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Creature Features: 8 Vampire Movies to Watch This Halloween
All sorts of things go bump in the night. Ghosts, ghouls, werewolves, witches — creatures that haunt our nightmares and ignite our imaginations. Then, there are vampires. These denizens of the dark hold a special place in human history; our ancestors were genuinely afraid to travel when the sun was down, lest vampires bleed them dry. Entire communities feared bats and wolves, believing them to be bloodsuckers in disguise. Vampire hunting became a legitimate profession in 18th century Europe. We really can’t overstate how much these monsters have messed with our minds over the years.
Maybe that’s why vampires have experienced so much success on the big screen. Vampires have frightened and excited audiences for decades — changing with the times and reflecting some of our darkest desires. As much as we dread these creatures of the night, there’s a small part of us that’s utterly fascinated with them.
Spooky season is in full swing this year, and many of us will participate in the festivities at home. Looking for a way to liven up the night? Here are eight iconic vampire movies to watch this Halloween.
Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (or Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens in German) is a staple of the horror genre. This German Expressionist masterpiece was helmed by director F. W. Murnau and stars Max Schreck as the infamous Count Orlok.
Special effects and robust film sets weren’t exactly a thing in the early 20th century. Murnau instead relied on mind-bending camera angles, striking shadows and innovative set design to scare audiences. This film’s impact on the history of cinema can’t be exaggerated — many horror film franchises likely wouldn’t exist if Nosferatu hadn’t crept onto the scene and paved the way.
Nosferatu’s popularity spread across Europe like wildfire. It didn’t take long for American filmmakers to catch wind of F.W. Murnau’s success either. But here’s the thing: Nosferatu was essentially an adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula — one that Murnau filmed without permission. Stoker’s wife successfully sued Murnau and Nosferatu was pulled from theaters. Enter Universal Pictures, which paid approximately $40,000 for the rights to adapt Dracula . Garrett Fort penned the script while Tod Browning took the director’s chair. Bela Lugosi was cast as the titular prince of darkness, and the rest is cinematic history.
Dracula is a genuinely terrifying landmark film. When many people think of Count Dracula, they think about Lugosi’s chilling performance. Universal’s adaptation takes plenty of inspiration from Nosferatu . However, Dracula is not a silent film; characters deliver their lines either with palpable dread or devilish delight. “Talkies” had only recently hit theaters in the early 1900s. Dracula helped legitimize sound films and reshape the movie industry.
Dracula/The Horror of Dracula (1958)
Similar to sound films, Technicolor movies were also relative rarities in the early 20th century. Films were primarily shot on black and white stock, and filmgoers were accustomed to greyscale pictures. The opposite was true by the 1950s, which is when The Horror of Dracula hit the scene. Hammer Films spared no expense when it adapted Bram Stoker’s timeless tale; special effects and ornate gothic sets were specifically created for this film. The Horror of Dracula is also a much more visceral visual experience due to being shot in color.
We’d be remiss not to praise Christopher Lee’s performance as Count Dracula; he aimed to play the character as a “heroic, erotic and romantic” figure — one that was just as mystifying as he was terrifying. Lee’s good friend Peter Cushing starred as Doctor Van Helsing, further elevating the film. And The Horror of Dracula revealed something truly harrowing about vampires: they were dark reflections of human nature.
The United States’ counterculture movement gathered momentum in the 1960s and persisted well into the 1970s. People vocalized dissatisfaction with the government, civil rights initiatives swept the nation and artists used their platforms to critique the powers that be. The Blaxploitation films of the 1970s echoed these sentiments, challenging decades-old stereotypes that were (and still are) imposed on the Black community. Blacula is precisely what its name implies; an adaptation of Stoker’s tale made primarily for Black people by Black people.
The late William Marshall portrays Prince Mamuwalde, a Nigerian man who asked the original Count Dracula (Charles Macaulay) to intervene during the transatlantic slave trade. For his trouble, Prince Mamuwalde was transformed into Blacula, sealed in a coffin and transported to America. Indeed, Count Blacula is a tragic anti-villain; he was stripped of his identity, taken from his homeland and left to fend for himself in a hostile environment. Allegorical, innovative and genuinely frightening, Blacula is worth a watch — and post-screening analysis.
The Lost Boys (1987)
Drugs, sex, rock n’ roll and excess are hallmarks of the 1980s — hallmarks that naturally found their way into ’80s cinema. The Lost Boys epitomizes this trend; “It’s fun to be a vampire” is the film’s tagline, and that sentiment is more than reinforced throughout its runtime. Vampires are ageless, powerful, beautiful beings who live by their own rules and party like rockstars in The Lost Boys. That’s the scariest part about this film — how enticing vampirism can seem on the surface.
The Lost Boys can also be viewed as a metacommentary of the 1980s. Vampirism is an analogy for the excess and hedonism of the decade. Just like it seemed “fun to be a vampire,” it also seemed fun to be a hard-partying rockstar. Spellbinding performances by a committed cast, strong directing by Joel Schumacher and a compelling script helped The Lost Boys break new ground. Vampires weren’t just creepy anymore. They were also undeniably cool.
You can’t talk about cool vampire movies without giving Blade its due. The 1990s were an incredibly experimental time for the film industry; spec scripts were being produced by the dozens and comic book adaptations were becoming much more prevalent. Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan created Blade in 1973 for Marvel Comics. At last, in 1998, Wesley Snipes would bring the Daywalker to life on the big screen. Directed by Stephen Norrington and written by David S. Goyer, Blade redefined what superhero movies and vampire films could be. Action, horror, pathos and even a bit of comedy are seamlessly woven into this film.
Though Blade was initially overlooked when it premiered, the film has since been recognized for setting several precedents. It’s one of the first Black superhero movies to achieve widespread critical and commercial success, grossing $131.2 million off of a $45 million budget. Blade also paved the way for many of the superhero films that have become commonplace today; it’s not a stretch to suggest that Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, the Underworld franchise and even the Marvel Cinematic Universe wouldn’t exist if Blade hadn’t resonated with audiences. Lastly, this film proved that vampires could transcend genres; Blade is more of an action film than a horror flick, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Hate it or love it, Twilight’s impact on cinema is undeniable. This adaptation of Stephanie Meyer’s 2005 novel was an international phenomenon in its heyday. It focused solely on the romantic aspects of vampirism — living forever, being young forever and loving forever. If reading that sentence was painful for you, imagine how excruciating it was to write.
Personal feelings aside, Twilight is an iconic film in its own right. It spawned four sequels, launched numerous careers and kept vampires at the forefront of our collective imagination from 2008 to 2012. Even Burger King got in on the Team Edward vs. Team Jacob debacle. Twilight ultimately proved that there was still a thriving, thirsting market for vampire films in the 21st century.
Blood Red Sky (2021)
We end with Blood Red Sky, a British-German Netflix film that’s equal parts graphic, terrifying and heart-wrenching. The film follows Nadja and her son Elias as they try to survive aboard a hijacked airplane. Discussing this film in detail without spoiling it is virtually impossible, but we can say this: Blood Red Sky focuses on the toll that vampirism would exact on a person’s family, community and mental state. Scenes unfold at an intentionally deliberate pace. Minor characters and extras are treated with a degree of respect that we don’t often see.
In many ways, Blood Red Sky is the culmination of the vampire films that precede it; there are genuine scares here, alongside meta-commentary, dazzling action scenes and genuine pathos. Blood Red Sky proves that vampire films can make viewers cry — not out of fear, but out of true remorse.
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Ouija: Origin of Evil
In 1967 Los Angeles, a widowed mother and her daughters add a new stunt to bolster their seance scam business by inviting an evil presence into their home, not realizing how dangerous it is. In 1967 Los Angeles, a widowed mother and her daughters add a new stunt to bolster their seance scam business by inviting an evil presence into their home, not realizing how dangerous it is. In 1967 Los Angeles, a widowed mother and her daughters add a new stunt to bolster their seance scam business by inviting an evil presence into their home, not realizing how dangerous it is.
- Mike Flanagan
- Jeff Howard
- Juliet Snowden
- Elizabeth Reaser
- Lulu Wilson
- Annalise Basso
- 265 User reviews
- 238 Critic reviews
- 65 Metascore
- See more at IMDbPro
- 2 wins & 7 nominations
- Alice Zander
- Doris Zander
- Lina Zander
- Ghoul Marcus
- Jenny Browning
- Mr. Browning
- Roger Zander
- Ellie's Mom
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- Trivia The film was shot digitally, but director and editor Mike Flanagan , in order to add a retro feel to the film, added elements in post-production to give the appearance of a movie shot on film. Those include the 'cigarette burns', marks that appear every 20 minutes or so in the upper right corner of the frame, which were used to signal a change of reels for film projected.
- Goofs Drive licenses pulled from behind the basement wall clearly show expiration date of 1950. Addresses show ZIP codes. They did not exist until 1963.
Doris Zander : Wanna hear something cool?
Mikey : Sure.
Doris Zander : Do you know what it feels like to be strangled to death? First, you feel the pressure in your throat. Your eyes water, and you start to taste something very, very sour in your mouth. Then it's like someone lights a match right in the middle of your chest, and that fire grows. It fills your lungs, and your throat, and all the way behind your eyes. And finally, that fire turns to ice; like pins and needles of ice are sticking into your fingers, your toes, your arms. You see stars, then darkness. And the last thing you feel... is cold.
[Mikey looks confused and horrified]
Doris Zander : [smiles] Goodnight, Romeo.
- Crazy credits There is a post-credits scene with Lin Shaye.
- Connections Featured in FoundFlix: Ouija 2: Origin of Evil (2016) Ending Explained + Connections to the First Film (2016)
- Soundtracks You Gotta Move Me Written by Dennis Michael Lacey Performed by Mike Lacey Courtesy of Crucial Music Corporation
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- Nov 3, 2016
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- October 21, 2016 (United States)
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- Universal Pictures
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- $9,000,000 (estimated)
- Oct 23, 2016
- Runtime 1 hour 39 minutes
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50+ Ouija Board Movies
This is a comprehensive list and cinematic overview of all the ouija board movies ever made.
Ouija boards have been in movies ever since the early days of cinema. Films often portray ouija boards as conduits for evil spirits, but the actual history of ouija is much less terrifying.
The term “ouija” was originally created for a patent granted in the United States in 1891 describing a “toy or game.” The Ouija board (with a capital “O” when referring to the trademarked name) quickly became a hit when the Kennard Novelty Company began selling them the same year. Ever since, the Ouija board has been the most popular form of divination for spiritualists and for those who are just curious.
Early film appearances of ouija boards rarely involve spooks or scares. Films from the silent era through the early 1940s use ouija boards for comedic purposes or to advance plots which have earthly explanations for portrayals of the paranormal. Ouija and the supernatural was taken more seriously in cinema starting in the late 1940s. Then, in the 1970s, ouija boards took a dark turn by being portals to evil in almost every on-screen appearance.
Ouija boards most often take a central role in subgenres of horror including haunted house and possession, but they can appear in just about any type of film. This list is an ongoing effort to catalog every appearance of ouija boards, whether used as a minor plot point or as the center of the action.
The Bat Whispers (1930)
The story focuses on Cornelia Van Gorder (Grayce Hampton) and the isolated mansion she is renting in an attempt to get some peace and quiet out in the countryside. Mrs. Van Gorder’s plans for a quiet rest are shattered when strange occurrences within walls of the estate convince her maid, Lizzie (Maude Eburne), that the house is haunted. Mrs. Van Gorder isn’t so easily swayed, and in a scene very early in the film, she convinces Lizzie to use a Ouija board with her to determine the true source of the sights and sounds scaring the superstitious maid.
The use of the Ouija board in The Bat Whispers affects the story in a way that is opposite to many later films. Rather than revealing a spiritual origin for the goings-on in the house, the board points everyone’s attention to a mysterious criminal known only as “The Bat.” Indeed, anything in the movie which might have a spiritual origin instead has an earthly explanation as The Bat, along with a host of other people, stalks the grounds of the estate in search of money hidden somewhere on its grounds. Only the Ouija board itself seems to have a supernatural explanation.
The Uninvited (1944)
Though the film doesn’t technically employ the use of an official Ouija board, The Uninvited warrants inclusion in this list for its séance scene which establishes a frightening use of divination that would be seen again and again in later ouija movies. The Uninvited stars Ray Milland and and Ruth Hussey as Rick and Pamela Fitzgerald, a brother and sister who buy a beautiful seaside house in London. It doesn’t take long for the Fitzgeralds to realize that the house is haunted, and after discovering that Stella Meredith (Gail Russell), the granddaughter of the former owner, has a dangerous connection to the spirit, Rick and Pamela decide to hold a séance to convince Stella to stay away.
The device used to try to contact the spirit is effectively the same as a ouija board. Tiles with the letters of the alphabet are placed in a circle on a table along with cards reading “yes” and “no,” and an upside-down glass is used in place of a planchette. As the scene plays out, the answers become more ominous, indicating that Stella is in grave danger. The scene ends with the glass moving on its own before flying across the room and shattering against a wall. Stella is even briefly possessed after using the device, opening up the idea of divination might open a door through which spirits might pass. The sinister tone of the whole scene is more in line with what we’ve come to expect from the use ouija boards in horror movies.
13 Ghosts (1960)
13 Ghosts takes the precedent set by The Uninvited and pushes it even further in this campy and fun haunted house movie from director and producer William Castle. Prior to 13 Ghosts , Castle had directed House on Haunted Hill (1959) and The Tingler (1959), both of which featured gimmicks in movie theaters (flying skeletons for House on Haunted Hill and buzzers in seats for The Tingler ) meant to give audiences extra frights. For 13 Ghosts , Castle used a type of 3-D effect he called Illusion-O that allowed viewers to see the movie’s ghosts pop off the screen when wearing special glasses. The gimmick and the movie are really more fun than frightening, but the Ouija scene is a big exception to that rule.
Partway through the movie, the family that inherits the film’s haunted house decides to use a Ouija board for a little light-hearted fun. The scene starts off innocently enough, almost feeling like a commercial for the heavily marketed novelty, but things get dark very quickly. The board reveals that there are 13 ghosts in the house, and when the youngest member of the family, Buck (Charles Herbert), asks the ghosts if they have plans for murder, he is nearly crushed as a heavy picture and frame falls off the wall directly above him. The Ouija board’s planchette then floats off the board and lands in the lap of Bucks sister, ending what is one of the scariest Ouija board scenes to date.
The Exorcist (1973)
Director William Friedkin’s The Exorcist is widely regarded as one of the most absolutely terrifying movies of all time. The film stars Linda Blair as Regan, a 12-year-old girl who becomes possessed by a demon after coming into contact with a presence she refers to as Captain Howdy. Regan finds a Ouija board in a random closet, and when she attempts to introduce her mother Chris (Ellen Burstyn) to Captain Howdy by using the board, Captain Howdy wants nothing to do with it. The planchette zips away from Chris’s hands, and then it goes completely still. Though the scene might not be as instantly scary as other film encounters with Ouija, the implication that Regan has been conversing with an unknown presence by herself, a presence that ends up violently possessing her, is far more chilling.
Satan’s Blood (1978)
With disturbing violence, dark rituals, and more than a little graphic nudity , Satan’s Blood is a lurid Spanish film about unhinged Satanism during a time when the hysteria surrounding satanic cults was growing. In Satan’s Blood , a married couple, Andres (Jose Maria Guillen) and Ana (Mariana Karr), meet another couple, Bruno (Angel Aranda) and Berta (Sandra Alberti), while out on the town. One thing leads to another, and Andres and Ana end up joining Bruno and Berta for a ouija session at their home. The decorations in Bruno and Berta’s home indicate a strong interest in the occult, but the extent of their interest isn’t fully revealed until after the ouija session takes a turn for the sinister. Andres and Ana’s visit gets worse from there, and the couple ends up in a struggle to keep their lives and their souls intact. Heavy on atmosphere though sometimes light on story, Satan’s Blood will probably appeal most to fans of some of more trashy exploitation movies to come out of Europe in the 1970s.
Amityville 3-D (1983)
In the film, skeptical journalist John Baxter (Tony Roberts) moves into the supposedly haunted Amityville house after debunking a medium holding a fake séance in the home. John doesn’t believe in the paranormal, but he and his family begin to experience inexplicable events from the moment they move in. Late in the movie, John’s daughter Susan (Lori Loughlin) receives an ominous warning when using a ouija-like setting with her friends. The setup is similar to the one used years prior in The Uninvited with a circle of letters and an overturned glass used as a planchette. After the glass goes flying across the room, Susan, who was already spooked by the house, has no doubts about the danger she and her family are in.
The Devil’s Gift (1984)
The Devil’s Gift is a low-budget production about a possessed Jolly Chimp (a toy monkey that bangs cymbals together) that goes on a killing spree when it’s given to a young boy as a birthday present. The film opens on a scene in which a woman uses a Ouija board to contact someone named Thomas, but she ends up opening a gateway for a demonic force to inhabit the Jolly Chimp she has on a shelf. The monkey bangs its cymbals, and the woman is promptly exploded by a blast of lightning. The Devil’s Gift has its charm, but it is probably best viewed in its heavily-truncated form as part of an anthology film titled Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders (1996) which was featured as a season-10 episode of the television comedy series Mystery Science Theater 3000 .
Unlike many of the other movies so far in this list, Witchboard doesn’t just use a Ouija board as a one-time-use tool to move the plot forward. Instead, writer and director Kevin S. Tenney intended the Ouija board to be used as another character in the film. Witchboard stars Tawny Kitaen as Linda, a woman who is fascinated with talking to the spirit of a young boy named David. Linda’s ex-boyfriend Brandon (Stephen Nichols) becomes concerned that Linda is contacting David by herself, and Linda’s husband Jim (Todd Allen) has concerns about Linda’s time with both David and his former friend Brandon. The plot unfolds to reveal a number of fun, low-budget kills and some memorable scares, but the film ends up being as much a mystery as it is a supernatural horror movie. To Kevin S. Tenney’s credit though, the Ouija board does feel like it develops a personality of its own before the final credits roll.
Don’t Panic (1988)
After Michael (Jon Michael Bischof) is given a Ouija board for his birthday, Michael becomes the prime suspect when his friends start dying in gruesome ways. Michael and his friends unleashed something evil when they tested out his new Ouija board, and Michael, who began having visions of the murders, is the only person who can stop the slaughter. Director Galindo’s film is quite an entertaining supernatural slasher that feels inspired by A Nightmare on Elm Street which came out just a few years prior.
Sorority House Massacre 2: Nighty Nightmare (1990)
Sorority House Massacre 2: Nighty Nightmare is a prime example of the decline of the slasher movie by the year 1990. That’s not to say the movie isn’t enjoyable, there is plenty to love in Sorority House Massacre 2 for hardcore slasher fans, but with bad jokes, laughable acting, and questionable directing, the movie probably won’t win over anyone with just a passing interest in the slasher subgenre. However, the movie is particularly notable for being one of the few slashers to feature a Ouija board as a pivotal part of the plot.
In Sorority House Massacre 2 , a group of five young women spend the night in the house they recently bought for their sorority. They discover that the house was so cheap because of a series of violent murders that took place there (which is shown in an extended flashback featuring footage pulled from the completely unrelated Slumber Party Massacre ). Before the night is over, the young women also discover a Ouija board in the basement. They, of course, use the board to contact the murderer who died at the end of his killing spree, and then, of course, the women in the sorority begin dying in violent ways. Plenty of blood is splashed around the house and plenty of flesh is shown as the women never seem to be able to change out of their nighties (unless it’s to take them off) in this fun and trashy piece of stalk-and-slash horror.
Witchboard 2: The Devil’s Doorway (1993)
Though the story is unrelated to 1987’s Witchboard , the second film in the Witchboard series is similar to the first in its emphasis on mystery over supernatural scares. In Witchboard 2 , Paige (Ami Dolenz) finds a Ouija board after moving in to a new apartment. The board connects Paige to an entity that calls itself Susan, and their conversations are nice and fun at first. As Paige learns more about Susan things take a sinister turn, but Paige’s connection to the entity might have already opened the door to possession.
Witchboard III: The Possession (1995)
Like the previous film, the story of Witchboard III is unrelated to its prequels. In this, the final entry in the franchise, a demon disguised as a man uses a Ouija board to posses a man named Brian (David Nerman). Brian’s wife Julie (Elizabeth Lambert) begins to suspect something is wrong, and she embarks on a race against time to save her husband’s soul. The highlight of the film is probably the bonkers finale featuring a chase with a fully-formed demon, and there is a sufficiently creepy tone running throughout the movie.
What Lies Beneath (2000)
What Lies Beneath , directed by Academy Award winner Robert Zemeckis, is an interesting entry in this list. Being a well-crafted yet somewhat standard supernatural thriller doesn’t necessarily set it too far apart from anything else here, but its use of a Ouija board certainly makes it different. In the film, Claire (Michell Pfeiffer) senses a presence in the house she shares with her husband Norman (Harrison Ford). Claire has a friend who is a spiritualist, and the two of them use a Ouija board in an attempt to contact whatever is haunting Claire. Contrary to what audiences had been conditioned to expect from a Ouija board scene by the year 2000, the séance fails. No sinister force is introduced into Claire’s life through the board, and the planchette doesn’t fly across the room. Instead, the haunting manifests in different ways throughout the house, subverting viewers’ expectations and keeping them off-balance in a way that ends up being nice and creepy rather than outright scary.
Prison of the Dead (2002)
The story itself is weighed down by layers and layers of mythology which lead to an incredible amount of buildup before the action starts, but at least this low-budget horror flick looks nice. The story revolves around four people who come together for the funeral of their friend. As the twisted plot unravels, the friends learn more and more about the history of the funeral home and prison. Partway through the movie, the friends use a Ouija board which raises three of the prison’s executioners, Sickle, Mace, and Scythe, back from the dead. The executioners hunt the four friends, and the film ends by rewarding viewers with a series of violent and bloody scenes.
Long Time Dead (2002)
This well-made British horror movie follows a group of college students as they try to end a series of deaths after they unleash an evil djinn while messing around with a makeshift ouija board. The movie feels a lot like a the American teen slasher movies that were coming out around the same time, but that’s not a bad thing. It looks good, the characters are likeable, and the story progresses in a predictable but fun way.
Presented in black and white with a visually interesting style, the movie focuses on a group of people who are hiding out in a cabin in the woods while they prepare to ransom the body of a child they stole. They find a Ouija board in the cabin, and, after messing around with with the board, they find themselves being hunted by a demonic force. Much of the movie feels amateurish, but in the best possible way. It really feels like the movie was made with passion, and that makes it a fun watch.
Paranormal Activity (2007)
There are loads of great independent horror movies that come out every year, but Paranormal Activity is one of those rare independent movies that becomes a sensation through a combination of perfect timing, smart filmmaking, and brilliant marketing. The 2000s saw a rise in ghost hunting reality television shows with series like Most Haunted and Ghost Hunters piquing people’s interest in the supernatural. Paranormal Activity , with its found-footage aesthetic, often feels a lot like one of those ghost hunting shows, only with way more scares. The movie is a combination handheld footage and stationary cameras in a house inhabited by a woman who believes she is personally haunted and her husband who thinks it’s all a fun game.
The husband thinks another fun game might be to use a Ouija board, but, after an argument with his wife, the board is left in the living room untouched. Then, in one of the creepier moments in the movie, the board seemingly comes to life on its own while no one is around. Creepy moments like that turn into jarring scares throughout the movie, all building up to a terrifying finale. The film opened in theaters with little fanfare, but word of mouth and marketing that played up audiences’ reactions to the movie’s many frightening moments earned Paranormal Activity nearly $200 million.
I Am Zozo (2012)
Ostensibly based on a true story, I Am Zozo is an eerie low-budget psychological thriller based on paranormal research done by Darren Evans. Supposedly, a demonic force that calls itself Zozo has invaded hundreds of ouija sessions over the years, attacking the participants psychologically. Regardless of the authenticity of the real-life inspiration, I Am Zozo tells the story of five people who inadvertently summon Zozo on Halloween night. The movie is restrained in its approach to the supernatural, letting most of its creepiness play out through the characters’ emotions and reactions rather than traditional jump scares and spirit manifestations.
The Pact (2012)
The Pact is a tense and smart psychological thriller set inside a haunted house. The film stars Caity Lotz as Annie, a woman who returns to her family home after her mother passes away. Annie doesn’t want to go since the memories of abuse she suffered at the hands of her mother during childhood are still raw, but when Annie’s sister goes missing, she has no choice but to return home to search for answers. Annie’s search leads her into mystery involving ghostly happenings, a serial killer, and dark secrets that reside in her old home. When Annie’s investigation seemingly hits a dead end, she turns to a makeshift ouija board to try to uncover some answers. The revelations provided by her home’s resident spirit kick off the movie’s surprising and frightening finale.
Produced in part by Hasbro, the toy company that acquired the rights to the Ouija name in 1991, Oujia is a movie that often feels like it’s the product of smashing together a teen horror movie with a really long commercial for Ouija boards. The movie starts by setting up the relationship between Laine (Olivia Cooke) and Debbie (Shelley Hennig), two childhood friends with an interest in Ouija. After Debbie, now a teenager, commits suicide, Laine and her friends attempt to contact Debbie with a Ouija session, but it seems like someone or something else made contact instead. There are some fun frights to be had in Ouija , and the appearance by horror icon Lin Shaye is a great bonus, but overall it’s a fairly tame PG-13 horror movie with a strong focus on mystery over tension.
Exorcist: The Fallen (2014)
As Exorcist: The Fallen begins, we see a young woman named Victoria (Tara Marie Kirk) in bad, bloody condition as she is being exorcised. We then jump back in time to learn Victoria’s story. She and two of her friends tap into something evil while playing with a ouija board, and the bulk of the movie focuses on Victoria’s downward spiral into full-fledged demonic possession. Exorcist: The Fallen follows some well-worn track as it presents scenes similar to any number of possession movies, but there are some fun, gory highlights including a nightmare in which Victoria is spontaneously disemboweled.
The Conjuring 2 (2016)
As the second Conjuring movie (and the third film in the shared Conjuring universe ), The Conjuring 2 follows the continuing exploits of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga). The Warrens visit the London home of the Hodgson family who are experiencing supernatural activity. The movie is a mix of poltergeist and possession films, with the family’s second oldest daughter, Janet (Madison Wolfe) being the focus of both types of paranormal phenomena. In the movie we see Janet’s homemade ouija board, the likely conduit through which whatever is in the house gained entry. The Conjuring 2 is a tense and entertaining entry in the popular franchise, and it’s notable for introducing audiences to two new and interesting ghosts : The Crooked Man and The Nun.
Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016)
Directed by Mike Flanagan ( Doctor Sleep , The Haunting of Hill House ), Oujia: Origin of Evil is superior to its predecessor Ouija (2014) in most ways. The story follows Alice (Elizabeth Reaser), a fake medium who swindles people by performing staged séances with the help of her daughters Doris (Lulu Wilson) and Lina (Annalise Basso). When Alice adds a Ouija board to her charade, she unwittingly makes contact with a force that young Doris believes is her deceased father. Doris becomes the target of possession by whatever has come through the Ouija board, and the movie plays out as a nicely scary possession movie and one of the better films in which a Ouija board plays an extensive role.
Inspired by the real-life story of Estefania Gutiérrez Lázaro, an 18-year-old girl whose death in 1991 was allegedly attributed to her use of a Ouija board, Verónica is a Spanish film that tells the story of a catholic high school girl who becomes the target of possession after dabbling in the occult. Verónica, played wonderfully by Sandra Escacena in her film debut, attempts to contact her deceased father through a Ouija board with the help of two of her friends. Verónica’s friends back away as the glass the girls use for the Ouija session takes on a life of its own, but Verónica is put into a trance-like state that ends with her passing out. Over the next few days, Verónica has nightmares and experiences increasingly terrifying supernatural activity, all leading up to the film’s inevitably tragic climax. Verónica is an effective and scary possession movie with images that can’t soon be forgotten.
Ouija Room (2019)
Sylvia (Joni Durian) lives a lonely life. She suffers from agoraphobia (among a myriad of self-destructive issues) which keeps her cooped up inside all the time, and she is under the guardianship of her loving but burned-out older brother. One day she decides to use a ouija board to make friends with the spirits she contacts, but her new friends quickly start to feed Sylvia’s more destructive tendencies. Ouija Room is a unique take on what a ouija movie can be, mixing psychological drama with the more usual ouija-based scares. The low-budget quality can come across a bit comical at times, but the fun performance from Joni Durian keeps the film engaging whenever the story starts to feel ridiculous.
More Ouija Board Movies
- When the Clouds Roll By (1919) is a comedy starring Douglas Fairbanks, and the film’s use of a Ouija board features no supernatural elements as the characters push the planchette around on their own as they coyly talk to each other.
- The Oujia Board (1920) is part of a series of comedy shorts by Max Fleischer collectively called Out of the Inkwell , and Ouija is once again used for comedy rather than supernatural scares.
- Straight is the Way (1921) employs a Oujia board to inform a cash-strapped woman and her niece that there is treasure hidden in their house in this light-hearted silent comedy.
- Charlie Chan’s Secret (1936) features two séances as the titular detective attempts to solve the mystery of the murder of an heir to a fortune, and a Ouija board is seen briefly as the victim’s aunt uses the device with her butler.
- Mother’s Day (1980) is a low-budget, black-comedy revenge movie about a deranged mother and her two murderous sons who kidnap and torture three women. When the women escape, one of the sons turns to a Ouija board for help, though the spirit he contacts must be as illiterate as he is.
- Deadly Messages (1985) features a couple of uses of a Ouija board to unravel a rather convoluted plot in this made-for-TV mystery.
- The Chill Factor (1993) , also known as Demon Possessed , features a ouija-like board referred to in the film as a “devil eye.” The movie features a group of people stranded in a snow-covered cabin who unleash a demonic force after using the devil eye.
- Grim (1995) uses a ouija-like board to summon a huge monster that stalks a group of spelunkers. The movie has some nice gore and a memorable monster, but there’s a lot of downtime between the action.
- Kokkuri (1997) is a creepy entry in the Japanese horror boom of the late 1990s featuring ominous predictions made by a spirit board inspired by Ouija boards.
- Holy Terror (2002) is a micro-budget bit of schlock featuring gratuitous nudity and an evil nun who (eventually) murders everyone after she is summoned by a Ouija board.
- Exorcism: The Possession of Gail Bowers (2006) has a familiar-feeling plot structure inspired by other ouija-leads-to-possession movies, but it has some really nice visuals during the exorcism in the climax of the film.
- Ju-On: White Ghost (2009) , like other films in the Ju-On franchise, features a collection of interconnected ghostly tales. One story features school girls playing “kokkuri,” a game virtually identical to Ouija.
- The Unleashed (2011) is a fairly standard possession movie about a woman who becomes the target of something sinister after finding an ancient Ouija board in the attic of her family home.
- Seance: The Summoning (2011) involves a séance gone wrong in a morgue when a man is possessed by a demon during a session with a ouija-like board. His friends attempt to subdue and exorcise him before he gets loose and murders them in particularly gruesome ways.
- The Ouija Experiment (2011) includes scares fairly typical of the found-footage subgenre. The immersion is broken from time to time, but fans of the found footage style may want to give it a shot.
- Grave Encounters 2 (2012) features a group of film students who attempt to make a documentary proving that the first Grave Encounters (2011) film was real. During a session with a makeshift ouija board, they awaken the paranormal entity that killed the cast of the movie, thus creating their own found-footage movie by accident.
- The Addicted (2013) , also known as Rehab , is a low-budget horror movie about a news reporter who ends up in a fight for her life as she and her friends are stalked by a supernatural killer in an abandoned drug rehab facility. A Ouija board features briefly in the opening scene, right before the blood starts flying.
- Tape_13 (2014) is a found-footage movie that follows a couple, while on vacation in Germany, who end up in a cabin in the woods with some new friends. Playing with a Ouija board begins a series of supernatural occurrences that build up to a finale seemingly inspired by The Blair Witch Project (1999).
- Demon Legacy (2014) is the story of five sorority sisters at a remote forest cabin who unleash an evil entity when they unearth an old Ouija board. This low-budget film is notable for featuring Eileen Dietz, the face of Pazuzu in The Exorcist (1973).
- The Ouija Experiment 2: Theatre of Death (2014) contains an interestingly meta scenario where the cast of the first Ouija Experiment (2011) play themselves as they are haunted during a screening of their film.
- Evil Deeds: Full Circle (2016) is an anthology film containing a series of horror-themed shorts, including a tale of a vengeful spirit unleashed by a Ouija board.
- Ghost Team (2016) stars Jon Heder and Justin Long as wannabe ghost hunters in this fun indie comedy. The Ghost Team (as they call themselves) begins their investigation in an old barn with a Ouija session moderated by a medium played by Amy Sedaris.
- Escape Room: Quest of Fear (2018) features a Ouija board early in this low-budget Russian horror film as a means to get a group of friends to participate in an escape room game that turns deadly.
- The Addams Family (2019) includes a scene where Morticia Addams uses a Ouija board to contact her dead relatives in this animated family comedy.
- Weedjies: Halloweed Night (2019) is a horror comedy in the vein of Ghoulies about tiny monsters (the titular Weedjies) who are unleashed via a Weed-G-Board. Unsubtle marijuana jokes abound in this silly comedy from Full Moon Features.
- Ouija House (2019) attempts to create a new type of possession as a young woman is turned into a human planchette who is compelled to run around a house pointing at letters painted on the walls.
- Ouija Shark (2020) is as ridiculous as the title sounds. A makeshift ouija board made out of driftwood summons a ghostly shark that hunts people from swimming pools to cabins in the woods.
- Ouija Warehouse (2021) is writer/director Israel Luna’s third Ouija-related low-budget horror film, this time following a group of friends as they are haunted after finding a Ouija board in a warehouse. Also known as Ouija: Deadly Reunion .
- Ouija Japan (2021) is a super-low-budget “ battle royale ” style movie with the killing initiated by a Japanese ouija (kokkuri) board.
Meet The Author
Chris has a degree in film studies at Temple University’s campus in Tokyo, Japan. He is a renowned expert on horror cinema.
- Oct 25, 2022
10 Unsettling Films Featuring Ouija Boards to Connect You with Spirits
Sarah Kirk recommends these ten horror films if you like demons, ghosts, dark objects, and terror.
Numerous horror films feature Ouija boards. The game has permeated American culture since 1886 when Spiritualists in the United States believed that the dead could contact the living and reportedly used a talking board very similar to a modern Ouija board at their camps in Ohio to encourage faster communication with spirits. The Ouija board was created, named, and commercially introduced in Baltimore, Maryland, by Elijah Bond on July 1, 1890. It was believed to be an innocent parlor game unrelated to the occult until American spiritualist Pearl Curran popularized its use during World War I.
In 1901, William Fuld started production of his own boards under the name "Ouija." Charles Kennard, the founder of Kennard Novelty Company, manufactured Fuld's spirit boards and claimed he learned the name "Ouija" from using the board. In the late 1900s, the Ouija board became more taboo and appeared in films. Society still maintains a fascination with the Ouija board today. The notoriety of the Ouija board never seems to fade, though some debate whether its spirits or psychological tricks explained by science continue to exaggerate the paranormal commodity. Watch these films with Ouija boards if you’re curious, a believer in ghosts, or just love the horror genre.
Ouija boards remain a present force throughout decades of cinema. The horror genre often depicts these unnerving objects as channels for spirits to connect with the living. Marketing methods labeled the board as a game, but it continues to expand into a popular supernatural conduit used in horror films.
The supernatural horror film, The Exorcist (1973), directed by William Friedkin and written for the screen by William Peter Blatty , based on his 1971 novel, had a significant influence on pop culture and is deemed one of the most frightening films in horror history. With demonic possession, the stairs scene we all know, and the exorcism, culminating in a terrifying two-hour film. Regan MacNeil ( Linda Blair ) is a young girl who, after using Ouija to contact a spirit name "Captain Howdy," is possessed by a dark entity. It soon torments Regan and her mother ( Ellen Burstyn ). Regan loses her innocence to the demon possessing her as frightening images stain the screen, leaving audiences with lasting terror. The horrifying consequences of the Ouija board are far more wicked than the board itself, so use one with caution, my friends. The Exorcist is streaming on Amazon Prime Video .
WHAT LIES BENEATH
Directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer , the film follows Claire (Pfeiffer), who senses a presence in her lakeside home. Her husband, Norman (Ford), worries as she talks about seeing odd things, unsettling supernatural occurrences, and hearing voices. Unsure of the origin, Claire and her spiritually connected friend Jody ( Diana Scarwid ) try to contact the spirit haunting her. The seance isn’t scary and unsettling like in other horror films, but the scares come through in other ways. The film is unexpectedly frightening, and the search for the truth has never been more menacing than in What Lies Beneath (2000), currently streaming on Hulu .
Paranormal Activity (2007) , directed by Oren Peli , uses "found footage" to reinvigorate the horror subgenre. Katie ( Katie Featherston ) and Micah ( Micah Sloat ) move into a new home only to find themselves plagued by a demonic presence. The spirit haunting them is active at night and appears precisely as they fall asleep at their most vulnerable. Unfortunately, Micah plays with the Ouija board, thinking it is only a game, while Katie, scared and upset, tries to leave. As Micah and Katie argue, the Ouija board moves on its own and catches on fire. The film is riddled with suspense and leaves viewers questioning everything. The film is streaming on Amazon Prime Video .
OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL
A prequel to Ouija (2014), Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016) is a supernatural horror film directed and edited by Mike Flanagan and written by Flanagan and Jeff Howard . The film is based on characters by Juliet Snowden and Stiles White , who wrote the film's predecessor. It follows the story of the Zander family, scamming people for money with fake séances and Ouija boards. They soon find themselves entangled in a dangerous liaison with dark spirits. After the death of the family patriarch, they are desperate to reconnect with him, using the Ouija board to perform a séance for themselves. Alice ( Elizabeth Reaser ) unknowingly contacts an evil spirit named Marcus, who then possesses Doris ( Lulu Wilson ), her youngest daughter. The film is a well-crafted horror film with upsetting scenes, suspense, and emotional turmoil. It’s an ode to the controversial and terrifying nature of the Ouija board. Ouija: Origin of Evil is streaming on Netflix .
The Ouija board is what drives the story of Witchboard (1986). In his directorial debut, the supernatural horror film was written and directed by Kevin S. Tenney, who later delivered the Halloween cult classic Night of the Demons (1988). The Ouija board is at the root of everyone’s problems and must be destroyed at all costs. Linda ( Tawny Kitaen ) becomes obsessed with using the board to speak with David, the spirit of a young boy who died after being left behind at a party. Her friend, Brandon ( Stephen Nichols ), thinks she's too involved and worries for her safety. He believes an evil spirit is trying to take Linda’s soul to live in the real world. While Jim ( Todd Allen ), Linda’s boyfriend, commits to helping Brandon save Linda from her terrible fate. While the critical response to the film wasn't favorable, it's a memorable, emotional, and intriguing story that has obtained a cult following since its release. Witchboard is streaming on Amazon Prime Video and other streaming platforms.
In the supernatural horror film 13 Ghosts (1960), a mysterious and eerie mansion is left to Cyrus Zorba ( Donald Woods ) by his recently deceased uncle. He discovers that a family fortune lies in the mansion, and along with his inheritance, the house is inhabited by 13 ghosts. Throughout the film, the ghosts threaten Cyrus and his family. It’s a perfect use of the haunted house trope. William Castle , the film’s director, had previously directed two horror films that involved prop-like setups, making for an immersive viewing experience. It may not be truly terrifying due to its early 1960s release, but a frightening Ouija board scene makes it one to remember. 13 Ghosts is streaming on Roku .
THE CONJURING 2
The Conjuring 2 (2016), written by Chad Hayes , Carey W. Hayes , and James Wan , with Wan directing, focuses on possession and paranormal activity in a family's house where a single mother is raising her four children. Following their recent notoriety after their investigation of the Amityville haunting, Ed ( Patrick Wilson ) and Lorraine Warren ( Vera Farmiga ) travel to Enfield, a borough in north London, in 1977 to investigate the Hodgson family's case after Janet has begun suffering possession by an angry spirit. While it's the weakest entry in James Wan's supernatural film universe and doesn't hold up to its predecessor, The Conjuring (2013), it's worth a few good scares, and it is the introduction of the singularly evil entity, The Nun. The Conjuring 2 is streaming on Netflix and HBO Max .
Satan’s Blood (1978), co-written and directed by Carlos Puerto with Juan Piquer Simón , is a Spanish horror film overflowing with satanic rituals, nudity, and graphic violence. It was released during the rise of the Satanic Panic and society's growing fears about occultism. After roaming the town of Madrid, Bruno ( Ángel Aranda ) and Berta ( Sandra Alberti ) invite Andrés ( José María Guillén ) and Ana ( Mariana Karr ) to spend the night at their house in the countryside. Bruno and Berta are fascinated by the occult and decide to put on a séance. As one might expect, it goes horribly awry. Satan’s Blood isn't currently streaming, but it is available on Blu-Ray through Amazon .
I Am ZoZo (2012), written and directed by Scott Di Lallais , is a psychological thriller that follows five teens who decide to have fun on Halloween night with the Ouija board, only to make contact with a malicious spirit. The film is said to be based on true events, with people reporting experiencing ZoZo’s presence. ZoZo attaches itself to individuals through the Ouija board to tap into their fears and scare them. However, the film doesn’t rely on jump scares. It focuses entirely on the frightened reactions of the characters. What’s unique about this film is that it was shot on a Kodak Super 8mm film stock with a meager budget. It's an indie horror gem currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video , Roku , Tubi , and other streaming platforms.
Don’t give Ouija boards as a birthday gift. Don’t Panic (1987) is a Mexcian slasher film directed by Rubén Galindo Jr. demonstrating exactly why you shouldn’t own the parlor game. After receiving and using a Ouija board on his 17th birthday, Michael’s ( Jon Michael Bischof ) friends begin horrifically and violently dying. Police believe Michael to be their prime suspect as killings continue to occur. Is it Michael or an evil force behind the slayings? It's a bit of A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) rip-off, but while it's comedic, it's also suspenseful, benefiting from keeping the killer in the shadows. Don't Panic is streaming on Roku and Amazon Prime Video . It's also available to purchase through Vinegar Syndrome .
Ouija boards drive panic and unease into the minds of filmgoers. The Ouija board has been a mysterious phenomenon for hundreds of years. Its distinctiveness, supernatural, and somewhat melancholic connotation are what draw us in. Today they’re seen as a relic from the past and something to avoid unless you want to open a door to the spirit world you may be unable to close.
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8 Horror Movies That Taught You To Never Fuck With Ouija Boards
Ouija boards are just another board game, right? Think again. According to horror movies, they’re your worst nightmare. Monopoly, Clue, or, hell, even Jumanji would be safer options.
With Halloween coming up, let’s revisit some of the films that taught you exactly what terrors Ouija boards are capable of — in the most cinematic way possible, of course. Friendly reminder: You know you’re gonna be sleeping with the lights on when a video starts with “based on a true story,” so proceed with caution.
Ouija , 2014
When their friend Debbie suddenly dies after burning a Ouija board, her friends brilliantly decide to communicate with Debbie’s spirit with the same Ouija board. Idiots. Things unsurprisingly go downhill from there.
Oujia: Origin of Evil — the second movie in the franchise and a prequel to the first — hits theaters October 21.
The Exorcist , 1973
This classic film took the horror genre to whole new level of creepy. When 12-year-old Regan plays with a Ouija board, she meets a new imaginary friend she names Captain Howdy. Turns out Captain Howdy is actually “the devil himself,” who possesses Regan and makes her do horrific stuff like masturbate with a crucifix.
Paranormal Activity , 2009
The OG Paranormal Activity inspired five more movies for a reason; it’s beyond freaky. A dude tries to confront the spirit dwelling in his house via a Ouija board, and the board later sets itself on fire. ABORT MISSION!
The Conjuring 2 , 2016
If The Conjuring didn’t freak you out enough, its sequel will. Two young girls bring out a Ouija board, setting off a series of weird events that become known as “England’s Amityville” — y’know, the real-life Long Island house that inspired The Amityville Horror murders.
I Am ZoZo , 2012
In an indie trailer that looks a little too realistic, a bunch of friends celebrate Halloween by Ouija board–ing with a spirit called ZoZo. They would’ve been better off going trick-or-treating.
Witchboard , 1986
If you learn one thing from this ’80s cult favorite, it’s this: Do not, under any circumstances, play with a Ouija board alone. Linda ignores this warning and often talks to a spirit named David — who then ends up taking control of her life.
The Exorcism of Emily Rose , 2005
This movie, based on true events, doesn’t need an actual Ouija board to scare you away from them forever. After 19-year-old Emily Rose dies, her priest is arrested for negligent homicide. The jury is told Rose suffered from epilepsy and psychosis, but maybe something supernatural is going on here. In real life, Anneliese Michel died in 1976 after becoming mysteriously ill and undergoing multiple exorcisms.
White Noise , 2005
There’s no physical Ouija board in White Noise either, but the characters are still contacting the dead. Instead of spelling out words, spirits speak through audio recordings hidden behind the white noise on TVs and radios. When Michael Keaton ’s character tries to communicate with his late wife, something much more sinister talks back.
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