13 Ghosts

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13 Ghosts (1960) is a horror movie directed by William Castle and written by Rob White. It was filmed in "Illusion-O", allowing viewers to see the ghosts using special glasses made of red and blue cellophane; viewing them through the red filter made them visible, while watching through the blue filter made them vanish. (It is worth noting, though, that the ghosts were quite visible without using the red filter.)

The film concerns Cyrus Zorba, whose occultist uncle Dr. Plato Zorba has willed a huge, ramshackle house to Cyrus and his impoverished family, fully furnished and outfitted with a housekeeper, plus a fortune in treasure. Now for the bad news: This house is haunted by twelve ghosts, who are imprisoned there, waiting for an unlucky thirteenth ghost to free them. The only way to see the ghosts is with special goggles left behind by Dr. Zorba In addition, there is a more mortal peril in the house with them, in the form of someone who wants to claim Zorba's money for himself, and is willing to kill its rightful heirs to steal it.

The movie was remade as 13 Ghosts in 2001, Starring Tony Shalhoub as the unwitting heir to a glass house inhabited by the titular ghosts, held in check by Latin phrases etched in the glass panels.


Tropes used in the 1960 original include:
Tropes used in the 2001 remake include:
  • All There in the Manual: The DVD extras for the remake gives the background of each of the ghosts and how they fit into the Black Zodiac.
  • And I Must Scream: Ghost #2, the Torso, who is a naked man chopped into three pieces (torso, head, and legs) and wrapped in plastic. Extra information shows this is how he died.
  • Asshole Victim: Ben Moss.
  • Ax Crazy: The Jackal.
  • An Axe to Grind: The Great Child carries an axe.
  • Bald of Evil: The Hammer and the Great Child.
  • Batter Up: The Torn Prince carries a baseball bat.
  • Beard of Evil: Cyrus.
  • Big Damn Heroes: When The Jackal is attacking Kathy, Kalina arrives to help.
  • Big Fancy House
  • The Big Guy: The Juggernaut. He stands at seven feet tall and is so strong that, in life, he could tear people apart with his bare hands.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: The Angry Princess' eyes.
  • Blessed with Suck: Dennis Rafkin is a medium with the ability to detect ghosts and and instantly read minds through physical contact. He also has no control whatsoever over his powers and they tend to give him seizures.
  • Blood From the Mouth
  • Bloodless Carnage: You would have thought a person being cut to pieces would cover those directly below in blood.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Bobby.
  • Bullet Time: Brief slow motion effects are shown randomly in the early parts of the movie.
  • Cassandra Truth: Arthur has hard time believing Dennis' warnings about the ghosts at first.
  • Chained by Fashion: The Hammer.
  • Chairman of the Brawl: Arthur attempts to break the glass surrounding the house with a chair.
  • Child by Rape: How The Dire Mother got her child.
  • Clean Cut: "Did the lawyer split?"
  • Closed Circle
  • Clothing Damage: When Kathy's attacked by the Jackal, her clothes are torn to shreds. Of course, when one of the scenes shows the Jackal cutting off her bra at one point, we all know the reason for the whole scene was for...
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: The Angry Princess' suicide note.
  • Creepy Basement: It's literally filled with ghosts!
  • Creepy Child: Ghost #1, the First-born Son, who is dressed as a cowboy with an arrow through his head and carries a tomahawk around. Played oddly with the Great Child, who isn't an actual child, but is a huge, 40-year-old man in a diaper holding an ax.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: A good number of the ghosts died in downright horrible circumstances. Also, Ben Moss and Kalina both meet very grisly fates.
  • Dead All Along: Inverted. Cyrus is alive the whole time.
  • Driven to Suicide: How The Angry Princess died.
  • Drop the Hammer: Guess.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The film ends with Cyrus being violently punished, the ghosts being released, and with all the members of the Kriticos family and Maggie alive, and even the ghost of Jean seems to have found peace at the end.
    • Likewise, Dennis finally found peace after his Heroic Sacrifice against the Hammer and the Juggernaut.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Kalina may be in on the whole thing, but she is horrified when Cyrus suggests putting Arthur's kids in danger.
  • Everything's Better with Spinning
  • Evil Laugh / Laughing Mad: The Jackal
    • The Bound Woman as well, though she doesn't appear as often as The Jackal does. This is particularly evident after the ghosts kill Cyrus.
  • Eye Scream: The Angry Princess committed suicide after an attempt at performing self-cosmetic surgery went horribly wrong and left her blinded in one eye.
  • Fainting Seer: Dennis Rafkin's visions are in Screamer form, so it's no wonder even the mildest of them leave him grabbing his head in pain.
  • Faking the Dead: Cyrus Kriticos.
  • Fan Service / Fan Disservice: The Angry Princess provides both. She is completely naked, though covered in deep, self-inflicted slashes. Including one right through a nipple.
  • Flipping the Bird: Dennis, to the Hammer.
  • Fridge Horror: The actions of the ending free all of the trapped spirits, including the Hammer, the Jackal and the Juggernaut.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: The Angry Princess.
  • Ghostly Goals: Largely Type 2, but many of them are in the house specifically because they are trapped there.
  • Go Out with a Smile: In a sense. Dennis doesn't actually die smiling, but, when he later appears as a ghost, he seems a lot more content and at peace then when he was alive.
  • Goggles Do Something Unusual: The main characters wear special glasses to see the ghosts, in a Shout-Out to the Illusion-O gimmick of the original.
  • Gorn: Mostly avoided, although the death of Moss is a very effective and shocking example. According to the director's commentary, the creators were surprised they managed to get away with it without using any discretion shots.
  • Gotta Catch Em All: In the remake, Cyrus Kriticos must find thirteen specifically-themed spirits to power his infernal machine. His nephew Arthur would have been the thirteenth ghost, if he'd killed himself as Cyrus planned.
  • The Grotesque: The Great Child and The Dire Mother.
  • Half the Man He Used To Be: Ben Moss finds himself backing away from the Angry Princess until - CHOMP - he gets vertically bisected by a glass door slamming shut. We get a nice shot of his cross-section when one half falls away.
    • Leading to an awesomely funny line: "Did the lawyer split?"
  • Hates Being Touched: Dennis, and for a good reason. And according to the ghost backstories, The Jackal hates it as well after his stay in a mental hospital and might be the reason he died when the place went up in flames.
  • Haunted Headquarters: Inverted.
  • Haunted House: Inverted: Cyrus Kriticos builds the glass house as an infernal engine, and then deliberately moves specific ghosts into it as a power source.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Dennis fights the Hammer and the Juggernaut alone because there's only enough room in the corner behind the shield for one, so he throws Arthur behind it because he has a family to rescue.
    • Subverted with Arthur, who's led to believe that he has to perform one to save his family. At the last moment, he realizes it's a Batman Gambit by Cyrus and his death would actually fulfill his uncle's plans.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Cyrus is thrown into the spinning rings by most of the ghosts and chopped to pieces.
  • Hollywood Hype Machine: Shannon Elizabeth's appearance here owed much to the fame she earned by being in American Pie.
  • Human Sacrifice: The last ghost will manifest itself this way.
  • I Shall Taunt You
  • Impending Doom POV
  • Infant Immortality: Played straight with Bobby, averted with the First Born Son.
  • Jump Scare: Lampshaded.

Dennis: Oh, God! I hate it when they do that!
Maggie: Do what?
Dennis: They wait for your to stick your FACE right up against the glass! And then give you a big, fat "boo"!

  • Karmic Death: Cyrus Kriticos, who gets killed by the ghosts he captured and tried to exploit, and Kalina, who taunted Dennis for not realizing he was being used by Cyrus - except she was being used by him too. Ben Moss also counts - he is in on the whole thing and taunts the Angry Princess when he sees her inside her containment cube, and is later killed when he is bisected by glass doors while backing away from said ghost.
  • Kick the Dog: Cyrus does this at the beginning, when he slaps Dennis' medication out of his hand for no discernible reason. He also does a more extreme form of dog-kicking later, when he has Kalina squished to death between two panels of glass.
  • Knife Nut: The Angry Princess.
  • Large Ham: Cyrus absolutely devours the scenery whenever he's on-screen.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang!
  • Letters 2 Numbers
  • Lockdown
  • Losing Your Head: The Torso's head.
  • Mad Bomber: Kalina.

"Well, the other option is I have enough explosives to blow us back to the middle ages, of course none of us would be around to brag about it afterward."

"If you haven't noticed, I'm a little bit of a freak! I come within ten feet of anything dead, I go into seizures. I touch somebody, and a whole life full of shit just flashes in front of my eyes!"