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  • Jweybrew5 April 2004
    William Castle set out to make a fun, spooky, scarey picture for anyone who ever believed (or wanted to believe) in ghosts, and the result, 13 GHOSTS, is a marvelous and memorable little picture, that even after 40-odd years, still has creeps, scares, thrills and fun galore.

    If at all possible, see it the way it was meant to be seen- - -with proper Ghost Viewers-(available with the DVD edition) -so you can experience Illusiono, by which you can actually see the ghosts in Ectoplasmic Color!

    The plot, acting and production values may be unsophisticated, but what matter?- -The important thing is THE GHOSTS- -and they are all there as promised, including the mysterious thirteenth ghost- -and a wonderfully familiar witch (who was delighted to play the part)- -

    This is a great movie for kids (and adults) who love ghosts and spooky stuff, but are not at all ready (or desirous) of watching a movie full of gore, putrescent language or non-stop violence.

    You'll remember the ghosts, the fun and the thrills, for years to come.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I actually loved this movie (and so did my six year old!)..... I watched it over and over again with him! The "special effects" are quirky and funny and clearly 1960's but that was the allure of the movie to me. It was Vintage Royalty Gold and I immediately became a fan of "William Castle" Movies. I loved many of the scenes: 1. Appearance of ghosts were quite strange and quirky. 2.The Seance, with the Ouiji Board gave me the chills...which was interesting, because the special effects were quite odd. 3. Then the diabolical, attorney who's trying to get the treasure from the bowels of the house who meets an untimely demise by being "smooshed" in a canopied bed that becomes a death chamber. (OK then....). Watch just might like it.
  • Cyrus Zorba (Donald Woods) and his family learn they have inherited the house of his late uncle Plato. This couldn't come at a better time for the Zorba family as they are struggling with financial problems. However, once they move in they discover the house is haunted by ghosts that dear old uncle Plato collected from all over the world. Uh-oh.

    Filmed in "Illusion-O," William Castle never missed a beat with a good gimmick. This is a fun movie with no pretensions about doing anything other than entertaining you for eighty minutes. Charles Herbert was an enjoyable child actor with a good screen presence. Sadly this was his last credited film role. I guess the same fate befell him that would many other child actors. Donald Woods, decades removed from his leading man days, is very pleasant and likable in this. Lovely Jo Morrow plays the daughter Medea. Margaret Hamilton has fun with her Wicked Witch reputation here. The direction is solid, the music very nice, and the special effects are fun. Okay, they are relatively simple effects but still fun. Maybe it's not that scary but it sure is enjoyable. Way more entertaining than the gory CGI remake.
  • Schlockmeister William Castle's "13 Ghosts" is one of his classic horror films of the late 1950s/early 1960s. Castle was known, at least during this time, for gimmicks - the gimmick for this movie was special glasses to see the ghosts.

    Absent-minded paleontologist Cyrus Zorba (Donald Woods), not to be confused with the Dr. Zorba played by Sam Jaffe on the Ben Casey TV show, inherits his eccentric uncle's house. His uncle Plato Zorba collected ghosts. 11 ghosts, including a killer Italian chef, a headless lion tamer and his lion that for some reason is split in half, a few flaming ghosts, and, for ghost #12, the late Plato Zorba.

    Uncle Plato (apparently suffocated in a canopy bed) was discovered by his housekeeper Elaine Zacharides, played by the late, great Margaret Hamilton (best known as the Wicked Witch of the West in "The Wizard of Oz". Before Uncle Plato died, he converted everything he owned into cash and hid it in the house. His attorney, Ben Rush (Martin Milner) knows that there is a substantial amount of money, but he doesn't know where it is.

    There are a few interesting things to ratchet up the scare factor - Ouija board that tells the Zorbas and Ben that one of them will be harmed, different ghosts causing objects to float in the air, these weird specs that light up inside the frames, a creepy housekeeper, a séance, and a hidden stash of cash.

    Filmed in "Illusion-O". It's not a great film and by no stretch of the imagination is this on the same level as many other films from 1960, like "Spartacus", "The Apartment", or even "The Bellboy, but it definitely has its place in history.
  • The reason I watched this film in the first place was because one of my favorite actors (Martin Milner) is in it, but now it's one of my favorites. I don't generally like horror films, but this one is great. It has everything: ghosts, spooky little people, screaming women, weird special affects, and people who are more than they seem. I actually laid awake that night listening to noises in my house! Plus the little boy in this movie is a pretty good actor.

    The one complaint I have is that the ghosts are hard to see. I'd like to see this released either on DVD or again on video, but this time with the special illusion affects William Castle put in it in tact, and special glasses could come with the DVD/video.

    This may look to some like a typical cheesy 50's & early 60's horror film, but it's one of the best.
  • 13 Ghosts is produced and directed by William Castle and written by Robb White. It stars Charles Herbert, Jo Morrow, Rosemary DeCamp, Martin Milner, Margaret Hamilton and Donald Woods. Cinematography is by Joseph Biroc and music by Von Dexter.

    When the Zorba family inherit a house from the recently deceased Dr. Plato Zorba, they think their luck has turned for the better. But pretty soon it becomes evident that Plato was known to be a dabbler in the supernatural and the house is haunted by a number of ghosts…….

    By the time of 13 Ghosts' release, William Castle was well into his stride as a showman producer. Following on from The Tingler, one of his best films that featured his best gimmick (Percepto), he brought to his target audience Illusion-O, basically a two coloured viewer that the audience could use if they did or did not want to see the ghosts in the film, a subtitle flashed on the screen prompted use of the viewer. Unlike The Tingler, 13 Ghosts isn't a good enough film to be considered better than the gimmick that accompanied it. Yet there's a glorious sense of fun about the film, anyone under the illusion (o) that Castle was trying for a serious horror to scare the teenagers, could do with listening to Von Dexter's score for some of the ghostly goings on. Wonderfully tongue in cheek, the whole thing is played for nervous smiles rather than shrieker schlock.

    The effects used (red images in a black and white movie) are more than good enough for tone and purpose of this particular production, in fact if you watch in the dark in the right frame of mind, then the ghosts do have a creepy enough vibe to them. The narrative, while hardly taxing for the brain, does contain a couple of surprises, while the presence of the wonderful Margaret Hamilton (Wizard of Oz's Wicked Witch of the West) is a major plus point, especially since she closes the picture down with eyebrow shifting glee. Critics across the years have always been hard on the film, and for sure it's weak in direction, writing and a high percentage of the acting, but it was a hit at the box office. There was a market for it back then, and there still is now, you just gotta be into fun and in an undemanding horror/comedy mood.

    Just above average for a cheeky chiller blues lifter. 6/10
  • 13 Ghosts has stood the test of time well, as have most of Castle's films. While much is made of the gimmick of seeing the ghosts with 3d glasses, the movie itself is well made and not just a vehicle to carry the gimmick. Seeing the movie on television or video without the 3d glasses (but with the ghosts visible) makes you realize this is a well made film.

    The scene where the father encounters the ghosts for the first time in the hidden room is quite spooky, and the special effects are almost hypnotic to watch. The story behind the ghosts being in the house is developed quite well, and makes the ghosts themselves more enjoyable. The ghosts range from almost comical to truly frightening, and it is fun to wait and see what kind of spirit you will encounter next.

    The house itself is a rather nice piece of real estate, and I'm sure some people have driven around Los Angeles trying to find it. Martin Milner plays the lawyer who facilitates the will giving the family the house, and it is interesting to see him in his pre-Adam 12 days.

    13 Ghosts is definitely worth watching, especially around Halloween. While some may find the plot and idea less than satisfying, I found it to be very spooky. And you really do get to see all 13 ghosts!
  • Thirteen Ghosts is one of those great 'classic' horror films,that relied more on atmosphere and acting, then on 'gory' special f/x. I saw the re-make' and did not enjoy it at all; being a classic horror film fan, I was very disappointed. This movie features some pretty good actings; Donald Woods, Rosemary DeCamp, and Martin Milner of the classic "Route 66" TV show, Donald Woods as know to classic horror fans, appeared in the Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, and John VanDreelan in "The Leech Woman" so it was goods for us old 'classiclovers' to see them, and lets not forget Miss Margaret Hamilton, the 'Wicked "Witch of the West" from the great "Wizard of 0z' all in all an entertaining, fun family film It has its scary moments, but none of the 'gore' so prevalent in today's films.
  • William Castle goes all out and throws everything in, including the kitchen sink, in this story of a family inheriting a house from an eccentric uncle, just when they need a roof over their heads the most. They're in debt and need to get out from under. This was a godsend. That's what they thought before they moved in. It comes with a lot of baggage, 13 Ghosts. The production values here are campy and creepy, making this a crowd-pleaser. Another plus was the inspired casting of Margaret Hamilton, "the Wicked Witch of the West," as the housekeeper who came with the house, as she had served the previous owner, their uncle, of whom she was very loyal to. The main plot of the film, aside from the family getting used to the ghosts, is the question of what really happened to their uncle. Was he....murdered? If you want some good scares on Halloween night and some fun to go with it, then this is for you.
  • bodie1 September 1999
    I was 8 years old when this movie came out. We saw it as a family at the Baseline Drive-in. At the time it really scared me and my siblings. I just saw it recently on video and my impressions now are of course different. What I remember were the special glasses that you had to use to see or not to see the ghosts. William Castle at the time was the PT Barnum of horror movies and this was one of his latest gimmicks. Probably what I remember the most was finding for weeks afterward the discarded special glasses in our families orange grove since we lived about 1 mile from the drive-in and our road was on the way home for many people. My dad couldn't stand trash on our property and would pay each of us 5 cents for each one we brought to him.
  • Cyrus Zorba (Donald Woods) works in a museum and is completely broken. His wife Hilda Zorba (Rosemary De Camp) calls him and tells that their furniture has just been takes since he has not paid the installments. During the night, Cyrus, Hilda and their teenage daughter Medea Zorba (Jo Morrow) celebrate the birthday of their son and brother Buck Zorba (Charles Herbert), who is a fan of horror books, and he wishes to have a house of their own with furniture. Out of the blue, Cyrus learns that he has inherited an old mansion from his uncle Dr. Zorba. He visits the lawyer Benjamen Rush (Martin Milner) that tells that the house is haunted and he can not sell it. Further, together with the house, he receives the weird housekeeper Elaine Zacharides (Margaret Hamilton), a hidden treasure and the collection of 12 ghosts that belonged to Dr. Zorba, who was a master of the occultism.

    The family moves to the mansion and soon Cyrus discovers a set of special goggles that makes possible to see the ghosts. When Buck accidentally discovers the hidden fortune in the house, the ambitious Benjamin lures the boy with the intention of stealing the money for him. But Dr. Zorba's ghost is also in the house and will protect his family. "13 Ghosts" is an original movie directed by William Castle, actually a family entertainment. The plot is very simple but the greatest attractions are the ghosts in Dr. Zorba's mansion. The DVD delivers special goggles that allows the viewer to see the ghosts in a unique frightening experience. The only problem is to repeat the scenes to share the goggles since everybody wants to see the ghosts. My vote is six.

    Title (Brazil): "13 Fantasmas" ("13 Ghosts")
  • This was one of those movies that stirred my imagination as a child from 1960. I agree time has changed everything, but the memory of being with my father & younger brother ( God rest their souls) at the premiere at The Huntridge Theatre in Las Vegas, is still a monumental time of my life with family. My father hardly ever took us to the movies. My kid brother was scared shirtless. This is definitely a sign of the times in the 60's when production like this was a thriller of those times. The bigger flick of those days was Night Of The Living Dead. That one still holds up today. I miss those schoolboy chills. My dad, my mom, and brother. I don't recall anything scarier then those overacted horror movies we all enjoyed as kids.
  • Ghost movies are among my favorite horror movies even over vampire pictures because you can't screw up a ghost movie while so many vampire movies rewrite vampire legends to fit their plots. William Castle knew how to make really good "haunted house" pictures. "House on Haunted Hill" is a classic, even with it's so-so remake, but I think "Thirteen Ghosts" deserves to be counted as Castle's best. In this movie he sets up a family nearing financial destitution despite the father's white collar job. This family with its knock-out daughter and flighty son (I shouldn't complain, that boy acts and talks the same way I was at his age) loses everything except their private belongings and then discovers a forgotten rich relative has left them his house and fortune. Wouldn't you want that to happen to you ? Before you say 'yes,' the house turns out to be haunted by the eccentric relative's ghost collection (this was years before "Ghostbusters"). The family has to decide to give up the house which may be hiding the relative's missing fortune or give it all up. It's a great plot, but the "Illusio" used at the time to create the ghosts with special glasses doesn't translate well to the black and white of today's tv screens, not even if you try to substitute 3-D glasses.Still, for what you see of them, the ghosts are chilling in a surreal sort of way as they go about their business and scare the family on the side. Some of the acting is campy, particularly De Camp's reactions to the ghosts in the kitchen. The boy, Buck, can be particularly chilling in the way Haley Joel Osment was for "The Sixth Sense." The daughter, Medea, played by obscure Jo Morrow, overdoes some of the stern sister's acting, but the father is played somewhat wooden. "Adam-12's" Martin Milner looks out of his element as the family lawyer, but he was near the start of his acting career. Kudos have to go to the casting of Margaret Hamilton from "The Wizard of Oz" as the housekeeper who may or may not be a witch in this movie too. Can you imagine what this movie would have been like with Ann B. Davis ?
  • AaronCapenBanner14 October 2013
    William Castle directed this amusing comedy/thriller about the Zorba family, who have just inherited a house from Cyrus's(played by Donald Woods) uncle, a reclusive inventor who created a set of special goggles that enable the viewer to see the 12 ghosts said to haunt the home. So wife Hilda(played by Rosemary De Camp) daughter Madea(played by Jo Morrow) and son Buck(played by Charles Herbert) move in, to discover that the ghosts are real, and that there is a hidden treasure in the house, and that someone will kill to find it, thus creating the 13th ghost... Fun film used the "Illusion-O" gimmick of giving film goers tinted glasses so that they can also see the ghosts with the characters. Margaret Hamilton and Martin Milner costar in effective roles.
  • This movie scared me to death when I was a kid. I had sort of a drought from seeing it for many, many years. local TV station's stopped showing Saturday night mid-night horror shows. Till one day I was in a local video store and saw it was out on VHS so I had to buy it. First time I had watched it since I was a kid 35 years later and it still scared me. It was scary but fun. Then when it came out on DVD with the red and blue ghost viewer that made it even more fun. the effects are nothing by todays standards but at that time they were good and William Castle was the P.T.Barnum of "B" movies he had gimmicks for all his films Normally I don't get into paranormal movies but 13 Ghosts is the exception. I love it.
  • Warning: Spoilers

    Where else are you going to see a scary movie with both the incomparable Margaret Hamilton (as a good guy) and the hero of Adam-12 (as the bad guy??)

    This movie was an absolute staple of the yearly Halloween scary-movie marathon when I was a kid. No, it's not scary by today's standards, but it's strangely disturbing in some way, which puts it ahead of about 90% of the gorefests out there. The plot device that makes it work is extremely clever: a special pair of glasses made from a special glass that enable the view to see ghosts, while the others can't see the danger that looms over them. There's a great subtle moment that would never be found in today's hack bloodfests; the scientist who made the glasses puts them on his desk for the night, & a fly buzzes over them; only to disintegrate.

    The embarrassing remake had Everyone wearing the glasses; so the entire suspense of being the only one that can see them is gone! The movie is directed so that the viewer has the experience of being the one wearing the special glasses; so the "Look Out Behind You!" factor is very high. If the effects weren't so campy, this would be very effective even today; and still could, in the right hands (this would've made a great idea for the X-Files or similar original show). However, some of the effects are still disturbing, it is atmospheric as heck for those who have an attention span, and you get to see a great ending that put a smile on my face (only because I love Margaret Hamilton so much). It's a crime this great actress wasn't starring in more films of high caliber; a true waste of talent. Check it out on Halloween for your kids if it isn't on TV. If they haven't been desensitized by chain saws & decapitations yet, they'll like it. Then again, maybe I'm just nostalgic.
  • This film just is not as good as House on Haunted Hill, but Vincent Price was at his very best in that one. Not that the cast in this one is bad or anything, this film just suffers from being a bit too predictable and while most of the cast was good, the kid playing the son was just annoying. The effects were about what one expects from a film from this era while the tone is a bit more comedic in tone than what I was expecting.

    The story has a man who works at a museum who seems to have a hard time paying his bills on time. His stuff is getting repossessed and his son wishes that they could get a house with furniture that no one can take away. As if by magic, the curator finds that he has inherited an old mansion. Of course, the catch is that he and his family has also inherited the ghosts the old man who owned the house 'collected'. A strange woman who insists on living on the premises tells the son of the ghosts as does the lawyer of the man who owned the house. Something seems suspicious, but at the same time the house does seem to be haunted as a box containing special glasses is also given to the curator and with them he sees the spirits at play.

    I actually watched the remake of this one well before ever viewing this one. I am surprised by how much of this one's plot did make it into the remake. I was thinking it was going to be a remake in name only and perhaps both featured 13 ghosts, but the glasses in this one made their way to the remake's plot as did the fact the family was getting kicked out of the house. I prefer the remake, only because the ghosts in this one were just not very scary mainly being more funny in nature.

    So I am glad I finally watched this film, if for no other reason to get another horror film under my belt. I prefer other haunted films from this era though like House on Haunted Hill, the one with Roddy McDowell and various others. This one was just a bit too cutesy as it played off a lot of the ghost encounters as funny. It started out with a bang, but after awhile it also gets repetitive and if you cannot figure out the one character's motives then you are really young or really naive.
  • 13 Ghosts is a real classic haunted house style ghost story. Films like this wouldn't do very well these days (hence the reason the remake is so different) as the chills mostly come in the form of wind whistling through windows and pots being thrown off kitchen shelves; things which wouldn't scare people anymore. However, it's delightful to see a film like this - especially one directed by one of the kings of horror entertainment; William Castle. 13 Ghosts works from the assumption that its audience wants to believe in ghosts; and the result is a cheerful little flick that Castle manages to steer away from patronisation and keep firmly within the realms of the fun horror film. The story is halfway between a tale of ghosts and a story about mad science, and we follow a family who find themselves between a rock and a hard place when the repossession men take their furniture and the father's uncle dies, leaving them his house. However, he dabbled in the occult; and the house that he's left his nephew's family is filled with ghosts!

    Hot on the heels of his successes with Vincent Price starring films, The Tingler and House on Haunted Hill; 13 Ghosts is another gimmicky film with over the top special effects, and once again Castle does a great job of entertaining the audience. The plot doesn't have a lot of originality, but it doesn't matter because it's successful where it counts. The family are shown as the classic American set up of a father, mother, daughter and son; and they're all very easy to get on with, which makes both of the 'evil' subplots easy to buy into. The special effects are one of the most notable things about this film. William Castle clearly doesn't subscribe to the idea of 'less is more', and 13 Ghosts shows that quite clearly. The ghosts here leave nothing to the imagination, and I was very happy with that as the main reason I don't usually like ghost stories is that they take too long to get going. This one doesn't suffer from that, and although it's a bit silly at times - 13 Ghosts is a real good time, and comes highly recommended to all!
  • BaronBl00d30 December 2004
    This film by William Castle about a family of four moving into a house professed to have no fewer than 13 ghosts is a great deal of fun. Donald Woods is Cyrus Zorba, a paleontologist down on his luck. His furniture has just been removed from his flat and his wife and two children, Medea and Buck, seem used to being in continual dire financial straits. While sitting on the floor for Buck's birthday party, a creepy message comes telling Cyrus to see a lawyer in the morning. Cyrus and wife Rosemary Decamp go and discover that Cyrus has inherited a huge mansion from his Uncle Plato as well as a package containing some weird type of glasses. It seems that Uncle Plato collected ghosts. The rest of the story details what life is like in this house that has these ghosts. I did not have the pair of glasses so cannot tell you what it looked like in Illusion-O, but I bet it was even more fun. Castle always seems to do a good job at creating entertaining, fun films, though none of them ever seem to be much more than that either. The mystery is not hard to figure out at all. The acting is good all around with youngster Charles Herbert giving a nice performance as Buck. Woods is good as the family patriarch and Jo Morrow is just beautiful as daughter Medea. Martin Milner plays Ben the lawyer. And as a retainer in the house is Elaine, played by none other than Margaret Hamilton(always a joy to see her). When Ben first arrives at the house to see how the Zorbas are doing, Buck says "ring the bell and you'll see a witch." Of course the witch reference goes throughout the whole film as Hamilton looks witch-like and this is one marvelous inside gag about her Wizard of Oz performance. The effects for the film are pretty tame and very hokey, but this film is just good, old-fashioned fun. I liked it from beginning to end. If you loved the new one and decide to go back and see the old one - you will be very disappointed. Just as I was disappointed having seen the old one and moving to the new one. They have nothing except some threadbare incidentals in common and a producer named Castle(though a different first name for each).
  • Don't confuse this movie with the awful remake. Thankfully this movie was shown on one of the old movie channels before the remake came out or I might have passed on it. Maybe I'm biased having grown up watching all kind of horror movies, but I've always enjoyed the older movies like this one rather than the in your face remakes of today. Subtlety goes a long ways in telling the story!
  • I still remember as a kid all the publicity surrounding 13 Ghosts and how when you went to see the film you were given tinted cardboard framed plastic glasses. The better to see the ectoplasm on the screen.

    Sadly my VHS copy doesn't have the ghosts in color. They just appear very pale on the screen and the film has to carried by the players who don't look too motivated by the lines they have to utter.

    Dr. Zorba played by Donald Woods inherits an old haunted house with a witch housekeeper, Margaret Hamilton, to go with it. Woods moves in his family which consists of Rosemary DeCamp, Charles Herbert, and Jo Morrow. The lawyer handling the estate, Martin Milner, takes quite a shine to Ms. Morrow, but he also has a whole other agenda as well.

    Of course after they move in, various apparitions start appearing and it's pretty disconcerting believe me. Action has to be taken and it's took all right.

    If you're interested by all means see the film. It's acquired a cult status over the years. The special effects, impressive back then, don't quite hold up as well as say DeMille parting the Red Sea in The Ten Commandments.
  • Yes, it may be old but I find it better than the "new revised" version that terribly stunk. Sure, when we see floating candles and furniture we can only imagine a small thin piece of string on the tip but hey, at least they used their imagination and had fun with it. The part played by the wicked witch from "The Wizard of Oz" was the best part. She was perfect in the film. As well as the family. They played their parts better. The father didn't act as stupid as the one in the modern version and the rest of the actors/actresses were better as well. There were alot of parts in the film that did not match the ones in the modern version but hey, thats why I liked it better they didn't have all those boring motives that the modern version had. And the ghosts were even scarier even though you could tell that it was a man in a costume with a reflecting light.
  • 13 Ghosts is a classic! The whole movie is just great! Good music,acting and everything! Its excellent and it feels good to watch it too! There is just something about this film that makes it so good! Its really a good film to watch around Halloween!
  • having previously seen the haunting (the original not that new shit version you muppet!), i saw what william castle was capable of. having seen the remake of thirteen ghosts, i knew that the original would truly go back to old skool. and boy was i right. gone is that s*** glass house and in comes good acting, fair trade. the kid plays the role brilliantly as does the old witch. if u remember one thing from the film though, remember the withces qoute; "ask no questions, and i'll tell no lies..." 6.8 / 10
  • this is SO COOL!!! i love wlm castle!!! this is the coolest in dvd's just for the sheer kitch factor. the damn thing comes with ghost glasses! (red to see them, blue if you're a scaredy cat) i sat and watched this w/ my 8-yr old and he thought that is was the best thing since bionicles! we watched it several times just to play with it. i got this when it was released (or re-released) on dvd after the thirteen ghosts w/ matthew lillard came out. (see my comments there)this is the best that wlm castle put out besides the tingler -and i don't think they're going to include a seat buzzer in THAT dvd!!
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