Well, another William Castle film made it's way onto FearNet and so, having a couple hours with nothing to do, Hex and I sat down to watch this one.
The storyline goes as follows: Poor family inherits a creepy old mansion that was previously owned by a creepy and reclusive uncle named Plato Zorba. Plato, it turns out, was a gifted scientist who managed to find a way of "collecting" ghosts and his home was filled with 11 of them. He then died, became the 12 ghost and left a cryptic book written in Latin that (towards the film's finale) eluded to an unknown 13th ghost. Meanwhile, the dead uncle's lawyer is intent on finding a wealth of cash that he knows is hidden in the home. The only other person who knows about this is the maid that comes with the house, played to full camp-perfection by Margaret Hamilton of The Wizard of Oz fame.
Like most of Castle's B-horror output, this one had gimmicks galore. 13 Ghosts' gimmick was "Illusion-o", a process similar to 3-D filming. The ghosts would appear on screen only when the viewer (prompted by the main character on screen) would put on a special set of glasses given out at each theater. Without the glasses, the ghosts were blobby messes of blue and red (the film is in black and white), but with them, they "came to life".
13 Ghosts is a fun premise, but it lacks the crisp dialogue of "The Tingler" and the strong story line and sets of "The House on Haunted Hill". It's fun and I enjoyed it, but had I watched it by myself, I may not have even finished. The ghosts are ridiculous, and I can't imagine they were scary even in 1960, but then, I don't know that the point was scaring people as much as just having a good time. And a good time was had. It's certainly better than the terrible remake that was forced upon us a few years back.
- Complaint Dept