13 Ghosts (1960)
Over at the old Zorba place
In my early teens I discovered Fangoria magazine and learned a whole hell of a lot about horror. Back then there wasn't some crazy "Internet" that John Q. Public could "log on" to and learn every little facet of something. Nope, no sir. Reading Fangoria I learned who John Carpenter, Wes Craven and Dario Argento where. Sure I'd seen some of their films but I didn't know anything about how they where made and by whom. Naturally, like many a horror geek, this made me dream of becoming a horror director myself. But I didn't want to emulate one of those greats, no. I wanted to be like someone else I'd read about. William Castle. At that time I'd only seen House on Haunted Hill. But reading about Castle's various gimmicks he used to promote his films and those awesome trailers he did where he would warn the audience about the horror of Mr. Sardonicus or The Tingler, well that's who I wanted to be. I could just imagine myself warning the audience about my latest horror offering! It would have been great! Or i would have turned out to be the next Ed Wood. Who's to say. Regardless my love of William Castle and his films remains to this day. Fangoria on the other hand...well there's always memories.
Commence pants crapping
All this rambling brings me to William Castle's 13 Ghosts. Eccentric geezer Dr. Plato Zorba has croaked and left his spooky mansion to his broke nephew Cyrus Zorba and his family. The family has also inherited the 12 ghosts old Doc Zorba has collected. not really having any money the family decide to stay in the house because ghosts or not, free is fucking free. There's also a housekeeper who may or may not be a witch. The young son Buck starts nosing around and discovers that Doc Zorba might have a hidden fortune somewhere in the house. But it seems someone else is after that money as well. And if that wasn't a big enough pain in the ass, the ghosts warn that one of them will soon die and join them as number 13.
"Ask me no questions, and I'll tell you no lies."
The cast deliver solid performances. Even the kid playing the young son Buck. Normally kids in horror films like this can induce vomiting. But Buck never gets to be too cute or too annoying. The two standout performances here though where Margaret Hamilton (The Wicked Witch herself) as the housekeeper. She's marvelous in the role that's an inside gag about her Wizard of Oz character. Plus she delivers the films best lines. The other is Martin Milner of the classic shows Route 66 and Adam-12. He plays Ben the lawyer handling the Zorba estate. He's quite charming and at the same time you just don't trust him.
mo money mo problems
Well what can I say about 13 Ghosts other then that it's old fashioned haunted house fun. Perfect for late night viewing. Now granted the effects are dated and the characters seem hokey, but therein lies it's charm. If your in the mood for a horror film that doesn't hit you over the head with tons of gore or people needlessly getting tortured and relive those days ehen Famous Monsters ruled then 13 Ghosts will hit the spot.
Next time on Frisky Dingo...