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12 Best Occult Movies of All Time

September 4, 2017
9 min read

Occult movies can be really challenging experiences as they test you on an emotional level, peeling you off, exposing you in all your fears and vulnerabilities and questioning faith, life and human existence in ways that are wildly disturbing and provocative. Horror movies have often exploited the theme of occult and many of these mystic and psychic movies come under the horror category as they often explore the dark sides of human faith and satanic concepts.

Movies about occult are mostly built on stories depicting the bizarre rituals of an ancient time period and they are often juxtaposed with the Christian Faith. This article takes a look at the list of top occult movies ever. If you are lucky, you might be able to several of these good occult movies on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime. The list includes occult horror films.

12. The Ninth Gate (1999)

Not a particularly great film but one could say that it’s a fine occult mystery. The film is frequently compared to Polanski’s earlier horror masterpiece, ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ due to its thematic similarities but wasn’t well received among critics. However, many do consider it to be one of Polanski’s better endeavors and praised the film’s dark atmosphere and intriguing concepts. The film is about a book dealer who struggles to find a book that holds the key to summoning Satan but things turn increasingly complex when he finds himself surrounded by paranormal developments. Despite his frequent explorations of the occult, Polanski has stated that he does not believe in the occult.

11. The House of the Devil (2009)

‘The House of the Devil’ is more of a homage to the slasher genre and the horror flicks of the 70s and 80s which usually revolved around a haunted house visited by an outsider and the eventual satanic possession. It tells the story a college student who is offered ridiculously high pay for a baby sitting job in a mysterious, isolated house where a series of strange events begin to haunt her as she ends up fighting for her own life, defending herself from the brutalities of evil spirits. The film is explicit in its method of paying homage as it uses filmmaking techniques and methods that were common throughout the 70s and 80s and crafts an atmosphere very reminiscent of the early horror classics.

10. Starry Eyes (2014)

‘Starry Eyes’ centers around an aspiring Hollywood actress who, in her quest for fame and fortune, gets entangled with a secret satanic cult. The central thematic focus of the film lies in Sarah’s mental and physical transformation as she witnesses the brutal, ugly realities of the Hollywood industry and her failed attempts at rescuing herself from the evil spirits of a world she chose to be in, herself. The score is incredible and with such a fascinating plot, the film never really tends to lose its focus and delivers it with intense strength and vigor. ‘Starry Eyes’ is, without a doubt, one of the finest horror movies of this decade.

9. A Dark Song (2016)

This indie horror flick has to be one of the most original, refreshing pieces of horror I’ve seen in recent times. The film tells the story of a middle aged woman and an occultist who risk their lives in order to perform rituals that would grant them their lifelong wishes. The film is incredibly well made and the atmosphere is profoundly horrific and touches on themes of faith, love, human tragedy and goes truly beyond standard genre filmmaking. It’s emotionally brutal and intensely thought provoking and the claustrophobic atmosphere brilliantly manages to paint the overall tone of the film.

8. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Stanley Kubrick. Is there ever a subject in cinema that this man hasn’t touched? The man really took on to the very edge of cinema with his final masterpiece, ‘Eyes Wide Shut’. The film depicts a man’s bizarre, nightmarish journey into the dark underbellies of a secret society after his wife admits to having sexual fantasies about a man she once met. As Bill walks through the mansion, he realizes that what he’s truly witnessing is his own subconscious; pure, stark naked, faithless and fraught with bizarre fantasies. Kubrick masterfully peels off the secret layers underneath our civilized existence and it’s this striking reflection of a profound universal truth that makes ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ a true work of art.

7. The Wicker Man (1973)

No, not that outrageous Nicolas Cage version. The original 1973 version directed by Robin Hardy is a flat out masterpiece. It follows a Police Sergeant who visits a secluded in search of a missing girl but upon reaching there, he discovers that people haven’t heard of the girl and is befuddled by the eerie rituals conducted in the island. The central focus of the film lies in exploring profound Christianity themes and juxtaposing it with the beliefs of the ancient Celtic polytheism. The film wasn’t a huge success when it was released and for years, remained in obscurity before critics would go on to regard it as one of the greatest horror movies ever made.

6. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Roman Polanski’s horror masterpiece tells the story of a couple who move into an apartment and begin to experience strange things as the pregnant wife fears the safety of her own child. The film gradually peels off layers of its characters as we are revealed of disturbing truths concerning the woman’s husband and the future of her child. The film is adapted from a novel by Ira Levin and Polanski’s on-screen interpretation is remarkably distinctive and authoritative and his impeccable command over the medium makes for a deeply visceral cinematic experience that would stay in your memory for a very long time. It’s dark, brutal, raw and painfully honest.

5. Evil Dead (1981)

The Sam Raimi cult classic has a special place among fans of horror and is today regarded as one of the greatest horror movies ever made, thanks to its massive cult following around the world. ‘Evil Dead’ follows a group of college students who go on a vacation to an isolated cabin in a remote wooded area. Mysterious things begin to occur after one of them finds an audio tape and gradually members of the group suffer from demonic possession. The film is noted for its raw, B-grade look that gives it a distinctive quality and feel. It wasn’t a huge commercial success during its time but eventually garnered a strong cult following among staunch fans of the horror genre.

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4. The Exorcist (1973)

Widely regarded as one of the greatest horror movies ever made, ‘The Exorcist’ is one hell of an experience. It set a benchmark for horror movies with its style, visual aesthetics, strong thematic elements and raw atmospheric power. The film revolves around a 12 year old girl who begins to experience strange things and eventually turn violent and destructive as her mother seeks the help of a priest to get rid of her evil spirits via exorcism. Pazuzu, whose statue is shown in the film’s opening sequence in Iraq, seems to be the demon that has possessed the girl and the priests struggle to get rid of his evil spirits wrecking the girl’s soul.

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3. The Omen (1976)

‘The Omen’ is easily among the most disturbing movies I’ve ever seen. Disturbing not because of what it shows but its underlying thematic elements. The film tells the story of a couple who adopt a kid after the death of their first born. However, a series of mysterious events occur and it is later discovered that the boy has some strange connections to those events. his father would travel to Israel in order to study about the Antichrist and there he comes across some disturbing revelations about the true identity of his adopted son. ‘The Omen’ is deeply atmospheric and emotionally powerful and has the power to wreck your sleep forever.

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2. Witchfinder General (1968)

This classic British horror directed by Michael Reeves, based on the novel of the same name written by Ronald Bassett chronicles the witch hunting exploits of a 17th century English Lawyer. The two main characters in the film, Matthew Hopkins and his assistant John Stearne set out on a journey, wandering across villages as they look to get rid of witches using their sadistic torture methods. The film was heavily criticized for its explicit depiction of violence and gore on screen and was heavily censored by the British Board of Film Censors. It si now widely regarded as a classic of British cinema and one of the greatest horror movies ever made.

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1. The Holy Mountain (1973)

It’s extremely hard to put into words what ‘The Holy Mountain’ was all about. But it’s probably safe to say that this Jodorowsky masterpiece is possibly the greatest occult movie of all time. The film chronicles the spiritual journey of a man, who resembles Jesus Christ, and a dwarf to the Holy Mountain where they hope they could find true meaning of faith, existence and life. Jodorowsky plays the Alchemist in the film and it is an exploration of profound mystical themes that would later go on to become instantly recognized with his visionary style and approach to filmmaking. It’s an incredible think piece that provokes, mystifies and repulses you but somehow they just manage to get into your skull and that, to me, is a fine example of an auteur being at his very best.

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