Remakes can be tough to do, a lot of what made the original shine have usually been replicated, iterated upon, or have been made obsolete. But with enough reverence for the original, you can make up for that if you bring your own spin. Exactly what happened in 2001, when a family got to experience the terror of a classic William Castle showcase first-hand, with a pair of special spectacles and a rampage of Thirteen Ghosts
When renowned Ghost-hunter, Cyrus Kriticos is killed mid-mission, his nephew Arthur inherits his mansion. He takes his two children up to the place, a peculiar mansion made entirely out of glass and unbeknownst to Arthur, Cyrus’s 12 captured ghosts. After an incident causes these captives to be released the new owners are oblivious but through a pair of special bifocals, the occupants start to notice the other inhabitants of the house and the trouble they cause. It’s up to them to put the 13 Ghosts back into their cells before they join their ranks.
The house is an interesting construction, the literal glasshouse is home to some very stylish Objet d’art. It is clear that the set designers were let loose in designing the rooms and objects to be very eccentric as possible. This is also true for the new ghosts, who each of the unlucky 13 has this unique backstory, that can be inferred from their elaborate design, (or the D.V.D. menu) It doesn’t rob the mystery with too much exposition which is highly commendable and all the scarier.
There are some good gory kills, dollops of blood, and some good old-fashioned nudity if you’re into that but if it wasn’t for all these, you’d be caught by flourish of humour that adds a lot of relief to the panic. I like that the film starts, in media res, with a ghost hunting, familiar territory for Mathew Lilliard who makes an appearance as physic assistant, Dennis, he brings his talents for comedy and experiencing fear to the forefront. But it’s mainly an ensemble piece with Tony Shalhoub is an impressive fit as the widowed father and the struggling occupant is also a good choice and the two children, played by Shannon Elizabeth and Alec Roberts add a surprising human element.
Continuing on Dark Castle’s fabulous legacy of bringing fashionable flourishes to the classics. The Thirteen Ghosts is a remake for modern times. Retaining the intriguing core of the original with a collection of homages and call-backs to the renowned showmanship that William Castle brought to cinema. While both the classic and this film can be enjoyed independently, you won’t feel short-changed by watching this, and I encourage you to do as seeing, as they say is believing.
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