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13 Ghosts (2001)
 Directed by: Steve Beck
 Starring: Tony Shalhoub/Arthur
Matthew Lillard/Rafkin
Shannon Elisabeth/Kathy
F. Murray Abraham/Cyrus


Money challenged Arthur (Shalhoub) inherits a trippy ass house from his sinister rich uncle (Abraham). Once at the house, Arthur and his family find out what his uncle was doing with his spare time: he was collecting ghosts. The peeved spirits are trapped in the house’s basement but they eventually go free and yes, cause a mean ruckus. Where are the GHOSTBUSTERS when you need them?



"13 Ghosts" could’ve been more than a kool poster, but in the end, it’s just pointless trash. Having seen the trailers, I didn’t expect the smartest ditty in the world but this flick was just too inanely stupid and predictable for me to fully enjoy. It starts on the right foot with a somewhat exciting “ghost hunt” in a junkyard and then moves on to its gnarly premise. Having people trapped in a house with 13 ghosts is an idea with potential, but unfortunately this flick doesn’t go about it the right way.

First off, most of the main characters are bland and the bodycount in respect to them is frustratingly low. We get the typical, tired black comic relief character (Digga), spurting one-liners left and right (NOTE: How can Arthur afford a maid when he’s so damn poor?). We get Kathy (Elisabeth) who must be at least 22 years old, but acts like a twelve year old; the girl sure loves mirrors and water. I still don’t get why she was tripping over that bathroom so much! Maybe it’s a fetish. We get Rafkin (Lillard) who’s just a poor man’s version of Christopher Walken’s character in the "Dead Zone" but on “speed”, and of course we get the token annoying little brat (Roberts) who just won’t expire. Can we start offing children on a regular basis in horror movies yet? "Mimic" did it! "The Blob" '88 did it! Come on! Let's hop on the kid axing trend already!

To make matters worse, the film’s dialogue is awful at best and when the overly expositional spiritual mumbo jumbo eventually kicks in, you’ll pray for earplugs. It was so badddddd!!!!! The film also tosses in a few “surprise” plot twists. The first I saw coming miles away, it’s so obvious and sappy. God, I’m sick of the puke-inducing “love conquers all” theme in horror movies. Didn’t "Nightmare On Elm Street 2" kill that theme back in 1985? The second plot twist I didn’t see coming at all, but that’s because it’s idiotic and doesn’t really bring anything to the story other than being an unexpected  “plot twist”.

The last nails in this one’s head are its lazy script, which likes to find overly simple solutions to its more massive obstacles (Did you know that if you play around with a few levers you could bring an entire house down? Now you do!), its characters who have the tendency to disappear from the film for way too long (was Shannon Elisabeth in this movie?), its lack of true scares taking into account the eerie situation, and its overly flashy directing that’s effective at first, but eventually becomes redundant.

Did I dig anything about this sad sack of shite? Well, the film does sport a few kool moments of high gore. The split lawyer is one for the books….ouch! Also, some of the ghosts are very creepy (The Angry Princess gave me the willies). The gimmick glasses are well used. The sets are groovy and impressive. The film also has a few exciting ghost attacks. I can actually recount a couple of moments that I genuinely enjoyed from this movie, but on a whole, this baby just doesn’t hold up. Put on your “seeing” glasses and read on…


Tony Shalhoub (Arthur) gives a strong performance. I think he thought he was acting in a REAL movie. Matthew Lillard (Rafkin) is annoying in the opening scene but he grew on me throughout the film. Shannon Elisabeth (Kathy) looks hot but her character is very thin. She cries well though. Rah Digga (Maggie) does what the script asks of her: spit out un-funny one-liners. F. Murray Abraham (Cyrus) earns another paycheck….I guess he had car payments. Alec Roberts (Bobby) plays a kid and yes, he’s freaking annoying. Embeth Davidtz (Kalina) didn’t convince me, but in her defense, she has the worst dialogue of the lot.


Not many kills in this film but when they happen, they count! We get a guy split in two by a door, two people broken in two, another one squashed to death, another one cut to pieces and all of the ghosts look pretty messy.

T & A:

We get a nice pair of undead tits courtesy of Shawna Loyer who plays the “Angry Princess” ghost. Nice rack.


Beck impressed me with his opening shot in the house. I loved the way in which he communicated the back-story of Arthur’s wife. He also dazzled me with his crazy shots and snazzy flash. Unfortunately, at about the midway of the film, he went overboard with the flashy stuff and in doing so, diminished the tension of certain scenes and gave me a slight headache.


A standard score, nothing to go ape-shite about and one rock song.


Warner Brothers

IMAGE: The 1.85:1 enhanced for 16x9 television image plainly rocks! No need to get all technical and shite. Talk about sharp! The film looked better on my small screen than it looked in the theatres.

SOUND: The Dolby Digital 5.1 is up to par with the image and blasted a hole in my speakers. The film is very sound oriented and this DVD delivers gangbusters in that department. Close your eyes and get creeped out.

Commentary (full length): We get an audio commentary from director Steve Beck, makeup effects artist Howard Berger, and production designer Sean Hargreaves. The commentary is ok, a little more energy from the three men would've been nice and we do get some occasional dead time. On the upside, we're bombarded with lots of background info on the shoot, the special effects (and the obstacles that came with them), the actors and the ambitious sets. An overall "okay" listen.

William Castle Director/Producer of the 1968 version: What a disappointment. I was expecting a capsule on William Castle but all I got was a detailed written bio.

13 Ghosts Revealed (25 minutes): This "Making Of" has Joel Silver (producer), Matthew Lillard and the rest of the cast, talk about the film, their roles and the glasses gimmick. Director Steve Beck hops in to chat about how he contemporized the 1968 story.  Special Makeup effects, Howard Berger talks about designing the ghosts, we also get to see some on-set makeup sessions. Lastly, we get some insight on the production designs and the use of CG effects in the film. Pretty interesting stuff!

Ghost Files: This is my favorite extra. It has F. Murray Abraham (Cyrus) narrating while we have the option of clicking various objects on a shelve (each object represents a ghost). Once we click one, we're shown a short (1-2 minute) background/history reel (narrated by Abraham again) about the ghost in question. Fun freaking stuff! This extra was more enjoyable than the movie!

We also get a Tricky music video, the usual Theatrical Trailer and a Cast and Crew Bio.

Overall, the DVD is of high quality all around (the animated menu also kicks ass) and the extras are aight. NOTE: I will admit digging the film more on my second watch. Now I'd give it a 2 on 4. What can you do...


If you’re only looking for some nice gore, an easy pace and some MTV-like directing, then you might enjoy this bitch. I, on the other hand, would’ve liked strong characters, a smart script, an edgier approach and more restrained visuals to accompany “the goodies”. I say skip this one and see it on video when you got time to lose or go rent the original "13 Ghosts" to see if they got it right in the 60’s.


This film is remake of the 1960 William Castle flick "13 Ghosts".

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The Way The Arrow Points...

 I’d BUTCHER my family to see this again
 HANG me but I dug it a lot
 An ok way to KILL two hours
 Just sling an ARROW in my head and let me die in peace

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© 2001 John Fallon  All Rights Reserved