perform a secret exorcism before it’s too late? Clearly, Beatrix is next to die.

Find romance and a story about witches in this chilling and thrilling haunted house book for historical and Gothic fiction lovers.

Read The Hacienda : Amazon | Goodreads | Book Information

The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz book cover with black and white snowy scene with trees and neon green title

25. The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz

TWs for sex, violence, and drink spiking

When looking at haunted house books, we have to talk about those nightmarish 2023 book releases too. And trust us, we have just the book for you…

Alex wants nothing more than to be a published author and make amends with her former best friend Wren.

When she’s added to a coveted spot at her favorite author and role model’s writing retreat, her dreams might finally come to fruition.

However, Roza Vallo is a bit unorthodox in her ways, and her secluded mansion might be a tad haunted following the tragic deaths of its former inhabitants.

Even more stressful, Roza makes this retreat high-stakes: one of the five women invited will get their book published.

However, something sinister is at play here, and as a blizzard closes them off to the world, it’s debatable if everyone will survive.

From quirky charm necklaces to desperation and manipulation, The Writing Retreat is a book about writing and books and the struggles and pressures of being an author.

How far would you go to be famous and get a book published? Read The Writing Retreat : Amazon | Goodreads

How To Sell A Haunted House by Grady Hendrix book cover with orange red house with light shinning out the door in dark

26. How To Sell A Haunted House by Grady Hendrix

CWs: graphic violence

One of the scariest haunted house books we’ve read in a long time – that goes slightly off the rails – people either loved Hendrix’s 2023 release or felt it was his weakest title.

However, besides the fact that dolls and puppets are creepy AF – just like clowns – we largely enjoyed How To Sell A Haunted House … although we could have done without Mark’s college detour backstory.

When her not-quite but almost estranged brother Mark calls Louise letting her know their parents are dead, Louise heads home to South Carolina to help with the logistics.

Of course, to her, childish Mark hasn’t changed a bit, and she’s devastated to learn that her mother left Mark everything except her art, including their terrifying childhood home filled with bad memories and possibly even demons.

So, how do you sell a haunted house that is literally trying to kill you? The puppets come alive, and let’s just say, there is a lot of violence, blood, and gore before the resolution.

Hendrix has penned one of the best haunting books sure to chill you to the bone about families, secrets, the selfish lies we tell ourselves for self-preservation and generational trauma.

It’s a terrific book about sister relationships with their brothers too.

With 39-year-old Louise at the heart of the novel, we’d also say this is a pretty solid “middle-aged character” read , especially as she navigates her parents’ deaths and raising her own daughter, Poppy.

Read How To Sell A Haunted House : Amazon | Goodreads

The Stranger Upstairs by Lisa M. Matlin book cover with blue gray purple house and pink flowering trees

27. The Stranger Upstairs by Lisa M. Matlin

CWs: sick/hurt animals (Reaper will be OK), suicide, murder, alcoholism, and more

For new books about haunted houses (2023) with despicable characters that you will still find yourself rooting for, The Stranger Upstairs makes for a riveting and suspenseful mystery.

Sarah Slade and her husband have just purchased Black Wood House, a murder home in Melbourne, Australia, where a husband viciously hammered his wife to death and attacked their daughter before killing himself.

But therapist and bestselling self-help author Sarah Slade doesn’t care. With a crumbling marriage and failing career, she only sees dollar signs.

Yet, is even awful Sarah evil enough to withstand the legacy of this haunted home, including someone possibly poisoning her cat and trying to kill her?

The police will find dead bodies… who will they belong to? Haunted house novels don’t get any darker than this, and for debut novels, this is a strong start for Lisa Matlin.

Discover even more great books from, about, and across Australia .

Read The Stranger Upstairs : Amazon | Goodreads

We have even more spooky treats for our haunted house genre fans…

If you love haunting books, be sure to visit our haunted house movie list , filled with funny, scary, and suspenseful movies about the creepiest houses out there. You’ll even find a few titles from this list that were adapted into horrifying films like The Shining , The Amityville Horror , and The Haunting of Hill House . Maybe just leave the lights on, and hold on tight to your popcorn…

Grab the best haunted house books for later:

Do you have a favorite haunted house book?

Which haunted house novels will you never forget? Are there any that fell flat for you? Let us know in the comments.

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Save The Most Eye-Catching Books About Haunted Houses For Later:

Books About Haunted Houses Pinterest pin with photo of gray house and dark sky with book covers for Mexican Gothic, The Haunting of Hill House, The Grownup, The Sanatorium, The Turn of the Screw, The Turn of the Key, Home Before Dark, and White is for Witching

Sheree Strange

Sheree (pronouns: she/her) is a writer and book reviewer living on the land of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation (known as Sydney, Australia). She has been reviewing books on her blog, Keeping Up With The Penguins , since 2017. She reads books of all kinds and shares her thoughts on them all across the internet.

Christine Owner The Uncorked Librarian LLC with white brunette female in pink dress sitting in chair with glass of white wine and open book

Christine Frascarelli

Christine (she/her) is the owner, lead editor, and tipsy book sommelier of The Uncorked Librarian LLC, an online literary publication showcasing books and movies to inspire travel and home to the famed Uncorked Reading Challenge.

With a BA in English & History from Smith College, an MLIS from USF-Tampa, and a U.S. Fulbright Fellowship in Christine's back pocket, there isn't a bookstore, library, or winery that can hide from her. Christine loves brewery yoga, adopting all of the kitties, and a glass of oaked Chardonnay. Charcuterie is her favorite food group.

My very favorite haunted house book is by Jo Kaplan, “It will just be us”. One of the only books I can remember after I have read it.

Thanks so much for sharing! We will have to check it out!

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The 25 Best Haunted House Movies of All Time

Because ghosts and other supernatural beings need a place to rest their weary heads, too.

By Matthew Jackson | Oct 26, 2023

On the set of 'The Haunting'

The haunted house is one of horror ’s most time-honored tropes, a dark twisting of the place we call home into a maelstrom of terror and things that go bump in the night. There’s something eternal about the idea, so it’s no wonder that hundreds upon hundreds of filmmakers have channeled it for dark visions of their own. There are, of course, dozens of classics in the genre on the big-screen, but if you’re looking for the very best to dive into this Halloween season, these are the ones you definitely won’t want to miss.

1. The Uninvited (1944)

The Uninvited , a ghost story from Hollywood’s Golden Age, has pretty much everything you’d want out of a classic black-and-white horror-drama. It’s got a spooky old house, a cast of beloved character actors led by Ray Milland, a slow-burn supernatural narrative that moves at its own leisurely pace, and of course old-school ghosts . It might move a little slowly for modern audiences, but if you’re patient with it, it’s the kind of film that will wrap you up in its own creepy comforts. In 2019, Martin Scorsese named The Uninvited one of the scariest movies of all time; “the tone is very delicate, and the sense of fear is woven into the setting [and] the gentility of the characters,“ he wrote for The Daily Beast .

2. The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)

If you want a haunted house story that’s not scary, and might in fact leave you buoyant with joy, look no further than this classic starring Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison in the title roles. A supernatural romance about a young woman and the spectral sea captain who becomes her preternatural paramour, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is both thoroughly layered with ideas and wonderfully sweet, remaining a great change of pace from the horror films where ghosts usually dwell. Bernard Herrmann, the legendary composer behind such diverse titles as Citizen Kane , Psycho , and Taxi Driver , scored The Ghost and Mrs. Muir , and considered it his best work .

3. 13 Ghosts (1960)

Legendary gimmick -happy genre director William Castle made two great haunted house films in his career, and while House on Haunted Hill (1959) is more than worth a watch, 13 Ghosts stands out now as the superior (and more overtly supernatural) picture. The story of a family that moves into a house they suddenly inherited, it’s a supernatural mystery that’s both satisfying and delightfully over-the-top, and the ghost effects (enhanced by Illusion-O, Castle’s gimmick of special glasses that allowed you to see the ghosts or avoid them at will in the theater) are still genuinely unsettling after more than 60 years.

4. The Innocents (1961)

Just like the story that inspired it, Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw , Jack Clayton’s The Innocents is a film that focuses more on the haunted houses we build in our own minds than on actual ghosts reaching out from the darkness. In that regard, it’s a tremendous showcase for Deborah Kerr in the lead role of a governess slowly losing it in a big, old, possibly haunted house. She gets wonderfully, devastatingly lost in Clayton’s Gothic atmosphere, and you will, too.  The Innocents also made Scorsese’s list of scariest movies ever, with the Oscar-winner describing it as “one of the rare pictures that does justice to Henry James. It’s beautifully crafted and acted, immaculately shot (by Freddie Francis), and very scary.“

5. The Haunting (1963)

Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House is one of the all-time great haunted house stories, and it has given us more than one great adaptation along the way. If you’re looking for the best feature film version, though, look no further than Robert Wise’s psychologically rich, unshakably tense vision from the 1960s. The horror is subtle, but the way Wise’s camera paints with light and shadows will leave you searching every corner for a spirit.  Russ Tamblyn , who plays Luke Sannerson—the heir set to inherit Hill House—in the film also appeared in one episode of Netflix's 2018 miniseries, The Haunting of Hill House .

6. The Legend of Hell House (1973)

Richard Matheson’s novel Hell House is a masterclass in pure, straightforward haunted house terror, and John Hough’s film adaptation delivers all that and more. The film follows a group of experts as they head into the title house with the goal of finding proof of the supernatural. It quickly devolves into terror as the group encounters dark image after dark image, all building toward a terrifying conclusion that’s still one of the more fascinating haunted house resolutions in the cinematic canon. More than 25 years after its original release, the film inspired the creation of the MTV horror reality series Fear .

7. House (1977)

If you’ve never seen House , Nobuhiko Obayashi’s 1977 haunted house film, do yourself a favor and just go watch it. Right now. Don’t look up the plot, don’t watch trailers, just watch the movie and hold on for dear life. It’s been nearly 50 years since Obayashi’s film was released, and there’s still nothing else in the horror genre —or in any other genre—quite like it. It’s a dark dream full of imagery that will live in your head forever, and a singular achievement in haunted house storytelling. While House was an immediate hit in its native Japan, American audiences didn’t get a chance to witness it until more than 30 years later, when it began screening at festivals in 2009 and very quickly gained a cult following.

8. The Changeling (1980)

George C. Scott isn’t necessarily an actor you think of as an all-out horror icon, but he cemented that status for himself with a remarkable performance in this film, the story of a grieving composer who moves into a haunted house and begins to unravel a decades-old mystery. Scott is great in the central role, but it’s Peter Medak’s slow-burn horror direction, complete with antique wheelchair and menacing children’s toys, that cements this one as a haunted house classic. In order to get the details just right, screenwriters Diana Maddox and William Gray reportedly spent approximately six months poring over research for the film, including more than 700 books and close to 2000 case studies regarding parapsychological events.

9. The Shining (1980)

While technically a movie about a haunted hotel , Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining works so well in part because of the way it makes said hotel into a single-family dwelling, surrounding the Torrance trio with vastness until the building seems to swallow them all whole. Whether you consider the film a story of haunted places or a story of haunted people, Kubrick’s ability to play with our perceptions and create a sense of near-constant unease has become legendary, making The Shining one of the essential horror films in any genre. Before he took on The Shining , Kubrick was in consideration to direct The Exorcist . He turned down the gig, explaining that “I only like to develop my own stuff.” (He clearly changed his mind to adapt The Shining .)

10. Poltergeist (1982)

What’s great about Poltergeist , Tobe Hooper’s Steven Spielberg-produced classic about a family whose new house is overtaken by spirits, is just how relentless the film is. From the moment the ghostly activity starts, it never seems to stop, and it never stops escalating as the film barrels toward its conclusion. But even with that in mind, and with the loads of horror imagery packed into the film, Poltergeist never loses its prevailing sense of fun and adventure, delivering a horror classic that you can watch without fear of being bummed out by the end. Spielberg originally approached Stephen King about writing the script. “It didn’t work out because it was before the internet and we had a communication breakdown,” King told Entertainment Weekly in 2018. “I was on a ship going across the Atlantic to En­gland. It took so long to reply that Spielberg moved on.”

11. House (1985)

Steve Miner’s House is one of those movies that walks in two worlds so deftly that it’s almost head-spinning. The film follows author Roger Cobb (William Katt), who moves into his late aunt’s house to write a book, only to discover the place is haunted. Strange events ensue that are equal parts haunting and silly, and the film somehow deftly moves into a space where it works as both an outright comedy and as a rather pointed meditation of post-Vietnam anxiety in Reagan’s America. Yes, it sounds wild—but it works. George Wendt, best known for his role as Norm Peterson on Cheers , co-stars as Roger’s neighbor Harold; John Ratzenberger, who plays Norm’s BFF Cliff Clavin, appears in 1987’s House II: The Second Story .

12. Beetlejuice (1988)

While it’s firmly rooted in dark, zany comedy and not horror, Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice remains one of the great haunted house movies thanks to its focus on the expected tropes and how they twist when the perspectives get flipped. In a strange world where ghosts have a kind of society and code all their own, it’s a film that not only shows you both sides of a haunting, but reveals all the ways that ghosts can express themselves beyond strange noises and horrifying apparitions. Thirty-five years later, it’s still a joy to watch. Reportedly, Burton’s first choice for the role of Beetlejuice was Sammy Davis Jr. It was producer David Geffen who suggested Michael Keaton.

13. Ghostwatch (1992)

Originally released as a supposedly real BBC television special, Ghostwatch is best remembered now for the sheer terror it inspired in viewers on Halloween night in 1992, but it’s so much more than that. Yes, Ghostwatch is a fascinating cultural artifact within the mockumentary subgenre. Yet it’s also a thoroughly engrossing and genuinely frightening haunted house story, the kind of thing that will have you watching it over and over again, looking for all the hidden specters. The UK’s Broadcasting Standards Council reportedly received more than 20,000 phone calls and thousands of letters—all of them angry—following the initial broadcast.

14. The Others (2001)

Rich with textural, chilling visuals and a reverence for the visual language of haunted houses, Alejandro Amenábar’s The Others is a film that will lure you into a sense of uncomfortable, unpredictable dread even if you already know its central twist. Thanks to wonderful work by a cast led by Nicole Kidman and Amenábar’s own assured direction, it’s one of those movies that casts a dark spell that feels unbreakable, from its meditations on post-war grief and trauma to its eventual ghostly revelations. In 2002, the movie made history at the Goya Awards—Spain’s version of the Oscars—where it won a total of eight awards, including Best Film. It’s the  first film  to earn Spain’s highest film honor in which not one word of Spanish is spoken.

15. Dark Water (2002)

Though he’s perhaps best known for films like Ringu , Japanese director Hideo Nakata’s true masterpiece might be this intimate little ghost story about a mother and daughter who move into an apartment with a very dark history. Full of atmospheric flourishes and foreboding, Dark Water is a masterclass in building suspense, delivering a payoff, and then keeping the scares going even after the story has seemingly resolved. Three years after the film’s release, an English language version starring Jennifer Connelly and John C. Reilly was released.

16. A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)

Kim Jee-woon’s A Tale of Two Sisters is an unforgettable exercise in psychological terror for a number of reasons, but among the most striking is the way the filmmaker convinces you more than once that he’s switching genres. For a huge chunk of the runtime, the film might just be a gripping psychological drama with a few haunted house flourishes for the sake of symbolism. But by the time it’s over, and you realize it was a haunted house film all along, you realized that the ghosts of this film are all the more potent, and all the more horrifying. To this day, A Tale of Two Sisters remains the highest-grossing horror film in its native South Korea.

17. Paranormal Activity (2007)

In an age when ghost-hunting shows were growing increasingly popular, a film like Oren Peli’s Paranormal Activity felt understandably inevitable, but that does nothing to diminish its impact. The setup is simple: A couple sets up cameras in their house to try and capture apparent supernatural happenings. While the found footage format is by now well-worn by many sequels and copycats, the film is still a low-fi chiller with an unforgettable ending, not to mention one of the most influential horror releases of its era. Steven Spielberg got a copy of the DVD, which he was reportedly convinced was haunted. He loved the movie, though, and the ending audiences see was suggested by the Oscar-winning director; in 2017, Peli admitted that he still prefers his original finale.

18. The Orphanage (2007)

One of the most enduring images in 21st century horror so far comes from J.A. Bayona’s The Orphanage , a haunted house narrative that features, among other things, the unforgettable specter of a little boy in a cloth mask. But that boy and that mask are only a fraction of the story. Over the course of its runtime, The Orphanage packs in loads of other scares, both otherworldly and existential, cementing its place as one of the best horror films of the last 25 years. Horror icon Guillermo del Toro makes an uncredited cameo in the film, playing a doctor.

19. Lake Mungo (2008)

A family reeling from the loss of their daughter agrees to be interviewed for a documentary exploring the possibility that their house is haunted. What happens next is one of the most remarkable horror narratives of the last 25 years. Eerie, beautiful, and full of thoughtful meditation on what we leave behind when we go, Lake Mungo is both a classic ghost story and a dazzling effort by director Joel Anderson to tell that ghost story in ways we’d never seen before. Jordan Peele considers Lake Mungo one of the scariest films he has ever seen, and used it as an inspiration in making Us (2019).

20. Sinister (2012)

We might be stretching the definition of “haunted house movie“ here a little bit, as the entity in Sinister is more demon than ghost. But director/co-writer Scott Derrickson’s film is so good that we’re ignoring that and getting right to the good stuff. Unbelievably tense and full of great, gruesome detail, Sinister is the kind of haunted house movie that will make you think twice about every corner of your own home, especially if you just moved there. And if you like found footage, the home movie segments are still chilling, even if you’ve seen them 100 times. In 2012, co-writer C. Robert Cargill told Complex how the idea for Sinister came to him from a nightmare he had after watching The Ring .

21. The Woman in Black (2012)

Built on the strong foundation that is Daniel Radcliffe ’s assured performance as a lawyer sent to a haunted house to process an estate, The Woman in Black is a film with loads of atmosphere and plenty of old-school charm. Like the ghost stories of old, it’s not afraid to take its time, but like modern ghost films it’s also willing to employ a more vicious jump scare pace to get the job done when it’s required. The result is a horror hybrid, a blend of old and new that still packs a punch. Misha Handley, the young actor who plays Radcliffe’s son Joseph in the movie, is Radcliffe’s real-life godson. The actor suggested Handley be cast in the role in order to strengthen the bond seen between father and son in the film.

“It is very hard to create that chemistry with a 4-year-old boy, who you have never met before and who is stepping onto a film set going, ‘What in the hell is all of this?’ That was one of the reasons that I suggested [director] James [Watkins] audition my real-life godson,” Radcliffe told the Associated Press.

22. The Conjuring (2013)

James Wan’s franchise-launching film is among the most successful, and most frightening , horror movies of the 2010s, and still looms large in a horror landscape that’s since moved through many sequels and spinoffs. Wan’s ability to wring maximum screams out of a good jump scare is, of course, legendary at this point. And while there’s no shortage of that kind of terror in The Conjuring , it’s the human struggle at its core that will keep you hooked. In 2021, the Rhode Island home that inspired the film hit the market for $1.2 million.

23. We Are Still Here (2015)

One of the best horror films of the 21st century so far, Ted Geoghegan’s We Are Still Here begins with a simple premise—a grieving couple moves into a cursed old house in New England—and then wrenches the absolute maximum impact from its scares. Geoghegan’s ghosts are more violent than the spectral spirits of old, but it’s not just the gore that’ll leave your jaw on the floor. There’s an unshakable eeriness here that endures long after the film’s over. The movie is packed with references to Lucio Fulci’s The House by the Cemetery (1981), which had a massive influence on Geoghegan; in addition to similar locations, many of We Are Still Here ’s characters are named after both characters and actors in the Italian horror master’s film.

24. Crimson Peak (2015)

Guillermo del Toro is one of horror’s great visual stylists, but even by his standards, Crimson Peak is truly stunning. A classic Gothic romance full of decay, sensuality, and ghosts, it’s a film that feels like stepping into another world, a meditation on certain well-worn tropes that somehow emerges as something entirely new. That’s thanks in part to the trio of stars—Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, and Mia Wasikowska—at its core, but the film’s sweeping, chillingly seductive energy is pure del Toro.

The film is partly inspired by a night spent at New Zealand’s supposedly haunted Waitomo Caves Hotel, when del Toro was scouting locations for the The Hobbit movies (which he was originally attached to direct). “I heard a horrible murder being committed in the room,“ del Toro told the New Zealand Herald . “I was actually terrified. I didn’t sleep at all that night. What was strange was the next morning I was not tired, but I was wired and scared. I never imagined having those fears. It was absolutely terrifying.“

25. His House (2020)

Two African refugees settle into government-provided housing in the United Kingdom, and quickly discover they’re not alone. Like so many horror films on this list, His House begins with something very straightforward, easily graspable by any audience, then evolves into something else entirely. The horror sequences, courtesy of director Remi Weekes, are some of the most harrowing in recent haunted house memory, but what sticks with you about His House is its focus on how the horror we witness shapes us, and how far we’ll go to survive—even knowing that the ghosts of our choices won’t ever leave.

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Headless Horseman Hayrides and Haunted Houses

The scariest haunted houses in NYC

Get ready for Halloween at these frightful haunted houses in NYC.

Shaye Weaver

While some of us spend fall dreaming of hot apple cider, hayrides and picking apples and pumpkins , others are eagerly planning for the upcoming terror-fest that is Halloween in NYC . In addition to finding a costume (check out the best Halloween stores in the city) and choosing which Halloween events to attend, it’s time to start thinking about all the haunted houses in NYC to hit up. These haunted houses are intense with thrills and chills that will shake you to your core. You’ll experience ghouls, gore and plenty of undead action, but don’t we all love a good scream around Halloween? If you’re looking for a real-life creep-out, there are plenty of haunted places and spooky spots in the city that will give you the willies any time of year, but these haunted houses in NYC offer peak terror that’s perfect for the Halloween season. So take in a few of the best horror movies and head out to celebrate the scariest time of year.

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The best haunted houses in NYC for a scarily good time

Nightmare Dollhouse

1.  Nightmare Dollhouse

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The premise for this haunted house is a terrifyingly simple one: "Nightmare Dollhouse" is a petrifying roadside attraction in the middle of nowhere that’s home to all of the world's scariest dolls (and we can think of plenty!).

"Nightmare Dollhouse" premieres at Teatro SEA at the Clemente at 107 Suffolk Street by Norfolk Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan on October 13. The limited engagement will run through October 31, with an official opening date of October 18.

"At first it may seem like a serious museum, but beware, the demonic and bloodcurdling lurk around every corner," reads the chilling official description. "The dolls have come to life and want to make you one of them! Can you escape with your soul intact, or will you succumb to the evil in the Nightmare Dollhouse?"

Tickets are available for purchase right   here . Bonus: Ticketholders get access to a full bar.

Blood Manor

2.  Blood Manor

Prepare to scream in horror.   Blood Manor  is back through November 4 , marking the haunted house's 20th season in the city. 

To celebrate two decades of terrifying New Yorkers, Blood Manor will present yet another theater-quality production. The space in Soho at  359 Broadway will include  three new rooms, and brand-new costumes by designers from   Abracadabra , Manhattan's iconic Halloween store. The multiroom immersive experience employs professional actors, set designers and makeup artists, and promises to leave visitors more afraid than ever in 2023. 

Blood Manor’s most infamous attractions will return for repeat visitors looking to relive their self-induced terrors, and the space will be revamped, and amplified to intensify the fear factor. Visitors will journey through dark, sinister corridors filled with twisted characters and jumpscares at every turn.

And be prepared: It's legitimately really scary. You'll wanter through 10,000 square feet of themed rooms, corridors, and a labyrinth of passageways designed to to maximize one's fears.


3.  TerrorVision

Times Square is a nightmare for so many of us already (cue the unkempt Elmos and the smelly, zombie-like crowds), but now it's even more terrifying.

"Horrorwood Studios" is now open in Times Square at 300 West 43rd Street for a spooky season of "heart-pounding" immersive experiences from artistic directors Will Munro and Katie McGeoch. (The duo has spent more than two decades as the heads of Six Flags’ Fright Fest.) 

Under the guise that you’re behind the scenes at the filming of an upcoming TerrorVision Halloween episode, you’ll live out your Samara dreams and step through a flickering TV screen into a horrible scene, filled with 140 actors across 20,000 square feet—what could be the largest haunted house in NYC.

Tickets  cost $39 per person.

Halloween House at The Oculus

4.  Halloween House at The Oculus

If you want your spooky celebrations to be more festive and less frightening, Halloween House is serving up a fear-free All Hallows Eve attraction at  The Oculus  this fall.

Kicking off on Friday, September 29, and running through Wednesday, November 1, Halloween House —which welcomed 100,000 visitors across its various locations last year—will take over the transportation and shopping hub at 185 Greenwich Street with an array of immersive, intricately designed themed rooms: a Glow in the Dark space, a mysterious Vampires' Lair, a Horror Movie Graveyard and an indoor pumpkin patch, among others. 

Unlike traditional haunted houses, the all-ages Halloween House "sets itself apart by delivering entertainment through meticulously detailed environments, devoid of actors, jump scares, and strobe lights," reads a press release. In terms of decorations, expect more ghouls and graveyards, not gross-out gore or ghastly characters.

You can get tickets at the  Halloween House website ; adult entry costs $40, while tickets for kids and under are set at $35. 

Headless Horseman

5.  Headless Horseman

Ulster Park's   Headless Horseman Haunted Hayrides and Haunted Houses  is back for 2023 with plenty of terrifying attractions. There's the classic hayride, a hauting walking trail, a corn maze and several haunted houses. 

All give New Yorkers an opportunity to slowly pass the creepy crawly things in the darkness and maybe even see the headless horseman himself.

A Haunting in Hollis

6.  A Haunting in Hollis

Walk three floors of a real house (including a basement) that's been transformed into a haunted nightmare, plus two pitch-black outdoor mazes with more than 20 live actors at A Haunting in Hollis . As goblins and ghouls and zombies try to get a piece of you, make your way through horrific mazes and into the experimental labs where zombies chase you and all things go wrong. 

Looking for more scares?

Check out the most haunted places in NYC

Check out the most haunted places in NYC

Learn what’s lurking around town at the most haunted places in NYC—and then decide whether or not you want to go out

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scariest haunted house of all time

The Most Terrifying Books: 15 Titles Not for the Faint of Heart

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Emily Martin

Emily has a PhD in English from the University of Southern Mississippi, MS, and she has an MFA in Creative Writing from GCSU in Milledgeville, GA, home of Flannery O’Connor. She spends her free time reading, watching horror movies and musicals, cuddling cats, Instagramming pictures of cats, and blogging/podcasting about books with the ladies over at #BookSquadGoals (www.booksquadgoals.com). She can be reached at [email protected].

View All posts by Emily Martin

I love being scared, don’t you? Some people think that wanting to be scared is strange, but for those of you who get it , this list is for you. All I ever want is to find the next novel that will give me nightmares. So I ventured out to the horror community and asked horror fiction fans across the internet about what they thought the most terrifying horror books were and why. From their recommendations and my own personal reading experiences, I came up with this list of the 15 most terrifying books. Good luck sleeping with the lights off!

scariest haunted house of all time

The Troop by Nick Cutter

When I asked people what they thought the most terrifying book was, The Troop by Nick Cutter came up multiple times. If you’re freaked out by disturbing body horror, then this one will probably get you too. Every year scout master Tim Riggs takes his troop into the Canadian wilderness for a three-day camping trip. Of course, scary stories have long been a staple of camping trips. But when those scary stories become real, this camping trip becomes so much more terrifying than anything the troop leader or the boys could have planned for.

House of Leaves cover

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

House of Leaves is a twisty horror novel that really tops this list for me personally. The experience of reading this novel is so strange and immersive that you truly feel like you are sinking in to the story. And when the story is as scary as this one is, that immersion gets terrifying really, really quickly. At the most basic plot level, this is a story of a young family who moves into a new home and quickly where they discover something disturbingly wrong: their house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. But from there, with its footnotes and appendices, this story takes off in unsettling directions.

into the drowning deep by mira grant cover

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

This is another book that made it onto a lot of people’s lists of the most terrifying books of all time. And if you didn’t think mermaids could be creepy, you’ll want to check this one out. Seven years ago, the Atargatis set off on a voyage to film a mockumentary all about bringing the sea creatures of legend to life. Then the ship was lost and sea, and footage surfaced of what looked like mermaids attacking the now-lost crew. Now a new crew is going out in search of these same sea creatures and to find the truth behind the footage. Was the attack a hoax? Or are these deadly sea creatures all too real?

scariest haunted house of all time

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

A list of terrifying books wouldn’t be complete without including Shirley Jackson. If you’re afraid of haunted house stories, you really need to experience the mother of all haunted house stories: The Haunting of Hill House. The book begins with four people entering the house looking for answers to the mysterious hauntings that are rumored to occur in Hill House. Dr. Montague is an occult scholar, Theodora is his assistant, Eleanor is a terrified young woman who is all too familiar with poltergeists, and finally Luke is the future heir of Hill House. Although all four are prepared to encounter strange happenings within the walls of Hill House, nothing could have prepared them for how unnerving the house truly is. And it’s growing in strength by the minute.

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scariest haunted house of all time

Now You’re One Of Us by Asa Nonami

If you’re more into weird family horror than haunted houses, then check out Now You’re One of Us, a disturbing Japanese novel about when a young naive bride named Noriko moves in with her new husband’s large extended family. Soon, Noriko discovers that the Shitos are an extremely close knit family. In fact, they might be a little too close. And this family doesn’t take too kindly to outsiders.

The Good House

The Good House by Tananarive Due

This is another haunted house story that’s a must-read for anyone who (like me) is terrified of haunted houses. What makes this one especially scary is that the horror our main character experiences is psychological as well as supernatural. After her son dies by suicide, Angela Toussant is looking to rebuild her law practice and her life. So she journeys to the family home where her son’s suicide took place, looking for answers. What she finds instead is an invisible, evil force that is driving people to acts of violence.

scariest haunted house of all time

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

I am not the type of person who is easily shocked by horror fiction. I’ve read a lot of it, after all. But when I read this book, I found myself actually shouting with surprise. I just couldn’t wrap my head around some of the completely terrifying events that were happening in this story. The Only Good Indians is a violent, bloody mess of a book, and I mean that in the best way possible. This story follows what happens to four friends who took a hunting trip in their youths, made some mistakes, and upset a spirit in the process. Now that spirit is out to seek revenge on the friends, one by one.

scariest haunted house of all time

The Ruins by Scott Smith

The Ruins is another book that a lot of people mentioned when asked about the most terrifying book they’d ever read. Two young couples are vacationing in Mexico, just soaking up the sun and making friends with other travelers. But then the brother of one of those friends disappears, and the group decides to go out looking for him. Instead, they wind up lost in the middle of a jungle where they find an ancient ruins site. And an evil presence that lurks there.

Ring cover by Koji Suzuki

Ring by Suzuki Koji

The Japanese film Ringu and the American adaptation The Ring often come up during discussions of the most terrifying horror films. So it only makes sense that the novel that started it all, Ring, would make its way on this list. You’re probably familiar with the story by now. There’s a mysterious videotape that warns its viewers that they only have seven days left to live. But even if you’ve seen the movie multiple times, Suzuki’s novel has plenty of terrifying surprises waiting for you.

scariest haunted house of all time

Gerald’s Game by Stephen King

Of course, many Stephen King books were mentioned when I asked people about the most terrifying book they’d ever read. The Shining popped up a lot, as did Pet Sematary . But Gerald’s Game made more people’s lists than any other Stephen King book, and that’s why it’s the one that made my list. In Gerald’s Game, what starts as a game of seduction quickly becomes a nightmare when the husband suddenly dies. I think what makes this novel so scary is the way King mixes in horrors both real and supernatural. The result is a book that left me terrified of all the shadows in my bedroom at night.

my best friend's exorcism

My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

My Best Friend’s Exorcism makes this list for very personal reasons. It’s one of my favorite horror novels of all time. If exorcism stories and demons creep you out, I can guarantee this one is going to haunt you. Set in the 1980s, this is the story of Abby and Gretchen, who have been best friends since 5th grade. But in high school, things start to change. Sure, old friends often drift apart, but this is something else entirely. Gretchen is acting weird. And while no one else seems to believe her, Abby is almost certain her best friend Gretchen has a demon living inside of her. With My Best Friend’s Exorcism, Hendrix creates a terrifying horror novel that also incorporates a nice helping of humor and so much heart I actually teared up at the end. No joke.

The Whisper Man book cover

The Whisper Man by Alex North

Supernatural horror and serial killers? I dare you not not be afraid of The Whisper Man . Looking for a fresh start after the sudden death of his wife, Tom Kennedy moves with his young son to the small town of Featherbank. But Featherbank has its own dark past. Twenty years ago, a serial killer called The Whisper Man abducted and murdered five people. Now, a young child is missing, and it looks like the town might have another killer on its hands.

scariest haunted house of all time

The Graveyard Apartment by Mariko Koike

Sure, we’ve talked about haunted houses already, but what about haunted apartments? The Graveyard Apartment is the story of a young family who move in to a new apartment overlooking a graveyard. But it turns out the apartment overlooking the graveyard is haunted. I know. Who would have guessed? And yet while the haunting itself might feel predictable at first, the evils that are unleashed on this unsuspecting family certainly aren’t. In other words, you are not mentally prepared for how spooky this book gets.

the changeling by victor lavalle cover

The Changeling by Victor LaValle

This novel is going to be especially terrifying for any readers who are also parents. Apollo Kagwa was abandoned by his father when he was a baby, and so he’s determined to be the kind of father who is present in his child’s life. When his wife becomes pregnant, he’s overjoyed. But then the baby arrives, and it’s not the happy ending he’s expected. His wife seems wholly disinterested in the child. What’s worse, she’s convinced that the baby isn’t even theirs. Is it all in her head, or is she right? And will Apollo be able to find the answers in time before something horrible happens?

a head full of ghosts by paul tremblay

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

We’re ending this list with another one of my personal favorites, and it’s another exorcism novel. You really can’t go wrong with any Paul Tremblay novel. All of them are spooky as heck. But A Head Full of Ghosts makes this list as the most terrifying because of the way Tremblay blends the realism of family drama and Internet culture with exorcism and found footage horror. The Barretts are a seemingly normal family whose lives are torn apart when 14-year-old Marjorie exhibits signs of schizophrenia. But what if it’s demon possession? A local Catholic priest thinks it might be and offers to perform an exorcism. With Marjorie’s medical bills looming, the family agrees to film whole thing for a reality TV show. This is the type of horror novel that seems really reflective of the times we’re living in, and you won’t be able to stop thinking about it.

Need even more horror fiction to get you through the spooky season? Try these psychological horror books . Or this list of the top horror books . Or if you want to commit to a lot of terrifying books all together, how about these horror book series ?

scariest haunted house of all time

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Scare scale: ranking the best houses of halloween horror nights, we ranked these houses based on spookiness.

Landon McReynolds , Producer

ORLANDO, Fla. – Halloween Horror Nights opened for its 30th year to some terrifying screams Friday night at Universal Orlando Resort.

After a pandemic-related absence of almost two years, fans were eager to once again experience 10 sinister haunted houses, five scare zones and two all-new shows.

Horror fans had to pack a poncho as the beginning of the evening had some lingering rain showers, but it later cleared up for a fantastic sold-out opening event.

For its highly-anticipated 30th year, Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights unleashed a legion of horror legends, pop culture greats and haunting original stories. Some of this year’s haunted houses are inspired by the movies, “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” Netflix’s “The Haunting of Hill House,” Tim Burton’s “Beetlejuice,” and “The Bride of Frankenstein.”

Diabolical surprises lurk around every corner in some of the scare zones this year, including “Seek and Destroy,” “Gorewood Forest,” and “Lights, Camera, Hacktion: Eddie’s Revenge.”

News 6 producer Landon McReynolds and morning reporter Ezzy Castro had the opportunity to experience the event, hear from the show creators and rank their favorite houses.

Here’s to hoping we make it through the night. #HHN30 @EzzyCastro 😈 @HorrorNightsORL pic.twitter.com/QMuSiK4hSh — Landon McReynolds (@LandonProducer) September 3, 2021

They put together a guide of everything you need to know about this year’s event, including where each house stands on their “must do” list.

See their full reviews and rankings below.

  • HHN Icons: Captured

Landon’s ranking: No. 1 | Ezzy’s ranking: No. 2

The most notorious Halloween Horror Nights icons in Universal Orlando history will join forces to inflict unimaginable terror upon guests in the all-original haunted house – Halloween Horror Nights Icons: Captured .

“This house is one that I think all the horror fans will love. The classic icons of years past -- all in one house -- were fantastic. We’re talking Jack, Chance and even most recently, Lady Luck. Look out for the Undertaker. You have been warned! So glad our tour guide left this one for last because it ended the night on such a high note,” McReynolds said.

WOW. ICONS. #HHN30 pic.twitter.com/jFfl7kc1qC — Landon McReynolds (@LandonProducer) September 4, 2021

Universal said the sinister new experience will thrust guests into a monstrous “Hell of Fame” where they’ll face The Caretaker, The Director, The Usher, The Storyteller, Jack the Clown, Chance and more.

“I actually got a sneak peek ahead of opening night, and I was very curious about this house since Universal brought some of the HHN icons back this year,” Castro said. “I think bringing Jack back was awesome! The storyline here is fantastic. I did jump a few times! P.S., the smell of popcorn was great!”

  • The Haunting of Hill House

Landon’s ranking: No. 3 | Ezzy’s ranking: No. 6

Enter the decaying remains of an aging mansion that lives – even if all who dwell there are long dead. Step right into Netflix’s supernatural masterpiece, The Haunting of Hill House .

“Fan of the show? You will absolutely love this house! The façade is beautiful, and there are a ton of scares throughout. I would honestly say, take it slow and look around (which is not something most scared people do),” McReynolds said.

As guests walk through the maze, they will see iconic scenes from the series, including the omni-powerful Red Room -- the heart of Hill House, the infamous Hall of Statues, the terrifying ghost in the basement and several apparitions, including the Bent-Neck Lady.

“If you have watched this show on Netflix, then chances are, you’re going to be excited for this house. What I liked was that it was very spacious. So take your time with this one,” Castro said.

  • Puppet Theatre: Captive Audience

Landon’s ranking: No. 4 | Ezzy’s ranking: No. 10

Get ready to step inside a creepy abandoned old theater from early 1900s San Francisco. A puppeteer and a ballet troupe have been trapped there ever since, and they’d kill for an audience. Whether you’re a puppet or a patron, that’s your cue to scream. They will take any body they can find.

“This was actually the first house we did on opening night. All I remember was this quote, ‘The show must go on,’” Castro said.

The creators said some of the haunted house’s prominent characters are not only the demented puppets, but the giant red curtain in the theater. Officials said the curtain can be seen in multiple rooms as guests see the horrors backstage, in the orchestra pit and even where the audience would sit.

“This house is just creepy. Dolls, a terrorizing theater and gore. The outside had another beautiful façade to it with the theatre collapse and burning,” McReynolds said. “I do remember seeing a few cool spots in this house. The room with the puppets hanging, and the moment you step in front of the curtain for the brief moments.”

  • Wicked Growth: Realm of the Pumpkin

Landon’s ranking: No. 2 | Ezzy’s ranking: No. 9

The beloved tradition of Halloween has more sinister roots waiting to be unearthed, and the grower of this ritual, the Pumpkin Lord, is preparing for his yearly human harvest in “Wicked Growth: Realm of the Pumpkin.”

“We all have our version of the pumpkin king -- but don’t get ‘twisted’ in this house,” Castro said. “Also, I think guests will enjoy the nice smell of pumpkins. (It’s a) good way to start off Halloween. This is the house where I had my first scream of the night.”

First screams of the night at The Wicked Growth: Realm of the Pumpkin 🎃 #HHN30 @LandonProducer pic.twitter.com/AtudZQhiLe — Ezzy Castro (@EzzyCastro) September 4, 2021

Universal said guests will find themselves trapped in an endless maze of traditional Halloween domains, including a dilapidated haunted house, an ominous graveyard and even a wicked witch’s cottage that is all overrun by ruthless creatures engulfed in a ghastly pumpkin growth.

“Ezzy and I had two different views on this house,” McReynolds pointed out. “However, I thought this house was fantastic. Vines are taking over the walls, and as you get deeper and deeper inside, you get closer to the Pumpkin Lord -- and that moment you find him is great. Also, that entrance is on point.”

The Pumpkin King | The Wicked Growth: Realm of the Pumpkin #HHN30 @HorrorNightsORL pic.twitter.com/18yBabl3X0 — Landon McReynolds (@LandonProducer) September 4, 2021
  • Universal Monsters: The Bride of Frankenstein Lives!

Landon’s ranking: No. 9 | Ezzy’s ranking: No. 4

Returning from last year’s daytime run, Universal Monsters: The Bride of Frankenstein Lives picks up where the 1935 classic film, “The Bride of Frankenstein,” left off, thrusting guests into chaos as the Bride becomes an unstoppable scientist and begins her mission to revive Frankenstein’s monster.

“I was fortunate enough to experience this house last year during the daytime event. Nothing much had changed for me. It’s an awesome house, don’t get me wrong, with plenty of good jump scares throughout, but I had just done it before,” McReynolds said.

Castro added, “(I was) glad to see the Bride of Frankenstein had her own house this year. I loved seeing all the other brides throughout the house.”

  • Revenge of the Tooth Fairy

Landon’s ranking: No. 8 | Ezzy’s ranking: No. 5

Also returning from a run last year is “Revenge of the Tooth Fairy.” The house will entice guests to uncover the darker ritual behind an innocent childhood tradition. Long ago, parents struck a bargain with vicious, goblin-esque tooth fairies to protect their children from these evil creatures who crave pearly whites. All children must give up their baby teeth or pay a gruesome price. Guests will step into a heinous realm of blood, teeth and gore, where these fairies extract their toothed bounty by force -- and the only way out is to hold in their screams and keep their mouths shut.

“This house was my favorite during last year’s daytime event. The original house has a beautiful storybook façade that transports you into this evil story about one boy who says no to the tooth fairy. Loved it!” McReynolds said.

“I really enjoyed the start of this house, because you’re reading a fairy tale at first, but don’t get too comfortable,” Castro advised. “Things get gory real quick.”

  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Landon’s ranking: No. 6 | Ezzy’s ranking: No. 3

Inspired by the 1974 slasher film, “ The Texas Chainsaw Massacre ,” guests will walk through a harrowing and intense experience as they try and escape the horrifying character, Leatherface. Guests will embark on a killer journey through a series of familiar scenes from the film -- and eventually fall victim to a family of cannibals.

“I’m not a big fan of the movie, but creators did a great job making sure this felt like Texas! Like I said before, it wouldn’t be Halloween Horror Nights without the chainsaws, and this house has plenty of them. So get ready! It will be loud in there,” Castro laughed.

“The stars at night are big and bright, deep in the heart of TEXAS! Get ready to sing that song -- with a little bit of blood and guts thrown in. This house is sick, twisted, and had me holding my breath at points,” McReynolds said.

  • Beetlejuice

Landon’s ranking: No. 7 | Ezzy’s ranking: No. 1

Get ready to say his name three times!

Guests will wander checkered hallways and through the model graveyard as the infamous bio-exorcist, Beetlejuice, haunts you at every turn.

“This house was so much fun. I was very excited to check this one out, because I grew up watching this movie and I’m a fan of Tim Burton movies. The house brings Beetlejuice back to life. Also, if you feel like dancing, you’ll have that moment to do so to the ‘Banana Boat’ song,” Castro said.

If you say his name three times…. #Beetlejuice pic.twitter.com/mfNfQWIVEE — Ezzy Castro (@EzzyCastro) September 4, 2021

The Beetlejuice haunted house will let people enter the world of Tim Burton’s famous 1988 film. Last year, fans of the popular character had a short, limited two-day opportunity to experience the house during Universal’s daytime Halloween event.

“This house is a lot of fun! I love the level of detail the creators pulled from the film. One of the highlights I remember is the afterlife waiting room. I would not miss this house,” McReynolds said.

  • Case Files Unearthed: Legendary Truth

Landon’s ranking: No. 5 | Ezzy’s ranking: No. 7

In “Case Files Unearthed: Legendary Truth,” guests will step into the well-worn shoes of the infamous Boris Shuster, who is the elusive private eye investigating the supernatural as he endlessly searches for clues to a series of strange occurrences throughout New York City. Falling further into the shadowy, dark world of the paranormal, guests will face an overwhelming onslaught of ghouls, poltergeists and terrors, all while trying to solve the biggest mystery of them all.

“You go back in time with this one. Between the 1940s, then back to 1991,” Castro explained. “My favorite part of this house was the ‘40s bar/club scene.”

“As our tour guide said before we entered this house, it’s truly for the Halloween Horror Nights fans who have noticed small hints over the years,” McReynolds added. “‘Hell on Earth’ has been unleashed, and there are a bunch of good scares throughout the house. (I) loved the stories that unravel as you move through.”

  • Welcome to SCarey: Horror in the Heartland

Landon’s ranking: No. 10 | Ezzy’s ranking: No. 8

Some of the most haunting original stories from Halloween Horror Nights over the years have been set in the mysterious town of Carey, Ohio, and this year, “Welcome to SCarey: Horror in the Heartland” will combine these stories and bring them to life once again in a first-ever haunted house that pays homage to the event’s 30-year history.

“Our tour guide called this the anniversary house for horror night fans. I don’t think it was really scary, but it was just fun to walk through,” McReynolds said.

Welcome to Scarey 🎃 Bad things happen in Carey, OH #HHN30 pic.twitter.com/nHfi24Ig8P — Landon McReynolds (@LandonProducer) September 4, 2021

“I thought it was cool how creators brought back ‘Meetz Meats’ from ‘Leave it to Cleaver.’ That part of the house was ... interesting,” Castro explained.

Complete Rankings

Ezzy’s favorite houses:

Landon’s favorite houses:

Scare zones

30 Years, 30 Fears

The most infamous characters from past Halloween Horror Nights scare zones will reunite to take over the Avenue of the Stars in “30 Years, 30 Fears.” Guests will enter a gory reunion where the past has come back to haunt them with creatures of blood and bone, beastly monstrosities and chainsaw-wielding fiends lurking around every corner.

Lights, Camera, Hacktion: Eddie’s Revenge

Eddie Schmidt, Jack the Clown’s diabolical brother, is returning to Halloween Horror Nights to film a gory Hollywood sequel in “Lights, Camera, Hacktion: Eddie’s Revenge” – except this time, the monsters are real. Vampires, evil clowns, creatures from the watery depths and other horrific beings from events past will roar on the scene where guests will make their short -- and painful -- cameo.

Gorewood Forest

The heartless and iconic Terra Queen is back, and her wicked plans to remake the world in her terrifying image will take root in Central Park, transforming it into the grisly “Gorewood Forest.” Guests will find nowhere to hide from her menacing minions as they harvest fresh blood to feed her ever-growing power.

Seek and Destroy

In “Seek and Destroy,” guests will find themselves in a New York dystopia where a ruthless alien cyber regime is led by The Controller, who has taken over and is relentlessly scanning the city streets for humans and turning them into fuel.

With the regime’s loyal followers hiding in the darkness, endlessly hunting for new victims, guests must either join them or be destroyed.

Inside “ Crypt TV ,” a dark universe of monsters that reside on-screen and in their pockets will come to life. In this nightmare world that’s overtaken San Francisco, creatures of all shapes and sizes exist, including The Look-See, the Sunny Family Cult, Harclaw and Miss Annity. Now, they’ve been brought to life in a world of fear that will engulf any guest who enters.

Marathon of Mayhem: Carnage Factory

Universal said the brand-new nighttime lagoon show will transform the expansive Universal Studios lagoon into renowned visions of fright, highlighting some of the top names in horror and Halloween Horror Nights history that are featured in this year’s event.

Marathon of Mayhem: Carnage Factory is killer 🔪 #HHN30 pic.twitter.com/fuLu5DwbMi — Landon McReynolds (@LandonProducer) September 4, 2021

Halloween Nightmare Fuel

The fiery new show will feature nocturnal creatures, aerialists of the night and frightful fire performers that are all set to pulse-pounding rock, metal and electronica music.

🔥Halloween Nightmare Fuel is action packed 🔥 #HHN30 pic.twitter.com/YNVJcP4SR3 — Landon McReynolds (@LandonProducer) September 4, 2021

Universal said due to popular demand, event nights are expected to sell out and tickets should be purchased in advance.

Halloween Horror Nights runs through Oct. 31.

Click here for tickets and information.

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Halloween horror nights 2021 returns better than ever at universal orlando, universal gives first look inside new halloween horror nights tribute store, universal debuts menacing menu for halloween horror nights, about the author:, landon mcreynolds.

Landon joined News 6 in 2017. He grew up in Southern Illinois and graduated from Southern Illinois University with a bachelors degree in TV and digital media. When he is not at work you can catch him at one of Orlando's theme parks or the beach. Before working at News 6 he worked for stations in Miami and Fort Myers.

Far & Wide

15 Scariest Haunted Places in the U.S.

S tunning landscapes and interesting cities abound in the United States, but so, too, does a dark underbelly shrouded in chilling tales and eerie histories. For brave souls with an insatiable thirst for the macabre, these spine-tingling destinations are the most terrifying in the U.S. 

These places aren’t for the average tourist seeking sun-soaked beaches or bustling urban life. Instead, these destinations are for those who dare to confront the unknown and are fascinated with the paranormal. Prepare to explore haunted asylums echoing with long-forgotten cries, abandoned prisons where tormented spirits dwell and desolate stretches of land where legends of the supernatural come alive.

15. Bonaventure Cemetery

Location: Savannah, Georgia

Date founded: 1846

Why Bonaventure Cemetery Is So Terrifying

Nestled beneath the moss-draped oaks of Savannah, Georgia, the Bonaventure Cemetery is a serene yet haunting masterpiece of history and art. With its elegantly weathered tombstones and ornate sculptures, this resting place is more than just a cemetery – it’s a journey through time. As you wander the winding paths, the stories of the departed come alive, from celebrated poets to soldiers of wars long past. 

The Southern Gothic beauty of the cemetery’s architecture is heightened by Spanish moss, creating an atmosphere that is both enchanting and chilling. For this reason, the cemetery has been featured in various films and literature, most notably the book and subsequent movie, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” Playing a pivotal role in the story’s backdrop of mystery and intrigue, Bonaventure has quite a reputation as a haunting and enchanting place.

14. House of Seven Gables

Location: Salem, Massachusetts

Date founded: 1668

Why House of Seven Gables Is So Terrifying

Inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel of the same name, this enchanting mansion weaves a tale of secrets, curses and generations past. Its timeworn architecture and hidden chambers beckon visitors through its doors, where past and present collide, and every creaking floorboard seems to carry the weight of the centuries. 

Salem, Massachusetts , is associated with the Salem Witch Trials of the late 17th century and is recognized as a hub of paranormal interest. The city embraces its history and the legacy of the witch trials, which resulted in numerous executions and is one of the darkest chapters in American history. Tourists can partake in various ghost tours and visit attractions and museums that highlight the supernatural aspects of Salem, where reports of ghostly encounters are not uncommon.

13. Lizzie Borden B&B

Location: Fall River, Massachusetts

Date founded: 1892

Why Lizzie Borden B&B Is So Terrifying

Step into a true horror story at the Lizzie Borden House , where the father and stepmother of the woman who lends her name to the house were brutally attacked with a hatchet. Lizzie was the primary suspect in the murders. She was arrested and tried for the crimes that attracted nationwide attention. As the scene of the murders, the home has been transformed into a chilling yet captivating bed and breakfast.

This Victorian-era home continues to have a haunting presence. Guests can stay in the very rooms where the infamous murders occurred. Experience a night in rooms and halls where ghostly encounters and phenomena have reportedly taken place. Guests have shared various experiences, from hearing unexplained footsteps and hushed voices to seeing shadowy figures and feeling sudden temperature drops. Some have even claimed to have had unsettling sensations or encounters with the spirits of Andrew and Abby Borden, making it a spine-tingling destination for those daring enough to stay here.

12. Shanghai Tunnels

Location: Portland, Oregon

Date founded: mid-1800s

Why Shanghai Tunnels Are So Terrifying

Below the bustling city streets of Portland, Oregon, lies a hidden world of shadows and secrets: the infamous Shanghai Tunnels. Once a clandestine network of passages used for nefarious purposes, these dimly lit subterranean corridors reveal tales of a dark past. As you step into the depths of the underground, the air thickens with the resonances of a time when unsuspecting souls were ensnared and sold into maritime servitude. 

Other stories claim the tunnels were used to secretly get to the city’s opium dens, brothels and gambling houses. Travelers can trace the footsteps of this terrifying legacy through guided walking tours. Visit the Old Town Pizza & Brewing, housed in what was formerly the Merchant Hotel, and descend into a section of the tunnels. It isn’t more than a cobwebbed basement but still intriguing and spooky enough to give you a glimpse into Portland’s inscrutable underbelly.

11. Winchester House

Location: San Jose, California

Date founded: 1884

Why Winchester House Is So Terrifying

In the heart of San Jose, California, the Winchester House, also known as the Winchester Mystery House, is a bewitching testament to the eccentric and enigmatic. Its labyrinthine corridors, staircases to nowhere and doors that open to blank walls evoke an unsettling ambiance that remains long after you’ve completed the 2.5-hour tour of 110 of its 160 rooms. 

The spirits of those affected by the Winchester rifle’s deadly legacy terrorize this sprawling mansion. The maze of rooms and doors is what remains of Sarah Winchester’s attempt to keep these spirits at bay. For 38 years, until the day she died, construction took place around the clock, filling the home with 10,000 doors, 2,000 windows and mythical places like her private séance room, with exits leading to nowhere intended to entrap visiting spirits. As you wander through its chilling halls and witness its unconventional design, the Winchester House is sure to send shivers down your spine.

10. The White House

Location: Washington, D.C.

Date founded: 1792

Why the White House Is So Terrifying

An iconic symbol of American history and power, the White House carries more than just political legacies — it harbors an air of mystery. From Abraham Lincoln’s apparition glimpsed by many to the specters of past presidents and dignitaries said to endure in its halls, the White House is steeped in ghostly lore. Haunting footsteps can be heard in empty rooms, phantom figures are seen in mirrors and the prolonged essence of long-departed inhabitants makes it a place where earthly and otherworldly history seems to intermingle. 

To tour the White House , you have to make a request in advance through your Member of Congress. Tours are offered on a limited basis and include the East Wing, the State Dining Room, the China Room and more. Due to the sensitivity of the location, paranormal investigations have not been accessible or documented, despite the numerous books, articles and documentaries that cover the topic of ghostly activity at the White House.

9. Nederlander Theatre

Location: Chicago

Date founded: 1926

Why Nederlander Theatre Is So Terrifying

Within the vibrant heart of Chicago’s Theater District, the Nederlander Theatre boasts more than just spotlight and applause — it harbors an intriguing and cursed past. With a history dating back to the early 20th century, this iconic theater has been a stage for countless performances and, some claim, otherworldly guests. Frightening footsteps in empty corridors, phantom voices murmured in corners and the persistent energy of past performers create an ambiance that blurs the lines between reality and the supernatural. 

Of its spirited sightings, the most well-known ghost is the Woman in White, a spectral figure said to appear in the balcony area, dressed in white attire. She is often spotted watching performances from the back rows before disappearing. Nederlander Theatre’s legacy as a cultural gem is matched only by its mystifying tales, offering theater enthusiasts and those curious about the metaphysical a chance to experience history that extends beyond the footlights.

8. Clinton Road

Location: West Milford, New Jersey

Date founded: 1920s

Why Clinton Road Is So Terrifying

Hidden within the tranquil landscapes of West Milford, New Jersey, Clinton Road unveils a chilling history as one of the country’s most eerie stretches of asphalt. As you wind through its desolate curves, tales of phantom vehicles, ghostly hitchhikers and eerie figures lurking in the woods take on a life of their own. 

The road’s past is intertwined with legends of unexplained phenomena and spooky spots, including the ruins of Cross Castle, home to rumored satanic rituals, and Dead Man’s Curve, a treacherous bend said to be the site of multiple fatal accidents.

7. The Stanley Hotel

Location: Estes Park, Colorado

Date founded: 1909

Why the Stanley Hotel Is So Terrifying

Perched amid the breathtaking vistas of Estes Park, Colorado, the Stanley Hotel stands as a timeless icon of elegance and intrigue. However, it’s not just its grandeur that captures the imagination — it’s the whispers of its past that truly stir the soul. 

The hotel inspired Stephen King’s “The Shining” after the author had a bone-chilling nightmare while sleeping in guestroom 217. There is an air of mystique that draws visitors eager to catch a glimpse of the otherworldly guests that some claim still roam the hotel's halls. With tales of spectral pianos playing on their own and ethereal laughter resonating through empty corridors, the Stanley Hotel has earned its reputation as one of the most haunted destinations in the U.S.

6. Excelsior Hotel

Location: Jefferson, Texas

Date founded: 1859

Why Exelsior Hotel Is So Terrifying

Beyond the ornate façade of the 19th-century Excelsior Hotel lies a spooky history that casts a spell over guests and visitors. Ghostly apparitions and unexplained phenomena infuse the air, making every flickering light and squeaky floorboard a testament to the past. Many guests have reported seeing shadowy figures, only for them to disappear upon closer inspection. Some visitors claim to hear the faint sound of children laughing or playing in the corridors, with no children present. 

The hotel’s old-fashioned elevator is said to operate on its own, while unexplained cold spots have been reported in room 215, rumored to be the scariest room in the hotel. Guests and staff members have also reported seeing the Lady in Blue, a ghostly figure in a blue Victorian-era dress often seen wandering the halls or in mirrors.

5. Eastern State Penitentiary

Location: Philadelphia

Date founded: 1829

Why Eastern State Penitentiary Is So Terrifying

Standing as a haunting testament to the evolution of incarceration, Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary was once home to notorious criminals like Al Capone. This Gothic-inspired prison ceased operation in 1971 and is a chilling journey into a bygone era of punishment and solitude. Its crumbling cellblocks, overgrown courtyards and peeling walls bear witness to tales of isolation and despair. 

As you step within its somber walls, the gentle voices of past lives seem to survive, breathing stories of inmates who grappled with their demons in the solitude of their cells, especially in the fall when Halloween Nights transforms the former prison into a haunted house. The spooky and immersive attraction features elaborate decorations, theatrical performances, special effects and a variety of scare zones with costumed actors portraying ghosts, ghouls and other terrifying characters as guests explore the dark corridors and cellblocks.

4. Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

Location: Weston, West Virginia

Date founded: 1858

Why Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum Is So Terrifying

Standing as a haunting relic of the past, the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum exudes an air of mystery and melancholy. Once a sanctuary for the mentally ill during the 19th century, its corridors reverberate with tales of patients long gone. The asylum’s history is a tapestry of suffering intertwined with reports of alleged mistreatment and unsettling medical practices. 

The original institution operated from the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s. Today, visitors have reported hearing voices, footsteps and unexplained noises, as well as seeing shadowy figures and feeling cold spots or sudden temperature drops. Guided tours and paranormal investigation experiences allow brave souls to explore the asylum’s history and potentially encounter ghostly activity.

3. Myrtles Plantation

Location: St. Francisville, Louisiana

Date founded: 1786

Why Myrtles Plantation Is So Terrifying

Amidst the enchanting landscape of Louisiana and named for the prolific crepe myrtle trees on its grounds, the Myrtles Plantation stands as a timeless testament to Southern charm and chilling mystery. Beyond its majestic columns and gardens lies a history that has made this one of America’s most terrifying houses. Apparitions, tales of tragic love and enduring echoes of a bygone era intertwine within its walls. 

One of the most famous happenings is the tale of Chloe, a slave woman who was accused of being involved in the poisoning of her captor’s family. She was punished for her actions and met a horrific fate. Some claim to have since seen her apparition or felt her presence. The Myrtles’ famed haunted mirror, where ghostly handprints are said to appear, adds to the intrigue of the mansion’s past. 

2. LaLaurie Mansion

Location: New Orleans

Date founded: 1830s

Why LaLaurie Mansion Is So Terrifying

In the heart of the French Quarter, the LaLaurie Mansion stands as a chilling reminder of a dark and gruesome past. Infamous for its association with Madame Delphine LaLaurie, a 19th-century socialite with a horrifying secret, the mansion quietly hides unspeakable cruelty within its walls. 

When a fire broke out in the mansion in 1834, a secret room was discovered where enslaved individuals were found mutilated, tortured and subjected to inhumane conditions. LaLaurie and her husband fled New Orleans and were never apprehended, but their legacy and brutality left an indelible mark on the city. Although the house is privately owned with limited access, special events, tours and private investigations have allowed the public to explore the exterior of the mansion and its dark history.

1. Gettysburg Battlefield

Location: Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Dated founded: 1863

Why Gettysburg Battlefield Is So Terrifying

Gettysburg Battlefield, a hallowed expanse in Eastern Pennsylvania, bears witness to a pivotal chapter in American history. As you step onto this sacred ground, the mumblings of the past become palpable. The rolling fields, now serene, once shook with the thunderous clash of Civil War cannons. Marked by solemn monuments and somber memorials, the battlefield is the site of one of the war's bloodiest battles, with thousands of soldiers losing their lives in the conflict. 

Reports of ghostly encounters run rampant here, with historians, tourists and even park rangers claiming to have experienced disturbing phenomena while exploring the site. Stories range from hearing battle-like gunshots and marching footsteps to sightings of apparitions dressed in Civil War-era clothing. Some people have even reported conversations with ghostly figures who suddenly disappear or fade away. Several ghost tours and paranormal investigation groups operate in the area, offering you the opportunity to explore the battlefield at night and uncover the mystique of Gettysburg for yourself.

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15 Scariest Haunted Places in the U.S.

The 9 Scariest Haunted Houses Books of All Time

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Is there anything spookier than a haunted house tale? This classic staple horror trope has appeared in countless books over the years, and there are hundreds of these chilling tales to choose from. But if you’re in the mood for a scare, you might want a little help sifting through the options. These 9 books are some of the best-loved and most terrifying haunted house stories of them all. Read on if you dare!

Table of Contents

1. The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson

It’s only fitting that we start this list with the ultimate archetypal haunted house story. Shirley Jackson’s groundbreaking tale begins when Elenor, a lonely and fragile young woman, receives an invitation to spend the summer at the mysterious Hill House.

Joining her is Dr. Montague, a paranormal investigator and scholar of the occult, who is desperate to find evidence of a real-life haunting. Accompanying Montague on his quest is his jovial assistant Theodora and future heir to the notorious estate, Luke.

At first, the group’s lighthearted search for ghostly activity is relatively unremarkable. But things quickly take a dark turn, and it becomes clear that the powers of Hill House are growing stronger by day. There’s an evil spirit on the loose inside these crumbling walls, and it’s hell-bent on taking one of the living occupants as its own.

2. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Set against the spookiest of all spooky backdrops, the remote English moors, the story of The Woman in Black has everything you could ever want from a classic house of horrors tale.

It begins with the arrival of an ambitious young lawyer, Arthur Kipps, who has been sent up from London to Eel Marsh House to settle the affairs of the recently deceased Mrs. Alice Drablow. But what begins as a routine trip rapidly descends into a dark and sinister nightmare.

There are strange sounds hanging in the air; a child’s scream rising from the mist, the creaking of a rocking chair, the clip-clop of an invisible pony and trap. But the locals in this remote region are filled with fear, and when Arthur Kipps begins to question the mysterious occurrences, they won’t utter a word. Yet deep down, the curious young lawyer knows there’s a dreadful secret buried inside the walls of Eel Marsh House, one that’s screaming to finally be heard.

3. Hell House by Richard Matheson

Maine’s infamous Belasco House is said to be the most haunted house in the world. Its dark and sinister past has already attracted the attention of two previous ghost hunting expeditions, but the majority of the participants didn’t make it out alive.

Now, there’s a new group drawn towards the mysteries inside the crumbling walls. The supremely wealthy William Reinhardt Deutsch is on his deathbed, and in a desperate attempt to uncover the truth about life after death, he’s commissioned a team of four paranormal researchers and mediums to help him find out what lies ahead for him on the other side.

The team has just one week to find the answers to Deutsch’s questions, but their journey to the truth inside ‘Hell House’ could end up costing all of them their lives. The house preys on weakness and fear, and one by one, the evil entity that resides within the walls will tear each of them down, just as it always has.

4. House of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski

Mark Z. Danielewski’s uniquely unsettling tale begins when a young family moves into a new home on Ash Tree Lane. But there’s something terribly wrong with their unassuming house; it’s bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.

As they investigate their strange new abode, things quickly become more sinister when walls begin to shift and a new door and hallway appear out of nowhere. In a mixture of fear and fascination, the family begins to record these supernatural occurrences on camera, creating a documentary that will only be found long after their terrible fate is sealed.

5. The Shining, by Stephen King

Here’s another obligatory haunted house (well, hotel) classic that has made a lasting impact on both the literary and the movie world.

The terrifying tale begins when Jack Torrance and his family move into the empty and isolated Overlook Hotel. As the new off-season caretaker, Jack is looking forward to finally having time to work on his novel. But things don’t turn out quite as the family had planned, and they soon begin to notice some dark and evil forces in the endless series of doors and sprawling hallways.

Young Danny Torrance can sense the evil more than anyone, and as the harsh winter weather sets in, further isolating them from the outside world, there’s no one else left to save them from the Overlook’s sinister spell.

6. Burnt Offerings by Robert Marasco

Ben Rolfe, along with his wife Marian, his son David, and Aunt Elizabeth, have decided to wave goodbye to their Queens apartment for the summer and head out to the peace and tranquility of Long Island.

The family has received an offer they can’t refuse; sole use of a beautiful old country home, with its fabulous landscaped gardens, gigantic swimming pool, and immaculate private beach. Even better, they get it all for a fraction of the cost of a rental half its size.

As they pull up the private drive, the family is full of anticipation and excitement for a fun-filled summer. But the mansion’s charming and picturesque exterior hides some terrifying secrets, and their dream vacation is about to become a one-way ticket to hell.

7. The Graveyard Apartment by Mariko Koike

What’s better than a haunted house? A haunted apartment, of course! Set in Japan, Mariko Koike’s modern-day twist on a classic house of horrors story follows a young family who moves into a brand new apartment building.

The newly married couple and their young daughter are excited for a fresh start in their beautiful new home, and they don’t spare a second thought for the graveyard that sits next door to their building.

But soon, strange things begin to happen, and it’s not just the young family who have noticed. One by one, people in the neighboring apartments begin to move out, until eventually, they’re the only occupants left in the building. At least, that’s what they think. Unbeknownst to them, there’s something sinister lurking down below in the basement, and it’s only a matter of time before it finds its way out.

8. The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James

This chilling tale begins when a young woman takes on her very first job as a governess, caring for two beautiful yet strange children, Miles and Flora. Over time, she bonds with the mysterious siblings, but soon, some sinister occurrences cause her to question her new role.

She begins seeing strange figures out on the grounds of the family’s isolated estate, and her sense of unease becomes all-consuming when she learns of the terrible fate of the woman she took over from.

Now, the figures out in the grounds are getting closer, and to her horror, the governess realizes that these evil entities are coming for the children. What’s even more disturbing is that the children aren’t the least bit frightened; in fact, they can’t wait for their arrival.

9. The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe

Though it’s not a full-length novel like the rest of the entries in this line-up, this short story by Edgar Allan Poe is an essential addition to any list of classic haunted house tales.

The story documents the demise of the once distinguished and prosperous Usher family. It begins when our narrator, whose name we do not know, receives an invitation to the home of his friend, Roderick Usher. Roderick has fallen ill and is in need of assistance, but on arrival, the narrator notices that things are much worse than his friend had indicated in his letters.

There’s a long, creeping crack snaking its way through the roof of the house, down the exterior walls, and extending deep down into the lake outside. And inside these old walls, there’s an inescapable feeling of unease. Roderick and his sister, the last remaining members of the Usher family, are both incapacitated, frequently falling into a kind of hypnotic, death-like trance.

Finally, Roderick confides in his friend, explaining that his old family mansion isn’t just regular bricks and mortar; it’s alive.

I’m a huge fan of all paranormal fiction , but there’s nothing quite like the haunted house horror trope. These classic haunted house books are some of the creepiest of all time, but there are plenty more to explore. Do you have any recommendations for terrifying tales that will keep us up at night? Drop me a comment in the box below!

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Ultimate Haunted House Movie List

An aggregate, unranked list of the best Haunted House movies. Ever. Period.

  • Movies or TV
  • IMDb Rating
  • In Theaters
  • Release Year

1. The Shining (1980)

R | 146 min | Drama, Horror

A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where a sinister presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from both past and future.

Director: Stanley Kubrick | Stars: Jack Nicholson , Shelley Duvall , Danny Lloyd , Scatman Crothers

Votes: 1,092,625 | Gross: $44.02M

2. The Amityville Horror (1979)

R | 117 min | Horror

Newlyweds and their three children move into a large house where a mass murder was committed. They start to experience strange, inexplicable manifestations which have strong effects on everyone living in or visiting the house.

Director: Stuart Rosenberg | Stars: James Brolin , Margot Kidder , Rod Steiger , Don Stroud

Votes: 44,053 | Gross: $86.43M

3. Poltergeist (1982)

PG | 114 min | Horror, Thriller

A family's home is haunted by a host of demonic ghosts.

Director: Tobe Hooper | Stars: JoBeth Williams , Heather O'Rourke , Craig T. Nelson , Beatrice Straight

Votes: 177,840 | Gross: $76.61M

4. The Others (2001)

PG-13 | 104 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

In 1945, immediately following the end of Second World War, a woman who lives with her two photosensitive children on her darkened old family estate in the Channel Islands becomes convinced that the home is haunted.

Director: Alejandro Amenábar | Stars: Nicole Kidman , Christopher Eccleston , Fionnula Flanagan , Alakina Mann

Votes: 389,498 | Gross: $96.52M

5. 1408 (2007)

PG-13 | 104 min | Fantasy, Horror, Mystery

A man who specialises in debunking paranormal occurrences checks into the fabled room 1408 in the Dolphin Hotel. Soon after settling in, he confronts genuine terror.

Director: Mikael Håfström | Stars: John Cusack , Samuel L. Jackson , Mary McCormack , Tony Shalhoub

Votes: 291,281 | Gross: $71.99M

6. Paranormal Activity (2007)

R | 86 min | Horror, Mystery

After moving into a suburban home, a couple becomes increasingly disturbed by a nightly demonic presence.

Director: Oren Peli | Stars: Katie Featherston , Micah Sloat , Mark Fredrichs , Amber Armstrong

Votes: 254,079 | Gross: $107.92M

7. The Grudge (2004)

PG-13 | 91 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

An American nurse living and working in Tokyo is exposed to a mysterious supernatural curse, one that locks a person in a powerful rage before claiming their life and spreading to another victim.

Director: Takashi Shimizu | Stars: Sarah Michelle Gellar , Jason Behr , Clea DuVall , William Mapother

Votes: 150,078 | Gross: $110.36M

8. Mirrors (I) (2008)

R | 110 min | Horror, Mystery

An ex-cop and his family are the target of an evil force that is using mirrors as a gateway into their home.

Director: Alexandre Aja | Stars: Kiefer Sutherland , Paula Patton , Amy Smart , Cameron Boyce

Votes: 113,041 | Gross: $30.69M

9. The Haunting in Connecticut (2009)

PG-13 | 92 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

After a family is forced to relocate for their son's health, they begin experiencing supernatural behavior in their new home, and uncover a sinister history.

Director: Peter Cornwell | Stars: Virginia Madsen , Martin Donovan , Elias Koteas , Kyle Gallner

Votes: 64,786 | Gross: $55.39M

10. The Uninvited (2009)

PG-13 | 87 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

Anna returns home after a stint in a mental hospital, but her recovery is jeopardized by her father's new girlfriend and ghastly visions of her dead mother.

Directors: Charles Guard , Thomas Guard | Stars: Emily Browning , Arielle Kebbel , Elizabeth Banks , David Strathairn

Votes: 84,516 | Gross: $28.57M

11. The Skeleton Key (2005)

PG-13 | 104 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

A hospice nurse working at a spooky New Orleans plantation home finds herself entangled in a mystery involving the house's dark past.

Director: Iain Softley | Stars: Kate Hudson , Peter Sarsgaard , Joy Bryant , Gena Rowlands

Votes: 121,930 | Gross: $47.81M

12. Gothika (2003)

R | 98 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

A depressed psychiatrist wakes up as a patient in the asylum where she worked, with no memory of why she is there or what she has done.

Director: Mathieu Kassovitz | Stars: Halle Berry , Penélope Cruz , Robert Downey Jr. , Charles S. Dutton

Votes: 118,253 | Gross: $59.69M

13. Thir13en Ghosts (2001)

R | 91 min | Fantasy, Horror

When Cyrus Kriticos, a very rich collector of unique things, dies, he leaves his house, fortune, and his prized collection of ghosts.

Director: Steve Beck | Stars: Tony Shalhoub , Shannon Elizabeth , Embeth Davidtz , Matthew Lillard

Votes: 92,966 | Gross: $41.87M

14. House on Haunted Hill (1999)

R | 93 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

An amusement park mogul offers a group of diverse people $1,000,000 to spend the night in a haunted house with a horrifying past.

Director: William Malone | Stars: Geoffrey Rush , Famke Janssen , Taye Diggs , Peter Gallagher

Votes: 59,766 | Gross: $40.85M

15. The Haunting (1999)

PG-13 | 113 min | Fantasy, Horror, Mystery

Dr Marrow enlists Theo, Luke and Nell for a study of sleep disorders at the Hill House. As soon as the terrifying truth about the mansion is revealed, everyone is found fighting for their lives.

Director: Jan de Bont | Stars: Liam Neeson , Catherine Zeta-Jones , Owen Wilson , Lili Taylor

Votes: 80,044 | Gross: $91.41M

16. Haunt (2013)

R | 86 min | Horror, Mystery, Romance

An introvert teen befriends his new neighbor, and together the couple begin to explore the haunted house that his family has just purchased.

Director: Mac Carter | Stars: Jacki Weaver , Liana Liberato , Harrison Gilbertson , Ione Skye

Votes: 8,657

17. The Pact (II) (2012)

R | 89 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

As a woman struggles to come to grips with her past in the wake of her mother's death and the disappearance of her sister, an unsettling presence emerges in her childhood home.

Director: Nicholas McCarthy | Stars: Caity Lotz , Casper Van Dien , Mark Steger , Agnes Bruckner

Votes: 25,202

18. The Innkeepers (2011)

R | 101 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

During the final days at the Yankee Pedlar Inn, two employees determined to reveal the hotel's haunted past begin to experience disturbing events as old guests check in for a stay.

Director: Ti West | Stars: Sara Paxton , Pat Healy , Kelly McGillis , Alison Bartlett

Votes: 37,028 | Gross: $0.08M

19. The House of the Devil (2009)

R | 95 min | Horror, Mystery

In 1983, financially struggling college student Samantha Hughes takes a strange babysitting job that coincides with a full lunar eclipse. She slowly realizes her clients harbor a terrifying secret, putting her life in mortal danger.

Director: Ti West | Stars: Jocelin Donahue , Tom Noonan , Mary Woronov , Greta Gerwig

Votes: 50,742 | Gross: $0.10M

20. The Changeling (1980)

R | 107 min | Horror, Mystery

After the death of his wife and daughter in a car crash, a music professor staying at a long-vacant Seattle mansion is dragged into a decades-old mystery by an inexplicable presence in the mansion's attic.

Director: Peter Medak | Stars: George C. Scott , Trish Van Devere , Melvyn Douglas , Jean Marsh

Votes: 39,415

21. The Haunting (1963)

G | 112 min | Horror

Hill House has stood for about 90 years and appears haunted: its inhabitants have always met strange, tragic ends. Now Dr. John Markway has assembled a team of people who he thinks will prove whether or not the house is haunted.

Director: Robert Wise | Stars: Julie Harris , Claire Bloom , Richard Johnson , Russ Tamblyn

Votes: 42,114 | Gross: $2.62M

22. House on Haunted Hill (1959)

Approved | 75 min | Crime, Horror, Mystery

A millionaire offers $10,000 to five people who agree to be locked in a large, spooky, rented house overnight with him and his wife.

Director: William Castle | Stars: Vincent Price , Carol Ohmart , Richard Long , Alan Marshal

Votes: 30,499

23. House of Usher (1960)

Approved | 79 min | Drama, Horror

Upon entering his fiancée's family mansion, a man discovers a savage family curse and fears that his future brother-in-law has entombed his bride-to-be prematurely.

Director: Roger Corman | Stars: Vincent Price , Mark Damon , Myrna Fahey , Harry Ellerbe

Votes: 15,255 | Gross: $3.16M

24. The Haunted Palace (1963)

Not Rated | 87 min | Horror

Charles Dexter Ward arrives at a small village to visit the house he inherited from his ancestor who died there 100 years ago.

Director: Roger Corman | Stars: Vincent Price , Debra Paget , Lon Chaney Jr. , Frank Maxwell

Votes: 8,343 | Gross: $2.62M

25. House of the Long Shadows (1983)

PG | 100 min | Comedy, Horror, Mystery

An American author finds a dilapidated Welsh manor perfect for writing until the residents host a bizarre family reunion.

Director: Pete Walker | Stars: Vincent Price , Christopher Lee , Peter Cushing , Desi Arnaz Jr.

Votes: 4,512

26. The Haunted Mansion (2003)

PG | 88 min | Comedy, Family, Fantasy

A realtor and his wife and children are summoned to a mansion, which they soon discover is haunted, and while they attempt to escape, he learns an important lesson about the family he has neglected.

Director: Rob Minkoff | Stars: Eddie Murphy , Marsha Thomason , Jennifer Tilly , Terence Stamp

Votes: 56,450 | Gross: $75.85M

27. Scooby-Doo (2002)

PG | 86 min | Adventure, Comedy, Family

After an acrimonious break up, the Mystery Inc. gang are individually brought to an island resort to investigate strange goings on.

Director: Raja Gosnell | Stars: Matthew Lillard , Freddie Prinze Jr. , Sarah Michelle Gellar , Linda Cardellini

Votes: 124,041 | Gross: $153.29M

28. House (1985)

R | 93 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Horror

A troubled writer moves into a haunted house after inheriting it from his aunt.

Director: Steve Miner | Stars: William Katt , Kay Lenz , George Wendt , Richard Moll

Votes: 29,622 | Gross: $19.44M

29. The Gate (1987)

PG-13 | 85 min | Fantasy, Horror

Kids left home alone accidentally unleash a horde of malevolent demons from a mysterious hole in their suburban backyard.

Director: Tibor Takács | Stars: Stephen Dorff , Christa Denton , Louis Tripp , Kelly Rowan

Votes: 19,280 | Gross: $13.54M

30. Monster House (2006)

PG | 91 min | Animation, Comedy, Family

Three teens discover that their neighbor's house is really a living, breathing, scary monster.

Director: Gil Kenan | Stars: Mitchel Musso , Sam Lerner , Spencer Locke , Ryan Whitney

Votes: 136,158 | Gross: $73.66M

31. What Lies Beneath (2000)

PG-13 | 130 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

The wife of a university research scientist believes that her lakeside Vermont home is haunted by a ghost - or that she is losing her mind.

Director: Robert Zemeckis | Stars: Harrison Ford , Michelle Pfeiffer , Katharine Towne , Miranda Otto

Votes: 134,590 | Gross: $155.46M

32. The Orphanage (2007)

R | 105 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

A woman brings her family back to her childhood home, which used to be an orphanage for handicapped children. Before long, her son starts to communicate with an invisible new friend.

Director: J.A. Bayona | Stars: Belén Rueda , Fernando Cayo , Roger Príncep , Mabel Rivera

Votes: 162,595 | Gross: $7.16M

33. The Conjuring (2013)

R | 112 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren work to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in their farmhouse.

Director: James Wan | Stars: Patrick Wilson , Vera Farmiga , Ron Livingston , Lili Taylor

Votes: 548,133 | Gross: $137.40M

34. I Remember You (2017)

Not Rated | 105 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

A story about a young man and two women who move into a small abandoned town in Iceland to renovate an old house. Little do they know the town has a dark history.

Director: Óskar Thór Axelsson | Stars: Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson , Thorvaldur Kristjansson , Sara Dögg Ásgeirsdóttir , Ágústa Eva Erlendsdóttir

Votes: 5,270

35. Dead Shack (2017)

R | 85 min | Action, Comedy, Horror

While staying at a cabin in the woods for a weekend, three teenagers discover that their neighbor is 'feeding' guests to her zombie family. In short order, the battle is on as the kids fight to save themselves and their family.

Director: Peter Ricq | Stars: Matthew Nelson-Mahood , Lizzie Boys , Gabriel LaBelle , Lauren Holly

Votes: 2,834

36. The Evil Dead (1981)

NC-17 | 85 min | Horror

Five friends travel to a cabin in the woods, where they unknowingly release flesh-possessing demons.

Director: Sam Raimi | Stars: Bruce Campbell , Ellen Sandweiss , Richard DeManincor , Betsy Baker

Votes: 230,210 | Gross: $2.40M

37. Housebound (2014)

Not Rated | 107 min | Comedy, Horror, Mystery

A young woman is forced to return to her childhood home after being placed under house arrest, where she suspects that something evil may be lurking.

Director: Gerard Johnstone | Stars: Morgana O'Reilly , Rima Te Wiata , Glen-Paul Waru , Ross Harper

Votes: 37,311

38. Last Shift (I) (2014)

R | 88 min | Horror, Mystery

A rookie cop is tasked with taking the last shift at a police station before it is permanently closed, but it turns into a living nightmare.

Director: Anthony DiBlasi | Stars: Juliana Harkavy , Joshua Mikel , Hank Stone , J. LaRose

Votes: 23,151

39. Grave Encounters (2011)

Not Rated | 92 min | Horror, Mystery

For their ghost hunting reality show, a production crew locks themselves inside an abandoned mental hospital that's supposedly haunted - and it might prove to be all too true.

Directors: Colin Minihan , Stuart Ortiz , The Vicious Brothers | Stars: Benjamin Wilkinson , Sean Rogerson , Ashleigh Gryzko , Merwin Mondesir

Votes: 63,181

40. The Ward (2010)

An institutionalized young woman becomes terrorized by a ghost.

Director: John Carpenter | Stars: Amber Heard , Mamie Gummer , Danielle Panabaker , Laura-Leigh

Votes: 44,550

41. Ghost Ship (2002)

R | 91 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

A salvage crew discovers a long-lost 1962 passenger ship floating lifeless in a remote region of the Bering Sea, and soon notices that its long-dead inhabitants may still be on board.

Director: Steve Beck | Stars: Julianna Margulies , Gabriel Byrne , Ron Eldard , Desmond Harrington

Votes: 108,186 | Gross: $30.11M

42. Haunted (III) (2017)

R | 86 min | Horror, Thriller

An aspiring writer pays a visit to his sister to look after her house while she is out of town, but what he finds there is more terrifying than any of the stories he writes.

Director: Eros D'Antona | Stars: Roberto D'Antona , Michael Segál , David White , Annamaria Lorusso

43. Haunted (1995)

R | 108 min | Drama, Horror

A skeptical professor visits a remote British estate to debunk allegations of psychic phenomena, but soon finds himself haunted by a ghost from his own past.

Director: Lewis Gilbert | Stars: Aidan Quinn , Kate Beckinsale , Anthony Andrews , John Gielgud

Votes: 7,280

44. Crimson Peak (2015)

R | 119 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

In the aftermath of a family tragedy, an aspiring author is torn between love for her childhood friend and the temptation of a mysterious outsider. Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds - and remembers.

Director: Guillermo del Toro | Stars: Mia Wasikowska , Jessica Chastain , Tom Hiddleston , Charlie Hunnam

Votes: 157,043 | Gross: $31.09M

45. The Legend of Hell House (1973)

PG | 95 min | Horror

A physicist, his wife and two mediums are hired to investigate the Belasco House, where 27 guests had inexplicably died in 1927, along with most of a team of paranormal investigators that was sent in the early 1950s.

Director: John Hough | Stars: Roddy McDowall , Gayle Hunnicutt , Pamela Franklin , Clive Revill

Votes: 13,924

46. Burnt Offerings (1976)

PG | 116 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

A family moves into a large old mansion in the countryside which seems to have a mysterious and sinister power over its new residents.

Director: Dan Curtis | Stars: Karen Black , Oliver Reed , Burgess Meredith , Eileen Heckart

Votes: 13,414

47. Let's Scare Jessica to Death (1971)

GP | 89 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

A recently institutionalized woman has bizarre experiences after moving into a supposedly haunted country farmhouse and fears she may be losing her sanity once again.

Director: John D. Hancock | Stars: Zohra Lampert , Barton Heyman , Kevin O'Connor , Gretchen Corbett

Votes: 9,230

48. The Sentinel (1977)

R | 92 min | Horror

A young woman moves into an apartment in a building which houses a sinister evil.

Director: Michael Winner | Stars: Cristina Raines , Ava Gardner , Chris Sarandon , Martin Balsam

Votes: 11,785

49. The Innocents (1961)

Not Rated | 100 min | Horror

A young governess for two children becomes convinced that the house and grounds are haunted.

Director: Jack Clayton | Stars: Deborah Kerr , Peter Wyngarde , Megs Jenkins , Michael Redgrave

Votes: 32,765 | Gross: $2.62M

50. The Uninvited (1944)

Passed | 99 min | Fantasy, Horror, Mystery

A composer and his sister discover that the reason they are able to purchase a beautiful gothic seacoast mansion very cheaply is the house's unsavory past.

Director: Lewis Allen | Stars: Ray Milland , Ruth Hussey , Donald Crisp , Cornelia Otis Skinner

Votes: 12,336

51. The Unspoken (2015)

Unrated | 91 min | Horror, Thriller

In 1997 the Anderson family vanished from their home without a trace. No bodies were ever found. For 17 years the house has remained undisturbed... until now.

Director: Sheldon Wilson | Stars: Jodelle Ferland , Sunny Suljic , Pascale Hutton , Anthony Konechny

Votes: 2,290

52. The Frighteners (1996)

R | 110 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Horror

After a tragic car accident that kills his wife, a man discovers he can communicate with the dead, and he uses that gift to con people. However, when a demonic spirit appears, he may be the only one who can stop it from killing the living and the dead.

Director: Peter Jackson | Stars: Michael J. Fox , Trini Alvarado , Peter Dobson , John Astin

Votes: 94,759 | Gross: $16.76M

53. Stir of Echoes (1999)

R | 99 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

After being hypnotized by his sister-in-law, a man begins seeing haunting visions of a girl's ghost and a mystery begins to unfold around him.

Director: David Koepp | Stars: Kevin Bacon , Zachary David Cope , Kathryn Erbe , Illeana Douglas

Votes: 86,595 | Gross: $21.13M

54. The Woman in Black (2012)

PG-13 | 95 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

A young solicitor travels to a remote village where he discovers that the vengeful ghost of a scorned woman is terrorizing the locals.

Director: James Watkins | Stars: Daniel Radcliffe , Janet McTeer , Ciarán Hinds , Emma Shorey

Votes: 191,555 | Gross: $54.33M

55. 13 Ghosts (1960)

Not Rated | 85 min | Horror, Mystery

A family inherits what proves to be a haunted house, but a special pair of goggles allows them to see their ghostly tormentors.

Director: William Castle | Stars: Charles Herbert , Jo Morrow , Martin Milner , Rosemary DeCamp

Votes: 7,003 | Gross: $3.27M

56. Darkness (2002)

PG-13 | 88 min | Horror

A teenage girl moves into a remote country house with her family, only to discover that their gloomy new home has a horrifying past that threatens to destroy the family.

Director: Jaume Balagueró | Stars: Anna Paquin , Lena Olin , Iain Glen , Giancarlo Giannini

Votes: 20,261 | Gross: $22.16M

57. The Abandoned (2006)

An adopted woman returns to her home country and the family home that she never knew and must face the mystery that lies there.

Director: Nacho Cerdá | Stars: Anastasia Hille , Karel Roden , Valentin Goshev , Valentin Ganev

Votes: 13,251 | Gross: $1.26M

58. Beetlejuice (1988)

PG | 92 min | Comedy, Fantasy

The spirits of a deceased couple are harassed by an unbearable family that has moved into their home, and hire a malicious spirit to drive them out.

Director: Tim Burton | Stars: Alec Baldwin , Geena Davis , Michael Keaton , Annie McEnroe

Votes: 333,362 | Gross: $73.71M

59. Candyman (1992)

R | 99 min | Horror, Thriller

The Candyman, a murderous soul with a hook for a hand, is accidentally summoned to reality by a skeptic grad student researching the monster's myth.

Director: Bernard Rose | Stars: Virginia Madsen , Xander Berkeley , Tony Todd , Kasi Lemmons

Votes: 99,221 | Gross: $25.79M

60. It (I) (2017)

R | 135 min | Horror

In the summer of 1989, a group of bullied kids band together to destroy a shape-shifting monster, which disguises itself as a clown and preys on the children of Derry, their small Maine town.

Director: Andy Muschietti | Stars: Bill Skarsgård , Jaeden Martell , Finn Wolfhard , Sophia Lillis

Votes: 596,891 | Gross: $327.48M

61. Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2010)

R | 99 min | Fantasy, Horror, Thriller

A young girl sent to live with her father and his new girlfriend believes that she has released creatures from a sealed ash pit in the basement of her new home.

Director: Troy Nixey | Stars: Katie Holmes , Guy Pearce , Bailee Madison , Bruce Gleeson

Votes: 50,427 | Gross: $24.04M

62. The House That Dripped Blood (1971)

PG | 102 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

An anthology of four horror stories revolving around a mysterious rental house in the U.K.

Director: Peter Duffell | Stars: John Bryans , John Bennett , Denholm Elliott , Peter Cushing

Votes: 7,369

63. Below (2002)

R | 105 min | Action, Horror, Mystery

Strange happenings occur on a WW II submarine.

Director: David Twohy | Stars: Bruce Greenwood , David Crow , Matthew Davis , Holt McCallany

Votes: 23,929 | Gross: $0.61M

64. Deathwatch (2002)

R | 94 min | Drama, Horror, War

In the middle of World War I, nine British soldiers caught behind enemy lines seek refuge in a complex network of German trenches. What they soon discover is that they aren't alone - and it isn't a German soldier that's hunting them down.

Director: M.J. Bassett | Stars: Jamie Bell , Rúaidhrí Conroy , Mike Downey , Laurence Fox

Votes: 13,175

65. The Bunker (2001)

R | 88 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

Germany, 1944. The forests of the Ardennes. A platoon of battle weary German soldiers, forced into confusion and retreat by advancing Allied forces, take refuge in an isolated Siegfried Line bunker.

Director: Rob Green | Stars: Jason Flemyng , Andrew Tiernan , Christopher Fairbank , Simon Kunz

Votes: 6,157

66. The Amityville Horror (2005)

R | 90 min | Horror

Newlyweds are terrorized by demonic forces after moving into a large house that was the site of a grisly mass murder a year before.

Director: Andrew Douglas | Stars: Ryan Reynolds , Melissa George , Jimmy Bennett , Jesse James

Votes: 116,692 | Gross: $65.23M

67. Event Horizon (1997)

R | 96 min | Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

A rescue crew is tasked with investigating the mysterious reappearance of a spaceship that had been lost for seven years.

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson | Stars: Laurence Fishburne , Sam Neill , Kathleen Quinlan , Joely Richardson

Votes: 194,812 | Gross: $26.67M

68. Haunted Honeymoon (1986)

PG | 82 min | Comedy

Two radio voice actors are getting married. Larry has fits of fear. A shrink needs 36 hours to scare him to death and cure him - during a family reunion at a scary family castle.

Director: Gene Wilder | Stars: Gene Wilder , Gilda Radner , Dom DeLuise , Jonathan Pryce

Votes: 7,937 | Gross: $8.03M

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The Best Haunted House Movies of All Time, Ranked

From The Shining to Poltergeist, these are some of the scariest Haunted Houses movies that have ever terrified audiences.

When Roger Corman told American International Pictures (AIP) that he wanted to make a film based on Edgar Allan Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher , the studio balked. They didn't think that younger people would pay to see a movie based on reading that teachers handed out in school. Never one to take "no" for an answer, Roger Corman pressed the issue. He loved reading Edgar Allan Poe when he was younger. The classic author's gothic tales of the ghastly and the macabre were ripe for the film treatment. The issue was that The Fall of the House of Usher was more psychological. AIP was known for quick films featuring creatures of every ilk that viewers knew were bad. Edgar Allan Poe's story didn't seem to have that going for it.

Eventually, AIP, probably thinking they had him licked, asked Roger Corman, "Where's the monster?" He replied, "The house is the monster." And with that, Roger Corman would begin a cycle of films based on the many works of Edgar Allan Poe. There had been horror movies that had taken place in scary homes before, but these works from Edgar Allan Poe represented a whole new level that horror could reach in the haunted house genre. We're celebrating the haunted house and all the richness that the milieu can give a film on the screen. In this small space, terror can be lurking around every corner. The familiar becomes unfamiliar. The place that is supposed to be one's sanctuary can become their own personal hell in the best haunted house movies.

Updated on July 31st, 2023 by Rachel Johnson : This article has been updated with additional content to keep the discussion fresh and relevant with even more information and new entries.

22 Hillbillys in a Haunted House (1967)

What can you make of a film that features country singers, ghosts, a gorilla, and a spy ring all under one roof? Hillbillys in a Haunted House also features such film icons as Basil Rathbone, Lon Chaney Jr., and John Carradine. If you are looking for a good scare... This movie isn't it.

If you want camp, comedy, and the occasional WTF moment then you have found your film. A movie like this was probably met with head-scratching befuddlement when it was released in 1967. In 2022... It would probably be compared and canonized much in the same way The Evil Dead was.

21 We Are Still Here (2015)

Following the devastating death of their beloved son in a car crash, grief-stricken parents Anne and Paul Sacchetti move to a remote home in New England to cope with their loss, where they become the target of the malevolent spirits of the family that once inhabited the centuries-old manor in We Are Still Here .

The spine-tingling film features terrifying twists despite its seemingly formulaic premise, as the married couple faces an unfathomable evil that bleeds out of their new home and into the nearby town; Rolling Stone named the chilling picture as one of the ten best horror films of the year.

20 The Woman in Black (2012)

Daniel Radcliffe plays a lawyer who ventures to a distant village and soon discovers that a female ghost is wreaking havoc. From there this movie follows the usual tropes we are used to seeing in horror movies.

Things appear and then just as quickly disappear; the lines between reality and illusion are blurred, and most importantly, the story builds to a climax that pretty much comes out of nowhere. The Woman in Black disarms us with moments that, on the face of it, seem typical. However, as the movie plays on it becomes something unique and truly terrifying.

19 Stir of Echoes (1999)

Stir of Echoes is more a film about a haunted mind than a house. Still, it is pretty darn creepy and given the time of year we are in, it is one that deserves its spot on this list. The story follows a man ( Kevin Bacon ) who is hypnotized.

After waking from a deep trance, suddenly finds himself trying to figure out a murder from beyond. While not one of the haunted house films that people might deem a classic, Stir of Echoes endures because, while haunted houses are scary, a tormented mind is even more so.

18 The Innkeepers (2012)

Ti West is not afraid of big sets with which to cast his lot in. For The Innkeepers , this tale is set in the Yankee Pedlar Inn. The story follows two employees who want to let the world know about the paranormal events that have gone on here.

This whole plan gets upended when ghosts, literally, begin to re-inhabit the inn. This movie may not be as groundbreaking as The House of the Devil , but a haunted hotel film from Ti West is better than most films of this ilk.

Related: 10 Scary Haunted House Movies From the '60s and '70s

17 The House of the Devil (2009)

This movie burst on the scene in 2009 and knocked just about everybody who saw it on their butt. With its 1980s visual style and pacing, and its seemingly thrown-away title; the moment the first frame of the film lands on your eyeballs, you know you are seeing the work of a true horror genius.

The house in the title truly seems to have a mind of its own. The way it is shot throughout this movie, it seems to grow and grow, engulfing both the viewer and the actors until we realize that there really is no escape. This movie could've been number one on this list. A truly original gem that shows that you can take something old and make it truly something original.

16 The Changeling (1980)

Widely regarded as one of the most influential Canadian films of all time, The Changeling centers on a brilliant New York City composer who relocates to Seattle after tragically losing his wife and daughter, only to discover that the vacant mansion he's renting has a malicious evil lurking within its walls.

The gripping film is a tension-building spectacle that keeps audiences on the edge of their seats with its taut atmosphere and profound feeling of impending dread and was lauded for leaning into the ghost story premise while keeping audiences temporarily at ease due to the fearless and formidable performance of lead star George C. Scott.

15 The Orphanage (2007)

The Spanish have a way with horror films, and The Orphanage certainly is a standout, even among the best haunted ones. This film sees a mother taking her family to the house she grew up in. The haunted home used to be an orphanage.

Before anybody knows what is happening, her son is communicating with entities both past and present. Shot with what seems like a candle lighting each scene, The Orphanage is literally crawling with horror. If you like your haunted house films to burn slowly, then bundle up on a cold Fall night and get ready to be scared... really scared.

14 The House on Haunted Hill (1959)

Just the name alone qualifies that film for this list, right? The premise is simple. A millionaire offers five people a lot of money if they can stay in a house overnight. Vincent Price leads this cast, who was a favorite of Roger Corman and his haunted house films.

However, one needs to look no further than the title to see that the house in this movie is a character unto itself. With dark corridors lurking around every turn, this monstrous house (both in size and inhabitants), certainly takes its place amongst the cast, which also includes a credited skeleton!

13 The Others (2001)

Revered for its epic plot twist that left moviegoers both dazzled and speechless, Alejandro Amenábar's acclaimed horror masterpiece The Others stars Nicole Kidman as a mother of two children who reside in a remote country house in the island country of Jersey in the wake of World War II.

They come to suspect their residence may be haunted after the young brother and sister experience strange paranormal phenomena. With its gothic atmosphere, almost suffocating tension, and Kidman's intense and vulnerable role, The Others won numerous accolades like three Saturn Awards and a whopping eight Goya Awards (including Best Director and Best Film).

Related: 10 Horror Movies That Take Place in Haunted House Attractions

12 What Lies Beneath (2000)

Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford have never been better in this thriller with a twist, that masquerades as a haunted house film. Basically, Michelle Pfeiffer's character thinks that her house is haunted.

Of course, her husband thinks she is crazy. Then things start happening that prove the house is being visited by the paranormal. From there, this horror movie turns into a thriller with truly unexpected consequences. While the house itself isn't ever really at the forefront of the scares, it is there enough to remind you to never let your guard down.

11 The Haunting (1963)

Adapted from the celebrated Shirley Jackson novel, the phenomenal horror classic The Haunting tells the spooky story of a group of strangers who are brought together to help investigate the paranormal activity allegedly occurring at the 90-year-old Hill House in Massachusetts, with the study being conducted by anthropologist Dr. John Markway (Richard Johnson). The souls that were brave enough to accept the invitation quickly realize an overpowering force of evil dwells on the land and in the foreboding mansion, becoming terrorized by the sinister entity attached to the home.

The Haunting utilizes its erie black-and-white cinematography and delivers a truly terrifying ghost story that is sure to dazzle horror movie enthusiasts; it has landed on numerous critics' lists as one of the scariest horror films of all time and since its release has continued amassing praise and appreciation in the decades since its debut.

10 Beetlejuice (1988)

Michael Keaton is so big as the title character, we almost miss what an incredible house Beetlejuice takes place in. With its white exterior, multiple levels, long hallways, and hidden spaces throughout, Beetlejuice works because we honestly believe that the events on screen could take place here.

There is so much happening in this movie that we need to believe that this house is real. We want it to be real. Sure, Beetlejuice may not be that scary. However, it does show that sometimes what happens in the spirit world vs. what happens in the real world makes a lot more sense.

9 1408 (2007)

John Cusack is darn near perfect in this haunted hotel room tale. He plays a man who specializes in showing how certain paranormal experiences aren't paranormal at all. He checks into the famed 1408 room at the Dolphin Hotel. This room is known for a brand of terror all its own.

It is so bad that Cusack's character has to threaten the hotel with a lawsuit just to be let in. As you can guess, what starts off as his character's tongue-in-cheek take on the room, soon changes dramatically when he realizes that everything he's heard is real. Set inside this claustrophobic, one-room set, we as viewers find ourselves wanting to break out.

8 The Evil Dead (1981)

The making of this demonic tale is just about as iconic as the film itself. Taking place inside one cabin, with cheaply done FX that looks fantastic, The Evil Dead mixes horror and humor in the best way. This collaboration between director Sam Raimi and actor Bruce Campbell shows just how perfect these two men were for one another.

The most amazing thing about this film is that it never feels small. It essentially takes place in one spot, but once the demons are unleashed that never seems to call attention to itself. This film isn't a haunted house movie so much as a haunted movie that just happens to take place in a house!

Related: Evil Dead: Every Film in the Franchise, Ranke

7 The Innocents (1961)

Based on the novella The Turning of the Screw , The Innocents stars Deborah Kerr as a first-time governess who travels to a large Victorian country estate to take care of two orphans, and quickly becomes uneasy when the older child returns home from boarding school and bizarre occurrences begin to happen.

Miss Giddens (Kerr) begins to believe both the sprawling mansion and its grounds are haunted by the spirits of the former governess and valet and sets out to protect her wards from being possessed by supernatural entities. The Innocents is a revered psychological horror classic that has retrospectively been praised for its creepy atmosphere, heart-racing thrills and chills, and layered storyline, with both scholars and critics analyzing the '60s masterpiece via film theory.

6 Insidious (2011)

Taking place in the present, the first three-fourths of Insidious are quite possibly some of the best moments ever put on screen. Not just in the haunted house genre but in any genre. The home in this movie is as unassuming as it gets.

There is nothing about it that calls attention to itself. However, it plays with us, making us wonder... is the house possessed? Is it someone in the family? Eventually, all is revealed, and the final 1/4 of this film (especially when the paranormal people arrive) leaves little to be desired. However, if you want a good scare inside your home, Insidious certainly fills that need.

5 The Conjuring (2013)

It is saying something about films of the past like The Exorcist and The Amityville Horror that The Conjuring , a film very much of that ilk, did as well as it did upon its release in 2013. This tale of a large family moving into their home in the 1970s knocked the YouTube Generation on its keister.

Set in a huge house that was in need of a lot of work, this movie played and worked like a relic of a bygone era. Once it becomes apparent to the parents just how much danger their family is in, it is only a matter of time until this large, darkly lit home seems to be working against everybody in the film.

4 Paranormal Activity (2007)

Like Poltergeist , Paranormal Activity was set in familiar suburbia. So when this little tale came out of nowhere to scare the hell out of us, it was really jarring because horror films had kinda lost their mojo. The Saw franchise had become ridiculous, and other "scary" movies were banking on editing, rather than their own content, to provide the chills.

Oren Peli set his movie in "Everywhere, USA". The house was nondescript. This worked to excellent effect because once the scares started happening, viewers got to see them in a place they were familiar with. Also, by the time things were really going crazy, the house seemed to creep up on us. As if it was saying, "Hey, I'm a part of this too, and you've made a big mistake ignoring me."

3 The Amityville Horror (1979)

With eyes that look like windows, this creepy house (to this day!) is a place that I find hard to visit on film. There is something about the way it is structured that just seems to be a den of evil. Add the fact that the film is based on a true story and that makes it even that much scarier. This film follows the Lutz clan. This family of 5 moves into their new home even though they are told by their realtor of the previous carnage that has happened there.

Things start getting crazy, then they get crazier, priests are brought in, and suddenly it becomes apparent that everything going on isn't just bad pipes and a rotting foundation. The Amityville Horror is a great horror movie. It functions like The Exorcist in its ability to scare. This is probably because it is based on true events, and thus we can't keep it at arm's length.

Related: Best Haunted Houses in Horror Movies, Ranked

scariest haunted house of all time

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The 10 Scariest Horror Movies Ever

We asked, you voted. from demonic possessions and cursed tvs to haunted hotels and killer clowns, here are movies that scared rt users the most..

scariest haunted house of all time


If you were poking around RT a week and a half or so ago, you might have come across a little poll we were taking on the site to try and determine the Scariest Movie Ever . Based on other lists and suggestions from the RT staff, we pulled together 40 of the scariest movies ever made and asked you to vote for the one that terrified you the most. As it happens, a British broadband service comparison website decided to conduct a science experiment to determine the same thing, and their results were… surprising, to say the least. Did Rotten Tomatoes readers agree with the findings? Read on to find out what our fans determined were the 10 Scariest Horror Movies Ever.

1. The Exorcist (1973)

You may not agree that  The Exorcist is the scariest movie ever, but it probably also isn’t much of a surprise to see it at the top of our list — with a whopping 19% of all the votes cast. William Friedkin’s adaptation of the eponymous novel about a demon-possessed child and the attempts to banish said demon became the highest-grossing R-rated horror film ever and the first to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars (it earned nine other nominations and took home two trophies). But outside of its critical and commercial bona fides, the film is well-known for the mass hysteria it inspired across the country, from protests over its controversial subject matter to widespread reports of nausea and fainting in the audience. Its dramatic pacing and somewhat dated effects may seem quaint compared to some contemporary horror, but there’s no denying the power the film continues to have over those who see it for the first time.

2.  Hereditary (2018)

Writer-director Ari Aster made a huge splash with his feature directorial debut, a dark family drama about the nature of grief couched within a supernatural horror film. Toni Collette earned a spot in the pantheon of great Oscar snubs with her slowly-ratcheted-up-to-11 performance as bedeviled mother Annie, but the movie’s biggest shock came courtesy of… Well, we won’t spoil that here. Suffice it to say  Hereditary struck such a nerve with moviegoers that it instantly turned Aster into a director to watch and shot up to second place on our list.

3.  The Conjuring (2013)

James Wan has staked out a place among the modern masters of horror, directing films like  Saw ,  Dead Silence ,  Insidious , and this inspired-by-true-events chiller based on the experiences of real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. The Warrens, best known for their work on the strange case that inspired the  Amityville Horror movies (which played a part in The Conjuring 2 ), were portrayed by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, who grounded the effective jump scares and freak-out moments with a believable world-weariness. Together, Wan and his co-leads found fresh terror in familiar genre tropes, and the end result is a sprawling cinematic universe that only continues to grow.

4.  The Shining (1980)

Literally dozens of Stephen King’s novels and stories have been adapted for the big screen, and several of those films are considered classics today, like  Carrie ,  Misery , and  Pet Sematary (and that doesn’t even account for non-horror stuff like  The Shawshank Redemption and  Stand By Me ). But the mother of them all is easily Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of  The Shining . A marvel of set and production design and a genuinely unnerving take on the traditional haunted house story,  The Shining features a host of memorable images and an iconic Jack Nicholson performance. The film’s relatively few jump scares are still absolutely chilling, but its true power lies in the way it crawls under your skin and makes you experience Jack Torrance’s slow descent into madness. It’s rightfully considered one of the greatest horror films ever made, and it ranked fourth in our poll.

5.  The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

While the top four movies on this list collectively garnered 42% of the total votes counted, they were followed by six films that all earned around 3% of the vote each. In other words, these last six films were separated by no more than 60 votes. The first of them is this low-budget slasher directed and co-written by Tobe Hooper, very loosely inspired by the crimes of Ed Gein.  Texas Chainsaw’ s grimy aesthetic helped lend it an air of authenticity, which made it all the more frightening (“This could  actually happen , you guys!”), and the massive, menacing presence of Gunnar Hansen’s Leatherface paved the way for other brutes like Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees. Multiple attempts have been made to breathe new life into the franchise, but none have equaled the original in sheer, over-the-top, power tool-inspired terror.

6.  The Ring (2002)

It’s always a tricky proposition to take something that works well for one culture and try to translate that formula successfully for another, but Gore Verbinski managed that with  The Ring . A remake of Japanese director Hideo Nakata’s acclaimed thriller about a cursed videotape, Verbinski’s take kept the original film’s striking visual imagery — the  ghost of a young girl in a white dress with long black hair covering her face — and found that it scared the hell out of audiences no matter where they were from. While the film wasn’t as well-regarded as its predecessor, it features a committed performance from a then up-and-coming Naomi Watts, and for many, it served as an introduction to East Asian horror cinema.

7.  Halloween (1978)

Coming in at the seventh spot on our list is the film that introduced the world to all-time scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis and put John Carpenter on the map.  Halloween is frequently cited as one of the earliest examples of the slasher genre as we know it today, and while it may not feature the same kind of realistic gore we’ve come to expect of films in that category, it packs a lot of tension and some inventive thrills in a relatively small-scale package. The film’s legacy is also fairly untouchable: Michael Myers’ mask has become the stuff of legend, and the giant, unstoppable killer and the “final girl” have become ingrained in the horror lexicon. There’s a reason the franchise is still going after more than 40 years.

8.  Sinister (2012)

For those who didn’t read the “scientific study” mentioned at the top, we’ve finally come to the film it crowned the scariest. Before he joined the MCU with 2016’s  Doctor Strange , director Scott Derrickson had racked up a few horror films, a couple of which earned cult followings. One of them was this small-scale haunted house/possession story about a true-crime writer (Ethan Hawke) who moves his wife and kids into a house where a family was murdered, only to discover the new place might already have a rather evil tenant. Writer C. Robert Cargill was reportedly inspired to pen the script based on a nightmare he had after watching  The Ring , and the story does share a minor similarity with that film, what with the creepy snuff film angle. But for many who saw it, the dramatic reveals and creepy set pieces far outweighed any recycled genre tropes that might have been present. Plus, there’s at least one report out there that says it’s the scariest movie ever made, so that has to count for something.

9.  Insidious (2010)

James Wan has already appeared higher on this list, but before he and Patrick Wilson made The Conjuring , they worked together on this supernatural thriller about a young boy who falls into a coma and begins to channel a malevolent spirit. The bare bones of the story weren’t the most groundbreaking, but frequent Wan collaborator Leigh Whannell infused it with a compelling enough mythology that it spawned four more installments. Wan also stated that Insidious was meant to be something of a corrective to the outright violence of  Saw , which compelled him to craft something on a more spiritual level, and the end result is an effective chiller featuring what is frequently regarded as one of the best jump scares ever put on screen.

10.  IT (2017)

The fear of clowns is a very real thing, even if it’s become so commonplace to announce it that it feels disingenuous. If you needed any further evidence, we direct you to the box office haul of 2017’s  IT , based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, which went on to beat  The Exorcist’ s 44-year record as the highest-grossing horror film ever. Oh, and of course, its 10th-place finish on this list. Andy Muschietti’s big-budget adaptation drew on nostalgia to tell its story of children scarred by trauma, while Bill Skarsgard’s take on Pennywise the evil, shapeshifting clown was bizarre and unsettling in all the right ways. Add a healthy dose of jump scares, a handful of impressive set pieces, and some top-notch CGI, and you’ve got a recipe for a horror film that’s both fun and full of scares.

Thumbnail image by ©FilmDistrict courtesy Everett Collection

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scariest haunted house of all time

Are you ready to be scared? Do you want to SCREAM?  Do you like horror movies that make you never wish to ever again enter an old house, farm house, a haunted hotel, or be left in some abandoned old town?  There are many scary horror movies or slasher movies that have made people squirm and left many with utter nightmares for weeks. However, if we weed those out, and simply focus on movies featured in some old haunted house or real haunted house we come up with the Hauntworld.comlist of the best and scariest haunted house movies of ALL TIME!  Here at Hauntworld.com, the WORLD’S biggest website to find all things haunted and haunted houses, we offer you a list of movies that will make you SCREAM.  Sure, we could feature all the same old movies like Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, Texas Chainsaw Massacre , etc.  However, those movies are not really centered around a single haunted house.  Rather, they’re about a freak monster that simply won’t die.  The thing that makes a good haunted house movie stick is the fact that people might actually believe these things could REALLY happen to them.  I doubt people believe that Freddy is coming for you in your dreams, but many people do believe that they can be possessed by the devil or that ghosts really exist and could prey and haunt them or their home.   When we are talking about the scariest haunted house movies of all time, we’re talking about movies where some supernatural force has taken over or dwells between the walls or inside an old building or where demented people torture, kill and dismember their victims piece by piece.  When people think of REAL haunted houses, they think of old prisons, hotels, mansions, closed down asylums or even just an old house on an abandoned old farm, etc.  While we at HAUNTWORLD truly believe visiting one of America's best haunted house attractions will make you scream more than any movie could (due to their live interactive nature), haunted house attractions are typically only open in September and October.  So how do you cure that haunted house fix year round?  We'll solve that problem as you sit back and review the Hauntworld.com top 13 best and scariest haunted house movies of all time!  


To find America's Best Haunted Houses CLICK HERE

scariest haunted house of all time

Yes, we know…This movie has topped nearly every best horror list ever created.  You might be asking yourself if this movie is really based inside a real haunted house.  Almost the entire movie is based inside a house.  It’sbased on a true story about a St. Louis, Missouri boy who became possessed by the Devil and was later exorcised.  They claim the building where the exorcism took place was cold and frightening for years after, and later that section of the hospital was torn down.  The reality is no movie has ever scared people back to Church like The Exorcist.  The Exorcist has the most profound effect on people than any other horror movie we know of.  From making people believe in the Devil to wondering if they are next, The Exorcist was one of the only horror movies EVER to be nominated for best picture among many other awards for acting, direction and more. In our opinion, the Exorcist is still the all time scariest horror movie ever made because after you watch it alone in the dark, you worry about the devil knocking on YOUR door!

scariest haunted house of all time

A more recent haunted house based film finds a family looking for answers why their son will never wake from a deep sleep and what they ultimately discover is a supernatural haunted story like no other.  This low budget horror movie was just what the doctor ordered, relying on film making rather than high budget special effects.  This is why Insidious movie is so different than all the more recent fair. Insidious is a throw back to 1970's film making where you have to create the scare with the story, actors, and camera movement rather than special effects.  Insidious makes you believe in the boogeyman and the supernatural.  More than anything, Insidious is inspired by Poltergeist, but with more modern flair it comes in just slightly more scary.

scariest haunted house of all time

We will NEVER understand WHY Warner Brothers never released this movie theatrically.  Trick R Treat has to be the best and scariest haunted house movie that was never released for a wide theatrical run at your local movie theater.  Trick R Treat takes you through a series of stories that are all in one way or another woven together for one big scary ending.  After you watch Trick R Treat, you may NEVER take your kids trick or treating again!  The visuals of this movie are pure Halloween in every sense of the word, with just enough gore, blood and killers to send you home to hide under the sheets.

scariest haunted house of all time

Poltergeist is a film in some ways inspired by The Exorcist, but rather than being haunted by the Devil himself,this house is haunted by restless spirits.  Even if Poltergiest doesn't stand up today as much as Exorcists in the scare category, we must remember that Poltergeist has been the inspiratation for countless other successful movies such as Insidious, Paranormal Activity and many more.  I remember being a kid and afraid to look under the bed or go into the closet and afriad of the static on a TV set.  Poltergeist was and is still to this day one of the best haunted house movies ever made.  However, this is one movie that could use a re-make, a facelift giving it more of a Paranomal Activity style take while incorporating into it all themodern day special FX.

scariest haunted house of all time

Who wants to check into a haunted hotel after seeing this movie?  What I love about this movie is that it just starts then never stops...This movie is relentless.  If you never believed in the supernatural, this movie makes you a believer.  There is no doubt this film has you on the edge of your seat from the minute the movie starts until the credits are over.  If you want to see the scariest movie of all time based in a haunted hotel, this is it no doubt THE ONE TO SEE.

scariest haunted house of all time

Staying with the entire haunted hotel theme, The Shinning might actually be the scariest and best haunted house movie of all time.  I think the movie was never intended to be an all out horror movie, rather than a great movie like the Exorcists.  When movies leave viewers for years later repeating lines like 'HERE'S JOHNNY' and thinking about The Shinning not the show, you know the movie had an impact.  The Shinning is a mixture of supernatural and outright horror!  This movie should have never been re-made, re-created, turned into a TV miniseries and for those reasons right there it drops in my ranking.  This movie should have stood alone just like the Exorcist.

scariest haunted house of all time

No, NOT the original Vincent Price version, but the re-make horror movie…That was really the inspiration for all the other remakes of old classic horror movies like Thirteen Ghosts, and other movies that would follow like The Grudge, Ring, and many others copying and mimicking ways ghosts and ghouls would make you scream. House on Haunted Hill is the ultimate haunted house movie based in an old asylum with a very haunted past.  House on Haunted Hill issuper scary. However, the ghosts, ghouls and monsters are very creative, and they’ll give you nightmares for sure!  The fact that the whole premise is to spend the night in a haunted house and if you survive you win a million dollars is enough right there to make our list.

scariest haunted house of all time

This film is based in an old warehouse where people pay a fee for the rights to torture and kill real people.  This film was inspired by a story that broke about people paying a fee to shoot a real person at a price.  The movie is just flat out gross, over the top, and above all else SCARY.  I think people come away from this movie thinking to themselves, this could really happen or maybe has happened or worse, still happens.  Hostel is the ultimate haunted house movie with torture chambers, all sorts of devices people can use to make you scream.  If you do not have the stomach for a movie like this one, do not watch, because your stomach WILL be twisted like a pretzel from start to finish.

scariest haunted house of all time

After I saw The Strangers movie, I thought about an old classic, The Night That Dreaded Sundown,because I think everyone can relate to someone just wanting to kill and torture people for no good reason other than for their own enjoyment.  The Strangers is jam packed with suspense and leaves you simply out of breath by the end.  Three strangers enter someone's home to kill them, but they play a demented game with them and make it an all night scream fest before the final deed is performed...Murder.

scariest haunted house of all time

Not many people saw this film, as it was not a box office smash.  It was more of a cult classic made popular by DVD.  The Collector is flat out SCARY.  The Collector comes knocking on your door and his only agenda is to KILL YOU and afterwards get creative with your remains.  The Collector will torture you, and leave you begging for death.  This is another film where you sit at home in your house and someone turns your home into an utter nightmare.  Movies like this make you LOCK YOUR DOORS and run to the nearest gun store!

scariest haunted house of all time

A house is haunted and these mean spirits follow you around from a hospital to basically any house you enter.  The movie was inspired by the success of The Ring. The style of these two films are very similar.  However, The Grudge is all about a haunted house.  The Grudge is a very scary movie about spirits who haunt a house and plan to kill anyone who even thinks about entering it.

scariest haunted house of all time

This movie was based on the popular video game, but unlike other great horror based video games like Resident Evil, Silent Hill is about a town that becomes overrun with scary haunted creatures. Throughout the entire movie the stars of the film are inside one haunted house, warehouse, haunted church, haunted hotel, to every single thing between. The monsters, creatures, and nightmare figures are very realistic, scary and original.  There are enough screams in this film to last a lifetime.

scariest haunted house of all time

13)   Paranormal Activity

This is another film inspired by Poltergeist but done in The Blair Witch Project fashion... ParanormalActivity takes people on a journey because they believe these things can really happen, which is why people gravitate towards them.  Personally, I think Paranormal Activity 2 was scarier than the original, but the original is what leads you to the sequels,so we'll stay with PA1.  Facts are facts, people are scared that their home or their soul might become haunted, which gives the perfect formula for both screams and box office success.

Well, there you have it, our list of the 13 best haunted house movies of all time.  Log onto our Facebook page and share YOUR list of the best and scariest haunted house films of all time.  Now, there are a few movies that we’d like to offer a nod to, but that didn’t make our list such as House of a 1000 Corpses, Black Christmas, The Others, The Haunting, and probably a few other horror movies based on haunted houses.


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  1. This Terrifying Haunted House Will Give You $20,000 If You ...

    McKamey Manor in Summertown, Tennessee may lay claim to being the world's scariest haunted house. It's so scary that no one has ever completed it — but if you do, you'll win $20,000. All...

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    1. LaLaurie House | New Orleans, LA American Horror Story: Coven reignited interest in this famous French Quarter haunt.

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    According to a Change.org petition with more than 170,000 signatures, McKamey Manor is "a torture chamber under disguise." Calling McKamey Manor "torture porn" and "a shame to all haunted houses," the petition claims that participants have suffered sexual assault, injections with drugs, and extreme physical harm.

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    19. The Curse of the Cat People (1944) Everett Collection Irena isn't Casper, but she certainly is a friendly ghost, and she still haunts her husband Oliver Reed (Kent Smith) and his new wife,...

  5. McKamey Manor

    McKamey Manor is an American haunted house attraction in which survival horror -style events are enacted. [1] [2] It is considered a pioneer of "extreme" haunted attractions. [3] Founded in San Diego by Russ McKamey, it was originally located on his property until it was moved to Tennessee in 2017. [4]

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    1. Netherworld Haunted House in Atlanta, GA - www.fearworld.com : Netherworld has set nearly every record in this industry for attendance and national publicity and is one of the best haunted houses in America.

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    Winchester (2018) Helen Mirren stars as the widow who occupies a possessed mansion in this chilling story, inspired by real events. STREAM NOW Poltergeist (1982) This classic '80s horror film is...

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    McKamey is possible the scariest haunted house in the entire country, and the owner, Russ, takes that title very seriously. So seriously, in fact, that he'll offer you $20,000 if you make it through. Don't get too cocky, though. According to this local Houston site, no one has yet to succeed. If you're curious about what it entails, watch ...

  9. 15 Of The World's Scariest Haunted Houses

    13 The 13th Gate - Baton Rouge, LA The 13th Gate doesn't just take you through one nightmarish realm, but forces you to face horrors in 13 separate dimensions. This is one of those extreme haunted houses, where the lines get blurred between fantasy and reality.

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    Go to https://buyraycon.com/wendigoon to get 15% off your Raycon purchase!Thank you to Raycon for sponsoring today's video!Shadow of the Zone Kickstarter: ht...

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    Among all the types of stories found within the horror genre, haunted houses have to be one of, if not the, most common. Examples of this kind of tale have been recorded throughout history. Every region in the world has them; everyone claims they know where a haunted house lies. RELATED: The 10 Biggest Jump Scares In Horror Movie History, Ranked

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    Shirley Jackson's 1959 Gothic horror novel has become a classic of the genre, widely considered one of the best ghost stories of the 20th century, and with good reason. Jackson was inspired by the true story of a group of "psychic researchers" who solemnly reported their "scientific findings" of a haunted house to the Society For Psychic Research.

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    1. The Uninvited (1944) The Uninvited, a ghost story from Hollywood's Golden Age, has pretty much everything you'd want out of a classic black-and-white horror-drama.

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    The best haunted houses in NYC for a scarily good time. 1. Nightmare Dollhouse. The premise for this haunted house is a terrifyingly simple one: "Nightmare Dollhouse" is a petrifying roadside ...

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    Rachel talks about the top 5 most haunted houses. Did you know that Rachel once lived in a haunted house?Subscribe to SNARLED: http://bit.ly/SnarledSUBSCRIBE...

  18. The Most Terrifying Books: 15 Titles Not for the Faint of Heart

    A list of terrifying books wouldn't be complete without including Shirley Jackson. If you're afraid of haunted house stories, you really need to experience the mother of all haunted house stories: The Haunting of Hill House.The book begins with four people entering the house looking for answers to the mysterious hauntings that are rumored to occur in Hill House.

  19. Scare scale: Ranking the best houses of Halloween Horror Nights

    Halloween Horror Nights 2021 (McReynolds) ORLANDO, Fla. - Halloween Horror Nights opened for its 30th year to some terrifying screams Friday night at Universal Orlando Resort. After a...

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    5. The Shining, by Stephen King. Check Latest Price. Here's another obligatory haunted house (well, hotel) classic that has made a lasting impact on both the literary and the movie world. The terrifying tale begins when Jack Torrance and his family move into the empty and isolated Overlook Hotel.

  22. Ultimate Haunted House Movie List

    A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where a sinister presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from both past and future. Director: Stanley Kubrick | Stars: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd, Scatman Crothers Votes: 1,092,102 | Gross: $44.02M 2.

  23. The Best Haunted House Movies of All Time, Ranked

    19 Stir of Echoes (1999) Artisan Entertainment. Stir of Echoes is more a film about a haunted mind than a house. Still, it is pretty darn creepy and given the time of year we are in, it is one ...

  24. The 10 Scariest Horror Movies Ever

    1. The Exorcist (1973) The Exorcist (1/5) Movie CLIP - A Harrowing House Call (1973) HD. Watch on. You may not agree that The Exorcist is the scariest movie ever, but it probably also isn't much of a surprise to see it at the top of our list — with a whopping 19% of all the votes cast. William Friedkin's adaptation of the eponymous novel ...

  25. Top 13 Scariest Haunted House Movies of All Time

    The movie was inspired by the success of The Ring. The style of these two films are very similar. However, The Grudge is all about a haunted house. The Grudge is a very scary movie about spirits who haunt a house and plan to kill anyone who even thinks about entering it. 12) Silent Hill.