Sometimes death and the afterlife are just not meant to be the end of the story. In the spirit of March’s theme of rebirth, let’s take a look at some ghosts who refused to stay dead (or maybe weren’t as dead as they’d initially let on).

Here are the rules: the ghosts on this list have to have at some point been a living human (no fiends or demons allowed), have at some point in the movie been implied or described as a spirit or ghost (with some wiggle room for souls), and have to have come back as something with a physical body.

Needless to say, this list includes spoilers.

 

10. Adam and Barbara Maitland (Beetlejuice, 1988)

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr
  • reddit
  • Google+

Sometimes it takes an exorcism to bring you back from the dead.

After a fatal car crash, Adam and Barbara Maitland (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) find themselves stuck haunting their former home for the next 125 years, unable to leave unless they want to be eaten by sand worms. When a new family moves into their home and starts renovating, they try their best to scare them away, even enlisting the help of questionable “bio-exorcist” Betelgeuse (Michael Keaton).

Adam and Barbara’s return to life is brief and probably painful. When interior decorator Otho (Glenn Shadix) comes across their copy of The Handbook for the Recently Deceased, he decides to lay out Adam and Barbara’s wedding outfits and perform a séance. What happens instead is more of an exorcism, as Adam and Barbara are called back to their old clothes, helplessly filling them with solid bodies that rapidly start to decay and crumble away until Lydia (Winona Ryder) can find a way to save them.

 

 

9. Annabelle and Frederick Loren (House on Haunted Hill, 1959)

House On Haunted Hill (1958)
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr
  • reddit
  • Google+

Unlike the Maitlands, who are a picture-perfect couple, the Lorens (Vincent Price and Carol Ohmart) are tense, distrustful, and probably too rich for their own good. They invite five guests into their plot with a bribe of $10,000 if they can survive the night in a suspected haunted mansion (to be fair, the owner of the house is thoroughly convinced that it is in fact haunted). The doors are locked just before midnight and the guests are equipped with guns.

After finding Annabelle Loren dead by hanging, one of the guests finds themselves being chased through the house by Annabelle’s ghost. It’s soon revealed that she and her lover, Trent (Alan Marshal) have been orchestrating all of the spooky happenings around the house in an attempt to manipulate the other guests into killing her husband. Her plan leads to her husband being shot by a guest and falling into a vat of acid.

When Annabelle goes to confirm her husband’s death, his skeleton rises out of the acid to confront her and scare her into falling into the acid as well. Turns out Frederick Loren can beat Annabelle at her own game of coming back from death as he reveals himself as alive and unharmed, and puppeteering a fake skeleton from the shadows.

The 1999 remake directed by William Malone features one similarly faked death, but also opts to include some real vengeful ghosts ready to wreak violence on the guests.

 

8. Samara Morgan (Rings, 2017)

rings 2017
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr
  • reddit
  • Google+

By the third installment of the franchise, Samara (Bonnie Morgan) has become something of a household name within the universe of the films. The public seems aware enough to know the drill: watch the film, get the call, and pass along Samara’s tapes to someone else to save themselves. There are even groups dedicated to experimenting with the tapes. Once Julia (Matilda Lutz) watches herself to save her boyfriend, who’s gotten himself involved with one of these groups, she has a vision that leads her to dig deeper into Samara’s past.

Julia finds Samara’s skeleton and cremates it, assuming that this will finally put her spirit to rest. At the end of the film, however, we find Julia coughing up black hair and cicadas in the shower. Her skin begins to peel, revealing grey flesh beneath. Samara is reborn within her.

 

7. Simon Fairbairn (Marrowbone, 2017)

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr
  • reddit
  • Google+

The Fairbairn siblings are haunted by their criminal father, a murderer known as “The Beast of Brampton” (Tom Fisher). Every mirror is covered, they are wary of noises coming from the attic, and they huddle together in safe spaces like a blanket fort when the house gets dark at night. The situation isn’t helped by the fact that their father, Simon Fairbairn, teased as a ghostly presence throughout the film, is one of the only living — if barely alive — presences in the house.

Local girl and romantic interest to the eldest Fairbairn, Allie (Anya Taylor-Joy) uncovers the family’s in part by exploring the Fairbairn house and entering the bricked up attic that her beau Jack (George MacKay) actively avoids. Inside she finds {SPOILERS:} Simon Fairbairn, emaciated from having lived in the attic for the past six months, and the bodies of the Fairbairn siblings that he’d murdered after Jack had locked them in there for their protection.

 

6. Oscar (Enter the Void, 2009)

enter_the_void
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr
  • reddit
  • Google+

After his friend turns him on to The Tibetan Book of the Dead, drug-dealer Oscar (Nathaniel Brown) gets caught up in a police raid at a bar called The Void. As he tries and fails to flush his stash down a toilet, Oscar ends up being shot and killed by police. In that moment, he is separated from his body, where he remotely observes his life, death, and the aftermath of his death, culminating in the moment of his birth.

 

The movie primes us to believe that Oscar is experiencing reincarnation. Before his death, his buddy even explains to him that according to The Tibetan Book of the Dead, a dead spirit might stay among the living until they can reincarnate. Director Gaspar Noé (Irréversible) would rather apply Occam’s Razor to his own movie and, in an interview with Interview Magazine, explained that Oscar’s story is just the story of someone who was very stoned at his time of death. But if we take it in the most face-value sense, Oscar is revived by repeating his own life, maybe indefinitely.

 

5. Reverend Henry Kane/The Beast (Poltergeist II: The Other Side, 1986)

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr
  • reddit
  • Google+

According to the Poltergeist mythos, Kane was an evil cult leader sometime in the 19th-century. Under the premise of leading his cult through the end of the world, he sealed his followers in an underground cave, which would later become the site over which the Freeling’s haunted suburb would be built. Of course, there wasn’t really an apocalypse underway; rather, Kane’s ploy was to kill his followers and himself and harvest their souls for power. The extra souls transformed him into the figure that Tangina (Zelda Rubinstein) refers to as The Beast in the first Poltergeist film (1982), the monster that we see blocking the door to Carol Anne’s room. In the sequels, he manages to take on human form (played by Julian Beck in Poltergeist II, and Nathan Davis in Poltergeist III) to stalk down Carol Anne for her pure and innocent soul.

 

4. Charles Lee Ray/Chucky (Child’s Play, 1988)

child's play chucky movies
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr
  • reddit
  • Google+

Tom Holland’s Child’s Play is the only example on this list of a spirit who avoids the afterlife by animating an object. Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif), a serial killer known as the “Lakeshore Strangler” breaks into a toy store to evade police after a botched robbery attempt. His evasion tactics fail and he’s shot and left for dead in the store. Luckily, Ray was into Haitian Vodou and knew of a ritual spell that could transfer his soul into a nearby Good Guy doll, giving life to the wise-cracking possessed doll that we all know today as Chucky.

Of course, Ray isn’t exactly stoked to be stuck inside a doll, as fun as it might be to terrorize the Barclay family in this form. Worse, the longer he spends in doll form, the more organic the doll becomes, developing real human organs and bleeding human blood.

 

3. Nick Powell (The Invisible, 2009)

the invisible 2007
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr
  • reddit
  • Google+

Despite being beaten by a school bully and left for dead in the woods, high school senior Nick Powell seems to leave the event without a scratch. It’s not until he finds himself sitting in English class literally unable to defend himself against his classmates ripping apart his poetry, that he realizes that no one can see or hear him.

Luckily, despite being a wandering ghost, Nick isn’t actually dead. But he is dying, and his last shreds of life are what are keeping him tethered to this plane. If he can get someone to find his body and save him, he can be pulled back amongst the living.

Nick succeeds, or he wouldn’t make it onto this list. The earlier Swedish version of the film (Den osynlige, 2002), doesn’t grant Niklas (Gustaf Skarsgård)’s such an uplifting ending and disqualifies itself from consideration.

2. Casper and Dr. James Harvey (Casper, 1995)

casper 1995
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr
  • reddit
  • Google+

Casper is easily the friendliest ghost on this list. In the 90s, Casper (voiced by Malachi Pearson) was just living his best life in an amazing—if super dusty—mansion with his uncles when Kat (Christina Ricci) and her father (Bill Pullman) move in. Now, Casper is stuck to contend with a crush on a living girl. No one seems to worry too much about this sort-of romance, but Casper does realize its limitations and decides to test a serum that his father once created to try and bring his son back to life (as a side note: this movie also treats us to a super sad speech about how Casper died of pneumonia after playing in the snow — thanks!).

Ultimately, Casper sacrifices his chance to use the serum to bring back Kat’s father, who becomes a ghost after an accidental fall. Luckily, Kat’s mom is a different sort of spirit with the power to grant Casper his wish after all that altruism. He gets to temporarily become corporeal (as Devon Sawa no less) so he can go on a date with Kat, do a floaty slow-dance together, and whisper “Can I keep you?” in her ear.

 

1. Marcus (Ouija 2: Origin of Evil, 2016)

Ouija origin of evil
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr
  • reddit
  • Google+

Marcus is one of many spirits in Mike Flanagan’s Ouija 2: Origin of Evil, but he is the only one, outside of the Zander patriarch, to be given a name.

 

Mother-daughter duo Alice Zander (Elizabeth Reaser) and Doris (Lulu Wilson) help make ends meet by hosting seances and psychic readings for paying customers — but of course, their ghostly communications are a con. When Alice brings a Ouija board home to add to her repertoire, Doris realizes that she can make out the shapes of spirits when she looks through the lens of the Ouija board’s pointer, and unwittingly turns herself into a vessel for Marcus (portrayed in ghoul form by Doug Jones).

As a bout of automatic writing reveals, Marcus appears to be a Polish immigrant who was held hostage in the Zander house’s basement during World War 2, where a sadistic doctor would perform experiments on him and other prisoners. He manages to successfully walk around in Doris’s body and go on a violence spree… at least for a little while.

 

Want to add your favourite revived, reanimated, or reincarnated ghosts to the list?  Join the conversation in the Nightmare on Film Street community on Twitter, our Official Subreddit, and the Fiend Club Facebook Group!