The ZONE genre worldwide books movies
the Last Word in
Science Fiction
magazines online
 
 
critical articles, interviews, author profiles, retro lists, genre essays, incisive media reviews

Thir13en Ghosts (2001)
Director: Steve Beck

review by Thomas Cropper

Looking at Thir13en Ghosts there is no mistaking what you're gonna get. There will be screaming, there will be ghosts (13 at the very least) and there will be girls in tight tops running down corridors and screaming. (I mention this because in movies of this genre you should never under-estimate the importance of the girl in the tight top.) Knowing all this, the conclusion you can make about this film is this; it is going to be terrible. Not just run of the mill terrible, but spine-chillingly, nail-bitingly, embarrassingly terrible. I knew all this and I went to watch it anyway. Did the girl in the tight top have anything to do with it? Who can say?
   Thir13en Ghosts is a remake of the William Castle directed horror. Here, Tony Shalhoub plays a man who is struggling to support his family after the loss of his wife in a fire. Life is bad. He lost everything, but things seem to pick up when his mysterious uncle leaves him an 'eccentric' house in his will. For one brief moment he believes his problems are over, but we know better, don't we boys and girls?
   This is a dog of a movie, make no mistake. Every character is strained and obvious. Overacting hangs over the film like a damp blanket, but that is not why it fails. Such flaws are what we expect in films like this and we will forgive and forget just so long as the ghosts are scary and the action is tense. 'Scary', the ghosts certainly are. Homicidal, maniacal monsters - and, for one hour, this is the best kind of no-nonsense thrill you could possibly want.
   But then it all goes horribly, horribly wrong. The screenwriter does something to the movie, something unforgivable. He gives it a plot! Not such a bad thing in its place, you might say, but the plot gets no real airing until about three-quarters of the way through the film. It is almost as if, upon gearing up for the finale, he suddenly realised he had to somehow explain what was going on. Cue a shambled meeting in which some end of the world conspiracy is mentioned involving the Devil and a hell on Earth kind of scenario before the characters head back into the haunted basement and take on the ghosts.
   And so the film does not so much reach a rousing conclusion as fall in a pathetic heap. You almost feel sorry for the overworked scriptwriter who must have been told that he had about half an hour to make this implausible ending hang together, and get the audience out of the theatre without sparking a riot.
   So a good horror flick quickly became a stomach churning humiliation. Go and see it by all means, but when it looks like they're revving up for the ending, leave the theatre. No matter what - just collect your belongings and run from that place like you've never run before, because what you're going to see will only taint your entire evening. Who knows, if you make it out of there in time you might, just might, make last orders. Then the evening will not have been a total waste.
Thir13en Ghosts
Buy stuff at:
Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.com

home  articles  profiles  interviews  essays  books  movies  competitions  guidelines  issues  links  archives  contributors  email
copyright © 2001 - 2002 Pigasus Press