5 Funny Films About Ghosts That Aren’t ‘Ghostbusters’
Ghost stories have continued to evolve since haunting anecdotes about specters and poltergeists were introduced 5,000 years ago. Spooky campfire stories are now regularly adapted for the silver screen, and ghosts have been depicted as more than just terrifying apparitions who scare the shit out of you. Today, we have friendly ghosts like Casper, who merely want to hang out and avoid prank-pulling relatives. We have ghosts who are horny as hell. We have confused ghosts from different time periods who are trapped in a bed and breakfast. And we have ghosts with a great sense of humor.
On that latter count, here are five of the funniest films about ghosts that have nothing to do with middle-aged men in jumpsuits…
The 1990 supernatural romance isn’t intentionally funny — in fact, it’s a very serious melodrama about a murdered man’s quest to save his girlfriend from the men who killed him. But between the premise and particularly dated special effects, Ghost’s cheesiness has made it affectionately goofy for a modern audience. While horny housewives and overworked moms were definitely swooning over the iconic pottery scene that exemplified the undeniable chemistry between Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore, it’s a scene that’s since been brilliantly parodied on shows like Family Guy and Community — which is only further proof of its greatness.
Field of Dreams
The film adaptation of W.P. Kinsella’s novel Shoeless Joe is built on the notion that baseball brings fathers and sons together, and explores one man’s damaged relationship with his recently-deceased dad through the sport. Although the ghost of this relationship looms as the film’s metaphorical specter, there are literal ghosts as well. After a strange voice utters the now iconic line “If you build it, he will come,” Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella constructs a baseball diamond in the middle of his cornfield, where he is joined by the ghosts of Shoeless Joe Jackson and a handful of other Chicago Black Sox implicated in the infamous 1919 game-fixing scandal. Likely your dad’s favorite film, Field of Dreams is one of those movies that will make you both laugh and cry.
The 1937 screwball comedy gets its name from Cosmo Topper, a wealthy bank president who, along with his social-climbing wife, is haunted by the ghosts of his equally wealthy, but recently-deceased friends who are hellbent on getting him out of his shell. The sheer determination of the fun-loving couple, played by Cary Grant and Constance Bennett, hinges on the fact that they hope this charitable deed will wash away their irresponsible decisions and get them into heaven. The film was a critics’ darling when it was first released and holds the distinction of being the first black-and-white film to be colorized.
While Coraline Jones and her exploration of a button-eyed alternate universe is often seen as Laika’s crown jewel, their sophomore outing deserves just as much love. What starts as a tale of a quirky kid who can see and speak to ghosts, ParaNorman quickly unfolds into a story about reconciling a horrific past to make for a better tomorrow. Norman, who is ostracized and bullied for his paranormal gift, must use it to save his small town from being destroyed by a witch’s 300-year-old curse. Along the way, the 11-year-old boy inherits generational trauma, experiences ego death and makes a few new living friends in a stop-motion flick that’s sure to conjure up some laughs.
Much like Bloody Mary and Candyman, Beetlejuice’s name uttered thrice summons his presence. But instead of a murderous bloodlust, he arrives with havoc in tow. After a young couple meets their early demise, they watch from the afterlife as their idyllic Vermont Victorian is turned into a gauche, postmodern hellscape. With nowhere to turn, they seek the help of an unhinged “bio-exorcist” and angsty goth teenager to scare off the new owners from continuing the awful renovations. Madness erupts from start to finish in this Tim Burton classic, which features a star-studded cast including Michael Keaton, Winona Ryder and Catherine O’Hara. The revered 1988 film still holds so much weight with audiences that an official sequel is due out next year with Jenna Ortega, Monica Bellucci and Willem Dafoe joining the fray alongside most of the original film’s cast.