HTF REVIEW: "Thirteen Ghosts" (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Mar 25, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    Thirteen Ghosts

    "It is my professional opinion that
    we should get the hell out of here now"

    Yikes! Where do I begin with this?
    Let me start off by saying that I never saw
    William Castle's 1960 film, 13 GHOSTS -- not
    that I think this a necessity for knowing that
    the remake of this film is about as fun as a
    root canal.
    I can't begin to describe how awful this movie
    is. It seems to be a cross between "Hellraiser"
    and "The House on Haunted Hill", and stars a
    cast of 2nd-rate actors who look embarrassed to
    be a part of this film.
    Cyrus Kriticos (F. Murray Abraham)is a very
    rich, eccentric collector of unique things.
    When he dies suddenly, he leaves his remaining
    fortune to his nephew, Arthur (Tony Shalhoub)
    and his family. The fortune turns out to be
    in the form of a house built entirely of
    glass -- right down to the walls, ceilings
    and bathroom. The house is an absolute marvel
    to behold. It's a maze of glass panes that open
    and close by revolving gears. It's a shame that
    its beauty and technology is wasted on this film.
    You see, the family moves into this homestead
    only to find out that they share its residence
    with 12 ghosts who are entrapped in the basement.
    We find out that Uncle Kriticos has been playing
    God by entrapping the souls of the once living
    in order to fuel his home which turns out to be
    a demonic machine designed by the devil and
    powered by the dead. No, folks, we are not
    talking about Enron here.
    For most of the 90 minutes this film runs, I
    think viewers will be amazed by this house full
    of sliding walls and puzzle-cubes, but will be
    disgustingly shocked by the array of ghosts that
    fare to be more serial-killer freaks than haunting.
    How is the transfer?
    This is another satisfying transfer from
    Warner Brothers, a studio who has been consistent
    with the quality of their new releases.
    The 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1) Transfer
    is exceptionally clean. The film grain that
    usually shows up in darker movies as this is
    hardly evident. Though the picture sometimes
    looks as if it was shot through a hazy filter,
    the picture remains smooth with lots of colors
    that retain their freshness. This is just another
    one of those eye-pleasing transfers that is hard
    to find fault with.
    The 5.1 surround mix is sensational. Most
    of the film's "eeriness" can be credited to the
    circle of sound that envelopes the listening area.
    From the faintest whispers of demons that suddenly
    emanate from a random speaker to the more pronounced
    sounds of chanting that come from all directions,
    you can easily just turn off the film and get a
    nervous feeling inside just by listening to the
    film's surround tracks.
    Special Features
    Once you pop in the disc, a fairly intense
    animated sequence appears that involves quick
    shots of the film's demons amongst closing maze
    There's a full-length feature commentary by
    the film's Production Designer Sean Hargreaves
    and Make UP FX Howard Berger.
    Thirteen Ghosts Revealed is actually
    more interesting than the film itself. This
    18-minute documentary begins with the cast
    and crew individually reflecting on William
    Castle's original 1960 film and the fact that
    it was a 3D film needing special glasses to
    see things popping out at you. That same idea
    of needing glasses to see ghosts has been
    transformed into this remake. We meet Howard
    Berger, the Special Make-up FX guy, who takes
    us into studio, showings us the original
    conceptual designs that influenced the shocking
    creations that are let loose in the house. We
    see makeup and prosthetics being added to one
    of the actors who has been sitting in the chair
    for 4 hours. For anyone ever interested in
    extensive make-up design, this is one of the
    most revealing looks at the full-body make-up
    process I have seen. Next up is a chat with
    Production Designer, Sean Hargreaves, takes us
    on the set, through his wonderful glass house,
    describing the difficulty of shooting through it.
    It is essential for the crew to wear dark clothing
    as reflections are easily given off. It's on to
    computer graphics when Visual FX Supervisor,
    Michael Fink, takes us through the 3D elements
    that were created for this film. We are taken
    through a step-by-step procedure on how the house's
    huge gear-machine center was digitally created.
    It's an amazing look at how one of the movie's
    most impressive FX shots was created layer-by-layer.
    As I noted above, watching this exceptionally
    detailed documentary was more enjoyable than
    the film itself.
    Here's a very interesting feature. GHOST
    FILES takes us through the glass house's
    main doors and up to the library where we stop
    at a shelf filled with 13 articles ranging from
    a shoe, a bunch of playing cards, to a trophy.
    All these artifacts represent something belonging
    to the 12 Ghosts of the household. Click on an
    item and you are taken through a filmed segment
    tracing the life history of each ghost. Each
    segment is cleverly filmed with an eerie story
    combined with B&W newsreel footage.
    Tricky "Excess" Club Reel is the complete
    music video for the film.
    In addition to the usual Cast and Crew
    Filmography, there is a text-based Biography
    of Producer/Director William Castle, who is
    responsible for the 1960 film. It's interesting
    to read that he got his very first role on
    Broadway at the age of 15, pretending to be the
    nephew of Samuel Goldwyn.
    Lastly, the film's Original Theatrical Trailer
    is included.
    Final Thoughts
    Warner Brothers has done far more justice to
    this film than it deserves by creating a Special
    Edition DVD whose only worth is its extra content.
    Thirteen Ghosts is a bad film. It's hard
    to imagine that Robert Zemeckis's name is attached
    to the production credits. And what ever happened
    to F. Murray Abraham's career that he ended up
    in this mess?
    The only true scary thing about this DVD is that
    there are going to be people who will buy it.
    Release Date: April 2, 2002
  2. Jon_B

    Jon_B Screenwriter

    Nov 27, 2000
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    Thanks for the warning. I won't be seeing this one.

  3. Walt Riarson

    Walt Riarson Supporting Actor

    Jan 13, 2002
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    If it's as "awful" as everyone said House on Haunted Hill was, I'm sure it's truly not all that bad.

    House on Haunted Hill was a remake of a film that wasn't all that classic to begin with, and for the most part didn't try to be the typical "safe" Scream-type horror film (though the ending still makes me mad). It had a great score, great make-up effects, and was truly bizarre at times. Could it have been better? Yes. Still, no reason to fault a filmmaker for trying to make an honest-to-God horror movie, instead of a "psychological thriller." HoHH is leaps and bounds better than a lot of the modern-day excuses for horror.

    I'll take my chances on Thirteen Ghosts.
  4. Pete Battista

    Pete Battista Screenwriter

    Sep 20, 1999
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    Princess Anne, Md. USA
    Real Name:
    Thanks for the review and what looks to be great screenshots Ron!!! I am a huge horror fanatic so bad review or not I will atleast have to give this one a rent! I have the original which I thought was very good.... not great but very good all the same. but hey.... you never know I may like it.... everyone has their own tastes [​IMG]
  5. James_Kiang

    James_Kiang Screenwriter

    Aug 29, 2000
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    I had planned on getting this one anyway but hearing about the picture quality and the extras only makes me that much more eager for it. I did see this one in the theaters and, like House on Haunted Hill, I do think it is much better than most people give it credit for. Sure, most of the entertainment is based on just the visuals, but they are good visuals. Loads better than The Haunting (remake - I still have to see the original) though not a good enough story/acting to put it over The Others (pretty much a completely different type of horro film).
  6. Chris M

    Chris M Second Unit

    Apr 15, 2000
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    I too saw this in theater, and think it's a pretty FUN movie... I got scared outta my skin when seeing it!
    I definately think this is better than critics give it credit for. Okay, I agree it's not a great film... or even a good film, but it WAS FUN. [​IMG]
    My suggestion, if you want some fun, scares and a sexy nude naked woman, this is yer film! [​IMG] Just don't expect a masterpiece.
  7. Jeffrey Noel

    Jeffrey Noel Screenwriter

    Sep 11, 2001
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    I too found this movie to be rather enjoyable, however it doesn't take that good of a movie to do that! :b
    I will definitely be picking this up when it hits the shelves! Thanks for the review Ron! [​IMG]
  8. LukeB

    LukeB Cinematographer

    Apr 26, 2000
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    Agreed that it is a bad movie. Shalhoub is capable of good work, in both comedy and drama...this was just painful to watch.
  9. Aaron Croft

    Aaron Croft Stunt Coordinator

    Jul 2, 2001
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    I found the movie visually appealing, but all in all this was a terrible film. Definitely worth a rent to check out the effects and the few creepy ghosts that you get... and the design of the house is cool.. but the acting and the characters in general were AWEFUL..

    Be warned.. definitely not a "sight unseen" recomendation.

    But have fun if you like this of course!

  10. Jason Hughes

    Jason Hughes Supporting Actor

    Oct 17, 1998
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    Real Name:
    Jason Hughes
    I thought is was good eye candy, not very scary, but watchable with your brain turned off. The design of the house was pretty cool and some of the killers/ghosts were well done.

    The dialogue on the other hand....
  11. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

    Feb 8, 2002
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    Definitely good for a few scares. I freaked when the girl was being attacked by the "Jackal" ghost (or was it "Jaguar"?). Whatever, I found it rather intense. [​IMG] And the whole gimmick with the glasses was pretty creepy. Invisible ghosts that can rip you to shreds.....eeeeek!
  12. Matt Pelham

    Matt Pelham Screenwriter

    Mar 13, 2002
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    I actually really liked 13 Ghosts. When someone calls a film terrible I ususally take that as meaning not entertaining, but 13 ghosts was a very fun ride. No, it doesn't hold up with the story or script, but it's very nice to look at and the fx were great. I will definitly be picking this one up.
  13. Dan M

    Dan M Second Unit

    Feb 6, 2000
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    Sorry you didn't like 13 Ghosts Ron,

    I found it reasonably entertaining in a guilty pleasure sort of way :b

    It kept my attention throughout and that's usually all I require in order to enjoy a movie.

    Being the horror movie fan that I am I'll probably be picking this up. Fun to watch around Halloween time.

    Plus it'll make a great bookend for 1999's House On Haunted Hill.
  14. Bjorn Olav Nyberg

    Bjorn Olav Nyberg Supporting Actor

    Oct 12, 1999
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    I also thought The house on haunted hill was very fun (although the ending was bad), and the comments in this thread has convinced me as well that I might just go ahead and get it sight unseen. Thanks everybody!
  15. John_McKittrick

    John_McKittrick Stunt Coordinator

    Nov 9, 1999
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    Well I'm sure this movie was better than Driven, so I'll at least be renting it. Everybody I've spoken to like 13 Ghosts. Different strokes for different folks.

  16. Mark Lensenmaye

    Mark Lensenmaye Auditioning

    Jan 15, 2002
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    In Ron Epstein's review, he stated, "This

    18-minute documentary begins with the cast

    and crew individually reflecting on William

    Castle's original 1960 film and the fact that

    it was a 3D film needing special glasses to

    see things popping out at you."

    The original 13 GHOSTS was NOT a 3-D movie. It used an entirely different gimmick. The audience was given a viewer with a red filter and a blue filter. When prompted from the screen, the audience member had a choice of looking through the blue filter to see the ghost, or, if the audience member was "too afraid", they could look through the red filter and see just the background. At those points in the film, the black-and-white film took on a blue tint, with red for the ghosts.

    It is a very effective of Castle's best. I saw it in a theatre about 3 years, and the audience had a wonderful time.

    The DVD of the Castle original does a very good job of duplicating the original effect.

    Mark Lensenmayer
  17. Martice

    Martice Screenwriter

    Jan 20, 2001
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    If the FX (Audio & Video)are up to par then it will be ok in my demo folder. I've demoed The Haunting so much that I started to like the movie. I already bought 13 Ghosts and I'll watch it tonight.
  18. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

    Apr 19, 2000
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  19. Blu

    Blu Screenwriter

    Oct 6, 2001
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    I thought it was a entertaining ride. This is the kind of movie it is, a horror/scifi flick, ya get what you expect. It is all dependent upon expectations I believe.
  20. Aaron Croft

    Aaron Croft Stunt Coordinator

    Jul 2, 2001
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    "It is all dependent upon expectations I believe. "
    Yes.. maybe that was the problem. The preview made it out to be a pretty serious/suspensful horror movie... for me at least it turned out to be a cookie-cutter let's see what dumb thing people will do next kinda movie. I dunno.. I guess it takes more then some good effects/ghosts to impress me. Like maybe a story that was interesting and/or made sense [​IMG] A movie can be bad and still be entertaining, but for me, this movie was beyond bad.
    But to each his own!

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