Movies & TV / Columns

Ten Deep 12.20.12: Top Ten Movie/TV Ghosts

December 20, 2012 | Posted by Mike Gorman

“Top Ten Movie/TV Ghosts”

Nothing screams holidays like ghosts, right? Ok, maybe not but what better way to reflect on what has come to then to pick out some spirits that have been there. This list of the top ghosts features specters both spooky and friendly, but no Casper. Sorry fans of that overly friendly spirit. He always creeped me out, seeming a bit too happy to be dead. Some of the entries on this list take creepy to a new level though, especially number one. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. To kick things off, say the name with me three times and move on down to number ten…

10. Beetlejuice from Beetlejuice

Wacky and irreverent, Michael Keaton’s Beetlejuice is certainly a unique character who brings some new life to the afterlife in his titular film. And while he is out to haunt and spook, he also tries his best to make his haunting fun with an edge.

Check out this clip from the film’s famous graveyard scene.


9. Thelma Bates from Hex

If you have not seen Hex I certainly encourage you to check out this BBC import that followed in the vein of Buffy the Vampire Slayer bringing to light the supernatural world. This series is also the first exposure many of us had to X-Men First Class‘s Michael Fassbender. But he is not the draw here, instead it is lesbian ghost Thelma who goes from second fiddle best friend to starring lead as the series progressed. She is known for speaking her mind and making her impact felt even if she is no longer technically arrived.

Every ghost has an origin, ie. they have to die. Here is the tragic moment that started Thelma’s true adventure.

8. Kane from Poltergeist 2

Kane is the first entry on the list that I can say honestly scared the stuffing out of me the first time I saw him. He is the mad preacher who haunts and taunts young Carol Ann and her family during their second adventure. He is intense and pushes as many buttons as he can in order to truly put you on edge. Make no mistake he is no friendly ghost and instead is out to claim Carol Ann for his.

In this scene we learn more about who Kane is and what he wants.

7. Samara from The Ring

At first we are expected to believe that young Samara was just a misunderstood child wronged in life but soon it becomes evident that she is a much darker force to be reckoned with. She is unrelenting and focused in a way that makes her truly unnerving. Never mind how absolutely frightening she is when she starts to climb out of the video tapes. Speaking of that climbing, here she is in one of the film’s most pivotal moments.

6. Dennis from Angel

Leave it to Cordelia Chase to find the perfect apartment for the perfect price, and end up forced to share it with a not so perfect spirit. I like Dennis because he starts out a bit misunderstood and then eventually we learn that he just wants to coexist with Cordy in his apartment. He has no scene where he appears and is given a voice but instead remains an ever faithful invisible aide during several of Cordelia’s misadventures.

I could not find an actual scene to share with Dennis so I figured why not spend some time with the lovely Charisma Carpenter as she reflects on the life of Ms. Chase.

5. Delbert Grady from The Shining

Delbert Grady was one of the previous care takers at the hotel where Jack Nicholson is going mad. During his tenure, Grady killed his twin daughters, at the prompting of the evil in the hotel. He then returned to ensure the dark legacy continued. He acts a confidant of sorts for Jack as he descends even further into insanity. Grady is cold and calm when he appears, almost charming, but clearly devious. This is evident in this excellent scene from The Shining.

4. Dr. Malcolm Crowe from The Sixth Sense

Crowe makes this list not because he particularly adept at haunting but because of the journey of discovery we take with him. The Sixth Sense ends up being about what the disembodied ghosts still must complete before they can truly be at peace with their lot in, well, the afterlife. As Malcom Crowe, Bruce Willis shows us a ghost who doesn’t even know he is dead, so the final revelation becomes all the more impactful.

Here is the trailer for this film that I feel is too often written off as gimmicky due to its use of the twist ending. I think it was really much more than that.

3. Annie from Being Human

Let me be clear that this pot belongs to Annie from the BBC’s Being Human, not Sally from SyFy’s remake. Now that is not to say that Sally is not an interesting character but it is Annie who tread the path first and brought us the story of a truly unique ghost whose only wish was to just be human. Her story is entrenched in tragedy bit she somehow always manages to be the bright light for her friends, the vampire and werewolf. I suppose it is ironic that she is the character full of the most life on the show.

Just this past season Annie’s story drew to a close. Here is a BBC produced farewell that truly honors her adventure.

2. Jacob Marley from A Christmas Carol

I give this spot to Jacob Marley in all of his iterations in the various productions both on TV and in film of Dickens’ tale. He is the one that regrets his actions in life and uses his resources in death to try and help his friend Scrooge before it is too late. Marley is bound by chains made from his misdeeds. Without him, there would be no Christmas Carol to tell.

Here is a glimpse of one of my favorite takes on the character from the Muppet Christmas Carol, of course.

And lastly…

1. The pirates from The Fog

The Fog is one of the few movies that has the same effect on me now as it did when I first saw it as a kid. And that is, it scares the heck out of me. Most of the frights are due to the pirate ghosts that inhabit the slow moving fog. They are relentless and single minded; and will not be stopped. They were wronged in life and will not rest until their revenge is exacted and maybe not even then. I think they take the top spot because they do not try to be anything but what they are, and that is terrifying monsters. They are silent and deadly, and utterly terrifying.

If you have not seen the film, you might want to skip this spoiler filled clip as it is the complete ending to the film. I still get chills when I watch it now.

Spooked out by this week’s list or are you ready to haunt my inbox with your comments? Don’t be afraid to let me know if I missed your favorite spirit.

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Mike Gorman

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