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THIR13EN GHOSTS

SYNOPSIS:
When millionaire rare-artefacts collector Dr. Cyrus Zorba (F. Murray Abraham) is killed in a gory ghost-trapping, his massive glass-walled mansion is inherited by his struggling widower nephew Arthur (Tony Shahloub) and his sexy daughter Kathy (Shannon Elizabeth) and young son Bobby (Alec Roberts). The tight-knit family believe their problems are solved until discovering that the house behaves, quite literally, like a living puzzle, and that it's releasing 12 imprisoned ghosts on-by-one within the house. With the help of pill-popping psychic seer Dennis Rafkin (Matthew Lillard), the family must unravel the secret of the thirteenth ghost to save their skins.

Review by David Edwards:
Thir13en Ghosts is a remake of a 1960 film directed by William Castle. While I havenít seen the original, Iím sure it canít match this update for sheer visual style and technical prowess. Director Steve Beckís background is in visual effects (including those on The Abyss and The Hunt for Red October), so itís little wonder the film is visually spectacular; with a magnificent set comprised almost entirely of etched glass panels and some truly grotesque ghosts to inhabit it. Where he falls down though is in allowing the visuals to overrun his story. Thereís nothing particularly original about the story; a variation on that hoary old chestnut of the horror genre Ė people trapped in a haunted house. Beck sets the mood nicely, but soon weíre bombarded by flashes, crashes, screams, moans and glimpses of the ghosts. These effects soon become tiresome, particularly as the story bogs down in the middle stages and never really recovers. Tony Shalhoub is definitely not your standard action hero, but he has a kind of everyman charm thatís effective if not outstanding in this context. F. Murray Abraham does his now-standard Vincent Price impersonation, and Shannon Elizabeth has little to do as Arthurís daughter. The scriptwriters have tried to inject some humour into the proceedings, and Matthew Lillard and rapper Rah Digga snare the best lines. For all their efforts though, the actors are largely secondary. The ghosts themselves are quite gruesome, although nothing that hasnít been done before. Thir13en Ghosts is a visual showcase trapped in a routine horror story Ė so while it looks great, it never rises above the ordinary.

Review by Shannon J. Harvey:
Basically your run-of-the-mill Haunted House gore-fest, Thir13en Ghosts looks and sounds terrific but is narratively butchered. In fact, watching it could damage your senses. Not for the ample random gore, but for the flashy, seizure-inducing sped-up photography that attacks the eyes and the crashes, screams and roars that pound the ears. It could be mistaken for one long Marilyn Manson video. Whenever Thir13een Ghosts slows down for a moment, you admire its production design. The grinding, gear-shifting, wheel-spinning mechanical house that unravels its mystery looks magnificent, with Latin written on the glass walls and a spherical thingy that controls it all. The film hangs on its art direction, make-up, special effects and costume design much more than its script, for although those nasty ghosties look like they've been stolen from your worst nightmares, they are given camp names like The Hammer, The Juggernaut, The Jackal, The Torso and my favourite, The Angry Princess (who obviously believes in silicone after death). They look great, but most never really open a can of whoop-ass on the rats-in-a-maze humans( If you want really stylish gore, check out Hellraiser.) Like most horror films, it's nearly impossible to understand the plot. What was Cyrus trying to achieve? What's with the book-of-the-dead dictated by Satan himself? Why are the 12 ghosts there? Why are they so angry with these strangers? And what the hell is Tony Shalhoub doing playing Shannon Elizabeth's father (I hardly recognised her without her American Pie Czech accent). What best sums up this cool looking but narratively frustrating movie is when it's revealed that the house is designed to open the "Oculorus Infernum (?). "What's that?" someone asks. "It's Latin," comes the helpful response.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 1

TRAILER

THIR13EN GHOSTS (MA)
(US)

CAST: Matthew Lillard, Shannon Elizabeth, Tony Shalhoub,F. Murray Abraham,
Embeth Davidtz, Alec Roberts, JR Bourne, Rah Digga
DIRECTOR: Steve Beck

PRODUCER: Dan Cracchiolo, Gilbert Adler

SCRIPT: Richard D'Ovidio (story Robb White, Neal Stevens)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Gale Tattersall

EDITOR: Derek Brechin, Edward A. Warschilka

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Sean Hargreaves

MUSIC: John Frizzell

RUNNING TIME: 91 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia Tri Star Films

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 13, 2001







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