Thir13en Ghosts (2001) Poster

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A lot better than I expected
kismit26 January 2002
It doesn't rely on too much splatter and it doesn't try to startle you out of your seat every two minutes so that immediately makes it better than the average horror flick. The ghosts were unusual enough to be memorable and there was not a lot of familiarity to the plot. This was very nearly an excellent film with a solid cast and very good effects. Five or ten more minutes of scary interaction between the ghosts and the children(if you can call Shannon Elizabeth a child) would have made the movie much better. I call it a near miss which is as good as most horror fils can aspire to.
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randyfromscream9 February 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I love this film when I was growing up, and when I first watch it, it was scary to me like the ghost are scary like I was covering my eyes when I watch this movie as a kid. This is my most favorite film from Dark Castle, and this is a film to recommend for people that are new to Dark Castle.This is my favorite reboot.I didn't even know this film was a remake, and the make-up effect are gruesome looking.It was sad when Dennis died. I think Matthew Lllard was a good actor in this movie. I don't care what people say that this movie is dumb, and stuff like that. I think this film is better than Prom Night (2008) it wasn't a very good movie at all but Thirteen Ghost is better like in the movie they weren't over-doing it like running, and hide but this movie they ran into a room with spells that the ghost can't come in. I wish this movie show some other ghost, and I understand the using C.G.I is expensive but I don't care if this film over use C.G.I it still the same film to me. This movie is awesome!
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Please lighten up, folks!
innocuous27 August 2003
As I've said so many times before...people, this is just a movie. It is not intended to make deep social comment; it is not meant to reflect reality; the characters are not obligated to exercise good judgment; the fact that this movie is supposed to be "based on" the earlier version is not really relevant; and it ought to be possible to be entertained by a movie without necessarily feeling genuinely scared.

I find this to be a very entertaining movie. Good special effects, decent acting, lots of action, neat props and mechanicals, and some unique ghosts make this a lot of fun. Was I scared? No. I was startled sometimes, but not scared.

So what IS wrong with this movie? Well, I'm back to my usual gripe about action movies. There's a point in the film where one character says to three other characters, "Stay right here until I get back. Don't touch anything." Without going into detail, let me simply state the obvious: the other characters don't obey him and the results are not good. This is always a big turn-off to me, because the people who disobey almost always end up getting out safely, while other people die for their mistakes. In another film, for example, a family in the Federal witness protection program is told not to contact their old friends. The daughter, however, can't live without calling her boyfriend at least once. The bad guys intercept the phone call, show up at the "safe house," and end up killing several US Marshals. Of course, the daughter is oblivious to the damage she has caused and goes on to live happily ever after. Just once I'd like to see the survivors turn to the person who was reckless and say, "That was all your fault!" and blow the person away in a hail of lead.

Now, back to THIS film. I recommend it if you enjoy over-the-top horror/action films, but not if you are looking for some sort of psychological thriller or a moody mystery. If you liked "Dog Soldiers" and "An American Werewolf in London," then you should like this movie.

*** out of ****
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If you like the genre...
rbverhoef12 December 2004
'Thir13en Ghosts' is a movie with lots of flashing images and loud sounds. Most of the time that is a little annoying, although there are moments it adds something to the scary events that happen. I am not a big fan of the horror-genre, although I can appreciate it when it is done good. Here you have no real story, but there are some real scares. Since it is about ghosts those things can turn up anytime and anywhere. One of the characters even explains that "they like to do that".

To explain the story would be quite pointless. What I can say is that a family without a mother but including dad Arthur (Tony Shalhboub), daughter Kathy (Shannon Elizabeth), son Bobby (Alec Roberts) and nanny Maggie (Rah Digga) inherits a strange house, created by their uncle Cyrus (F. Murray Abraham). We learn that Cyrus was a ghost hunter, of course with a purpose and a thirteenth ghost as the answer to a mystery, and that twelve ghosts are locked in the basement of the house. Two other characters are in the house as well. Dennis (Matthew Lillard) who sees future and past when he touches people and who used to work with Cyrus, and an opponent of Cyrus named Kalina (Embeth Davidtz). When the ghosts are unleashed they have to save themselves.

I realize I actually have told you the story, but that is not what this movie is about. What makes it at least interesting is the visual style of the movie. The house looks great, the effects and art direction are very admirable. That there is hardly time to notice that is a shame. The scares might be stupid but they work enough to make this a real horror movie. Yes, there are many flaws and things go terribly wrong near the end, but if you normally like these kind of movies, you must be able to enjoy 'Thir13en Ghosts'.
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OK, i'm sticking my neck out for this movie
el_EdGaR_again8 October 2005
The only problem i found about "Thirteen Ghosts" is that it is not scary. It has the elements to be a horror movie, the ghosts, the gore, but it is not frightening at all.

So this film can be a real party pooper if you're watching it with the lights off at your girlfriend's house waiting for her to grab your arm through the hard scenes, or expect to enjoy having some nightmares about it. But, omitting that--yeah, i know it's hard to omit that a movie labeled as "horror" is not scary--, i judge it as a very interesting film. The production design is great; the glass house is a state of the art, away from your typical haunted house, looking both luxurious and somehow creepy at the same time. That innovation, carried out with such a splendid result, is worth my applause. So is the decision to make the ghosts be real actors in the set, not digital freaks. Human monsters, even if having to go through 4+ hours of make-up sessions, even if having to use a double amputee actor to play a particular ghost, are the film's best trump card. There are good ideas in this film, and they're very well developed. It doesn't deserve a bad score.
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Where "ghost" thou?
lee_eisenberg11 June 2006
"Thir13en Ghosts" does have a certain charm, if only for its silliness. Maybe there's nothing particularly special about a visual effects-laden movie in which a family inherits a haunted house, but the movie definitely has its moments, namely when the lawyer "splits". Tony Shalhoub, Embeth Davidtz, Matthew Lillard, Shannon Elizabeth, Alec Roberts, Rah Digga and F. Murray Abraham are all able to turn in neat performances, even if the whole movie is pretty outlandish. I would recommend the original version more, but this one isn't bad. Perhaps its little more than a way to pass time, but a cool one at that. Acceptable for what it is.
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Someone HELP -- I love this movie, I hate this movie!
lambiepie-230 October 2002
This is one of those movies that you cannot hate fully, but you cannot like fully either. Something is missing, I can't point a finger to EXACTLY what it is, but I know if "it" were included, this movie would have been a blockbuster.

It's a great Halloween "popcorn" film. It's entertaining. It's a nice attempt at an update of a movie that wasn't that hot to begin with. I liked the actors, I just wish they had more to work with. I really liked the Ghosts, I wished they were developed more, had more exposure/time onscreen and were a little bit more gruesome. Only a few ghosts out of the 12 got featured, I felt shortchanged.

Maybe there was too much about the family for me..then again, maybe too little. Maybe the family didn't have enough goose-bumpy peril for me. I REALLY liked the daughter washing her face in the new bathroom scene. Maybe there should have been ALOT more of that kind of suspense/horror. I loved what happened to the Lawyer. I HATED the ending, it just fell apart for me. But, I loved the Nanny's closing line at the end and I think it would have been more effective if the film was a whole lot scarier and gruesome. I have to wonder, is there stuff on the editing floor that didn't make it?

I watch this film everytime it comes on Cable-TV for it IS interesting, and there are parts that are good. Then there are parts that ruin it. Character development that has plot holes as big as the grand canyon. It was as if they wanted to make a horrific, scary ghost movie and just when they were about to let go, they pulled back. But ya know, you can still watch it and be entertained.

Thir13en Ghosts 2? Only if the makers, the scriptwriter, etc., are allowed to let go and its released with the sheer horror, fear, gruesome tale it looks like it was headed in.

I know it may offend alot of folks if Thir13en Ghosts went that "balls-out" route, but for what we're paying to get into movie houses me a favor and scare the hell outa me!!! I can take it!!! Make me jump out of my seat ALOT...scream...grab onto my boyfriend and/or whomever else is sitting nearby! Trust me, I'll come back for more.

This film had all the elements in place and it just peter-ed out.
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Better than the original
preppy-326 October 2001
The original 1960 "13 Ghosts" was a very boring, stupid horror film. This one, while no classic, is actually quite good.

A grieving widower Arthur (Tony Shalhoub), his hot daughter (Shannon Elizabeth), annoying son (Alec Roberts) and feisty black maid/cook/babysitter/whatever (Rah Digga) get trapped in an all glass house with a sort of psychic (Matthew Lilliard) and a ghost liberator (Embeth Davidtz). It was set up by the evil Cyrus (F. Murray Abraham) and he has 12 murderous ghosts in cages down in the basement. But they all get out, one by one, and go after the family.

This is pretty dull stuff until they get locked in the house, the ghosts escape...then the movie REALLY gets going. The ghosts are very brutal-looking and their attacks are bloody and violent. In a nice tip of the hat to the original, people in the movie can only see the ghosts when they have special glasses on. The special effects are excellent and it has more than a few scary scenes. The plot does go out the window at the end, but I was still interested.

The acting--Shalhoub is OK as the father. Davidtz is in it for the money (and her character is badly written). Lilliard goes way over the always (take a few Valium bud)...seriously, can't this guy do anything but overact? Elizabeth is full of life and is viciously attacked in one scene but she's not in the movie enough. Roberts is just annoying as the kid. And F. Murray...he can play this villain role in his sleep...and he does. And Digga is funny but her character is cliché city.

No masterpiece but not the disaster I was expecting. Worth seeing in a theatre with a good sound system.
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I enjoyed this.
acedj4 November 2019
Here we have a remake that is far, far superior to the original. A widower inherits a house from an uncle her didn't really know. There is one catch, the house is haunted and there is a dark purpose waiting for him and his children. The ghosts are wonderfully done and remain creepy regardless of how many times you have seen this movie. Matthew Lillard shines like always, in his own loud, wacky way.

Not terribly long on plot or character development, but it is a fun run through a unique and haunted house. The special effects are great, and the acting is on par with this sort of film.
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A fun movie...
CambotORiley24 October 2001
The movie was fun. It wasn't a horrible flick my any means. The acting didn't make me want to leave, which is a definite plus for a horror movie. I thought the computer graphics were impressive. The ghosts were definitely freaky, and yes, I jumped a few times. I rarely jump in horror films, but this one I did...more than once.There were times where it was predictable however. This didn't take away from the entertainment factor though. I mean, this film isn't going to win any Academy Awards for best picture or anything, but it was a fun film. If you're looking for something to do this Halloween, take your friends out to see it.
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An incredibly enjoyable remake
kannibalcorpsegrinder22 June 2015
Following a relatives' death, a family learns they have inherited a giant glass-and-steel house that has been built to contain dangerous spirits for a powerful device that will unleash the powers of Hell and forcing them in a race to get out of the house alive.

Overall this was quite the impressive and enjoyable effort that really gets the better of original. The main one in this one over the original is the house itself, which is incredibly impressive design and layout here that it's really unique and creative. The glass paneling and steel support frames provide the kind of basic look that is so unusual for any kind of film with its post-modern look that never seems to look livable but is more for look and appearance which succeeds wildly. This is one even before getting to all the mechanical devices, trap doors and even the writing all along the glass denoting all manner of spells and warnings that make this one of the most impressive, elaborate settings to place a film even before this one manages to utilize this great setting to fine effect here that really sets the fantastic stage for the spectacular ghost action throughout by putting it all inside such a great location. The opening to this in the car graveyard, which is the only scene outside the house, is the perfect start here with the crazy deaths showing cars being thrown around quite easily and really gets the freaky moments to add in with a fantastic sequence while getting the action in the house really nicely. The chases through the hallways are quite fun by letting the different ghosts and their gruesome looks which makes the scenes all the more fun. There's a large amount of the confrontations as well that provide not only the creepiness needed here while also making it thrilling as confrontations around the bathroom, around a pane of glass set-up as a barrier in the hallway and gong through their containment chambers in the basement are all incredibly enjoyable here. These fun attacks manage to bring about plenty of fun gore as well with plenty of gruesome, bloody deaths that go alongside the rather gruesome ghosts for a great time here, and along with the explosive action of the finale house destruction for all the great positives in this one. There's really only one flaw here for this one which is the fact that there's way too many important parts of the storyline introduced far too late into this one to get their full effect. The general gist of being there and them stumbling upon the ghosts is far more impressive when weighted against the wholly overblown stance this one puts forth in detailing the need for the specific ghosts and then being placed in the house to begin with. Otherwise, this was a highly enjoyable offering that has a lot of right with it.

Rated R: Graphic Violence, Graphic Language and Nudity.
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A family inherits what proves to be a haunted house, but a special pair of goggles allows them to see their ghostly tormentors
ma-cortes6 October 2012
This is a chiller remake with grisly horror, genuine chills and shocks . When Cyrus Kriticos (F. Murray Abraham) , a very rich collector of unique things dies, he leaves it all to his nephew and his family. All including his house, his fortune, and his malicious collection of ghosts. As reclusive Dr. Zorba has died and left his eerie mansion to his penniless nephew Cyrus Zorba (Tony Shaloub) and his sons (Shannon Elizabeth , Alec Roberts) . Along with the house, the Zorba family has also inherited the occultist's collection of 12 ghosts (Laura Mennell as The Bound Woman , Kathryn Anderson as The Withered Lover , Craig Olejnik as The Torn Prince , Shawna Loyer as The Angry Princess , Xantha Radley as The Pilgrimess , Ernst Harth as The Great Child , Laurie Soper as The Dire Mother , Herbert Duncanson as The Hammer), who can only be seen through Zorba's special goggles.The house suddenly closes itself and they encounter trapped inside and soon supernatural creepiness begin frightening the hosts . Then they'll spend a ghastly night in the spooky house with killings-laden history . The family members, their lives at risk upon the discovery a strange book that lies hidden somewhere in the house , they receive aid from unexpected woman (Embeth Davidtz) as the threat to their lives is revealed .

This eerie story contains bit good fun with grisly killing , relentless horror and lots of blood and gore. The chiller version packs genuine chills and terrifying deaths such as a horrible quartering . It's silly but amusing fun and with an excessive use of computer generator FX and special make-up in charge of Robert Kurtzman , Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero . The monstrous ghosts are the real stars of this production , being rightly realized by means of an excellent make-up and magnificent special effects . Some scenes are clumsily shot but the movie has some good moments here and there , the illogical parts in the argument are more than compensated for the excitement provided by the creepy ghosts . The film was lavishly produced by Dark Castle , production specialized on terror genre and in charge of Joel Silver , Robert Zemeckis and Gilbert Adler ; both of them have produced successful terror movies dealing with eerie tales about horror , grisly killings and lots of blood and gore such as ¨House of haunted hill¨, ¨Return to house of haunted hill¨ , ¨Gothika¨, ¨Ghost ship¨, ¨House of wax¨ , Whiteout¨ , ¨Splice¨ , ¨The reaping¨ , ¨Orphan¨ , among others . The motion picture was professionally directed though without originality by Steven Beck who subsequently filmed ¨Ghost ship¨.

The film resulted to be an acceptable but inferior remake from superior ¨13 ghosts¨ by William Castle . It was plenty of gimmicks, leaps from the screen and surprises descending on cinema-goers such as hidden wires and others . Of course the biggest film about this astonishing story is this vintage 1960 classic version rendition by William Castle that was starred by Charles Herbert as Buck Zorba , Jo Morrow as Medea Zorba , Martin Milner as Benjamen Rush , Rosemary DeCamp as Hilda Zorba and Donald Woods as Cyrus Zorba .
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Did the lawyer split?
selfdestructo25 December 2021
Oh no... Not another Dark Castle production! Scream Factory seems intent on acquiring all of these. In all fairness, I always thought Thir13en Ghosts was the best of the bunch, in no small part thanks to the stunning set design. This movie features a pre-Monk Tony Shalhoub, a post-American Pie Shannon Elizabeth, plus compulsive overactor Matthew Lillard (post-Scream).

Arthur (Shalhoub) and his family survive a fire, but loses his wife in the tragic event. Cut to them living in a cramped apartment when a lawyer shows up to tell them they've inherited a house from Arthur's crazy uncle Cyrus. Turns out to be this elaborately designed glass house, which is also where he houses the fruits of one of his hobbies: ghost hunting. Yup, he captures them.

Rafkin (Lillard) shows up posing as an electric guy, but in reality he's there to chew scenery... er, he was Cyrus' old psychic partner in ghost hunting. Another chick shows up later, she frees "enslaved souls," as well as rocking the leather pants, to save them all.

Of course, there's some cockamamie story about how the house is a "machine" where it needs this particular assortment of ghosts to power it... and open a gate to hell! Yup, all Dark Castle movies follow the same template: Set up an intriguing premise, wow you with special effects (the first kill in the house is a thing of beauty, courtesy of KNB), then it's all downhill from there with a convoluted story, and culminating in a giant CGI-infused climax. Overall, I found this one pretty intriguing, primarily due to the eye candy (the house and the ghosts). The Scream Factory Blu-ray is beautiful, easily the best I've seen this movie look on home video, and I've seen a lot of stuff from this era (90's, early 2000's) look dicey for whatever strange reason. Sorely lacking is an extra devoted to production design. Also, Shannon Elizabeth, still a looker 20 years later!
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William Castle Would Be Proud
carlsbadrn24 June 2006
I saw the original 13 Ghosts when I was 12 years old and it scared me half to death. They gave you a viewer so when the ghosts appeared on screen you looked thru one color and could see them, but if you looked thru the other color you couldn't see them. Now that I see that movie again I wonder what I was scared of. But I loved all of William Castle's movies. He was the master of gimmicks and chills in his day. Now comes a new version of the old story, packed with gore and shocks galore in living color. No glasses or special optical device handed out at the theater this time. The film hits you with a punch to the senses in the opening scenes before settling down to a poor man struggling to make ends meet after the tragic death of his wife. He later learns that his dear wife's "ghost" has been captured by his eccentric uncle and is kept in a special cage in the basement. While vastly different from the original, this film can stand on its own. It is a complete retelling of the story with great action, special fx, acting and a few laughs thrown in as well as some references to the original. If you are just looking for some mindless supernatural fun and maybe even a moral (love is stronger than evil) this film is for you.
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The Real Horror is the Script and Direction!
cshep27 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
For fans of nephew Arthur Kriticos(Tony Shaloub), you might find the film interesting enough to watch, other than that , buyer beware.

Cyrus Kriticos(F. Murray Abraham), is the well renowned ghost hunter and collector. He needs a certain number and specific ghosts in order to fulfill his evil plan.

Arthur has met with a personal tragedy, his wife died in a home fire, and he has inherited another home from his Uncle Cyrus. He moves in with his family , daughter Kathy(Shannon Elizabeth) and son Bobby(Alec Roberts). Subplot of Dennis Rafkin(Mathew Lillard) as super-sensitive paranormal investigator, who worked for Cyrus, and now comes to the aid of the Kriticos family.Subplot # 2 Kalina Oretzia(Embeth Davidtz) as another ghost hunter, who may have her own agenda.

The direction is tawdry and pedantic. Jump cuts and abrupt scene changes only carry so far.The lack of emotional involvement dooms this film from the start. It fails to establish an emotional connection with the main characters, and the ghosts are shown as evil, rather than victims.So , there is little connection with them either. Certainly with such a talented cast, they could have made a better effort, but I suppose that most of the money was used for special effects,and as usual, that isn't enough to save this trick for Halloween, not much of a treat. 4 out of 10 on the boo meter, get your scares from "Fright Night" 1 or 2. A reel(pun intended) , disappointment.
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The perfect cinematic ghost train ride
Leofwine_draca12 November 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I went to see the THIR13EN GHOSTS remake expecting little. What I got was a paper-thin story, taking segments from GHOSTBUSTERS(!) and the HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL remake, plenty of clichéd situations and characters, some nifty special effects work, and a ton of jumps and scares. Added into the mixture was a smattering of gore and I actually found myself enjoying the whole thing. Sure, I'll have totally forgotten about this popcorn entertainment in a couple of days time but I can't deny that I had a good time watching it, despite the many flaws. One surprise is that I found it actually scary in a number of places especially where the ghosts are concerned. Some truly horrific special effects work from the reliable KNB group combined with a jolting soundtrack made this a horror film in the true sense of the word and one not for the squeamish.

The biggest problem is first-time director Steve Beck, one of the new wave of film-makers who can't resist including plenty of MTV style into their movies. Thus we have lots of tricksy jump-cuts, slow motion, cameras sped up and all kinds of wannabe stylish bits in place of any real atmosphere - and no, Steve, panning your camera around a few empty corridors doesn't count as atmosphere building. The script is unbelievable but then so is the whole idea of the film, that a machine houses twelve ghosts who can open the "Eye of Hell". It's one of those movies where you have to turn off your brain to enjoy. Sure there are a couple of 'surprising' character twists here and there but by and large the film is an action-orientated horror romp which showcases scared people being chased and killed by a wide variety of evil spirits.

Tony Shalhoub is the straight man in the film, the middle-aged male hero, a solid character who can't believe in what he sees. He's supported by Embeth Davidtz as some kind of idiotic 'ghost rights' campaigner and the effortlessly charismatic F. Murray Abraham as the cultured bad guy of the piece, another mad scientist type (Abraham fills the role of suave baddie perfectly). Former singer Rah Digga is unwelcome as the comedy relief housemaid (whose self-pitying presence recalls the 'spooked' black manservants of the horror-comedies of the 1940's) whilst Shannon Elizabeth is around to look pretty and not do a lot else. Finally, there's Matthew Lillard, giving us yet another shouty, psychotic, on-the-edge type performance which he has been doing all of his career. Now, where the rest of the cast fail to make likable characters, Lillard actually succeeds which is surprising seeing as I usually end up hating him in films. Sure he's overly neurotic and overacts his hat off but he supplies the film with limitless energy and I'm always a fan of old-fashioned ham, so good on you, mate.

Obviously a roller-coaster ride through a spook house shocker such as this relies heavily on the effectiveness of the, well, effects and this is where THIR13EN GHOSTS succeeds admirably. From the not-bad CGI work used to animate the various parts of the house to the ghosts themselves, the effects are often deliciously good. The ghosts are all suitably grotesque and dead-looking, and thankfully are under-exposed so that they don't end up looking rubbery and fake. Seeing them briefly in quick snatches of vision makes their appearances a heck of a lot more frightening than prolonged exposure. However, the imaginative gore and death scenes are where the film really hits home and it's nice to see a movie which doesn't skimp on the good, old-fashioned grue. Bodies are broken in two, graphically squashed, torn, slashed, shredded to pieces. However the gruesome highlight is undoubtedly the effect where a man is sliced in half by a pane of glass (WISHMASTER tried a similarly elaborate type of effect but failed). Very nasty stuff indeed which comes as quite a shock.

THIR13EN GHOSTS is a loud, vulgar, immature shocker which tops off the activity with an over-the-top finale involving lots of things breaking, exploding, the bad guys getting their comeuppances and the good guys getting saved by the skin of their teeth. In a word, clichéd, but somehow satisfying, like watching an old friend up on screen. Finally this is a blockbuster where the budget and effects count for everything and make the viewing experience worthwhile; so if you're looking for a shallow gore-splattered horror flick then look no further than this. Give it a break, critics and reviewers alike!
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Not enough scares, but a great visual look. ** (out of four)
Movie-1231 October 2001
13 GHOSTS / (2001) ** (out of four)

I'll admit that I'm a sucker for haunted house movies. I forbid a guilty pleasure watching miscellaneous characters roam through dark, creepy hallways and walk through ominous corridors as vicious evil lurks behind closed doors, and observes from the shadows. The characters' fates are never in question, but it's a lot of fun watching them meet a gruesome demise.

I enjoy this kind of film so much that I even found a soft spot for "House on Haunted Hill" and "The Haunting," 1999's critically mauled haunted house movies. Naturally, I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of "13 Ghosts," a state-of-the-art remake of the 1960's William Castle horror film of the same name. Warner Bros. released it the weekend before Halloween, and they couldn't have picked a better time. In 1999, "House on Haunted Hill" broke box-office records when released on the same weekend.

All that aside, "13 Ghosts" will be a major disappointment to even diehard fans of the genre like myself. The film perspires with potential scares, complete with an intriguing premise, a tantalizing trailer, and an astonishing visual appearance. Unfortunately, the screenplay drops dead on arrival, filled with enough recycled moments and cluncky, one-dimensional dialogue to wake the dead. This movie is a wasted opportunity.

The film stars Tony Shalhoub as Arthur Kriticos, the widowed father of two children, Kathy ("American Pie's" Shannon Elizabeth) and preteen Bobby (Alec Roberts). As the movie opens, the family faces tragedy as a fire burns down their house and kills Arthur's wife. They are left with nothing.

Nothing, that is, until Arthur inherits a unique house from his late, eccentric uncle Cyrus (F. Murray Abraham). The house is a masterpiece of modern architecture. Made entirely of glass and steel, antique treasures fill the rooms, strange machines, gears, cranks, and big glass chambers position themselves throughout. The family can't believe their good fortune, nor do they believe a mysterious character when he tries to explain the house is haunted.

Like most haunted house movies, "13 Ghosts" works best when the characters explore the mansion completely unaware of the danger that awaits. Too bad this kind of sequence only inhabits but a few moments of the already short movie. With a running time of only 88 minutes, everything feels rushed, contrived, and astonishingly brief.

Talk about rushing things. This movie pounds us with moments of loud noises and violent encounters. If the film would have developed an ominous atmosphere and obeyed the rules of haunted house movies, then the rapid-fire violence may have worked to some extent. But we just don't get that here.

Prosthetics specialists must have had a field day with this movie. Contrary to the title, there are twelve different ghosts in this movie. We admire the makeup and special effects department when we see the masterfully crafted ghouls. But when we do see them, it's through quick, brief flashes. The editing is choppy, brief and visually incoherent. It's like director Steve Beck wanted the ghosts to be special effects instead of a solid physical presence. Big mistake.

"13 Ghosts" will not win any awards for composition. The overuse of slow-motion photography quickly becomes a nuisance. The editing, photography tricks, and computer animation techniques often feel misplaced. However, even if the film was masterfully constructed, a good technical department does not make up for the lack of a sufficient script.

But no! "13 Ghosts" is too concerned with pleasing audiences, and providing us with comic relief. Relief from what? The film does squeeze in a few decent horrific moments, but for the most part it is not that scary. If the film was 88 minutes of pure, edge-of-your-seat suspense and horror, I can see why comic relief might be in order. But with "13 Ghosts," we deserve more than comic relief, we deserve a better movie entirely.
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Love the design
SnoopyStyle18 October 2013
Cyrus Kriticos (F. Murray Abraham) is a rich collector who has trapped an unfantomable evil. Only he lost his life doing it. His nephew Arthur (Tony Shalhoub) inherits his creation, a glass house that has imprisoned 12 ghosts. It's more than a house. It's a machine power by the dead to open the Eye of Hell.

Arthur with his kids Kathy (Shannon Elizabeth) and Bobby, the babysitter and the attorney (JR Bourne) get trapped in the house. Dennis (Matthew Lillard) and Kalina (Embeth Davidtz) also sneak in, but they know what the house is truly for.

I love the art and design of the house. It is beautiful and absolutely creepy in a new unique way. It's like you're trapped in a Rubik's cube. It makes every step you take a creepy dangerous one.

The story itself is a pretty standard haunted house with a lot of bells and whistles. It has a short section to set it up but that wasn't really necessary. I really love the house.
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Cinematic House
tedg20 April 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein.

Forget about the story, the ghosts and the acting. All those are deliberately stupid in the name of being artfully bad.

But the house is remarkable.

Since the beginning of film, directors have struggled with how to manage the camera in the context of space. Many types of solutions. Welles made the funhouse a character in `Lady from Shanghai.' One can see the influence of that, plus the library from `Ninth Gate' in this `house.' Polanski is the master of building-centric horror, so naturally he will be a source.

But usually the solutions to space focus on turning the environment into a machine. Even the dreadful `Waterworld' had that marvelous trimaran.

But the genre gets narrower when the machine is for supernatural purposes as in `Fifth Element' (on which the set designer worked), `Stargate' and so on. Just in the last few weeks, I have seen many films whose influence one can see melded here. Three influences: sliding walls, pits, orreries. The construction we have here is a pretty intelligent mix: a machine slides walls to manipulate the action of the theater. The inhabitants actions provide energy for the orrery-like mechanism. That mechanism centers on a pit.


--- Sliding walls have a long tradition. Only a few examples come to mind other than Welles' funhouse. `The Cube'

--- Also we have the influence of orreries. These were originally mechanical models of the heavenly bodies, which over time have come to represent control over heavenly forces. It's the same idea as the guy who can stop time by halting the movement of hands on a certain watch. Orreries are seen in `Dark Crystal,' `Hudson Hawk.' `Tomb Raider.' The version we have here uses counterrotating rings like the machine in `Contact.'

-- The pit is the least interesting influence, something that is downplayed here. `Lair of the White Worm' is the purest example. `Mystery Men's' pit was cool too.

I'd appreciate it if fans of the genre could send me more examples.
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Not a ghost of a chance
dfranzen7016 April 2002
Traditionally, a remake of a horror movie is going to stink. Sure, this can be said about more than half of all remakes, regardless of genre, but it's especially true with horror movies, because unless the new movie goes off in a completely new direction, the suspense and the fear factor have been eliminated.

This was somewhat true with House on Haunted Hill (1999), which was a remake of the 1958 film of the same name, and it's even more true with this film, a remake of Roger Corman's 1960 movie.

An eccentric rich dude (if he were poor, he'd just be weird) who loves collecting oddities bequeathes his house and all the goofy stuff in it to his unsuspecting nephew Arthur (Tony Shalhoub) and his family. The house is a gorgeous mansion, although it is stuffed with some truly gruesome antiquities. Oh, but the late Uncle Cyrus (whom Arthur met a couple of times, tops) certainly danced to a different drummer, so the weirdness quotient's acceptable. His house is away from everything else - not a neighbor for miles, the lawyer tells them all - lending a supposedly eerie atmosphere to the murky, muddled script.

Arthur is joined by his lovely daughter Kathy (Shannon Elizabeth - you might remember her from being scantily clad in the American Pie movies), his morbid young son Bobby (Alec Roberts), and his son's nanny Maggie (Rah Digga). The mother died in a fire, a fact that's brought up more than once throughout the movie. It's all about ghosts, you see, just in case you were misled by the film's title. Ghosts and souls and fun, uplifting stuff like that.

At any rate, the family gets this house, but weird things happen even before Arthur signs the paperwork. For one thing, there's the wacky dude named Rafkin (Matthew Lillard) who palled around with ol' Uncle Cyrus (played by F. Murray Abraham - remember when he won an Oscar for Amadeus? Poor guy can't catch a break now, generally playing heavies, but this is a new low for his career). Seems Rafkin knows more than a little about these weird goings on. So what's it all about? There are thirteen ghosts, collected there by Uncle Cyrus, and there's also a whole buncha money, safely stowed inside a whole horkin' ton of traps.

But Arthur and his clan just want to get out of the house, which sealed itself shut as soon as possible. The ghosts don't want them to leave, y'see, because they're basically ghosts of Really Bad People (oh, and they can only be seen through use of these nifty special glasses). Naturally, the kids get lost, separated from their dad who must, with the dubious help of Rafkin, somehow locate them before they're tortured and killed by the spirits.

This movie is about 95% screams - and no, that's not a good thing, no matter how enamored you are of slasher films. The plot is simplistic and is largely unnecessary, given the massive budget for effects (I'm reluctant to call them 'special'). There's much shrieking, probably so designed to distract the viewer from the unending, undying crappiness of the film itself. Forget the acting - there is none. These people take every cliche from the Great Book of Horror Movies and overact their way to stupendous boredom. It's a lesson in ennui, which is tough when you're trying to make a horror movie. One fun pasttime for those watching the movie is to see how dumb and gullible the characters are. This is a time-honored tradition; ever sit down and watch a cheesy 70s horror movie, pointing out the utter stupidity of the Dumb Blonde who comes back to the cabin to find none of her friends around, then proceeds to take a shower - with the bathroom door open? Sure, we've all done that. That's about all you can do with this waste of time, too. In the grand pantheon of horror movies, it's pretty awful, albeit slightly better than that benchmark of Crappidom, Blair Witch Project II: Book of Shadows.
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Great visuals with an above average plot
rw25 February 2003
I see that most people aren't nearly as fond of this one as I am, so I feel compelled to write why I *did* like it.

First, the visuals were really good. Many thrillers have to avoid showing detail about the villains because details end up being fake looking or difficult. This is one of several reasons why so many take place at night. Thir13en Ghosts works around that by giving the protagonists special glasses which allow them to see the ghosts. It's a lot less goofy than seeing it written in this review makes it sound and it means that the movie doesn't have to be shot in the depths of night.

Second, the story was up to the task and original. I'll not dwell on this too much as the story centers around the house and the house is one of the main characters in the movie, but suffice it to say I was pleased with the twists.

This one isn't going to win any awards, but it's a really solid film for it's genre.
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This is no Juggernaut.
hitchcockthelegend28 October 2009
Ghost hunter Cyrus Kriticos (F. Murray Abraham) and his physic assistant Dennis Rafkin (Matthew Lillard) have traced the ghost of Juggernaut (a serial killer called Horace "Breaker" Mahoney) to a junkyard. During the fight many are killed, including Cyrus, but Juggernaut is captured. Just why has Cyrus been collecting the ghosts of vengeful spirits? Enter Cyrus's nephew, Arthur (Tony Shalhoub), and his two children, who since the tragic death of their wife and mother respectively have fell on hard times. They are informed via the family estate lawyer that they have inherited Cyrus's bizarre maze of a mansion. So with babysitter Maggie in tow, they enter their dream home along with the suddenly appeared Rafkin, who is looking to get paid the money that Cyrus still owes him, and the lawyer. From where they unwittingly activate a machine that unleashes 12 murderous and vengeful ghosts.

Produced by Robert Zemeckis and Joel Silver, it's no wonder that this remake of William Castle's fun and creaky 1960 film of the same name is a ball of noise and bedlam. Dispensing with Castle's creepy house formula, the makers here go for attempted psychopathic gross out set amongst a complex story, within a science fiction type mansion. The house works as a spectacle, the glass and metal revolves and slides and acts as a ghost prison-cum-deadly weapon in itself. But the makers forgot one very basic ingredient, it's just not scary-at all. Once the ghosts are unleashed, a vile looking and odd bunch they be, the whole bloody shrieking and banging things antics quickly grows tiresome. All sense of peril and potential hope for gore disappears, rapidly replaced by bad acting and potential harm to our eyes and ears. It's a shame because the premise is a dandy, if only they had thought it thru and hired better writers and a better director than the hopelessly out of his depth Steve Beck.

To rub salt into the already weary wounds, upon searching thru the DVD of the film we find the ghosts have unique and interesting back stories. Now that would surely have made a better film one feels. Some nice design and a couple of tricksy moments aside, this Thirteen Ghosts just about scrapes in as a drunken time filler. 3.5/10
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13 reasons why not to watch this film
LoganPa5 April 2002
1.Cheesy dialogue 2.Very poor directing 3.I don't want to see the cab driver from Wings in a horror movie 4.The edition was unimaginative and faulty 5.Twice you can see the movie crew in the picture 6.A very unimaginative concept 7.The acting was embarrassing 8.The lighting was very cliche 9.The ghosts were not scary 10.The makeup and costumes were hilarious 11.The soundtrack just awful 12.Special effects were extremely mediocre(they could've at least relied on that) 13.Shannon Elizabeth is in the film

It just seems to be a sequel to House on Haunted Hill(the new version). Mathew Lillard seems to be a promising actor but he just keeps taking these amazingly stupid roles, he should stick more to his SLC Punk days. The house's design is very cool though, but not enough just to sit through this movie. In the lowest standard of scales I would give this movie a 2 out of 10. (The house design helps, believe me)
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Even collectors of bad movies have been ripped off with this one
Spleen27 September 2002
"Thirteen Ghosts" was no more made in the earnest hope or expectation that people would enjoy it than a ten-by-ten centimetre postage stamp is minted with the expectation that people will use it to mail letters. No; this movie, like the stamp, was made expressly for curio collectors of one kind or another. As such it isn't even a real curio.

It wouldn't be so bad to watch a set of poorly-drawn "characters" move without purpose through such an idiotic, jury-rigged plot, if the film weren't so deeply, minute-for-minute unpleasant. To start with it's loud. Not just loud because there are events taking place which as it so happens produce a lot of noise, but loud because the sound engineers wanted to assault our eardrums; WHATEVER happens on the screen, they do what they can to ensure that it fills the dynamic spectrum entirely, producing an ear-splitting din that's only just this side of physical pain. There's gore everywhere, when there's no need (insofar as the story makes sense) for ANY gore. The people are needlessly nasty to one another and the footage is not so much edited as shredded. You don't seriously mean to say that there are people who LIKE watching this kind of stuff? If there are, there shouldn't be.

Some people praise the set design, but you won't catch me doing so. It might have sounded like a neat idea to have every single wall and floor and ceiling made of sturdy clear glass, with Latin phrases written on every surface in white letters, and it may even have looked impressive to the cast and crew as they walked around the set, but to us, it's just shopping-mall chaos that hurts the eyes and conveys nothing. And what's the POINT, visually speaking, of having the house reconfigure itself, if it ends up looking precisely the same after as before?
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The jackal
Calicodreamin2 November 2021
This movie gets points for being truly creepy, the makeup on the ghosts is so well done, it feels authentic. The Jackal is hands down the scariest thing ever. The concept is unique and fairly well executed. The acting is pretty good. The story is kept short and to the point.
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