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30 best and worst movie ghosts, spooks and spirits

Worst: Scooby-Doo (2000)

Gorsh! Yes, we know this one’s made for the kiddies, and therefore can’t delve too deeply into shivery ghost territory, but if Ghostbusters could come up with a brilliant solution (make the spooks gross and just enough on the creepy side), why couldn’t the makers of Scooby-Doo?

To be fair, we’re more horrified/transfixed/outraged by the CG Scooby than any of the dreadful foes he’s expected to cower from.

Best: The Sixth Sense (1999)

Twist aside, you’ve got to admit that Bruce Willis - much like his more full-blooded self - is one smooth ghostly operator.

Ignoring him for a moment though, there are also a couple of dead kids who show up and attempt to turn nipper Haley Joel Osment’s hair white. Most memorable? Mischa Barton covered in vomit, and that kid with a hole in the back of his head… “Hey, come on! I'll show you where my dad keeps his gun…”

Worst: R.I.P.D. (2013)

Originally a comic book the film's comparisons to Men In Black are nevertheless well warranted, but with one key difference; this time law enforcement aren't after aliens, they're hunting down souls who linger on our planet long after death.

Neither Ryan Reynolds nor Jeff Bridges, both of whom play deceased cops in the Rest In Peace Department, can save this stinker. Practically every major character is a ghost (or 'deado' as the film dubs them), yet none are remotely interesting or scary.

Best: Poltergeist (1982)

As any true horror fan will enthusiastically tell you, it’s not what you see, but what you don’t see. Which pretty much sums up Tobe Hooper/Steven Spielberg’s haunted house flick. Ghostly lights take precedence here, as do ghostly presences and creepy noises.

But then there is, of course, this jump-out-of-skin moment when a giant devil thing bursts out of Carol-Anne’s bedroom…

Worst: Just Like Heaven (2005)

Alright, at the end of this Mark Waters dramedy we find out that Reese Witherspoon’s whiny entity isn’t actually a ghost - but for the most part of the film we’re led to believe that she is.

Screechy and scrawny, woe betide anybody who has to share a house with her in the future.

Best: The Fog (1980)

Clever backlighting and look-away camerawork keep these creepy fellows dwelling in the shadows, neatly hiding the fact that it’s basically a load of actors trussed up in mummy-nodding bandages. No denying their cool factor, though – especially when their eyes do that glowy thing.

These long-dead pirates are also as bloody-minded as they come, ripping their prey apart with fish hooks and swords. They also move about in fog - and what’s scarier than fog?

Worst: Casper Meets Wendy (1998)

Yes, he may have appeared in an alright Christina Ricci adaptation in 1995, but this spin-off from that film strips the friendliest of ghosts of any of his layers, instead positioning him as a boring goody two shoes.

Paired up with Hilary Duff’s equally nauseating good witch, Casper here sealed his big screen fate as the dullest of undead spooks.

Best: The Shining (1980)

A menagerie of horrible undead things populate Stanley Kubrick’s haunting adap of Stephen King’s night terror-inducing tome. So scary, in fact, that Joey from Friends had to hide the book in his freezer.

If it’s not that woman in the bathtub, it’s the twin dead girls who talk in unison and inflict horrific visions on any who cross their path. Play nice now, girls.

Worst: Thirteen Ghosts (2001)

John Carpenter may be the current favourite for remake material, but in the early Noughties it was William Castle’s back catalogue that was being plundered. First there was the House On Haunted Hill redo, and then this scare-straining misfire.

Each of the titular 13 ghosts may have their own fleshed out back-stories, but they’re still as transparent as this attempt to cash in on a celebrated classic.

Best: The Devils Backbone (2001)

Ain’t afraid of no ghost? Try this mournful, literally haunting chappie, whose mere visage would have you cowering under the bedsheets if he ever materialised beside you in the pitch of night.

Young Santi isn’t really a menace, though. Really, he’s just trying to communicate with the living – he just happens to be doing it with rattling breaths and whispered portents of doom.