Thir13en Ghosts (2001)
Director: Steve Black
Writer(s): Neal Marshall Stevens, Richard D’Ovidio
Starring: Tony Shalhoub, Matthew Lillard, Embeth Davidtz, Shannon Elizabeth
So a funny thing happened around 1996 to 2000; after a LONG slumber, horror flicks became cool again. Like, legitimately cool. Thanks to the horror savior of the late 90’s that was Scream and followed by its clones, like I Know What You Did Last Summer and Urband Legend, it was almost to the point where it was annoying for someone who was always into horror movies *cough cough* because now you have a herd of folks ranging from pre –teens to jaded twenty-somethings quoting every old school slasher flick. But alas, like all trends, the slasher boom of the late 90’s also had a shelf life. Too many flicks started to blend together with the slasher being shrouded in mystery and always had some sort of motive. I have NO qualms with the slasher genre, as strange as the trend was, I couldn’t help but be happy for the horror genre in general. I was however, craving for something different in the midst society’s sudden interest in horror flicks again. Give me some fantastically gross monster makeup and supernatural origins! And just like that; a flick like Thirteen Ghosts (I’m SO not typing it in the cool way the poster suggests for the rest of this article) fell into my lap and the world was right once again.
There were so many good elements about this flick besides the perfect timing. The opening scene alone got me excited for this movie; we start off with a team led by a pair of ghost hunters which includes 90’s staple Matthew Lillard, trying to trap their latest and most dangerous ghost appropriately named, The Juggernaut (hands down my personal favorite). After a bloody battle, the ghost is finally captured but the leader of the mission was one of the casualties. Cut to recent widower played by the great Tony Shalhoub (my love for MONK is sickening), the nephew of the deceased ghost hunter found out he has inherited his uncle’s massive mansion. Of course, he moves in his entire family which includes his young son, sassy nanny and an insanely hot daughter played by Shannon Elizabeth. The family begins to realize horrific truth behind the mansion as the truth begins to unfold; there are twelve ghosts trapped inside of the mansion and the reason for their imprisonment is part of a master plan that could put humanity itself at risk.
One of the most important features for me was that this movie satisfied my childhood nostalgia of grouping together supernatural beings, each with its own distinguishable feature. I remember buying the DVD and one of the special features showcased all the ghosts you see in the movie, each with their own creepy origin story, which made the viewing experience even better (see below, I’ll be linking Amazon links from now on in case you want to give it a go!). Each ghost had a fantastically CREEPY look to them that ranged from grotesque to frightening. Each ghost had a cool moniker such as the aforementioned powerhouse, the Juggernaut, the insane creeper, the Jackal and hauntingly yet hot…if you’re into that sort of thing, the Angry Princess. If you end up watching the movie more than once, you end up trying to figure out which ghost is your favorite based off looks, power, etc. which is always a great benchmark for a horror flick of this kind. The supporting cast of this flick; because of course the ghosts are the stars for me, worked really well for what this movie was trying to accomplish. Although their characters were pretty generic, the combination of melancholy Tony Shaloub and ghost geek Matthew Lillard worked really well together.
What’s interesting is how it takes the principles of the original movie from 1960 and spins it for the next generation like how the movie establishes rules such as the writings on the glass mansion that keeps ghosts from harming you or the special glasses you have to wear in order to see the ghosts kept the film interesting and the audience engaged. This movie even has a plot twist that genuinely surprised me but works well with the climax of the movie. A solid, fun horror flick for anyone who appreciates some great creature features while keeping the suspense and adds a pinch of adventure!
**Okay, now that you’ve reached the end…I’ll be COMPLETELY honest with you. As I was finishing the last sentence of this article, I realized that this is my 13th entry in the FearTASTIC Vault O’ Fun and I happened to pick Thirteen Ghosts for my article. Wow, the horror Gods have made it so; now appease them and watch this flick!** Buy it HERE.