Really? It’s been that long already?!
In 2001 a little remake of a William Castle film came out called Thir13en Ghosts. It would be the first “new” horror film I would ever see. I would enjoy it and be amazed by its special effects. In my teenage years it would experience a resurgence and many many creepy fangirls, but I would still appreciate the film for what it was.
What about thirteen years later in 2014?
I watched this film again for Halloween this year and can honestly say that I still enjoyed it. Is it scary? No. Is it stupid? Yes. Thir13en Ghosts is a strange film to categorize, though. I wouldn’t consider it enjoyably dumb like the Wrong Turn series or other goofy slashers, nor would I consider it a magnum opus of horror like The Haunting. I’d place Thir13en Ghosts in the same category as I would place Hellraiser and Suspiria, it is a bit hokey in some parts, but the creativity and moments of genuine horror make it deeply enjoyable.
The story features a family that has recently inherited a strange house from the father’s estranged uncle. The house is beautiful, but the architecture is bizarre, featuring Latin words carved on the wall and doors of glass. They are joined by an “electrician” that turns out to be a psychic that worked with the uncle who reveals that the basement is literally crawling with ghosts that are slowly released to take part in a sinister ritual to open the gates of hell.
Like I said, a bit hokey, yes, but it’s still worth a watch. Most of the effects hold up after all these years and the visuals waver between horrifying and beautiful.
So what’s the best part of the movie? The ghosts of course!
Without a doubt, the best part about this movie is its twelve tortured spirits. Each one has a different story and a different reason to roam the earth. Most are motivated by revenge, some by madness, others simply want the living to know of their plight. As a group, these ghosts are a force to be reckoned with, but some ghosts stand out on their own as the real movers and shakers of the film. One thing I’ve noticed about people who like this film is that everyone has their own favorite ghost, that one spirit that they felt carried the film. My personal favorite is The Juggernaut, the ghost of a serial killer driven to murder due to the horrid treatment he faced as a young adult. Why? Because when this ghost is on screen, he fills the area around him with a sense of dread…that is when he isn’t filling it with bodies and whatever he can throw at them. The audience knows that this is the most dangerous of all the spirits, capable of killing the living with his bare hands. The opening scene with this ghost causing utter chaos is so good that I would watch an entire movie based around it. You heard me, horror directors. More ghosts throwing cars.
It’s still kind of shocking to me that this movie turned thirteen this year, but all the more reason to celebrate it and watch it along with other Halloween classics during this, the spookiest time of the year. Although interest in this movie has died down as of recent, it should become a staple for anyone who likes creative horror that has had some deep thought put into its designs. I highly recommend this, even at the cost of some of my horror “cred”.