on January 5, 2002
I went to see this movie out of curiosity, the previews were interesting, and I have always liked Shalhoub (especially since "The Siege"). I wasn't expecting much based on the recent horror flicks that I have seen, but was suprised at how good this movie was. The ghosts had me grabbing my neighbor's arm, yelling at the screen, and covering my eyes! I was raised on horror flicks so this is no easy task.
Real quick - what do you get when you take an unbelievably intricate mansion, add one widower, his two kids, the nanny, a physic, a supernatural specialist, and twelve very disturbing, very frightening (and very dangerous) ghosts? Edge of your seat, white knuckled, hair raising fun!
It may be a simple story, but the special effects and the way the story plays out is wonderful - it has all the elements, the good, the bad, and the creepy, as well as justice and retribution. If you are looking for a good movie to watch in the dark with friends, this is it... But I warn you, if you scare easy, leave the lights on!
on November 21, 2001
Thir13en Ghosts is about a struggling family who inherit a strange all glass house from their late uncle Cyrus. On the outside the house seems interesting, but inside is where the terror is lurking, trapped in 12 different glass cells, waiting to be released. And someone wants one more to add to the collection, which would make it thirteen ghosts.
I just loved this film, a great, terrifying film that really takes you on a rollercoaster ride! All the actors in the film give great performances, especially the always lovely Shannon Elizabeth and the witty Mathew (Scream) Lillard. The ghosts in the film look amazing, thanks to KNB FX. Speaking of amazing, the glass mansion is very incredible, so errie and yet very beautiful. There are just to many good things to say about this film! First time feature film director Steve Beck did a great job with the film, and it turned out awsome! Don't get me wrong though, the film is very gory and intense, so best leave the small ones at home before heading to the theater or video store to catch this film.
Overall: An amazing horror rollercoaster that will scare you right down to the bone!
William Castle was one of the true geniuses of horror, and Thirteen Ghosts represents a modernized, special effects-heavy remake of his 1960 film of the same name. I would file this effort under C for cool rather than F for frightening, although I suppose many less inured to the tricks of the horror trade might find this film a frightening detour into madness. Thirteen Ghosts offers an exciting, gory, romping good time, and I think the real key to its success is not its plot, acting, or CGI effects; rather, it is the movie's establishment of something different from your standard horror fare. For the most part, all of the action takes place in a single setting, a technological marvel of a house built entirely of glass walls. While the process of shooting scenes in such a highly reflective setting must have been quite a challenge to the crew, the shooting style allows for a more open-ended atmosphere of fear, where things that go bump in the night can appear where you least expect them. Of course, the characters cannot see any ghosts on their own; no, you can apparently only see ghosts by donning a pair of safety glasses. The whole glasses thing is a little shaky, but it stands as a more practical substitute for the 3-D glasses the viewers of Castle's original film were required to wear. The ghosts, for their part, are very well done, especially the "angry princess" who, I have to say, is quite hot (in a bloody, fiendish sort of way).
All the madness traces itself to one Cyrus Kriticos (played in an effectively subtle way by F. Murray Abraham). He is a collector of many things, especially ghosts, aided immeasurably by psychic and borderline nut Dennis Rafkin (Matthew Lillard). Rafkin does not discover the real agenda behind Kriticos' capturing of specific, tormented souls until it is almost too late, at which point he finds himself trying to undo the wrong he has done by helping the family of Arthur Kriticos survive Cyrus' designs for them. The always-oddly effective Tony Shalhoub plays Arthur, a man who lost his wife and everything else he has apart from his kids in a terrible fire. The gorgeous Shannon Elizabeth plays his daughter Kathy, but Elizabeth's talents are rather wasted in this role (and there are far too few scenes graced with her presence). The struggling family is overjoyed to learn that weird Uncle Cyrus has left Arthur his estate, and they are as excited as they are intrigued by the new home they come to explore. With glass walls covered with Latin writing everywhere, extremely modern furnishings, and a sense of grade-A rich, eccentric oddness from top to bottom, the family members see the house as a dream come true. Of course, the dream soon becomes a nightmare. There are twelve really, really unpleasant ghosts contained in the basement, and the house turns out to be a machine whose ancient yet modern design serves one specific purpose: to open the gates of hell and grant great power to the man who has wrought this abominable mechanism. Our heroes soon find themselves trapped in the house, accompanied by Rafkin, a mysterious stranger, and the family's stereotypical black, ghost-fearing nanny. They must fight for both their lives and their sanity as each of the twelve ghosts is released and set to the most fiendish of purposes. The ending is a little hokey, I have to admit, but it cannot undo all the fun to be had along the way. The special features are also noteworthy. Along with a look at the making of the film, you get a look at the history of each of the ghosts in the film; frankly, this background material should have been better interwoven into the plot than it was.
The special effects are, by and large, quite good. A lot of CGI animation went into the making of this film, and it works amazingly well. The ghosts themselves are substantial creatures, each with a history of its own, capable and more than willing to unleash their own eternal horrors on the desperate human beings walking the halls of the glass prison. The ghosts are also remarkably diverse in nature, each bringing his/her own very special bottle of terror to the party. There are a surprisingly small number of actual deaths to be enjoyed here, but one is rather memorable indeed. While Thirteen Ghosts doesn't really bring a lot of originality to the table, the elaborate place settings its puts in place for its delightfully tainted meal of gore and fright make the experience one that this horror lover quite enjoyed.
on April 10, 2002
I was very hesitant about seeing this movie. I have heard not so good things about it from almost everyone who has seen it. I was expecting to not like it. Well, I was pleasantly surprised. Is it a great movie?. God no. Is it fun?. Oh yeah. I found myself enjoying the movie. Former "Wings" co-star Tony Shalhoub and his family, including red hot Shannon Elizabeth as his daughter, his little son, and a cliched black nanny, inherit his recently deceased Uncle Cyrus' weird house made entirely of glass. It appears that the uncle collected ghosts and has them locked up in containment cells in the basement. Well, naturally, something happens and the ghosts are set free. Our new owners are locked in the house and must battle the ghosties. The catch is that you can only see them when wearing these special glasses. I won't delve too much into what happens so as not too ruin it for anybody who might see it. F. Murray Abraham co-stars as Uncle Cyrus. Mr. Abraham, have things been this bad since your oscar winning performance in "Amadeus"?. This movie isn't going to set the cinema on fire, or overly impress most people, but it is solid entertainment. I was expecting to hate it after hearing other people, but I enjoyed it quite a lot. Matthew Lillard and his drool also appear. Is it just me or does he drool a lot?. He did in "Scream" and he does in here too. Shannon Elizabeth looks great, but her role is just a typical 'damsel in distress'thing. Rah Digga as the nanny was a horrible cliche. A black character as nothing better than a nanny. It gets worse folks. She is also there to chime in with the typical comical one liners at the most inopportune time. So stereotypical. This is 2002 you filmmakers. Can't we do something better with a character than that?!. I guess not. I do have to say that some of the ghosts were downright creepy. Even if you dislike the movie, you have to admit that the make-up was great, which it was, and that the ghosts were really good. They were. This is the only recent 're-make' of an old horror movie that I have liked. Sure I still dream of the old days when movies were scary without CGI and effects and were just meant to be scary, but this movie managed to have a little of both. The make-up was great and the ghosts themselves were eerie. A couple death scenes were quite cool too. The first 10 minutes or so were pretty interesting to watch. "13 Ghosts" is not a winner by any stretch of the imagination. No one is going to feel smarter after watching it. It's just entertainment and entertain it did. At least for me. Two and a half stars.
on March 9, 2002
I went in the theatre with high hopes. I watched it. And I left feeling satisfied. This is a great movie, but that isn't to say that it is without its flaws.
First off, this movie is way too similar to the previous movie by Dark Castle Entertainment, House on Haunted Hill. Here are a few examples.
- Both have a slightly (initially) crazed, pessimistic, comic-relief character
who knows the ropes around the house. This was Watson Pritchett in House on
Haunted Hill, and Dennis Rafkin in 13 Ghosts.
- Both have basements. In both versions, when the main characters first go
into the basement, they get a shock. Both have henchmen of the crazy
millionaire who die in the basement (the mantainence guy in House on Haunted
Hill, and the lawyer guy in 13 Ghosts.
- Both start off with music playing as we follow the main characters initial
arrival at the house. (While House on Haunted Hill had a very cool, very
memorable scene with Marilyn Manson's rendition of 'Sweet Dreams are Made of
These', 13 Ghosts unfortunately seems to attempt to capture the spirit of
the previous outing in an almost parody of itself as we hear weird pop music
playing, seemingly slightly out of place.
In my personal opinion, Dark Castle's first film far surpassed the much inferior 13 Ghosts, though I no doubt found myself grinning madly through most of the film. The script seems rather weak and jokes quite lame, but this is no reason to miss the film. Don't go in expecting a Citizen Kane, but do expect a pretty good B-Movie rendition. P.s. They should have given us ghosts viewers.
Thir13en Ghosts (Steve Beck, 2001)
Hey, Hollywood. Listen up. Se7en got away with it. That's enough movies with numbers substituting for letters in the title, all right?
Just based on that, I was prepared to crucify this movie. The title screams out "we're doing a remake, and we want to make it... hip." Gah. The first thing you must do when watching this film is forget that William Castle made a movie called Thirteen Ghosts. Despite Beck saying in the DVD extras that they did use the original script and just change it a bit, the two look about as much alike as do Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Twins. Consider them two entirely different movies.
Once you do that (and get by the soundtrack, which is simply nauseating), this is actually a fun little movie. While it succeeds only in minor ways in being creepy (it's certainly not in the same league as The Eye), the effects are well-done enough that it does succeed in a few places.
Arthur Kriticos (Tony Shalhoub, of Monk fame) is a pretty depressed guy. His wife Jean (Kathryn Anderson, a stuntwoman by trade) was killed in a fire six months ago, his kids Kathy (Shannon Elizabeth from American Pie) and Bobby (Alec Roberts, recently of Traffic) are driving him crazy, the nanny (the annoyingly named Rah Digga in her screen debut) isn't helping matters, and they're broke. Or so they think. The youngest lawyer on the planet, Moss (JR Bourne, doing better here than in Aftershock-honest), shows up to let Arthur and family know that Arthur's eccentric uncle Cyrus (F. Murray Abraham) has died, and left Arthur and crew his rather odd house. And a couple of Cyrus' business partners, Dennis (Matthew "Shaggy" Lillard) and Kalina (Embeth "Ash's Girlfriend" Davidtz), though none of them knows that yet...
You never know what you're going to get from a movie containing Matthew Lillard, and this one is no exception. His performance is strong, but that may only be because the rest of the performances by the main characters here are so weak. F. Murray Abraham is convincing as the epitome of evil in the long opening scene, but other than that, the movie almost begs you to concentrate on the house and the ghosts instead of the plot.
When you do that, this movie becomes everything the miserable The Haunting (Jan de Bont, 1999) was not. The architecture is gorgeous, the ghosts are nasty-looking and deeply disturbing (and a few, most notably Shawna Loyer, have gained their own fan clubs). And really, it's a horror film. How much depth of plot do you want? The main actors are capable, and that's really all that's required for a movie of this caliber. It's standard Hollywood fare. And admit it, you want the house.
Much of the reason the ghosts are so much fun in this movie, according to the extras, is that the ghosts all had full backstories written for them. One wonders if we'll end up getting movies about them. (Seems the production company would be remiss not to at least make one about the Angry Princess-and more of a naked Shawna Loyer could not be a bad thing-but I want to know about the Jackal...)
Good, for what it is. ***
on April 4, 2002
Thirteen Ghosts, the latest film from the Dark Castle production company, is a freakish, mind bending trip. Unfortunately, plot takes a backseat to oddity in this so so shockfest.
The story, or lack thereof, centers around a widower and his family that inherits an enormous home in the middle of nowhere. The strange thing is, the house is almost totally constructed of glass. The original owner of the house, F. Murray Abraham, had quite an unusual hobby. He collected ghosts, which he kept in containment cubes in the basement. These aren't your run of the mill spirits either. In life, these spirits were tortured souls, and are now seeking their revenge. Not surprisingly, the spirits are released, and the family has to run for their lives. Sound familiar? Its because the plot of Dark Castle's other film, House on Haunted Hill, had a very similar storyline.
Unfortunately for 13 Ghosts, House on Haunted Hill worked much better, due to its large number of A-list stars. Trading in top performers like Geoffrey Rush and Famke Jannsen for one hit wonders like Matthew Lillard and Shannon Elizabeth wasn't a smart move.
Realizing that they didn't have much in the way of story or cast, the producers have upped the ante in terms of gore and thrills. The ghosts are quite frightening, and many of the scenes will make you jump.
The DVD contains several interesting features, which are actually better than the movie itself. The best of these are the individual biography files of the twelve ghosts. This section is hosted by F. Murray Abraham, who gives the viewer a sixty second rundown of how the ghost came to be, and why he chose them for his collection.
Overall, 13 Ghosts is a marginal film, but nothing worth raving over. Definitely rent this before buying it if you haven't seen the film.
on March 5, 2002
Since I am writing this before the scheduled release date for the DVD, I'm unable to comment on the DVD's special features or its digital quality and appeal... However, I can assure you that it is well worth the twenty dollars that Amazon.com is charging for it. The movie itself, as you can tell from prior reviews, is an enjoyable horror film which leans more towards a suspense/thriller tone and utilizes a series of wickedly fast-paced "pop-ups" and "boo-scares" to keep the audience on the edge throughout the 90 minutes that it takes for its mediocre plot to unfold. And with that being said, I'll gladly admit that I enjoyed every minute of it, and that I am anxiously anticipating any future releases from Dark Castle Entertainment or director Steve Beck.
"Thir13en Ghosts" was a great deal more than I expected it to be (seeing that I was let down tremendously by how unfrightening "House on Haunted Hill" was). I was almost certain that there would not be a single frightening scene worth my ...admission into the theatre. And I was amazed at how many times I literally dropped my jaw and stared wide-eyed at the screen because of its stellar make-up effects, its stylish and unique production design, its fast pace, and some very convincing performances by Tony Shaloub and Mathew Lillard, who definitely steal the show and make this picture an extremely worthwhile experience.
In conclusion, I'd just like to say that even if this movie were priced ... it would still be worth every penny... I'm waiting with anticipation for the DVD.
on January 25, 2002
I love scary movies and don't usually scare easily but this movie was wicked. It was awesome; it had some of the best special effects I have ever seen. I actually covered my eyes during certain parts of the movie and I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. I came out of the theater feeling shakey and knowing I would definately be buying it when it came out on DVD. I never saw the orignal so I had no expectations, a lot of people who saw the orignal said this version sucked but I think their just biased and possibly just angry because this version probably caused them to pee their pants. All in all it was an excellent film, but definately not for kids. I would even caution some teens against seeing it due to the high level of gore.
Considering this is a remake of the William Castle "gimmick" b-movie, "Thirteen Ghosts" is more entertaining than it should be, but not a good as it could have been.
What I mean to say is that while I love the William Castle original film, Castle's version was more of a comedy with a nifty 3-D gimmick thrown in. The basic story of a family inheriting a haunted mansion was pure sitcom at best. And while there are some chills sprinkled through the original film, the humor is what I remember most about the film.
The remake does away with all of the humor and attempts to go for the jugular as a pure horror film. The basic storyline remains the same in that a family inherits a haunted house from a ghost hunting uncle. And like the original, 12 spirits inhabit the house...so who is the thirteenth ghost? You have to watch to find out.
Tony Shalhoub turns in a solid performance as Arthur Kriticos, the widower and family man who inherits the haunted home from his uncle. Shalhoub was only 1 year away from striking gold with his TV show "Monk" when this film came out, and I find it difficult watching "Thirteen Ghosts" now, and not thinking of the Monk character obsessing about fingerprints all over the glass house?!?! The rest of the cast is solid as well, with F. Murray Abraham chewing up scenes as the ghost hunting uncle and Matthew Lillard still hunting ghosts here in his pre-Shaggy days.
The special effects are pretty good, and the make-up for the various ghosts looks great. The glass house featured in the film is pretty inventive, and adds a nice touch of atmosphere. There are a few bumps and jumps that will jolt you out of your seat sprinkled throughout the film, but there is nothing in the movie that will stick with you past the end credits.
If you enjoyed the remake of "The House on Haunted Hill", then you will probably enjoy this film as well. If you are looking for a spooky ghost story along the lines of "The Changeling", you will probably be disappointed.