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Friday, December 13, 2019

Thirteen Ghosts (2001)




Yep I’m going to review the remake of William Castles’ 13 Ghosts (which I reviewed here). That movie has a special place in my heart as it was in heavy rotation back in my formative years watching the local late-night hosted horror shows. What do I think of the remake?

Much like the original the plot is focused on a professor, played here by Tony Shalhoub of Monk fame. Unlike the Castle original this story is much darker as his financial woes are caused by the loss of his wife in a house fire that also destroyed his family’s possessions. Still tied up with lawyers and bill collectors it seems like some good karma has come his way when an uncle’s lawyer shows up to tell him he has inherited a house and a small fortune. The family and the lawyer head out to check out their new home only to find an odd puzzle like structure covered in writing they can’t read.

From the very beginning of the movie before the family is introduced, we see that Uncle Cyrus died while trying to capture a particularly violent ghost. It was his hobby to collect the restless spirits of the dead, which he has stored in the basement of the house! If that isn’t bad enough the family also has to deal with a crooked lawyer (like the original) as well as an assistant of Cyrus that is owed money. Of course, that won’t be the only problems they face. Things get even more interesting when the ghosts get loose to go on a rampage, and of course there is a big twist and betrayal. Good times are had before the credits roll.

Remakes always have an uphill battle when it comes to me as a viewer. I’m just not a fan, but every once in a while, one comes along that kick’s ass. This is one of those movies. The plot is solid and honestly does a much better job of tying the titular ghosts into the story then the original did. Here they are being used to power a machine for nefarious purposes. To that end each of them fills a particular need and because of that each has an actual background beyond looking spooky onscreen. If I’m going to be honest this movie makes way more sense than the first.

The violence and gore are plentiful, which I loved to see. The original plays more like a kid’s movie made for the Saturday matinee crowd. Here we get a solid R rated flick that tosses in nudity and creative bloody deaths. Some of the gore highlights are a guy getting bent in half, another smashed by a car, the lawyer splits (heh… inside joke), and another person is squished on screen by glass walls. The design of the ghosts is great as well. You can see how many of them died as well as just generally looking scary as hell.

I don’t have a negative thing to say about Thirteen Ghosts. It is a fun bit of horror from the early two thousands. I still love the original, but I dig this one as well for totally different reasons. While I normally cringe at the idea of “updating” a classic flick here they did it right. If you get the chance, I recommend checking out Thirteen Ghosts.


© Copyright 2019 John Shatzer

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