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  • Writer's pictureAllan Major

Thirteen Ghosts 2001 Reviewed

Featured Image For Thirteen Ghosts 2001 Reviewed.   Horror movie poster for "Thirteen Ghosts" with eerie faces floating around a singular terrified eye.
In 'Thirteen Ghosts,' despair has faces, and terror has a number. Count each specter, if you dare, before they count you.

Some remakes just aren't meant to be. They slither out of the shadows, pale imitations with all the soul sucked dry. "Thirteen Ghosts," a 2001 reimagining of William Castle's gimmick-laden horror flick, is one of those misbegotten specters. This ain't no masterpiece of terror; it's a cacophony of jump scares and garish special effects – a carnival ride with none of the thrills.

Thirteen Ghosts 2001 Key Takeaways

  • Ghostly gimmickry over genuine scares: The film relies heavily on its special effects and ghostly designs, but ultimately delivers more visual chaos than true terror.

  • Underdeveloped characters: The focus on spectacle leaves little room for the audience to connect with the characters, making their plight feel less impactful.

  • Misplaced cruelty: The gratuitous violence, particularly toward female characters, leaves a sour taste and doesn't add to the horror experience.

  • Editing over substance: The choppy editing and reliance on jump scares hinder the development of any real atmosphere or tension.

  • Missed opportunity in the concept: The idea of a house built to contain and utilize ghosts has potential, but the execution is muddled and lacks focus.

  • It's a remake with little added value: The 2001 "Thirteen Ghosts" fails to improve upon the original William Castle film, instead sacrificing the original's campy charm for an ultimately less enjoyable experience.

  • Production design as a highlight: The eerie glass-walled house is one of the film's few truly memorable elements.

Woman with eyes wide in terror, watching a scene from the horror movie Thirteen Ghosts.
The special effects were cheesy, but the shrieks echoing from the film chilled her. Were those coming from the TV, or from somewhere closer?

The Kriticos family thought they were just inheriting a quirky mansion from their eccentric uncle, Cyrus. You know, the kind of guy who's a rich collector of unique things. But old Cyrus, bless his twisted heart, had more than a few dusty old relics stashed away. His collection of ghosts is where things get messy – twelve of them, each nastier than the last. There's the fiery Juggernaut, the withered Dire Mother, all translucent fury and tattered gowns. These aren't your run-of-the-mill Casper types. They're designed to make you squirm.

Problem is, the house itself is a machine, fueled by the spectral power of these twelve ghosts. Arthur Kriticos (Tony Shalhoub), a widowed father down on his luck, and his two kids, Kathy (Shannon Elizabeth) and Bobby (Alec Roberts), are the unlucky ones picked to power the whole infernal spectacle. Turns out, good ol' Uncle Cyrus had some sinister plans.

This "Thirteen Ghosts" wants to be visceral, a full-on assault of the senses. It's got gore, it's got screaming, it's got Matthew Lillard as a twitchy psychic doing his best to explain what the heck is going on. But for all that bluster, it lacks the one thing a horror movie desperately needs – genuine scares. The ghosts are, well, a little on the cheesy side. There's a bizarre, almost cartoony quality to them that undermines the atmosphere the film is desperately trying to build.

Man with a horrified expression, his eyes fixated on a scene from the 2001 horror movie Thirteen Ghosts.
The jump scares were predictable, yet something about the film's atmosphere sent an icy shiver down his spine. He couldn't shake the feeling he wasn't alone in the room.

A Remake Of A Classic Ghost Story

And then there's the choppy editing and those incessant jump cuts. They get a little annoying after a while. Director Steve Beck seems to think that if he throws enough visual chaos your way, you won't notice how thin the plot is, or how thinly sketched the characters are. Sure, the set design is great, with the eerie, glass-walled house serving as a warped labyrinth. But it's not enough to salvage this film from the spectral scrapheap.

What does stand out is how genuinely off-putting some of the violence is. It's not just blood and guts – there's a disturbing undercurrent of misogyny and cruelty. The film tries to play it off like edgy horror, but it just comes across as mean-spirited, leaving a bad aftertaste long after the credits roll.

Here's the thing about remakes: it's not enough to just slap a fresh coat of CGI on an old idea. You gotta find the heart of the original, the thing that made it tick, and give it a new, twisted life. "Thirteen Ghosts" (2001) takes Castle's schlocky ghost story and strips away any sense of fun, replacing it with empty spectacle. As horror remakes go, this one is dead on arrival.

Maybe, just maybe, there's some campy enjoyment to be had in the overblown special effects and Lillard's scenery-chewing performance. But if you're looking for a real horror movie, one that sends shivers down your spine and stays with you long past midnight…well, you might want to look away. This glass house reflects only shadows, and the ghosts are all smoke and mirrors.

And that is Thirteen Ghosts 2001 Reviewed. Another modern horror classic remake that every horror fan should watch. 

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If You Liked Thirteen Ghosts 2001 You Might Also Like These Films

  • House on Haunted Hill (1999): This remake of the Vincent Price classic has a similar premise – a group of strangers are offered a hefty sum to survive a night in a haunted asylum. Expect cheesy scares, elaborate set design, and a cast including Geoffrey Rush and Famke Janssen having an absolute blast.

  • Ghost Ship (2002): A salvage crew discovers a luxurious ocean liner mysteriously adrift in the ocean and soon finds themselves stalked by the ship's ghostly passengers. This one delivers on gore, atmosphere, and a killer opening sequence.

  • The Haunting (1999): While criticized for its reliance on CGI spectacle over genuine scares, this remake of the classic chiller shares with "Thirteen Ghosts" the concept of a house full of malevolent spirits and an emphasis on production design.

  • House of Wax (2005): More emphasis on slasher-film tropes than supernatural horror, but "House of Wax" shares the same level of outlandish gore and visual flair, with a plot revolving around a group of friends terrorized in a creepy, isolated location.

  • Thir13en Ghosts (1960): If you want the original William Castle camp experience that inspired the 2001 remake, seek out this one! It features a far less gruesome plot but delivers the ghost story through vintage illusions and an undeniable sense of fun.

Thirteen Ghosts 2001 Reviewed FAQs

Q: What is the movie "Thirteen Ghosts" about? 

A: "Thirteen Ghosts" (2001) is a horror film directed by Steve Beck. It's a remake of the 1960 William Castle horror film of the same name. In this version, a widower named Arthur Kriticos (Tony Shalhoub) inherits a spectacular glass mansion from his eccentric uncle, Cyrus (F. Murray Abraham). Turns out, Cyrus was a collector of ghosts, and the house is a complex machine designed to capture and imprison them. Arthur and his children, Kathy (Shannon Elizabeth) and Bobby (Alec Roberts), become trapped inside and must confront 12 terrifying specters with the help of a psychic, Dennis Rafkin (Matthew Lillard), and Cyrus's former lawyer, Ben Moss (JR Bourne).

Q: Who are some of the actors in "Thirteen Ghosts"? 

A: The movie stars:

  • Tony Shalhoub (known for "Monk") as Arthur Kriticos

  • Shannon Elizabeth ("American Pie") as Kathy Kriticos

  • F. Murray Abraham ("Amadeus") as Cyrus Kriticos

  • Matthew Lillard ("Scooby-Doo") as Dennis Rafkin

  • Embeth Davidtz ("Matilda", "Army of Darkness") as Kalina Oretzia

  • Rah Digga (hip-hop artist) as Maggie Bess

Q: How are the ghosts depicted in the movie "Thirteen Ghosts"? 

A: The ghosts in the movie are portrayed as grotesque and violent creatures, each with a horrifying backstory and a unique, disturbing appearance. Here are a few examples:

  • The Jackal: A feral, deformed monster with sharp claws and teeth.

  • The Juggernaut: A hulking brute with immense strength.

  • The Withered Lover: A ghostly woman decaying in a tattered wedding dress.

Q: Is "Thirteen Ghosts" considered a good movie by critics? 

A: "Thirteen Ghosts" received a mixed reception from critics. While some praised its special effects, set design, and over-the-top gore, others criticized its choppy editing, thin plot, and overall lack of scares. It holds a 16% critic approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Q: What do viewers need to see the ghosts in "Thirteen Ghosts"? 

A: Special "spectral viewers" (goggles with red and blue lenses) are needed to fully see the ghosts in the movie. This was a gimmick meant to add an interactive element to the film.

Q: Are there any notable reviews of "Thirteen Ghosts"? 

A: Yes! Here's what a couple of prominent critics had to say:

  • Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times): "The plot is nonsensical, the characters are cardboard, and the payoff is cheesy. Yet there is something undeniably entertaining about it..."

  • Common Sense Media: "...a loud, violent, incoherent supernatural thriller with lots of blood and gore. Not for kids under 17."

Q: How many ghosts are there in "Thirteen Ghosts"? 

A: The movie features 13 ghosts in total, with the 13th ghost being a key twist near the end of the film.


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