Pay the Ghost (2015) – Movie Review

pay the ghost by rafy-1989.cr2

Pay the Ghost (2015)

Directed by Uli Edel

Nicolas Cage
Sarah Wayne Callies
Veronica Ferres
Jack Fulton
Elizabeth Jeanne le Roux
Stephen McHattie


Dad, can we pay the ghost? Imagine if that were the last thing your child said to you before disappearing without a trace. Add to that fact that the young son in this film had been seeing a cloaked figure outside his bedroom window and three vultures circling the sky above the NYC skyline. It’s not often that I enjoy a film with Nicolas Cage in it, but this is a decent enough horror tale. It won’t be remembered for being all that scary, but it was entertaining and I cared for the characters by the end. It’s based on the Tim Lebbon novel of the same name, with the screenplay by Dan Kay.Pay the Ghost - poster

Cage plays Mike Lawford, a father striving to gain tenure at a NY University and after putting in extra hours on Halloween night, he misses trick or treat with his son, Charlie. The carnival is still going on down the block, in the Greenwich Village area, so he asks his wife, Kristen, if he could take their son for a little while. He lets go of the boy’s hand for one second to pay for ice cream and the boy is gone.

Mike and Kirsten (Sarah Wayne Callies, who played Laurie in The Walking Dead) search for him. They fight and blame each other. For a whole year there are no clues or leads to follow until a few days before Halloween. Mike sees graffiti on a wall that reads, did you pay the ghost? This leads him on a trail into the unknown where myth and the darkness of old yarns converge onto the modern city back alleys. There’s some moody atmospheric visuals with the vultures and the witch’s cottage for those who like that kind of stuff (like me).

There’s also a lot of horror flick standards and cliché horror tropes thrown in for good measure. The end is the usual Hollywood faire and although not original, it was good to see the dad be the hero. The film reminds me of older style horror with some jump scares and visual effects thrown in to fill the gaps between the main parts. There’s no blood or gore to speak of and not even much death. It seems like most viewers gave this film bad reviews so watch at your own risk. It won’t win any awards for originality but it can be a fun watch if you don’t expect too much.

pay-the-ghost - pic 12

Blend Poltergeist, Darkness Falls, Celtic and Greek mythology tales into the subject of missing children, and you have a decent horror film with a decent story.

I give it 3.0 wicked witches out of 5 on the harrowing harbingers of hell scale.

The Scariest Classic Witches in film

The Scariest Classic Witches in film

OK, let me first state that I am not speaking of Wiccan’s, Pagan’s, or any earth religions and followers, and I do realize there is a great difference between the perception of witches and what witches actually are. I also know there is a great difference between the Wicca religion and Satan worshipers.

What I am speaking about is the classic legend of witches, the witch image stereotype that had been used for centuries to scare children and keep them from wandering in the forest; the scary image men conjured in centuries past from their own fears of things they did not understand; the visions that sparked the Salem Witch Trials and the Spanish Inquisition.

And, lastly, I am not talking about the pretty or sexy witch. Ever since Bewitched aired in the late 1960’s, there has been way too many of them in film.

So, without further explanation, here are my favorite scary witches:

5) Black Sunday (1960) – Her face encased with the mask of Satan, tortured and burned at the stake,  accused witch, Asa Vajda, comes to life centuries later to exact her revenge upon the descendants of her persecutors. Directed by Mario Bava.

4) Darkness Falls (2003) – This tooth seeking witch comes for your last baby tooth. The first six minutes of this film were a tense and chilling scene, making it well worthy of this list.

3) The Wizard of Oz (1939) – Margaret Hamilton’s portrayal of a witch in this classic film is the epitome of the witch legend. Ask any child what a witch looks like and they will draw something resembling The Wicked Witch of the West.

2) Pumpkinhead (1988) – Deep in the shadowed woods lives a witch named, Hagis, who can cast a spell upon anyone that has wronged you. In classic evil fashion, your wish always comes with a consequence. When Ed (Lance Henriksen) realizes what he has done, he is angered at himself. “God Damn me!” he says… to which Hagis replies, “He already has, Ed Harley, he already has.” (Side note: this is some of Henriksen’s best acting of his career.)
1) Tales From the Dark side – episode: Trick or Treat
(1st season – 1983) –
Damned if you can find a better classic witch than this one. Creepy as hell, a wickedly evil laugh and voice, and a face that could turn you to stone if you stare into it for too long.

Honorable Mentions:

Sleepy Hollow (1999 – Tim Burton) – Witch of the western wood

Dreams in the Witch House (Masters Of Horror – 2005) Stuart Gordon

Horror Hotel (aka City of the Dead)

Clash of the Titans (1981) – the Stygian Witches


How could I forget, the evil witch Markos from Suspiria

The three witches from Macbeth

Angelica Houston’s portrayal in The Witches
the witches 1990


These are not necessarily the best movies about witches or witchcraft but were chosen for their portrayal of the iconic witch image. Perhaps I’ll post future list of top witch/witchcraft/occult movies. I will want to wait until I have seen Lords of Salem (2012 – Rob Zombie) before I do that.

Lords of Salem review is here

Final note:

Believe it or not, there were not a whole lot of choices; I thought there would be so much more. So, if you think of a film or show that featured a scary-classic witch (even in a small role) let me know in the comments and I’ll add a photo to my honorable mentions.