There are times in life when you’ll get stuck: Either literally or otherwise. You might remember a time, not so long ago, when we were all trapped indoors  — feeling like ghosts haunting our own homes!

In that spirit (heh), I compiled a list of fabulous ghost movies to keep you entertained. And I had an unwavering rule for the movies I chose to focus on: A main character, alive or dead, needed to be STUCK as a core part of the movie.

Although Ghostbusters (1984) is a fantastic film, it’s not on THIS ghost movies list because neither the alive characters nor the ghosts are “stuck” in any way (both the exterminators and the specters zip around the city willy-nilly!).

Also, there had to be ghosts in the ghost movies I selected. So, while House on Haunted Hill has humans stuck in an “allegedly” haunted house and Paranormal Activity is sometimes referred to as a “ghost” movie, those didn’t make the list either. My list needed to have nothing but legit GHOSTS  —demons and phonies have been banished from my ghost movies list!!

Now that the premise has been thoroughly established, let’s begin.

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Ghost Movies Featuring Living People Stuck with Ghosts

You’re stuck with ghosts and the ghosts despise you!

Hausu (1977)

Hausu 1977 cast

Imagine the strangest anime you’ve ever seen. Now imagine falling asleep and having a fever dream about it. Multiply that by about 1000 and you’ll start to grasp what Hausu (also known as House) is like.

The main characters in this horror-comedy are seven adorable Japanese schoolgirls who’re named for their tropes: There’s Gorgeous (the pretty one), Prof (short for “professor” — the smart one), Kung-Fu (the sporty one), Melody (the musical/artistic one), Sweet (the sweet/nice one), Fantasy (the daydreamer), and Mac (short for “stomach” — the chubby cutie).

I don’t want to spoil anything so let’s just say… The seven girls go visit Gorgeous’ aunt in her severely haunted house and meet their ends in hilariously cartoonish (and very gory!) ways. It’s a live-action cartoon, basically, with some absolutely stunning visuals that you NEED to see (and share with everyone you know because, believe me, this movie is a blast to watch with people who’ve never seen it before!).

Watch Hausu on Amazon Prime.

1408 (2007)

1408 (2007)

Based on a short story by Stephen King, Mike Enslin (John Cusack) is a writer who goes around debunking allegedly haunted locations. He’s incredibly jaded.

However, when he gets invited to The Dolphin (a hotel) and is told not to stay in room 1408… He views it as a challenge and, of course, he stays in room 1408.

Minimal spoilers here: The hotel room is, indeed, haunted and things don’t go well for Mike once he’s trapped inside.

Watch 1408 on Amazon Prime.

Poltergeist (1982)

Poltergeist (1982)

I’ll be honest: Poltergeist isn’t a favorite ghost movie of mine. I saw it much later in life and had zero nostalgia for it (and by that time, I was far-too-old/jaded to be spooked by it); however, it’s a “must-see” ghost film for any movie buff. At the very least, you’ll be able to “get” all of endless the jokes/parodies done on scenes from it!

Ghosts, poltergeists, skeletons, and other spookies terrify the occupants of an otherwise nice house. Chairs get stacked, drawers get opened, little girl gets sucked into another dimension in her closet, and there’s one rad FX scene involving a bathroom mirror that I won’t spoil if you haven’t seen it yet.

Watch Poltergeist on Amazon Prime.

13 Ghosts (1960)

13 Ghosts (1960)

If you haven’t watched any of William Castle’s other films, then skip the ghost movie marathon (I’ll give you a pass!) and go watch The Tingler and House on Haunted Hill, both starting Vincent Price; and then move onto Mr. SardonicusHomicidalStraight JacketZotz!… Pretty much any of his other films. Then, circle back and watch this one to be a William Castle completionist.

While 13 Ghosts is fun, if you love William Castle films, it’s definitely not my favorite of his movies. It’s only 84 minutes long but feels longer due to some pacing issues. But it was the only movie of his that fit with my theme o’ the day! (I still haven’t gotten around to watching the 2001 remake).

It’s got a family stuck in a haunted house with 12(!) ghosts. For me, this is a good film to wind down with. It’s very innocent and old-fashioned, the jump scares won’t make you jumpy, and you don’t have to be fully focused (or conscious) to get the gist of what’s going on. It’s very relaxing.

If you stay awake: There’s a classic William Castle “gimmick” at the end!

Watch 13 Ghosts on Amazon Prime.

The Conjuring (2013)

The Conjuring (2013)

This is one of those “based on a true story” movies which should be taken with a grain (or a heaping handful) of salt. If you push that aspect out of your mind and just enjoy it for a very fun (fictional!) ghost movie, I think you’ll enjoy it.

The Conjuring takes place in 1971 and real-life demonologists, Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), investigate a ghost-riddled house that’s tormenting the family who bought it.

Side note: If you want another fun “true” story to add to your ghost movies watch list, check out Demon House (2018). It’s a documentary(!) by Zak Bagans from Ghost Adventures that’s highly entertaining and basically serves as the origin story for his trademark eyeglasses.

Watch The Conjuring on Amazon Prime.

Stir of Echoes (1999)

Stir of Echoes (1999)

I haven’t seen Stir of Echoes since it came out and I passed pass on re-watching it when compiling my list due to certain triggering plot points. That said, scenes from this movie, beyond the S.A., are still with me over 20 years later!

Mainly, I remember Kevin Bacon really going all out with his performance (as always) and chugging a TON of orange juice. To this day, I think of Kevin Bacon in Stir of Echoes whenever we have more than one container of orange juice in our fridge!

Anyway, there’s a ghost stuck in Kevin Bacon’s house and he needs to find out who she is and why she can’t leave. And he needs to gulp down a ton of OJ while he does it!

Watch Stir of Echoes on Amazon Prime.

The living people in these encounter unfriendly but relatively benign (from a movie watcher’s perspective) ghosts — great picks if you have kiddos who want to join in on the fun of watching scary ghost movies without getting too traumatized (or these picks can be used if you need something to knock out with at bedtime).

Mr. Boogedy (1986)

Mr Boogedy 1986 pilgrim ghost

Let’s get one thing straight: Mr. Boogedy (1986) and its sequel, Bride of Boogedy (1987), are objectively terrible ghost movies. You’ll swear Mr. Boogedy is a three-hour epic rather than a 46-minute mini-film because it can be painfully dull.

That said, if you’re around my age (I’ll be 40 next year), you’ll remember this made-for-TV movie from your childhood and the nostalgia will be irresistible. It’s streaming now — and it’s guaranteed to look WAY better than your home-recorded VHS copy! — so feel free to torture yourself and your kids with it.

Plus, it has John Astin in it! He’s always a joy to watch, even if the rest of the film isn’t. Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnd… this movie gave one of my school friends a fear of vacuum cleaners and I found that very funny as a teen. (“Just kidding! Just kidding!”)

Watch Mr. Boogedy and Bride of Boogedy on Amazon Prime.

Monster House (2006)

Monster House (2006)

Monster House is one of Robert Zemeckis’ computer-animated movies… but it’s somehow FAR less creepy than The Polar Express. Kinda weird considering this is the spooky supernatural film where kids get stuck in a haunted house and the other is a “feel good” Christmas tale. But there you have it.

Monster House might be a little intense for very young or sensitive kiddos, but it’s a fun little movie. And it’s the closest thing we have to a film version of Clive Barker’s The Thief of Always for the time being (le sigh).

There’s a lot of running around and goofing off at first; but, eventually, the three main kids end up stuck in the spooky title house and get tormented by ghosts. Fun!

Honorable Mentions: ParaNorman (2012) is a pretty awesome ghost movie that utilizes stop-motion animation. I didn’t “officially” include it because both Norman and the ghosts are pretty free-roam. You can also try watching Coco (2017) which is a lovely Disney computer-animated film involving ghosts.

Watch Monster House on Amazon Prime.

You’re stuck with ghosts and the ghosts (mostly) dig you!

The Frighteners (1996)

The Frighteners (1996) — best ghost movie ever?

The Frighteners is one of my all-time favorite movies (not just ghost movies!) and you absolutely MUST watch it. You must. I’m adding that to my official rules for this post.

Michael J. Fox stars as a con man who sends his ghost pals to “haunt” houses and then charges the homeowners a fee to “exorcise” said ghosts. It’s all wacky good fun until Jake Busey, as a very BAD serial killer ghost, shows up and starts murdering people.

I won’t say any more than that about the plot. If that doesn’t intrigue you enough: Watch it for an unforgettable performance by Re-Animator’s Jeffrey Combs an FBI agent and The Howling’s Dee Wallace as a gal who’s, er, stuck at home.

Watch The Frighteners on Amazon Prime.

The Sixth Sense (1999)

The Sixth Sense (1999)

Little kid can see and talk to ghosts and is stuck with a (25-year-old spoiler alert!) ghost pal.

Even if you already know the “twist,” this M. Night Shyamalan classic is worth a re-watch. Also, it’s rated PG-13 and isn’t too intense for most tween viewers.

Watch The Sixth Sense on Amazon Prime.

Ghost Movies Featuring Ghosts Stuck with the Living

The ghosts are the main characters and they’re peeved about being stuck with living people!

The Others (2001)

The Others (2001)

23-year-old spoilers: ghostly Nicole Kidman and her dead kids are “haunted” by the living. They’re not pleased about it.

The Others is a lot of fun. It’ll have you saying “sometimes… I bleed” at inappropriate moments for weeks after watching.

Watch The Others on Amazon Prime.

The ghosts are the main characters and they’re (mostly) chill about being stuck with the living!

Heart and Souls (1993)

Heart and Souls 1993 key art CineMaterial MovieStillsDB

Okay, forgive me for this one: Heart and Souls isn’t a horror movie. I know. I’m so sorry. But it is one of my all-time favorite movies ever, of any genre, and I really want more people to watch it!

Heart and Souls is a ghost movie that follows four dead people who’re inescapably “stuck” to Robert Downey, Jr. for thirty years. And, minimal spoilers, they possess him — with delightfully humorous results — in order to act out their last wishes before “moving on.”

Watch Heart and Souls on Amazon Prime.

Beetlejuice (1988)

Beetlejuice (1988)

Ahhhhhhhhhhh… Beetlejuice! With a 17-minute performance by Michael Keaton as the title poltergeist so memorable, it’s easy to forget that the main characters are actually the stuck-at-home ghost marrieds: Adam and Barbara Maitland!

Adam and Barbara (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) are dead folks who cannot leave their home. That becomes a problem when their home is sold to new owners (The Deetz Family — played by Catherine O’Hara, Jeffrey Jones, and Winona Ryder).

At first, Adam and Barbara haunt their own home and attempt to frighten its new inhabitants away — with a little help from Beetlejuice — but… Well, you’ll just have to watch it and find out.

Watch Beetlejuice on Amazon Prime.

Beetlejuice is a horror-comedy, an absolute classic, and includes some AMAZING special FX work.

Speaking of which: I interviewed my dad, Robert Tharp, on the 6th episode of the Podcast about the special FX work he (and Mom!) did on Beetlejuice back in the day! It even includes some of Dad’s personal, behind-the-scenes FX photos from the making of Beetlejuice! So, be sure to check that out if you’re a fan.

In the meantime… Don’t you have some ghost movies you should be watching?

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This post was originally published on March 23, 2020 and has been updated to remove references to the pandemic/quarantine/distancing, add affiliate links, fix broken images, fixed calling living people “humans” (the ghosts are humans too, they’re just not alive – my brain wasn’t working in 2020; I’m sorry), and link to a completed interview with Beetlejuice FX painter Robert Tharp (instead of the original “coming soon” blurb). Images were purchased via MovieStillsDB + CineMaterial and used for review purposes.

About the Author

Lauren Spear (née Tharp) is the owner of, a formerly super-respectable multiple award-winning website for freelance writers that's now just a wacky place where she tries to cheer people up any way she can. Lauren's also's primary founder/owner! Lauren grew up in the horror industry (her parents did practical special FX work for many of the horror movies you love from the '80s and '90s) and she basically created this site so she could freely gas on about creepy stuff and stop having to pretend to be normal. o_O

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