Episode 23 – Thir13en Ghosts

In episode 23 of the CTGY podcast, Rich and Kelly get trapped in the basement with Thir13en Ghosts. As a massive fan of the film when she was younger, did it hold up when she watched it again for the podcast? And being a lover of all things spooky scary supernatural – what did Rich think of this?

Other topics this week include emergency broadcasts about keeping yourself safe from clowns, ‘The Monster’ trailer, ‘Get Out’ trailer, Let the Right One In TV show, ‘Pirates of the Caribbean 5’ trailer, Gears of War movie, Jurassic World 2, and the ‘Black Mirror’ trailer.

Trailer – Thir13en Ghosts (2001)
Outro song – Tricky, ‘Excess’

If you liked this episode, please feel free to follow us on the social media accounts listed on the website, comment about the film or rate/subscribe/review on iTunes. And always tell all of your friends.



4 thoughts on “Episode 23 – Thir13en Ghosts

  1. I wrote a written review of this back in 2014. It’s a bad enough movie that I can’t be bothered to re-watch it again in 2016. Here’s the review though:

    Title: Thir13en Ghosts
    Country: United States
    Year: 2001
    Director: Steve Beck

    For the Kriticos family, times have been tough ever since a fire destroyed all of their possessions and the mother tragically died. In the aftermath, the family is forced to live in a cramped apartment without the future looking bright. Luckily, fate intervened and Arthur Kriticos just inherited a lavish and incredible home from his eccentric uncle, Cyrus. It’s when the family goes to explore their new home, that they realize that their good fortune may actually be another tragedy waiting to happen. It seems as if Cyrus collected many different things. One of his collections just happens to be incredibly dangerous ghosts, all of which he kept locked up in the house that now belongs to Arthur. Is the Kriticos family looking at more deaths in their family or can they manage to escape the Cyrus’ glass hell house?

    Before I begin talking about the movie, which for simplicity sake, I’m just going to refer to as 13 Ghosts rather than the stupid Thir13en Ghosts, I’ll share a semi related personal story. 13 Ghosts is a bit of a significant movie for me since it was the first horror film I ever saw in the theater. Around the turn of the century, I began to get really, really into horror, but since I was still a minor, I wasn’t exactly able to go to any horror film at the theaters that I wanted to. As 2001 was coming to a close, I was being kept up to date in the world of horror thanks to Fangoria, which 13 Ghosts was featured on the cover on issue 208. So for Christmas break, the uncle and I continue our tradition of going to see a movie whenever we get together and naturally, I gravitated towards the one horror film that was still in the theaters at the time – 13 Ghosts. Even though my overall opinion of the film was far more positive back then than it is now, some things have remained the same. The film has some great looking ghosts and the house is pretty incredible looking.

    Thanks to the fine folks at KNB Effects, the ghosts are just so fucking awesome looking, even now rewatching the film in 2014. The only downside to the ghosts is that we don’t spend enough time focusing on them. I don’t care about the family. They’re not interesting in the least bit. Now, the ghosts? The ghosts are in a pretty huge way. My favorite back then and still is today is The Hammer. The Hammer is a big black guy who has a bunch of railroad spikes drilled into his body and his hands have been replaced with sledgehammers. He’s a bad ass and someone who would be intimidating by his size alone. The Angry Princess is another memorable ghost, but how much of it is solely because she’s a hot naked chick, I can’t say. The last ghost I really liked was The Jackal. This nutjob is wearing a metal cage around his head and was wearing a straight jacket before he freed himself. Out of everyone, he’s the most vicious of the group. His attack of just scratching the hell out of his victims made for a couple of fun scenes. The rest of the group all look great, even if half of them don’t get to do a whole lot in the movie. The fact that we didn’t get any proper backstory for any of the ghosts and you had to buy the DVD to hear it really sucks. The movie is called 13 Ghosts, I want to learn more about the ghosts.

    The actual house, itself, is a mixed bag. As I said, it’s incredible looking with all of it’s glass walls. I’m hard pressed to think of a more impressive looking house throughout horror history. None of the other houses look that incredible nor do they feel more alive. Even though it’s a supernatural horror film, the house gives the film a sort of sci-fi Cube-like feel to it. That being said, I can’t understand why the family all originally acted as if it’d be amazing to live there. There’s zero privacy, there isn’t anything that feels like a comfortable home and to even open the front door, you have to insert the key and wait a full minute before the system finally finishes and unlocks everything. It’s completely impractical and I’m struggling to believe that anyone would have believed for a second that it would have made for a good family home. Had there not been any ghosts and it was all a legitimate part of the will, it’s simply something you gain ownership solely long enough so you can sell the contents of so you can have the much more useful cash instead.

    The writing and especially the dialog was just atrocious. It’s far too corny at times and everything is too sweet for my liking. The young son that is obsessed with death is beyond annoying due to his lisp. They tried way too hard to make him into a cute and likable kid. Instead, I wanted to see him die. You cast Shannon Elizabeth, at the time, one of the hottest actresses in the world, as the older daughter and you do nothing with her? Not only do we not get any nude scenes from her, but her age unknown character is devoid of any personality. She’s eye candy without showing anything. Lame. The babysitter is another character that is really pointless. The idea is that the family is broke after their house fire and death of the mom. So if times are so tough, why do they have a live in babysitter? I’m absolutely clueless as to how old Elizabeth’s character is supposed to be, but you’re telling me she can’t help out in raising her younger brother? It’s not as if the brother is a baby or anything. I’m guessing the character is meant to be around the age of ten, so he’s not exactly helpless. The babysitter is there to add some comedic relief and the writing doesn’t attempt to establish any purpose beyond that. I won’t talk much about her, but lastly, there’s the mess that is Kalina. The writers used her for some exposition and then gave her a big twist, which makes her backstory confusing and not well explained at all. Due to what an incomplete character she ended up being, the film would have been better off without having her in it altogether.

    With only the effects carrying this movie, the film fails in every other possible way. It shouldn’t be a surprise though. The studio behind the film, Dark Castle, is one of the laziest and most underwhelming horror based studios around. They’re responsible for such horror gems as Ghost Ship and The Apparition. With someone better making the film, I imagine it could have been far more of a success, both financially and quality wise. Instead, they failed to make a profit in the US. The ironic thing is that with the concept of having your ghosts trapped in glass cube rooms, it’s very reminiscent of 2012’s Cabin in the Woods. Now that not only had the great looking monsters, but had a smartly written script and was one of the better horrors of the last decade. The only reason anyone should have in watching 13 Ghosts is because they want to see some cool looking ghosts. Other than that, I can’t recommend the film in any way.

    Grade: D


  2. Love it. Brilliant review. Although.. Thir13en Ghosts is what I’ve decided to name the title! Oh and the lisp part.. heeeeeeey, I have a slight lisp! Well, maybe not anymore but I do get paranoid about it.

    Anyway, great review. I also was disappointed that we didn’t find out too much about the ghosts. I think we SAW too much of them, but we could’ve had some rad backstories told in a sort of “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” campfire setting in that glass house. I was so happy to find that there was a DVD bonus feature of the ghosts backstories and I think a lot of people miss this as the film is generally quite poor so they don’t bother with the extra content. I tried to include all the backstories in the episode but the DVD feature does it a lot more justice. It’s probably on Youtube, actually! Check it out if you want.

    Kathy’s age also bothered me. She looked way older than Bobby. Actually, basically, a lot of the movie bothered me.. but in a way.. I still like it – Kelly


    • Confession time – I only opted to call the film “13 Ghosts” and not “Thir13en Ghosts” is because I didn’t want have to keep looking back to see how it’s spelled each time I had to spell the name of the movie. Screw that. The film isn’t good enough to be putting that sort of effort (All .5 seconds of looking up and seeing how it’s spelled) into the review.

      If all the kid had was a lisp, he’d be fine. However, he’s just an all around annoying kid. I do wonder if part of the reason why the kid was cast was because he had a lisp and it potentially added to the cuteness factor. Except you know…the kid was really annoying and once a character is annoying, EVERYTHING annoys you about them.

      Maybe we physically saw too much of the ghosts, but there were so many ghosts and they looked so good that how could you not want to see them as often as you could? In order to get more backstories with them, I would have been really into the idea of just dumping half of the ghosts so they could spend more time with the remaining ones.

      I seem to remember in an issue of Fangoria, they went over all of the backstories for the characters that you could read prior to the movie coming out. I’ll find my issue and see if there’s any additional info on them. If there is, I’ll include it here.


  3. Another review written back in 2014 with the last time I watched the original 13 Ghosts.

    Title: 13 Ghosts
    Country: United States
    Year: 1960
    Director: William Castle

    The Zorba family is down on their luck. On the day of their son’s birthday, they get all of their furniture repossessed. Whether a coincidence or something other being at play, when the son wishes for a house with furniture that could never be taken away, a mysterious stranger shows up suddenly with a letter to see a lawyer the following day. The lawyer brings fantastic news as the distant uncle Plato Zorba has passed away and left his old house to his nephew. It’s soon after the family moves into the house that the previous housemaid reveals that the house is haunted with a variety of ghosts. As the family becomes more and more concerned, the lawyer becomes far more interested in the happenings of the house after the little boy reveals a hidden stash of thousands of dollars. Is the Zorba family destined to become rich or will the ghosts get them first?

    Four decades before the ultra shittastic Thir13en Ghosts was made, the legendary horror director, used his typical movie theater experience while promoting his newest film of 13 Ghosts. As it’s been mentioned in previous editions of Fright Fest (The Tingler and House on Haunted Hill), Castle was a fan of gimmicks and anything to do with trying to add fun for moviegoers. In the case of 13 Ghosts, Illusion-O glasses (Sorta like 3D glasses) were passed out to those that attended the movie at the theater. Supposedly, it enhanced the ghostly experience whenever the viewers would put on the glasses at the same time as when the characters would wear their own versions of the similar glasses. It may just be cheap 3D, but it’s impossible not to love Castle when he’s simply a guy who wanted to make the movie experience more fun. It’s a pretty clever tactic when you’re dealing with a constant stream of low budgets for your films.

    As I already reviewed the remake, one question some may have is how similar are the two films? Well, the very basic plot of a hard on their luck inheriting a house filled with ghosts remained the same. In both cases, the son is really into death, although in the original, he’s more into ghost stories rather than real death. Both have a lawyer that is more concerned with hidden money rather than the well being of the family. There isn’t a lot of similarities beyond that. The main plot of the remake is the attempt at creating a door to hell with the lawyer going after money sub-plot being such an insignificant aspect of the money. In the original, the evil nature of the film is nearly nonexistent. The original is just about a family coping with the realization that their new home is haunted, their inability to move out due to lack of funds and the lawyer doing anything he can in order to get his hands on the hidden money.

    Plot wise, I liked the remake more. The characters are in far more harm and you know that the ghosts are not looking to coexist together in a nice manner. This lack of danger in the original gives the film a feel that is reminiscent of a family film than a full fledged horror. Sure, it’s a different time period, but even Castle’s other films were more malevolent than 13 Ghosts. Not that it should be a surprise, but the effects in the remake far exceeded the original. Thanks to the Illusion-O gimmick, viewing the film without the glasses means that you’re not getting a great look at any of the ghosts. You can certainly see them, but they’re pretty pale looking. Some of the ghosts, the chef most notably, isn’t scary in the least bit. There is one creepy looking ghost, but we end up finding out that part of why it was the scariest one is because it wasn’t actually a ghost.

    Despite some weaknesses compared to the remake, what makes the original the far better film? The script actually makes sense for one. You understand the motivations of everyone, somehow the dialog is less corny than in the remake and each character is just a little more likable than in the remake. Take the son for an example. In the remake, I hated that little bastard. In the original, he got some laughs out of me in his handling of keeping a secret. The older sister is written as a cliche 50’s TV teen girl, which works perfectly fine for this movie, unlike in the remake. Then there’s the housekeeper of Elaine. Throughout the film, you’re not sure if you can trust her due to her admitting to the fact that Plato Zorba was no longer trusting her in his final days. There’s a fun little running gag with her with the son claiming she’s a witch, which was played up whenever she held a broom. Chances are, that aspect of the character was written solely because of the actress who played the part. Playing the role of Elaine was none other than Margaret Hamilton (The Wizard of Oz’s Wicked Witch of the West).

    Overall, 13 Ghosts isn’t as strong of some of Castle’s other films like The Tingler or The House on Haunted Hill. Then again, how could they be as good when it didn’t have the best part of those two films – Vincent Price. Still, it’s a fun little lighthearted 50’s style horror that surpasses the remake in so many different simple ways. While I couldn’t recommend the remake to anyone unless you were really into makeup of the ghosts, 13 Ghosts is worth checking out if you’re a fan of that time period for horror. Still, I’d suggest watching the other Castle films I’ve mentioned in this review first.

    Grade: C


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