Steve Beck’s Thir13en Ghosts

Thirteen Ghosts is one weird fuckin movie. It’s the closest thing I can think of to a direct movie version of the haunted houses you find at carnivals, which is good for carnivals but not really handy for keeping up a story that makes any bloody sense. I would have loved it if the my just completely abandoned attempts at logic and made this a full music video or something but no, they just had to get the exposition cannon out and needlessly blast us all. At least it looks great.

The ‘story’ goes as follows: the nephew (Tony Shaloub) of a creepy old billionaire (F. Murray Abraham) has inherited his giant old haunted mansion and the thirteen vicious ghosts the reside within it, specifically in big glass cubes engraved with special incantations so they’ll stay put. Of course they don’t, and when the nephew invites a bunch of folks over to observe these spectres with special Ghost Vision Goggles they all get loose and start terrorizing everyone no end. Among the cannon fodder are Matthew Lillard, Shannon Elizabeth and Embeth Davidtz who is just as far above lowbrow shit like this as Shaloub and Abraham are.

Now my words so far may suggest that I dislike this film, but that’s not the case. I love it despite knowing full well that it’s wanton trash. The whole thing is a ludicrous theme park of crashes, bangs, loud metal and pandemonium not helped much by chainsaw editing, frenetic music cues, bombastic performances and hilarious special effects. The design, names and makeup of the thirteen ghosts are actually quite inspired, from a great big fat murderous adult baby to an angry, beautiful spurned lover and more. This is part of a trio of films that I have unofficially dubbed the ‘ Warner Brothers late 90’s/early 2000’s heavy metal chaotic horror remake’ trilogy alongside Ghost Ship and House On Haunted Hill. They’re not effectively scary, subtle or otherwise anything close to what horror should be. But for clanging, rambunctious background noise and stark, surreal imagery at a Halloween party they do the trick, this one especially wth all its baroque weirdness.

-Nate Hill

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