Birthday Party Ghost Stories
August 2, 2014 8:31 PM   Subscribe

For my 40th birthday I'd like to have a slumber party with a small group of my friends. I love scary movies (although I prefer supernatural, and am not a fan of slasher films) and would love to incorporate a couple into the fun. One of my close friends can only tolerate not very scary movies (I'm thinking at the level of Rosemary's Baby). A few other important details inside...

I also need films that have: 1. no rape scenes 2. no scenes where someone gets shot in the head/shoots themselves in the head. 3. no devils 4. no stalkers. I've looked at previous posts and have seen some good suggestions, but I'm looking for more. If you have any other ideas of ways to make my party fun, those are welcome too! We'll definitely have a beer tasting, sweets and coffee, and a between-movies walk around the neighborhood. Thanks!
posted by ezrainch to Media & Arts (27 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Event Horizon? I think it meets the qualifications, but it's been a while since I saw it.
posted by sanka at 8:56 PM on August 2, 2014

Wait Until Dark
posted by Nerd of the North at 9:01 PM on August 2, 2014

Amazon Prime has every episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark, which might be just the thing for a slumber party.
posted by zabuni at 9:02 PM on August 2, 2014

I think The Changeling (1980) meets those criteria, and it's great. It's a ghost story with some pretty creepy scenes, but no sudden fright that I can recall. Some people die, but IIRC none of the deaths involve guns. I don't think any of the other issues are even on the map.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 9:02 PM on August 2, 2014

Do you think some classic Hammer films or similar Old Hollywood pieces would be okay? This includes some old Sherlock Holmes, like Hound of the Baskervilles. Some of these films are crazy iconic and great to watch on that level, though some of them still legitimately bring the suspense.

I am not an expert, and hopefully someone else can come in here and give some great recommendations, but I'm thinking stuff like the original Invisible Man and Mummy films.

You could also do a double-feature of the original Nosferatu, and then the film Shadow of the Vampire, which was a quasi-fictionalized "making-of" that played on the persistent urban legend that the original film actually used a real vampire (in Shadow, this is an incredibly creepy Willem Dafoe).
posted by Lyn Never at 9:03 PM on August 2, 2014

Old but good is the suspense/thriller Wait Until Dark, with Audrey Hepburn playing a blind woman. It's not supernatural and there's no ghosts, though.

Hmm. Poltergeist? The Shining? The Ring?

On preview: great minds think alike, Nerd of the North.
posted by Specklet at 9:06 PM on August 2, 2014

Seconding event horizon, it is creepy as hell.
posted by elizardbits at 9:17 PM on August 2, 2014

Definitely NOT Event Horizon. That movie plot is basically a portal to hell. Sam Neil is the devil. Nope nope nope. Terrifying. I LOVE that movie, but I think your friend would freak out.

The Awakening - A bit slower moving.

Maybe The Tall Man?

This is kinda tough. Seems like all my suggestions have too much violence, are too slasher-y, or have some sort of sexual violence. Or they are pretty slow and not good birthday party material.

Any chance you'd be open to dark comedy creature flicks like Grabbers instead?
posted by Crystalinne at 9:23 PM on August 2, 2014

Skeleton Key - SUPER SPOOKY. The only one of your criteria it might nudge is the devil thing, though it's voodoo/hoodoo-supernatural stuffs.
posted by Glinn at 9:25 PM on August 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Others! It's a classic ghost story that gets serious creep factor from mood and pacing.

(Note about Event Horizon - it's been years since I saw it but I remember some really gruesome, violent scenes.)
posted by prewar lemonade at 9:30 PM on August 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

I just emphatically wanted to say that Event Horizon (as a person who can only handle Rosemary's Baby levels of horror) gave me nightmares for years after I saw it.
posted by Nimmie Amee at 10:00 PM on August 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Cabin in the Woods is a fun, not-too-scary scary movie that seems good for a wide range of tastes. In fact now I want to have a Cabin in the Woods sleepover!
posted by platinum at 11:22 PM on August 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

I wonder if you might be well-served by retro, campy comedies with a creepy supernatural bent. You know, like Beetlejuice, Rocky Horror, Ghostbusters, Little Shop of Horrors, the Addams Family, Hocus Pocus, etc.? Those seem like good slumber party movies. Not actually scary, and fun to watch whether everybody is paying full attention or if you're all talking through the whole thing.

As much as I love the 1930s Universal horror movies and they seem like they'd fit the bill, don't go there. Movies like Dracula and Frankenstein are paced strangely for modern attention spans, and they are not for everybody.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 11:28 PM on August 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

Oh, and Young Frankenstein! Even if you don't like Mel Brooks, it's a great movie. Hilarious, and surprisingly affecting.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 11:32 PM on August 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Another vote for Cabin in the Woods.
posted by entropyiswinning at 11:52 PM on August 2, 2014

For good clean jump-out-of-your-skin scary trust the folks above who recommend Wait Until Dark. Clean enough for a Nazarene college campus and scary enough to make a room full of first years scream. I rewatched it 25 years later and it was just as good.
posted by SLC Mom at 12:14 AM on August 3, 2014

Poltergeist still holds up, I reckon.
posted by h00py at 2:24 AM on August 3, 2014

Cabin in the Woods contains some WAY too scary scenes for the person described!

How about The Orphanage? Only one real jolt but very skillfully creepy.
posted by biscotti at 6:03 AM on August 3, 2014

I second The Others. It's deliciously creepy with no gore.

The Frighteners is not super scary, but is nicely creepy in place. I don't remember any gore, though someone will have to help us out about whether anyone gets shot; it's been years and I just don't remember. And it features Michael J. Fox in a kickass performance, which is a nice bonus.
posted by joycehealy at 7:13 AM on August 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think anything with Vincent Price would fit the bill. He is a fantastic actor who starred in a lot of somewhat campy and fun yet spooky horror films, many based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe, as well as other short supernatural fiction of the 19th century. There is no graphic violence (after all, the bulk of the horror films were produced in the 60s and 70s), and though there are some special effects meant to convey terror I do feel they are quite tame by modern standards. That said, as a teen I thought the effects were scary when all alone in a dark basement! Tales of Terror based on Poe stories and Twice Told Tales based on Nathaniel Hawthorne stories are good introductions, there are three shorts in each film so you can pause in between to enjoy other sleepover activities. I enjoyed and would recommend The Pit and the Pendulum as well as the gorier Masque of the Read Death. If you like Guy de Maupassant stories Diary of a Madman would be fun. My all-time favorite Price film would be The Abominable Dr. Phibes - fun and dare I say romantic story line (hideously disfigured yet suave mad scientist takes revenge on the surgeons who couldn't save his beloved's life by killing them according to Biblical plagues), the acting is superb, and the set design / costumes are gloriously Art Deco.

In general, Price movies have excellent plots, gorgeous sets, fine acting and a lot of scenes that make you scream and then burst into laughter. He's such a classy villain too, you want to root for him even when he's up to all manner of diabolical dastardliness.

Also, I agree with those who suggest The Others. Although I really love Cabin in the Woods and Event Horizon - they are both fantastic horror films - they have very gruesome and bloody scenes of violence that would disqualify them based on your guidelines.
posted by partly squamous and partly rugose at 7:13 AM on August 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

FYI, there's an attempted rape scene in the Awakening, but it is an excellent movie.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:22 AM on August 3, 2014

Frighteners is a gem, but full of Peter Jackson's particular brand of slapstick death and breaks one of your rules, as a supporting character in Frighteners dies from a gunshot to the head. Since there's a killing spree, there may be other headshots, too, but it's been a while since I've watched it.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:32 AM on August 3, 2014

The Caller might work; it's sort of a ghost story, creepy and tense with minimal gore (although some gore). There's implied/referenced domestic violence, but no rape and although the abuser shows up unexpectedly, he's not stalking anyone. There's no guns at all.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:46 AM on August 3, 2014

I'm surprised no one has suggested any cheesy, campy, mostly-non-scary horror movies ala Mystery Science Theater 3000. If you do two movies, one could be genuinely scary and one could be more laughably trying-to-scary. Frogs is a really really fantastically cheesy but watchable "eco-horror" flick starring a young, hot, pre-mustache Sam Elliot.

Also along the lines of horror-comedy, as previously suggested: The Burbs with Tom Hanks, Shaun of the Dead (may involve shots to the head? haven't actually seen it).

Oh my, how could I almost forget The Relic. This is a so-bad-it's-good type of movie, a 1997 film that I think wanted to be a throwback monster movie. It has a great cheesy premise and action takes place in a museum with a great finale. This has a some gore but it's pretty cheesy. Also featuring the always delightful character actress Linda Hunt.

The Lost Boys, great 80s camp and the original sparkly vampires.

They Live. Maybe I'm getting too far away from a "scary" movie here, They Live is more of an alien/goverment conspiracy/action film. It's a cult classic for a reason.
posted by dahliachewswell at 9:00 AM on August 3, 2014

I think Don't Look Now might be a good choice. Very atmospheric and creepy, but not very violent, and scary! There's a feeling of dread and grief that permeates the entire film.

Session 9 may also work. There's a tiny bit of gore towards the end, but other than that it's pretty tame (but still scary). Psychological horror at its best! It's gets a lower than merited rating on IMDB in my opinion. Don't let that scare you away.
posted by Fiorentina97 at 9:21 AM on August 3, 2014

I'm with the others who wouldn't recommend Cabin in the Woods. While I'm a big horror movie fan and I loved it, there were a few scenes that actually made me feel sick because of the level of gore.

If you're looking for something more fun/campy, I second the recommendations that have been made of movies like Beetlejuice, Rocky Horror, The Frighteners, The 'Burbs, and They Live.

The Innkeepers might be good if you're looking for something a little more serious. It's kind of slow, but it's supernatural and it fits your other criteria.
posted by yeahyeahrealcute at 11:40 AM on August 3, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks for all of the suggestions! I will check out many of the films mentioned here. I favorited Cabin In The Woods because when I read my friend the suggestions here she said " I really want to see that one! I heard about the plot twist already- that's not scary!". I've watched Cabin before, but I'd forgotten about it. I think the ending will make it totally ok for her. Great idea. Plus it's so campy it will be a fun slumber party movie for the rest of us.
posted by ezrainch at 12:17 AM on August 4, 2014

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