Thirteen Ghosts (2001)
Directed By: Steve Beck
Starring: Tony Shalhoub, Matthew Lillard, Shannon Elizabeth, Embeth Davidtz, F. Murray Abraham
Subgenre: Ghosts, Supernatural
Synopsis: Down on his luck and recently widowed Arthur finds that he has just inherited a mansion from his uncle Cyrus. Little does he know that Cyrus was a Ghost Hunter and had stored his trophies in the house.
Thoughts: This one is another remake of a William Castle film brought to us by Dark Castle. Their first remake, House on Haunted Hill was at least somewhat successful, so they went ahead with Thirteen Ghosts, and eventually House of Wax.
I don’t think that this remake is quite as good as the first, but it still has a few things going for it. The absolute best thing about this movie is the design of the ghosts. There is a rich backstory for each ghost, even though they are barely explained in the movie. It was a great touch and made the Ghosts the most interesting aspect of the movie. The house was also very well designed with glass walls and floors covered in Latin etchings, constantly moving and changing like an insane labyrinth.
In theory, the cast should have been great, but I didn’t find them to be that great. F. Murray was ok as the villain, but he has the chops to be one of the best villains ever. It’s too bad he missed the opportunity. As for the rest of the cast, I have never been a huge fan of Shalhoub or Lillard. Shalhoub always seems to be channeling his character from Monk, perhaps because that matches his persona so well. Lillard does a decent job in his role, but much like Shalhoub, he always seems to be playing the same sort of character. There are quite a few “names” in the cast, which is an oddity in this era, but they didn’t really impress all that much.
The producers did give a great nod to William Castle with the special glasses to see the Ghosts. When Castle released the original 13 Ghosts, 3D glasses were distributed and you had to wear them in the theatre to see the ghosts on the screen. The producers missed the 3D craze by about a decade, otherwise you can be sure this would have been in 3D, and who knows, maybe it will get remade again. I wouldn’t put anything past Hollywood anymore.
The story, at its base should have been good, but it got a little disjointed in the end. The best part of the movie is when the ghosts were involved, making Thirteen Ghosts the equivalent of a summer popcorn movie, good visuals, light on everything else. I think it is worth checking out just for the ghosts and one particular death scene that is very cool.