Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thirteen Ghosts (1960)

 I finally watched William Castle's Thirteen Ghosts.  I hate to admit I actually kind of like the remake that came out in 2001.  I know it is a shitty movie but it is one of my guilty pleasures, like the entire Resident Evil franchise.  I can now add Castle's Thirteen Ghosts to my guilty pleasure list.  I loved every inch of this movie!

Lets begin with the haunted mansion, which looks an awful lot like the Winchester Mystery House (my local haunted joint.)  Paleontologist Cyrus Zorba is a good man, but very bad with money.  He can't even keep his house furnished.  Zorba's luck changes one day when he is informed that his Uncle, Dr. Plato Zorba, has died and left Cyrus his furnished mansion!  Cyrus and his family, wife Hilda, daughter Medea, and son Buck (who named these people?) move in right away.  They are informed by Plato's lawyer, Ben Rush, that the house is haunted with eleven ghosts.  Make that twelve, since good old Plato is refusing to leave.  Seems that Plato dabbled in the occult, and he "collected" these ghosts from around the world.

The family moves in, but immediately begin to experience strange happenings.  It doesn't help that the housekeeper, Elaine, looks and acts like a witch (played tongue in cheek by Margaret Hamilton.)  Elaine knows that the ghosts are real, and that they are beginning to become out of control.  Plato left Cyrus a pair of goggles that allows him to "see" the ghosts.  And this is where Castle's gimmick comes in.  Audience members were given goggles with their ticket.  Brave souls could wear the goggles and "see" the ghosts on screen.  Those faint of heart only had to move a flap on the goggles and they were spared the horror!  Of course, if you didn't wear the goggles you could see the ghosts as well-- but what is the fun in that?

Plato had some very strange taste in ghosts.  One of them looks like the Swedish Chef from the Muppets, another is a flaming skeleton.  One of them is a lion tamer that lost his head, and another is the lion itself!! I love that one of the ghosts is a lion!  The ghosts are actually kind of scary.  They are no Caspers, that is for sure.  Apparently they will not rest until another joins their ranks: the thirteenth ghost!   Making matters worse, there is a fortune hidden somewhere in the mansion.  The Zorba family doesn't know anything about it, but Ben Rush and the witch Elaine do.  As you can imagine, ghosts are not the only threat to the Zorba family.

The special effects are really corny, and much of the film doesn't make much sense, such as the collapsing bed.  Who would built a bed that collapses with the push of a button?  It is as dumb as building a door to the sea in your basement (see The Terror.)  But I really like the Zorba family and the ghosts are really funky.  I want a ghost lion in my house.  Maybe I already have one.  I have misplaced by goggles but that could explain why my cat is acting so weird. 

No comments: