Hey you. I wrote this Review Just for You because I like you.I also like pizza.
Neal Marshall Stevens and Richard D'Ovidio
The year was 2001…
For some folks that was the distant future. When all of humankind’s problems would be solved, machines would talk to us and ask what we want, and wars would be a thing of the past.
1 out of 3 isn’t bad.
It harkens back to a time when you had to look at newspapers to actually go (as in drive) to movie theaters and there wasn’t as much of a chance that a disgruntled white person would shoot up the place.
It also harkens back to a time when…
I can’t remember that far back anymore but I think you had to “rent” movies on disc or even (gasp!) videocassette and eventually drive back to the “video store” to physically return them.
I will now give you a moment to Google other things that happened in 2001 so you can marvel at such quaint times.
I know, right.
Another 2001 milestone was the release of the cult horror movie Thir13en Ghosts. I hesitate to call it a “classic”, but it is getting a Scream Factory Blu-Ray release so someone must be willing to fork over $30 to see a remastered movie you can find in any $5 bin along (it’s sticky in the bin, but not because of gum) with some new cover artwork.
Classic? I’m not disagreeing with you. Because if you gave me the $30 I’d gladly buy it.
But if you last viewed it on VHS sometime in the early aughties or have a bare-bones DVD, this review might help you make your decision on an upgrade. I do know there are some of you that probably owed more than $30 in late fees for this back in the 00s.
Thir13en Ghosts opens with a scenery-chewing megalomaniac named Cyrus Kritikos (Oscar Winner F. Murray Abraham so far removed from being in movies like Amadeus) and his psychic sidekick Dennis (Matthew Lillard, he was in Scream and now, um, then, he’s in this). There are other unnamed underlings looking busy but are probably going to die.
Dennis is dressed up in see-through plastic like he’s really into water sports. Dennis uses his psychic abilities to determine that this place is where they need to be. Dennis doesn’t really look happy to be right.
They’re at a place that looks like a random junkyard but Cyrus looks like he’s in heaven. Or is it hell? Cyrus barks “Release the bait!!!
A truck full of blood (just go with it) rambles onto the scene and numerous spirits seem to be attracted to it. Dennis mutters something about needing 12 ghosts, but Cyrus doesn’t get to hear it because he just got killed. That was quick.
Thir13en Ghosts (again) opens with the Kritikos family being as happy as any group of people can be at the beginning of a horror movie. I hesitate to give any introduction because most of them will be dead by the opening credits.
- Arthur (Tony Shalhoub, getting first billing in a movie for the first and only time).
- Jean (Kathryn Anderson).- She’s mother.
- Kathy (Shannon Elizabeth)- She’s the oldest daughter and holy f*ck this was during a time when Shannon Elizabeth starred in things.
- Bobby (Alec Roberts)- He’s the youngest boy and he likes keeping track of dead people and speaks into a “tape recorder”. If this movie had taken place in the 20-teens he’d have a podcast that no one listens to.
Their idyllic afternoon is ruined by a house fire. Jean is burned to death. Her ashes (ironically) can fit into the pocket of someone’s jeans.
Good news- I was totally wrong about people dying by the opening credits. I should have said “person” because it was only Jean that got the toast treatment.
Try to see the bright side of things. Bright as in positive, not bright as in “Jean is engulfed in flames”.
Arthur, Kathy, and Bobby now live in a small apartment with their new live-in nanny Maggie (Rah Digga). Maggie is a sassy black woman so you can bet later in the movie she’ll be saying stuff about how crazy white people are. Since she’s black, we’re hoping she doesn’t die in the next 20 minutes.
There’s a knock on the door. It’s a lawyer that works for the late Cyrus Kritikos. He’s left his mansion to his only living nephew Arthur. Not only to they get a new house, they never have to worry about money again.
The family goes to visit their dead uncle’s mansion.
It’s giant. It’s beautiful. The inside looks ornate and more than a little odd.
There’s a guy from the power company that says the mansion is sucking up so much power it’s causing blackouts to countless other homes in the area. He looks like Dennis from earlier in the movie because he is Dennis from earlier in the movie.
Kathy and Bobby are loving the new digs. It was so worth having their mom burned in a fire to get a new house like this, even if it does have large panes of glass with giant writing on it.
Arthur is still reluctant because he barely even knew his uncle Cyrus.
Dennis lays down the exposition and tells Arthur he and his family need to leave as soon as possible. The house is a containment unit for ghosts in order to create a machine that would have made Cyrus god-like in nature.
Arthur has no problem leaving, but now he can’t find Bobby.
And Kathy’s gone missing as well.
Not to worry, because the mansion’s 12 angry ghosts have spotted the children and they may never get to leave…alive.
What Works With Thir13en Ghosts
- The ghosts themselves are wonders to look at. Each one of them unique and worthy of a standalone movie with cool names like The Jackal and Naked Cheerleader. Had this movie made any money it might have gone that way.
- Production Designer Sean Hargreaves owns the movie as the mansion itself is much more interesting than anything that’s happening onscreen or any of the human characters. You wish the humans would get out of frame so you could see all the nooks and crannies of the house.
What Doesn’t Work With Thir13en Ghosts
- Me having to write Thirteen Ghosts this (“Thir13en”) stupid way. It might have been worth it had it been a better movie.
- Ghosts really isn’t scary at all. It’s extremely gory at times (“Did the lawyer split?”) but at no time are any scenes mined for tension. You’re just waiting for the next person to get killed just so something interesting happens.
- As I mentioned earlier, the ghosts are barely in it considering the title. The movie livens up when they appear and flags when the human characters are onscreen, which is most of the time.
Thir13en Ghosts remains a passable waste of time. It’s nowhere as entertaining as you remember back in 2001 nor is it as bad as the reviews made it out to be. Is it worth the $30 upgrade from Scream Factory? Not really, but you already thought that.