I’ve always loved the William Castle ghost film and the remake of “Thirteen Ghosts” by Steve Beck. Back in 2001 when it was being panned, I appreciated its ambition, amazing special effects, and great narrative. Now, many years later, horror fans have finally caught up to what a great, radical re-imagining of William Castle’s ghost film is. It’s a hard rock, balls to the wall ride that compensates for the lack of ghost glasses with excellent special effects, and some fun gore and grue.
A state-of-the-art remake of the classic William Castle horror film, “Thir13en Ghosts” centers on the Kriticos family, who inherits a spectacular old house from an eccentric uncle. There’s just one problem: the house seems to have a dangerous agenda all its own. Trapped in their new home by strangely shifting walls, the family encounters powerful and vengeful entities that threaten to annihilate anyone in their path.
“Thir13en Ghosts” isn’t by any means perfect, but it’s a damn good experience with its sights set on being as much of a novelty as the original Castle film was. For a movie made in 2001, it’s aged shockingly well, inventing some new and exciting ideas, and making the most out of its humble cast including Shannon Elizabeth, Tony Shalhoub, Matthew Lillard, and Embeth Davitz, respectively. Director Beck’s camera work is fantastic and sleek, and really plants its feet in to a more heavy metal aesthetic. The ghosts here aren’t just apparitions, but perverse, monstrous beings that are stuck in their respective traps. It’s a fun and spooky horror treat, worthy for Halloween viewing.
The Collector’s Edition from Shout includes two audio commentaries, one with Director Steve Beck, and another with The Creative Team (Director Steve Beck, Production Designer Sean Hargreaves and Special Makeup Effects Artist Howard Berger). There’s a ten minutes Interview With Actress Shannon Elizabeth, a fifteen minutes Interview With Actor Matthew Harrison, a thirteen minutes interview with “The Juggernaut” actor John DeSantis who discusses Star Wars and Alien getting him into loving film and his military background that led him to becoming a background actor. We get a six minutes interview with “The Hammer” actor Herbert Duncanson, originally hired as a stand-in for the film, who wound up with the part on his second day as the actor cast didn’t show up.
There’s eight minutes interview with Producer Gilbert Adler who discusses the formation of Dark Castle having originally been a producer of Tales From The Crypt, creating a remake that those living or related to those who made the original would love, working with Steve Beck and the reception of the movie as well as how it plays now. Thir13een Ghosts Revealed is a nineteen minutes typical making-of, ported over from the original DVD and upscaled to resemble HD. Ghost Files is the fourteen minutes segment hosted by F. Murray Abraham, where he discusses the individual ghosts, which was once an interactive game for the original DVD release.
It’s also upscaled to HD from the original DVD. There’s the forty three minutes Original EPK, that features the on set press kit interviews from the time of release with Tony Shalhoub, Embeth Davidtz, Matthew Lillard, Shannon Elizabeth, and more. In addition there is plenty of additional material like behind the scenes footage from on the set and in the special effects workshop. Finally there are five minutes of Trailers and TV Spots, all upscaled from the original SD.