Supernatural and paranormal horror movies are a subgenre with some of the most popular horror movies. Among them are some of the greatest masterpieces in the history of cinema. Supernatural films combine aspects of horror film and supernatural themes. The supernatural events in such films commonly include satanic ghost forces and religious components. The usual themes in the genre are the afterlife, the devil and demonic possession.
Among supernatural and paranormal horror films, film critics distinguish supernatural horror from psychological horror. Supernatural fear and paranormal powers include some sort of suspension or violation of physical law, normally embodied or caused by some kind of supernatural presence such as a monster or ghost. On the other hand, it does not involve crime or violence in the material world, but it does include supernatural risks and situations that are usually hard to believe. The danger to the social order comes from something invisible or supernatural: a haunted mansion, a curse, a monster or a vampire. In the supernatural and paranormal film you can insert all the monsters and fears that are somehow implicated with religious beliefs and rituals, such as the witchcraft, Egyptology, reincarnation and zombies.
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History of supernatural and paranormal films
Fear of the supernatural and paranormal became prevalent in the 1920s and early 1930s with expressionist films. The film genre became much more popular in the 1930s with Universal Studios producing monster movies set in a legendary Transylvania or Eastern Europe, in an incredible fantasy world away from the everyday.
In the early 1940s, supernatural and paranormal horror films had much more contemporary settings, however the category was inevitably replaced by psychological horror films. By the end of World War II, the supernatural and paranormal horror genre went into crisis, due to the atrocities of war. In the 1950s, the movies Sci-fi horror had actually changed supernatural movies, and psychological horror movies also became much more prominent in the same years, eclipsing the supernatural.
Independent supernatural and paranormal horror films created in the 1950s were commonly set in haunted houses, in the tradition of haunted house movies common in the 1940s. In the 1960s, scary films like The Innocents (1961), The Haunting (1963) and Rosemary’s Baby (1968) used supernatural and paranormal elements. However, they were not directly concerned with the paranormal.
The Haunting featured a female main character attracted to another woman, a queer character. Such characters were predominantly against the backdrop of supernatural and paranormal films. Rosemary’s Baby has made popular witchcraft films, demonic films where the devil was depicted on the screen, and has produced a wave of supernatural and paranormal horror films.
In the 1970s, the films The Exorcist (1973) and The Omen (1976) revitalized the category of supernatural horror. some of Stephen King’s literary works were used as source material in Carrie (1976) and The Shining (1980). In the 2000s, violent and horror movies called “torment porn” were popular. Supernatural and paranormal movies have regained their appeal in a few years.film The Blair Witch Project achieved fame in 1999, and in the late 2000s, Paranormal Activity became successful with the exact same cinematic technique, which resulted in a series of films that lasted until the mid-2010s.
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Supernatural films to watch
Here is a list of supernatural films to watch, including classics, cult films and new discoveries of independent cinema. Between demonic forces, ghosts, dark rituals, and demonic possessions.
The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari (1920)
The symbolic film of cinematographic expressionism. Francis tells a story to a man: in 1830, in a village, a mysterious guy named Caligari plays the barker to present his attraction: a sleepwalker named Cesare who he holds under hypnosis in a coffin. The doctor says the sleepwalker has the ability to guess the past and predict the future. A man asks: “When will I die?” The sleepwalker’s response is chilling: “At dawn tomorrow!” At dawn the man dies and the suspicion falls on Caesar. Unreal environments and deformed sets, elegant performances, double personalities, confusion between dreams and reality.
It can be assumed that “Caligari” was the first true horror film. There had been previous ghost stories and also the disturbing “Fantomas” series made in 1913-14, however their characters lived in a concrete world. “Caligari” creates a mental landscape, a subjective mental dream. Caligari is the first example in the cinema of German expressionism, an aesthetic project in which not only the characters, but the world itself is a hallucination. His style has inspired other masterpieces such as “The Golem”, “Nosferatu”, “Metropolis” and even “M” of Fritz Lang. Nazism was predicted by German films of those years which showed a world with absurd corners and lost values. In this film Caligari was Hitler just as German individuals were sleepwalkers under his spell.
Shy 16-year-old Carrie White, lives with her mentally unstable mom and religious fanatic Margaret, is struggling in college, and is bullied by her peers. When Carrie experiences her first period in the institute shower, she worries, not being aware of the phenomenon. Carrie’s schoolmates humiliate her. Following conversations with Miss Collins and the principal, Carrie is expelled from school for a day. After arriving home, Margaret informs Carrie that her periods are caused by sin, and locks Carrie in an altar-like “prayer cabinet” to pray for mercy.
The film is based on Stephen King’s first book. Director Brian De Palma was fascinated by the story. It is the first of over 100 film and television productions adapted or based on King’s published works. Carrie became a cult movie shortly after its release and is considered one of the best book-to-film adaptations of all time.
In 1981, teenager Tina Gray awakens from a frightening nightmare in which a monstrous man wearing a glove with sharp blades attacks her in a boiler room. Her mother points out 4 cuts on her nightgown. Meeting her in the morning, Tina’s friend Nancy Thompson and Nancy’s boyfriend Glen Lantz console her, revealing that they both also had a nightmare the previous night. They both stay at Tina’s house when Tina’s mother heads out of town. Tina’s girlfriend Rod Lane interrupts their sleepover. When Tina falls asleep, she dreams of the man chasing her. Pole sees her being dragged and killed by an invisible force, and escapes as Nancy and Glen wake up to find Tina bloodied and dead.
Wes Craven‘s hit classic from 1984 A Nightmare on Elm Street has been terrorizing viewers for decades with the introduction of Freddy Krueger, a burned and clawed supernatural monster who haunts his victims in sleep. The film created a successful franchise with the incredibly popular character of Krueger, who became increasingly comical, witty and intelligent in subsequent films.
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13 Ghosts (1960)
Occultist Dr. Plato Zorba gives his poor nephew Cyrus a large home. Together with his wife Hilda, teenage daughter Medea and younger boy Buck, Cyrus is informed that the house is haunted by the ghosts that Dr. Zorba has brought from all over the world. The will specifies that the family must stay in the house and cannot sell it. Family members are shocked to find that the house is indeed haunted by 12 ghosts. The estate also comes with the fearsome caretaker Elaine and a surprise ton of cash hidden somewhere in the building.
Similar to many of his most popular productions, producer William Castle used a gimmick to promote 13 Ghosts: the ability to see ghosts in 3D. In theaters, many scenes remained black and white, but the ghost scenes were shown in with an effect called “Illusion-O”. The components of the frame with the characters and the sets, apart from the ghosts, had a blue filter, while the ghosts had a red filter and were superimposed on the frame. The audience watched with glasses with red and blue filters. Unlike early 3D glasses with one eye red and the other cyan or blue, Illusion-O had a single color for both eyes. Using the red filter intensified the ghost images, while the light blue filter “eliminated” them.
The Innocents (1961)
Set in Victorian England, The Innocents sees a wealthy man hire a new maid for orphaned niece Flora and nephew Miles. He orders housekeeper Miss Giddens to raise the boys in the best possible way. However, the work doesn’t turn out to be as brilliant as the idea. He quickly begins to believe that the children have been possessed by the spirits of former caretaker Miss Jessel and the valet Peter Quint, both of whom have died. So he makes it his mission to deal with ghosts and strange habits on the estate.
The themes behind the film are related to sexual repression, in contrast to aspects of the film with Robert Wise’s The Haunting (1963), based on Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. The last scene of the film can be interpreted as a depraved variation of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale, as Kerr symbolically frees the character with a kiss.
Carnival of Souls (1962)
Mary Henry emerges unscathed from a car accident that killed all her friends, and sets out on a strange trip to Salt Lake City, where she finds herself drawn to an old pavilion by a lake and haunted by a supernatural figure (played by the director himself).
An arthouse horror film that went unnoticed at the time of its release, became a cult film in the United States in the late 1980s that influenced directors such as George Romero and David Lynch. Unlike many horror movies today, “Carnival of Souls” has few special effects. Rather, it relies on sharp black and white photography, atmosphere, and extraordinarily effective acting. Horror comes to life beneath the surface of placid provincial life, as in “Blue Velvet”, and the undead in the deserted amusement park are very reminiscent of the zombies from “Night of the Living Dead”.
The Terror (1963)
Lieutenant Duvalier (Jack Nicholson), a French soldier, loses contact with his unit and is forced to wander alone near the Baltic Sea. While trying to get to safety he meets Helene (Sandra Knight), a beautiful and mysterious woman who walks alone. Enchanted, Duvalier starts following her, but she disappears. He later joins her and follows her to a castle, where he meets the unusual Baron Von Leppe (Boris Karloff), finds clues of witchcraft, and uncovers the shocking reality about Helene.
Made on a low budget in a few days from Roger Corman taking advantage of used sets and the still active contract with Karloff who had finished the previous film early. The film uses the atmosphere of Edgar Allan Poe with an original short story written quickly in an attempt to bring this film to life as quickly as possible, with 2 actors Boris Karloff and Jack Nicholson. While Karloff’s scenes were shot in just two days, the film took nine months to complete, which is totally unthinkable for a Corman production. Still, like almost all of Corman’s films, this one didn’t waste any money.
The Haunting (1963)
Dr. John Markway tells the story of the Hill House, built in Massachusetts by Hugh Crain as a home for his wife. The woman died when her carriage crashed into a tree on the way home. Crain remarried, but his second wife died in the house from a fall down the stairs. Crain’s daughter, Abigail, stayed home for the rest of her life. She died calling the nurse. The friend bought the house, but later hanged herself from a spiral staircase. Hillside House was eventually bought by a Mrs. Sanderson, although it actually stood empty for some time.
The Haunting has appeared on many “best horror movies” lists. Even the director once called it the best horror movie of all time Martin Scorsese. A remake was made with Liam Neeson, but was heavily panned by both audiences and film critics.
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Directed by the director Roman Polanski, Rosemary’s Baby deals with a couple who move into a new home in New York where they meet their new, somewhat strange neighbors. When Rosemary becomes pregnant, she begins to believe that her baby is the victim of a demonic cult.
An excellent film version of Ira Levin’s diabolical book. Writer-director Roman Polanski actually triumphed in his first film made in the United States. The film attracts attention without physical violence or blood. Farrow’s performance is outstanding. After the mistakes of Cul de Sac and Dance of the Vampires, Polanski returns to the inspiration of Repulsion with a growing ability to stir up sheer terror into family routines, and has turned an intelligently calculated thriller remake into a grand masterpiece.
The Exorcist (1973)
In The Exorcist, a mother seeks help from 2 Catholic priests after her daughter is possessed by satanic forces. In northern Iraq, Catholic priest Lankester Merrin joins an archaeological dig that unearths a medallion of St. Joseph and an artifact representing Pazuzu, an ancient satanic force. As Merrin prepares to leave Iraq, he encounters a large statue of Pazuzu and also observes 2 dogs in the desert. In Georgetown, actress Chris MacNeil shoots a film directed by her friend Burke Dennings. Chris lives for rent in a well-equipped house with his little daughter Regan. Chris hears sounds in the attic: Regan informs her of an imaginary friend named “Captain Howdy”. In a local church there is a sculpture of the deconsecrated Mary.
The Exorcist was the first ever horror film to be nominated for Best Picture. He was also chosen for ten other Oscars. Surprisingly, a number of prominent Hollywood stars had turned down offers for roles in the film as they weren’t sure it would be a hit. The film held the crown for the highest-grossing R-rated film for 20 years before it was canceled by Terminator: Judgment Day.
The Omen (1976)
In The Omen, an American diplomat tries to have a baby with his partner Katherine. After Katherine gives birth to a stillborn baby, the couple decide to adopt a baby boy named Damien. Soon after, Damien’s initial babysitter commits suicide and a priest warns the couple that Damien will surely bring grief to the family. The priest dies soon and the expectant Katherine ends up losing her unborn child after Damien knocks her off a porch. Damien starts creating many misfortunes and this prompts Robert to dig into the boy’s background. Eventually he discovers that Damien could be the Antichrist.
The success of the film in 1976 may have been the result of a sense of despair in the West at the time. What if all the indications of the Apocalypse are currently happening? While most people who saw the film in 1976 were not likely to accept that point of view, the mere feeling that the world or the West was on the brink of an abyss gave the film a vibe that its later ones. sequels they didn’t have. The number 666 is the “sign of the devil” and most likely the public in 1976 was unaware of this aspect of the Book of Revelation, but as a result of the popularity of the film, the number 666 has entered pop culture and even more. part of the people, even those of non-religious inclination, are aware of the diabolical value connected to the number.
Jack Torrance takes a post as winter season keeper at the remote Overlook Resort in the Rocky Mountains, which closes each winter season. Upon his arrival, supervisor Stuart Ullman informs Torrance that a previous caretaker, Charles Grady, killed his family and himself at the resort. In Boulder, Jack’s son Danny has a premonition. Jack’s wife Wendy tells the doctor about a past incident when Jack dislocated Danny’s shoulder while he was drunk. The event encouraged Jack to stop drinking alcohol. Before leaving for the seasonal hiatus, head chef Dick Hallorann instructs Danny on a telepathic ability the two share, which he calls “shimmer.” Hallorann tells Danny that the hotel also has a “shimmer” from residues from previous unpleasant events and warns him to stay away from room 237.
Shining di Stanley Kubrick continues to be a timeless film, a masterpiece in the supernatural horror genre. The film is based on a Stephen King novel and stars Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrence, a writer who finds work as an off-season hotel keeper after strange events begin to occur. While the film is loved by both fans and critics alike, it never got Stephen King excited. The writer has always insisted that The Shining was a poor adaptation of his work. The film was not immediately successful upon its release – it took time for it to become popular.
1st Bite (2006)
Gus is a cook in an Asian restaurant in Montreal. His employer sends him to a remote island in Thailand to meet a Zen food master and improve the quality of his dishes. There he meets a strange woman named Lake who lives in a cave and informs him that the Zen cooking master is dead. Gus also begins living in the cave and begins a love affair with Lake. The chef’s psychological balance rapidly worsens with hallucinations, alcohol and malaise. Lake doesn’t want Gus to leave, however Gus feels that he needs to escape the island and that his life is in danger.
First bite is a independent film that crosses different film genres in its storytelling, suddenly moving from romance to thriller to supernatural. Shots with wide-angle lenses enhance the tension, with a cast in a state of grace. Between mysticism, black magic, romance and tropical islands, Primo Bite is the odyssey of a man who falls into a trap from which he can no longer escape.