The Ghosts In 'Crimson Peak' Aren't Your Average Hollywood Ghouls

Guillermo del Toro's new gothic romance/horror film Crimson Peak tells the story of a young American author (Mia Wasikowska) in turn of the century England who marries a dashing and mysterious man (Tom Hiddleston) and moves into his creepy old estate. While there, she meets his equally creepy sister (Jessica Chastain) and begins to discover the family's dark secrets by way of her encounters with numerous ghosts throughout the house. Anyone who has seen the film, or the trailer for that matter, knows that the Crimson Peak ghosts are especially scary and are also unlike anything seen in a movie before.

How they were created is a fascinating process. Most of the time these days, Hollywood ghosts are created using either actors in makeup or CGI effects, but Crimson Peak's ghouls utilize both techniques. In order for his ghosts to feel as real as possible while still maintaining an other-worldly appearance, del Toro opted to use real actors on set with make-up, according to IGN, acting out their scenes with the film's stars. Then, in post-production, the actors were overlaid with digital effects, giving them an added level of intangibility and distinct smoke-like trails. Del Toro also decided to color-code his ghosts as being red, and the only time the color red appears in the movie at all is when it's related to a ghost.

The ghosts of Crimson Peak are definitely unique, as was the process by which they were created, but how do they compare to the ghosts seen in some other classic movies? Let's take a look.

Obi-Wan Kenobi

The ghost effect in the original Star Wars trilogy was achieved the classic way: by filming the actor against a black background, removing the black, and then overlaying him in the footage of the actual scene. He could then have his transparency adjusted while the setting itself remains intact.


The most iconic ghost of Ghostbusters may look like the work of CGI, but this was 1984, so he's actually a puppet. The puppet was worn by a puppeteer in black clothing and was filmed against a black background, similar to Obi-Wan. Scenes of the movie where Slimer is flying were actually achieved by running the camera toward the puppet while it wasn't moving, creating the illusion of flight.


Movieclips on YouTube

The titular ghost of Tim Burton's 1988 dark comedy was portrayed by Michael Keaton in makeup, but not always. There is a scene in the film where he transforms into a giant scary snake, which was performed by a mechanical puppet and not Michael Keaton.



By 1995, great strides had been made in the field of computer generated effects, so much so that when Casper was released, the main ghost became the first-ever fully CGI leading character in a film, and the first to display a full range of emotions.

Bruce Willis

Spoiler! The Sixth Sense tricked everyone by having a ghost be, well, just a regular guy. Admit it, you didn't know he was dead the whole time.

There are a number of ways ghosts have been brought to life, err, death, on screen, and Crimson Peak is just the latest entry of Hollywood's grand tradition of depicting the afterlife.

Images: Universal Pictures; giphy (4); Walt Disney Pictures