Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Thirteen Ghosts 2001

Thirteen Ghosts, or "Thiren Ghosts" because I refuse to say it with that stupid number in the middle, is one of my guilty pleasures.  A bad movie I really like, own, and watch about once a year.  Maybe I do this because it had such potential to be a good movie.  A remake (in name only) of William Castle's film from 1960 (starring Vincent Price), Thirteen Ghosts has great production design, good make-up and gore, and a kick-ass ghost back story. 

But the main fucking story is so complicated and stupid I don't even feel like recapping.  Here is the short version.  F.Murray Abraham (still slumming) is an eccentric wealthy douchbag whose hobbies include overly complicated interior design and collecting ghosts.  Helping him do this is Matthew Lillard, who spazes out about every 5 minutes but that is what you would expect from a Matthew Lillard performance.  Abraham dies, and leaves his beautiful glass house to his nephew, Tony Shalhoub.  Tony has two kids, one of whom is played by Shannon Elizabeth.  Yeah, I don't know how that happened either.

Tony is a widower.  His wife dies in a horrific fire.  Yes, in a movie about ghosts you know she is going to make a guest appearance.  Bring on the healing!

The glass house is home to 12 ghosts.  All of them are pissed off and scary as fuck.  They can also kill the living. I have never liked this complication in ghost stories.  Ghosts shouldn't be able to kill the living.  They should scare them to death, but not outright kill them.  And why are ghost murders always so gory?  I am thinking Owen Wilson in that atrocity from a few years ago, and this film.  A Lawyer gets sliced in half (he deserved it), a guy gets bent in half, another person gets squished between two glass walls (not technically a ghost killing, but still gross).  You know who doesn't get killed?  Spoiler Alert:

Shannon Elizabeth!  For the love of God would one of these ghosts kill her character??  She disappears for half the film (a favor from the Director to all of us), and has a really stupid smile on her face for the other half.  Yes Shannon, it is great that you found work, but at least try to act like you are in a horror film!

A bunch of ridiculous stuff about a portal to hell happens, every one grows and learns, the end.  Now to what I love about the film.  Number one is the production design.  The house is really cool.  It was Steam punk before Steam punk was a thing (I think, not looking it up).  The gore and make-up effects are old school.  Very little CGI that I could tell.  Greg Nicotero was involved, so it is top notch.  Finally, I just really like the ghosts.  They are all given back stories (you can watch the DVD extras for details) and are really creepy.  I particularly like the "Angry Princess", who botched plastic surgery on herself (!) and really, really wants to kill Shannon Elizabeth.  I also like the "The Great Child & The Dire Mother", a ghostly duo from the freak show.  They are all pissed off ghosties, and I would be too if F.Murray Abraham trapped me in a glass cage.  What an asshole.

So that's a bad movie I love.  Whenever I am feeling sick or a little sad, I pop in shit like Thirteen Ghosts.  Did I mention it was funny too?  And Rah Digga is in it?  Surprisingly she does NOT play Tony Shalhoub's other daughter, cause that would make about as much sense as Shannon Elizabeth.

1 comment:

Tyler Bonham said...

It really is a shame that this film wasn't better. I agree with you that the ghosts look fantastic, and with a better story this film could have been great. This is entertaining and disappointing at the same time. Nice review!