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Top 10 Paranormal Investigators!

01.22.2016by: Jake Dee
Don't front friends, the long-awaited return of The X-Files this week is an absolute must-see event! Is it not? But of course it is. And why is that? The searing chemistry between Mulder and Scully, for one, but also for the harrowing exploits of paranormal investigation. And as always, that got us to thinking. Got us to wondering about some of the more memorable paranormal investigators the world of cinema has seen. Now, it's a bit tricky, because we're not necessarily talking about psychic mediums or outright ghost-hunters, but detectives of the supernatural. You see the difference? Good! Check out our Top 10 favorite Paranormal Investigators above!

#10. FLORENCE CATHCART (THE AWAKENING)

A bit of new addition here, but no less effective is the lovely Rebecca Hall as Florence Cathcart - myth-buster and hoax-truther extraordinaire in the criminally overlooked chiller THE AWAKENING. If for no other reason, we include this one so you'll check it out if you haven't already. Well, that, and the fact that we don't really get to see many female paranormal investigators in movies, at least not ones that work alone. But most credible about Cathcart? The way she disbelieves. Her skepticism is matched by our own as an audience, and as she slowly becomes convinced of otherworldly activity, so do we.

#9. CLAIRE & LUKE (THE INNKEEPERS)

THE INNKEEPERS, we believe, is not only Ti West's best movie, but his most underrated as well. Part of that has to do with its two leads, Sara Paxton and Pat Healy, as the two lowly employees of the Yankee Pedlar Inn who, in the final days before closing, decide to investigate the hotel's long history of haunted activity. What's so compelling here is that they aren't professional detectives, yet through their own personal knowledge of their place of employ, suss paranormal happenings just the same. For those who've seen the film and missed the ghastly final shot, we urge you to go back and peep the faint, easy to miss specter that appears window-side in the final frame of the film. Genuinely eerie!

#8. SPECS & TUCKER (INSIDIOUS)

The bumbling due of Specs and Tucker in the INSIDIOUS flicks offer more than just comic relief, we believe, as the two actually help uncover the mysterious Darth Maul-faced phantom that skulks around in the night. That said, it is indeed the low-fi amateurism and DIY ineptitude of the two that makes for such much needed levity in an otherwise pretty grave tonality. Props must be given to writer/actor Leigh Whannell, who not only plays Specs, but conceived of the character when writing the entire script. Angus Sampson as Tucker too deserves credit for playing off of Whannell with just the right chemistry.

#7. MIKE ENSLIN (1408)

1408 is a damn underrated movie. The Stephen King tale is brought to life with great verve and unadulterated death by Swedish director Mikael Hafstrom. But the real reason we believe the movie works as well as it does is because of its primary conduit, paranormal skeptic Mike Enslin, played with perfect pitch by John Cusack. The Dolphin Hotel is eerie enough on its own, so when Enslin shows up to investigate the joint for a book he's writing on haunted locations, the once inured debunker gets the shite scared out of him. In addition to the genuinely creepy final shot, Cusack gets to scale the entire range of human emotion in the film!

#6. FRANK BANNISTER (THE FRIGHTENERS)

Ah, what a swindling conman old Frankie Bannister is ay? Damn I love the premise Peter Jackson put forth in his zanily cartoonish horror delight, THE FRIGHTENERS. You know, the story about an architect who gains psychic abilities that allow him to communicate with the dead...only to use the ghosts as partners to scare the ever loving piss out of normal folk, who in turn hire Frank to come in and exterminate the ghouls for good. That's quite the hustle! Excellent cast in J. Fox to keep the character believable amid such odious actions. Of course, pitting dude against the Grim Reaper in the end is a surefire way to elicit some empathy!

#5. ED & LORRAINE WARREN (THE CONJURING)

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga portraying Ed and Lorraine Warren, and thereby the most terrifying, is the fact the Warrens were real people. Real life paranormal investigators, to be exact, the very same that spent years examining The Amityville Horror and the haunted Perron Family farmhouse in the 70s. And so, with such great inspiration and equally capable actors, it doesn't take much to believe in the story at all. Let's hope the same level of credibility is delivered in this year's sequel, THE CONJURING 2: THE ENFIELD POLTERGEIST!

#4. CARL KOLCHAK (THE NIGHT STALKER)

To all those who know what an undoubted pimp Darren McGavin is from the endless annual loop of A CHRISTMAS STORY, really ought to check out the dude's comedic chops and overall badass nature in the 70s TV series KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER. Armed with only a cross to ward off evil spirits, Kolchak is a reporter tasked with ridding the Chicago streets of every form of ghoul under a full moon: vampires, zombies, werewolves, you name it. Funniest of all though, no matter how harrowing his nocturnal escapades become, he can never quite convince is managing editor that they actually happened anywhere outside of his own imagination.

#3. FOX MULDER & DANA SCULLY (THE X-FILES)

Isn't it a bit funny how these two have forever implored us to "Trust No One," yet when it comes to heart-pulsing paranormal investigation, there's not a single team we implicitly trust more than Mulder and Scully in THE X-FILES? Whether on the big screen or small, very few professional partners have exhibited such raw, easily binding, organic chemistry than Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny. The quips, the barbs, the jibes, but also the heart-to-hearts, the emotional support the two lend each other. It's no damn wonder why, through its various iterations, overwhelming fandom demanded the characters be brought back one more time. The Truth is Out There folks, and we're about to dig it up starting this weekend!

#2. DR. JOHN MARKWAY (THE HAUNTING)

Strike one up for the OG! That's right y'all, it's quite conceivable to suggest that, without Richard Johnson's seedily ulterior-motivated turn as Dr. John Markway in THE HAUNTING, there would be no fraternity of paranormal investigators to fete. Okay, perhaps it's not that dramatic, but still, since Robert Wise's more-is-less haunted house yarn still holds up quite sturdily 50 years after it was made, Markway not only earns mention, but tips the silver chalice. To be honest, I cannot think of an earlier example of a cinematic investigator of the supernatural, can you?

#1. VENKMAN, STANTZ, SPENGLER, ZEDMORE (GHOSTBUSTERS)

"All right, this chick is toast!!" Ah, the immortal words of Dr. Peter Venkman from the biggest hit of 1984. GHOSTBUSTERS. A line I used to recite ad nauseam until about last year. As I pen this entry, I boyishly glance over to my wall at the framed, autographed GHOSTBUSTERS poster I was gifted one Christmas. The names ring out like childhood idols: Murray, Aykroyd, Ramis, Moranis, Weaver, Potts. Pure poetry! It truly is quite a remarkable feat how well the film fuses horror with humor, yet never does so at the expense of the audience. That is, both elements are given equal weight, with truly scary moments like Zuul dragging Dana into her kitchen are immediately followed by light moments of levity that brilliantly counterbalance the terror. This, to our minds, will be the single biggest challenge for the 2016 all-female rehash.

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