Conjuring Up Horror

Scene from the film The Conjuring

"Are you going in there alone?" asked the ticket taker at the movie theater where I was going to see The Conjuring .

"No, I'm meeting friends," I explained.

"Good, because no one should see that alone."

Director James Wan's  movie The Conjuring is not quite THAT scary, but it is an elegant and genuinely creepy movie with a terrific cast lead by Vera Farmiga.  It manages to combine psychological horror with genuine scares in a way that made me think of some of my favorite movies about hauntings.




Part satire of early eighties suburbia and part haunted house movie, this Tobe Hopper movie manages be great at being funny and scary.  There is at least one moment of The Conjuring that feels like a direct homage.

House DVD cover for the film House


A schoolgirl and her six friends travel to her aunt's remote mansion, where one by one they begin to disappear.  This 1977 Japanese film is a beserk horror film.  It contains almost every special effects process known at the time.  While not as intensely scary as some of the other films here, horror fans should definitely check out this cult favorite. Director Nobuhiko Obayashi's first feature film.

DVD cover for The Shining

The Shining The Shining The Shining

A writer is hired as a winter caretaker of a huge and isolated hotel.  An enigmatic horror film that is largely psychological.  Director Stanley Kubrick builds the atmosphere of dread.  Those endless empty corridors haunt the viewer long after the film ends.

The Haunting

The Haunting

A team of psychic researchers uncover more than they bargain for at the infamous Hill House. Robert Wise's psychological horror film has a great intense performance by Julie Harris.  The Conjuring's Lili Taylor appeared as the same character in the remake.

Rosemary's Baby

Rosemary's Baby

Something's rotten in Rosemary's apartment building.  Could it be those nice neighbors?  One of the great horror films of all time.  The foreboding atmosphere and sense of isolation in a big city have never been done better. This was director Roman Polanski's first English language film.

The Innocents

The Innocents

Deborah Kerr in a scary intense performance plays the governess of two children who seem to be plagued by a ghost.  Based on Henry James' The Turn of the Screw, this movie is much more about building tension than outright horror.  The atmosphere is very creepy in this beautiful black and white film directed by Jack Clayton.

The OthersThe orphanage

 The orphanage

A childhood invisible friend becomes something more disturbing when a boy's mother moves into her old orphanage.   Director Juan Antonio Bayona focuses on the small sounds in the night in this gothic style horror film.  As in the Conjuring, parapsychologists are brought in to help.

The Exorcist

The Exorcist

Another touchstone movie for The Conjuring.  Although some of the shock value of director William Friedkin's film is gone, the building horror of possession remains as dark and horrifying as ever.

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