Thirteen Ghosts Set to be Revived as New 13-Part Spook-Filled Series
Dark Castle Entertainment is developing the 2001 horror film Thirteen Ghosts into a new series delving into the movie's spectral characters.
- Thirteen Ghosts , a classic horror film from 2001, is being adapted into a series by Dark Castle Entertainment, the same team behind the original reboot.
- The series will explore a different ghost in each episode, drawing inspiration from the original film and incorporating international supernatural tales.
- There is potential for the series to incorporate augmented reality (AR) technology, allowing viewers to see additional ghosts in their own homes through an app, taking the horror experience to a new level.
A phantasmal sensation is in the air as the 2001 horror film Thirteen Ghosts is getting a new lease of life. The haunting legacy continues with the announcement of a series adaptation, courtesy of Dark Castle Entertainment—the creative minds behind the original reboot.
In the rich landscape of ghost lore, Thirteen Ghosts has been a chilling presence for generations. The story began with director William Castle's 13 Ghosts in 1960, which was later reincarnated as Thirteen Ghosts by director Steve Beck in 2001. Telling the eerie tale of a family that unwittingly moves into a mansion teeming with ethereal beings, the story has haunted audiences with its star-studded cast, including Tony Shalhoub, Embeth Davidtz, Shannon Elizabeth, and Matthew Lillard .
The gears of creation are turning once again. Recently, Dread Central broke the news of Dark Castle's plans for a Thirteen Ghosts series adaptation. The details are still somewhat spectral , but a series of pitch images have emerged. These include intriguing glimpses of Dennis Rafkin's ghost-catching machine, insights into the twisted psyche of Cyrus Kriticos, and cryptic hints about the Angry Princess ghost's tragic past.
The development team is nothing short of remarkable. Patrick Mediate of Primordial Pictures and Fear the Walking Dead SFX Supervisor Aaron McLane are in collaboration, and Fear the Walking Dead co-producer Ashley Robinson is also involved. While the project hasn't received the official green light, the intention is to pitch it to Sony Pictures Television once industry strikes resolve.
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A New Era for Thirteen Ghosts with Augmented Reality Horrors
Envisioned as a 13-episode journey, each episode of the series is planned to explore a different ghost, drawing inspiration from both the original 1960 film and the 2001 remake. The series description offers a fascinating glimpse into the vision for this supernatural adventure:
“Every culture in the world has its ghost stories, and this re-imagining of Thirteen Ghosts presents an international sampling of these supernatural tales. The ghost stories within each episode will have their own stylistic look and feel that will be explored and influenced by each individual director. This makes our ghost vignettes stand out stylistically as they set the theme for each episode.”
Taking horror to a whole new realm, the Thirteen Ghosts series could employ AR technology to elevate the scare factor. A proposed AR component , accessed via an app, might allow viewers to see additional ghosts, not just on their screens but even within their homes. A thrilling prospect that promises to immerse fans in the horror like never before.
The Thirteen Ghosts series marks a potentially groundbreaking new chapter in a franchise that has captivated audiences for over six decades. By weaving together the threads of the past and the future, and perhaps even using modern technology to give the story a whole new interactive dimension, Dark Castle Entertainment is setting the stage for a unique and terrifying experience.
The streaming platforms await, but for now, fans can relive the 2001 classic, which is currently available on Max. The ghosts are waiting.
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The Thirteen Ghosts of Gerard Medrano, Part 2
- Episode aired Nov 28, 2021
A day in the life of Gerard Medrano--one which will end with him forever changed. A day in the life of Gerard Medrano--one which will end with him forever changed. A day in the life of Gerard Medrano--one which will end with him forever changed.
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- November 28, 2021 (United States)
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‘Thirteen Ghosts: The Series’ – Dark Castle Hopes to Further Explore the World of the 2001 Horror Movie
When it was released back in 2001, Dark Castle Entertainment’s remake Thirteen Ghosts (stylized as Thir13en Ghosts ) didn’t exactly set the box office on fire, scaring up just $68 million worldwide on a sizable production budget of $42 million. Reviews for the film were also largely negative at the time, making it both a financial as well as a critical misfire.
But the times, well, they have changed. Like many horror movies over the years, director Steve Beck’s Thirteen Ghosts has been re-evaluated in the two decades since its original theatrical release, becoming something of a fan favorite here in 2023. Fans have come to appreciate the gruesome effects, the big budget production design, and the titular monsters themselves, which came equipped with their own backstories thanks to a DVD special feature that we’ve written about in the past. And it’s safe to say Dark Castle has noticed this renewed interest.
From what we’ve been told, Dark Castle views Thirteen Ghosts as the “Crown Jewel of their library,” as well as “a property that is long overdue for a resurrection.”
In fact, you may have seen a report on Dread Central earlier this month that teased an upcoming Thirteen Ghosts television series , which is “reportedly in development” at this time.
The proposed project comes courtesy of Patrick Mediate (Primordial Pictures), Aaron McLane (VFX Supervisor, Fear the Walking Dead ), and Ashley Robinson (co-producer, Fear the Walking Dead ), Dread Central notes in their exclusive report, with the trio working in direct conjunction with Dark Castle Entertainment on an extensive pitch that will essentially allow each of the film’s ghosts to get their own episode of a TV series.
Mediate and McLane told Dread Central for their exclusive report, “Every culture in the world has its ghost stories, and this re-imagining of 13 Ghosts presents an international sampling of these supernatural tales. The ghost stories within each episode will have their own stylistic look and feel that will be explored and influenced by each individual director. This makes our ghost vignettes stand out stylistically as they set the theme for each episode.”
So what’s the deal here and how likely is this project to actually get off the ground? Bloody Disgusting hopped on the phone last week to pick Patrick Mediate’s brain a little bit more.
For starters, Mediate made it a point to mention the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, which have ensured that no forward momentum on their proposed Thirteen Ghosts series is able to happen at this time. But once those strikes come to an end, Mediate, McLane, Robinson, and Dark Castle Entertainment will be hitting the ground running and pitching away.
Even once the strikes clear, however, there’s a pretty major hurdle for the team to overcome. Sony currently owns a portion of the rights to Thirteen Ghosts , and without Sony’s approval, Dark Castle is unable to actually bring this planned television series to life. So while the team at Dark Castle is all-in and ready to go, the ball is going to end up in Sony’s court.
From what we’ve been told, the project was actually pitched to Sony shortly before the WGA strike began, but again, there can be no forward momentum on those talks at this time.
Mediate explains to Bloody Disgusting, “Having Dark Castle’s support and blessing is only one part of the equation since Sony Pictures Television owns 50% of the rights. Right now the future of this being a series at all is completely in Sony’s court as we pitched to them right before the strike occurred.”
If Sony and Dark Castle can come to some kind of agreement – either Sony joins forces with Dark Castle on the series or they merely give Dark Castle the green light to do what they wish with the property – the plan on Dark Castle’s side is to essentially use the ending of the 2001 movie as the springboard for a deep dive into the mythology of each of the monsters. As you may recall, the ghosts are freed at the end of the movie, and they walk off into the woods. The series pitch from Mediate’s team would shine individual spotlights on each of those characters.
Additionally, Bloody Disgusting has been told that the fan-favorite character known as The Jackal would be a major player in the series, and the plan is to also delve into the creation of the machine that was built to contain the various ghosts, known as the Basileus Machine , as well as the ancient book that served as the film’s Necronomicon, the Arcanum .
Mediate elaborates, “It had always been clear to us that there was so much to be explored in the backgrounds of the ghosts so it’s only natural that we created each episode to explore and examine their origin stories, personalities, plights, and fates. These stories act as through-lines that intertwine with the mysterious legacy of Cyrus Kriticos and his present extended family, who have just become caretakers of the Kriticos Compound.”
“One of the incredible things about unconventionally structuring the narrative in this way is that we can cleverly, and oftentimes surprisingly, have the ghosts’ pasts actually influence all of the parallel narratives that unfold throughout each episode which we feel will offer a fresh, extremely unique storytelling experience for the viewer,” he continues.
Mediate also teased an AR component to the series, which sounds like something original 13 Ghosts director William Castle would be playing with if he were alive today. The concept would be for AR technology to allow fans to invite the show’s ghosts into their own home, playing with the “Ghost Viewer” gimmick that was employed in both the 1960 and 2001 movies.
The team’s “comprehensive development deck” for the series also touches upon plans for subsequent seasons of the series, even if that’s a cart-before-the-horse situation at this time.
Mediate tells us, “We do envision an entire universe for the 13 Ghosts: The Series franchise that lives on eternally after the first season and goes on to explore different planes of mortal and Post-Mortal realities; it’s actually going to be something pretty profound that could be an enormous testament to the worlds we lay the groundwork for with the first season. Long and short, this is absolutely going to be a series with stories and three dimensional characters that fans are going to want to join up with for multiple seasons.”
The good news here is that Dark Castle Entertainment is looking to return to the horror genre in a big way, not only with the planned Thirteen Ghosts series but also with potential revivals of other properties in their catalogue. The company recently released 2021’s Seance and 2022’s Orphan: First Kill , and those look to be the beginning of a revival for the brand.
Dark Castle was formed in 1998, originally with the intention of remaking William Castle horror classics for modern audiences. Horror films made under the Dark Castle umbrella include House on Haunted Hill (1999), Thirteen Ghosts (2001), Ghost Ship (2002), Gothika (2003), House of Wax (2005), Orphan (2009), The Hills Run Red (2009), and Splice (2010).
Would you like to see a Thirteen Ghosts television series from Dark Castle in the near future? Again, the ball is in Sony’s court. So if you want to see it, you know who to demand it from.
The team tells Bloody Disgusting, “We’re hopeful that when the strike ends we can bolster up enough support to get the series completely greenlit with a solid distributor so the fans need to make it known that they want this vision and want this as a series now more than ever.”
Mediate ends our conversation with a promise to the fans of Thirteen Ghosts .
“As a united force with Dark Castle who firmly stand behind our vision, we want to be sure this series respects and pays homage to the deep roots of the original William Castle cult classic and its enormous existing fan base, while reinventing its ensemble of characters and narrative arcs to propel the property into the 21st century to give attract a whole new universe of fans.”
Writer in the horror community since 2008. Editor in Chief of Bloody Disgusting. Owns Eli Roth's prop corpse from Piranha 3D. Has four awesome cats. Still plays with toys.
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David Kirschner Reflects on Ray Bradbury and ‘The Halloween Tree’ 30 Years Later [Interview]
Halloween is a night of fanciful terrors, its macabre machinations ticking, turning, clicking and clacking inside of its youthful acolytes’ imaginations as it ushers in the one day a year where life, death and everything in between is allowed to stalk the moonlit streets. There are a multitude of October tales that attempt to capture the holiday’s uncanny spirit, but few stories manage to embody the enigmatical ghostliness of Halloween’s mystifying soul more completely than Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree (1993) .
Initially pitched as an animated film in the late 1960s, Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree was first published as a novel in 1973. It would take another 20 years to see Bradbury’s story realized on screen due in large part to the friendship, dedication and artistic prowess of writer and producer David Kirschner . A true disciple of October 31st’s many unearthly goings on, Kirschner’s belief and dedication to the holiday is made apparent throughout his career, particularly when considering his role and history with Bradbury’s seminal work.
“[Halloween] is such a fascinating holiday because it is a day where you can dress up and be anything you want to be without anybody judging you,” Kirschner tells Bloody Disgusting.
“From the time we climbed out of the primal ooze and looked to the heavens, we needed to believe in something greater than ourselves to get through it all… to get through life. Egyptians understood this. Romans understood this. The concept of the afterworld. In all these different cultures from the beginning of time there was a need to believe in something greater… it has always fascinated me as a kid and still does now,” he reflects. “It truly obsesses me.”
Originally an artist and illustrator for creators such as Neil Diamond and Jim Henson, Kirschner skyrocketed to producer stardom with An American Tail (1986). After Jeffrey Katzenberg brusquely passed on the idea as a Disney picture, an article was published about Kirschner’s efforts, calling out a “shy, young daydreamer” looking to bring his “ideas to life.”
“Kathleen Kennedy read that [article] and in July of 1983 she came to my office,” Kirschner recalls. He presented the film to her and, after the pitch, she requested to use his phone. “I thought she was calling a taxi,” he says with a laugh, “but she called Steven Spielberg… Steven obviously wound up making that project happen and, after that, I had Spielberg pixie dust all over me.”
Kirschner’s Spielberg connection led to the creation of multiple beloved genre classics, such as Child’s Play (1988) and Hocus Pocus (1993), while paving the way for his eventual position as the head of Hanna-Barbera in 1989.
“When I was made head of Hanna-Barbera, I sat there and I just thought, ‘Okay, I know there’s the classics and that’s what I’m here for but I’ve also been charged with bringing new blood to Hanna-Barbera.’ So I thought, ‘You know what, I’m going to call Ray and see if would want to do The Halloween Tree as a special.’”
Long before Kirschner found success in Hollywood, he had forged a friendship with acclaimed author Ray Bradbury. “In my early 20s I wrote a fan letter to Ray Bradbury,” he explains, “and shockingly Ray responded. So, every October through my 20s, I would write him a really nice note wishing him and his wife Maggie a happy holiday. By the time I got to the end of my 20s, Ray started to invite me over and we would sit in his office and, on paper plates, we would have tuna fish sandwiches with potato chips and root beer like we were ten years old… we would just sit and discuss things that go bump in the night and it was something I so looked forward to.”
As a result of their lengthy relationship, Kirschner was aware of the gravity of his pitch. “I said to [Ray] on the phone, ‘Would you consider this?’ And there was the briefest of pauses and then [Ray] said, ‘By God, let’s do it!’ And, you know, because I didn’t have to ask anybody else, we did it.”
“That book was enormously inspirational for me,” Kirschner notes. “The heralding of October 31st as it’s just getting dark and those porch lights that are like lighthouses beginning to snap on all across our little neighborhood… it was the beginning of a night of fun and spookiness and running into friends. I knew a little bit about how Halloween had come to be but there was so much I didn’t know until I read Ray’s book. It was life changing. Hocus Pocus came from that… I just have an obsession with Halloween and the truth is I feel there should really only be about four months of the year so that we can get to Halloween much quicker.”
The first consideration regarding the project was the look and feel of the animation. “[Ray] was very concerned about the quality of the animation because Hanna-Barbera wasn’t Disney, but I assured him that we would put everything we could into this and do something very special.
“Joseph Mugnaini’s illustrations from the book were really inspiring to me… we really kind of kept the design of his characters, his Moundshroud especially. The talented people at Hanna-Barbera felt the same way… it was so important to them to be a part of this project. All of these people who had grown up reading Bradbury… they pulled everything they had to make it special.”
“Even at the very beginning, I wanted something that said, ‘put on your seatbelt, this is going to be spooky fun!’” Kirschner continues. “[The animators] came up with one of the clouds kind of forming a pumpkin face… not an inviting pumpkin face but something else. They did a great job.”
When it came to casting the voices in the film, Bradbury required some convincing.
“When I suggested Leonard Nimoy as Moundshroud to Ray, his initial reaction was, ‘Huh?’” David recalls. “I think he just pictured the guy from space who’s kind of flat. That’s why I invited them both to dinner… I wanted Ray to spend time with him.
“Ray and his wife Maggie came for dinner with Leonard Nimoy and his wife Barbara and Liz, my wife, and I just sat back and listened to these two talk the entire evening. It was like Wimbledon, my head going back and forth just listening to them. Leonard told a story that he knew he wanted to be an actor when he listened to Ray Bradbury’s The Fog Horn . He had heard it on the radio and he knew at that point what he wanted to do. He would try to repeat passages, doing it in his best voices. It was magical to just be a fly on the wall and listen to those two iconic talents have a wonderful evening… Leonard was brought on and it worked out really well.”
Kirschner’s suggestion that Bradbury narrate the story himself went over much more smoothly.
“When I said to Ray, ‘Would you consider narrating this?’ He just kind of looked at me…” Kirschner remembers. “I told him he had this wonderful avuncular voice and I think this thing will live on beyond us with you narrating it. He liked that, but I really felt that. [Bradbury’s narration] is musical. That’s not anybody directing him or producers or anything else, it’s just Ray. That’s the way he would speak and you would just sit in your chair and the world would disappear… he had this warm, hug-like voice and spoke in such poetic terms.”
Bradbury agreed to write an updated script, debating only one key alteration. “There’s a character of Jenny… I did a drawing of her bike with the brooms on them and I showed it to Ray. [Ray] said, ‘There is no female character in this.’ I said, ‘No, I understand that but as the father of two daughters and you as the father of daughters, don’t you think that we need to have female representation in this?’ He said, ‘No, because it’s not in the book’… the book was based on his recollections of Halloween and going with his friends… it took him a while, but he came around to it. I couldn’t make the movie without a female character in it, it was wrong.”
Jenny’s inclusion brought the film one step closer to becoming the comprehensive Halloween classic David Kirschner was striving to bring to the screen. “There’ve been so many people that have said I grew up with this and I’m obsessed with it, that they watch it every year,” Kirschner says. “It just makes me feel so good about Halloween and life and it really touches me because that’s how I felt when I read The Halloween Tree .”
The film was released on Cartoon Network to high viewership and successful reviews. “It did so well that they chose to repeat it in the first few days. They ended up showing it quite a few more times and it just kind of grew from there.”
As the years have passed and the film’s reputation has solidified into a thing of Halloween legend, Kirschner remains ever dedicated to the property’s spirit and timelessness.
“Years ago, I bought the rights to the book again,” he reveals. “It’s something that we are discussing doing a live-action version with. I think it has the potential of becoming what Hocus Pocus has for the Halloween season even beyond the animated special… I absolutely want to do it.”
More than a chilling glimpse into the infinite wonders found in the starry skies on Halloween night, The Halloween Tree stands as a testament to humanity’s understanding of life and death and the friendship forged between two kindred spirits who shared a love of whimsy, the fantastic and all the strange things that dwell in their midst.
“As I’m saying this to you, I’m looking at a picture of [Ray and I] in his office,” Kirschner tells us. “One of those times we finished our tuna fish sandwiches on paper plates with potato chips and root beer.”
There’s a sense of fate in the story behind The Halloween Tree , a destiny fashioned out of paper skeletons and plastic pumpkin pails that upholds Halloween’s off-kilter shape with equal parts eerie disconcertion and heartening care. Regardless, David Kirschner is filled with pride and love for The Halloween Tree , a representation of his adoration for Bradbury and his dedication to his favorite time of the year.
“The idea of death was so fascinating to [Ray and I]. “From the beginning of time it’s so obsessive… what grew out of those fears with religion and the creation of something to get you through the night. Fires that they sat around to be safe. The light was safe and the darkness was not. It spoke to me in my early 20s and it’s just continued to fill up my gas tank ever since and inspire me.”
“When I went to film school they wanted us to be Fellini,” Kirschner reflects. “I’m a popcorn guy. I love animation and horror and comic books… that’s who I am. I’m very happy that this stuff has made people as happy as it does. Making it reminds me of those porch lights going on, it’s the same flavor.
“It just does something to that orange and black blood that runs through my veins.”
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31 Knights of Halloween: "13 Ghosts" (part 2)
Viewing the film thir13en ghosts through a psychiatrist's lens, part two.
Posted October 27, 2018
[Skip this synopsis if you've read it in our first Thirteen Ghosts blog entry] Thirteen Ghosts ( Thir13en Ghosts ) is a remake of the 1960 horror film, 13 Ghosts, written by Robb White. When the original film premiered, scenes involving ghosts were shown in Illusion-O: audiences received viewers with red and blue cellophane filters, giving them a choice to see the ghosts (look through the red filter) or not (blue filter “removed” the ghosts).
When his eccentric uncle dies, Arthur Kriticos moves his family into a bequeathed mansion haunted by malevolent ghosts. There is literally danger around every corner, as the spells that keep the ghosts at bay are broken, unleashing the 12 tortured souls onto their new landlord and his family.
How it relates to the field of psychiatry
The film allows for the discussion of Antisocial Personality Disorder from 12 converging perspectives, each explained by the biographies of the 12 ghosts of the black zodiac. Today, we’ll discuss ghosts 5-9.
5. The Torn Prince
Biography: The Torn Prince is the ghost of Royce Clayton, a gifted high school baseball player with a “superiority complex.” In 1957, he was challenged by a greaser to a drag race, but was killed when his car spun out of control and flipped over; the cause of the accident was a cut brake line. His ghost carries a baseball bat with parts of his face and body torn from when he was dragged under the car.
Links to psychiatry: The Warriors (1979)
The Torn Prince is an allusion to the Baseball Furies of the 1979 cult classic, The Warriors . In his thriller, Walter Hill merges Antisocial Personality Disorder with the gang mentality and sprinkles in some empathy (the Warriors) to create audience ambivalence.
6. The Angry Princess
Biography: The Angry Princess is the ghost of Dana Newman, “someone so ugly on the inside, she couldn’t bear to go on living if she couldn’t be beautiful on the outside” ( Se7en , 1995). Her preoccupation with perfection led her to find employment with a plastic surgeon where her wage was paid in cosmetic surgeries. When a self-inflicted procedure went horribly wrong, she committed suicide . Her naked ghost is holding the very knife she killed herself with.
Links to psychiatry: American Mary (2012)
American Mary is a Canadian horror film directed by the “twisted” Soska sisters that, like The Angry Princess, merges themes of Antisocial Personality Disorder and Body Dysmorphic Disorder.
7. The Pilgrimess
Biography: The Pilgrimess is the ghost of Isabella Smith, a young woman who sailed across the Atlantic in 1675 to start a new life in a New England colony. Upon her arrival, the town’s livestock began to mysteriously die. A local preacher accused her of witchcraft. She was sentenced to a slow death in the stocks where children stoned her, women cursed her, and men spat on her. Her ghost is walking around with her hands still locked in the stocks.
Links to psychiatry: V/H/S/ (2012)
In the videotape titled “10/31/98,” a group of friends attempt to rescue a woman undergoing an exorcism. In both cases, young women “who are different” are condemned to death reminiscent of the Salem Witch Trials. While the proverbial evil at the heart of a witch may inspire a nature-versus-nurture debate on the etiology of Antisocial Personality Disorder, a substance-induced personality disorder must first be ruled out. Numerous hypotheses have been formulated to explain the occurrence of the Salem Witch Trials in 1692 (17 years after Isabella was killed). One theory is that of substance-induction, specifically; personality change due to the ingestion of grain contaminated with ergot, a group of fungi of the genus Claviceps that grows on rye and related plants.
8&9. The Great Child & The Dire Mother
Biography: The Dire Mother is the ghost of Margaret Shelburne who was a woman who stood at a mere three feet tall. A showman (a la Sam Torr) convinced Margaret that he should exhibit her. Upon agreeing, she was raped by the Tall Man and gave birth to Harold, “The Great Child,” who weighed over 300 pounds. One day, some circus workers decided to play a cruel joke on Harold by kidnapping Margaret. Upon finding his mother dead in the sack she was kept in, Harold violently chopped the workers to death with an axe and placed their remains on display. Later, an angry mob tore Harold apart. Their ghosts are always together and The Great Child still holds the axe he used to kill the circus workers with.
Links to psychiatry: American Horror Story: Freak Show (2014)
Whereas The Bound (underweight) Woman is an allusion to Carrie (1976) and her omnipresent mother (the film is a metaphor for Anorexia Nervosa), The Great (Overweight) Child & The Dire Mother are enmeshed, the etiology of Bulimia Nervosa.
Carnivals and “freak shows” serve as rich venues to study the group dynamic that may contribute to antisocial traits. For example, under the guise of being a talent scout, Stanley ( American Horror Story: Freak Show ) attempts to murder or capture some of the performers to sell them to the Museum of Morbid Curiosities.
Anthony Tobia, M.D. , currently holds titles of Professor of Psychiatry and Clinical Professor of Internal Medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
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The Redemption Of: “Thirteen Ghosts”
Friday, October 23, 2020 | Opinion
By ADAM EVERS
Remakes are one of the touchiest topics in the horror community. One has to really read the room to judge whether to say aloud if you’re a fan or hate a remake. Some refuse to see a remake as anything but blasphemy to the original, a symptom of Hollywood running out of ideas, or a way to bleed money from a franchise or legacy, while some see remakes as better because they’re new, shiny, and a refreshing take on classic material. A lot of the hate comes from how we perceive the originals as pinnacles of horror perfection, and refuse to have any form of re-imagination or believe they are anything but perfect.
Case in point: 2001’s THIRTEEN GHOSTS (stylized as THIR13EN GHOSTS), a remake of the 1960 film by William Castle. Not only was it poorly received, it was outright hated. Steve Beck’s film sits at 15% on Rotten Tomatoes, 30% on Metacritic, and received 1 star by Robert Ebert, who put it on his “most hated films ever” list. The budget for THIRTEEN GHOSTS was $42 million and it grossed $68.5 million, not a huge success. Like so many critically panned movies, THIRTEEN GHOSTS has been kept alive by the generation who were kids when they watched it, got attached, and never let it die….like myself.
The film is about Arthur Kriticos (Tony Shalhoub), a man who loses his partner in a house fire and is left financially and emotionally crumbling, struggling to get by with his two children. When his incredibly rich uncle Cyrus Kriticos (F. Murray Abraham) dies, he’s offered a mansion filled with secrets. What kind of secrets? A basement full of murderous ghosts that are about to be set free and ruin everyone’s night kinda secrets. The Kriticos family and their nanny move in, unknowingly walking into a trap set up for them. It turns out that the house is a giant machine designed to see the past and future, and give the designer unmentionable power, but only when all of the titular 13 ghosts are brought together by reading from the Arcanum.
The 2001 movie is almost completely different than the original, but the bones are still there. Greedy lawyer, haunted house, dead uncle, poor nephew, spooky ghosts, etc. Aside from that, it is a completely different film. Is that a bad thing? Not entirely! They didn’t follow the formula and actually get creative with the story, but still don’t stray too far away from the script. This is something a lot of remakes in all genres really mess up. They try too hard to be exactly like the original and it just doesn’t work. Other time, they try way too hard to not be like the original, and it turns into a bit of a dumpster fire. I will say Shannon Elizabeth never made sense as a casting choice for me. She was nearing 30 and Rah Digga, who is only a year older, is here playing her nanny! Speaking of Rah Digga, her character doesn’t make any sense either. The father is financially crippled, why does he need a nanny when he has a fully adult daughter? Maybe it was intended as a reference to Elaine from the original.
Filmmakers in the late ’90s to early 2000 loved using twitchy editing and obnoxious random sounds with sporadic audio levels. This style was short-lived but critics hated and slammed it while it was prominent. I don’t think that style of filmmaking has aged well, but it’s there to remind us never to do that again. It was the downfall of many films of the time period, including this one. Every negative review talked about the visual and sound editing and I will agree with it! That, however, doesn’t negate the positives of the film once you get past it.
Let’s break down these positives:
The 13 ghosts of the black zodiac! The First Born Son, The Torso, The Bound Woman, The Withered Lover, The Torn Prince, The Angry Princess, The Pilgrimess, The Great Child, The Dire Mother, The Hammer, The Jackal, and The Juggernaut. The Broken Heart would be the 13th ghost. Each wraith’s style, special effects, and backstory is awesome. The thirteen specters are cool enough to warrant an origin film or a TV series to showcase the characters or detail what happens after this film. If any streaming site executive reads this, there’s a lot of people who want that series! Their extensive backstories can be found on the special features of the DVD, or you can look up the fandom wiki , which I highly recommend.
The talent behind the scenes! Producers Gilbert Adker ( Tales From The Crypt Keeper , Freddys Nightmares , Constantine ), Joel Silver ( The Warriors , the Lethal Weapon series, Predator , Die Hard , Demolition Man , and much more) and Robert Zemeckis (the Back To The Future series, Who Framed Roger Rabbit , Death Becomes Her ). Writers Neil Marshall Stevens ( Puppet Master , Head Of The Family ) and James Gunn ( Tromeo and Juliet , Dawn Of The Dead , Guardians Of The Galaxy ) and director Steve Beck ( Ghost Ship ).
The visual effects! CGI was becoming popular in the early 2000s and filmmakers left a lot of special effects makeup behind. It’s refreshing to see special effects makeup and prosthetics really coming back into style in present horror, and, although used quite a bit of CGI on the house and machine in THIRTEEN GHOSTS, the makeup effects really make this movie worth a second look.
The makeup and special effects department alone could fill an article itself. There were 41 people in the makeup department, 12 in the special effects department, and over 100 in the set and digital design. The amount of skilled and accomplished artists that were a part of this film is incredibly impressive on its own, but each ghost is beautifully done. Creepy, demonic, and furious looking. The kill scenes are primarily in the opening sequence, when they introduce the juggernaut, but the lawyer’s death scene is by far one of my favorites in horror with an unforgettable bisection. Even though there are only 4 death scenes post intro, each death scene is exceptionally visually pleasing and gory.
THIRTEEN GHOSTS deserves redemption. It has all the attributes of a well-rounded ghost story with only a few plot holes, and is a good take on a classic William Castle film, even with basically no similarities to the original film other than a house with 12 ghosts and a rich uncle/poor nephew/greedy lawyer scenario. Give it a second spin and relive the 2000s in all its poor taste of clothing and editing choices. Appreciate the gang of ghoulies and talented cast behind this gem.
- The Redemption of
- Thirteen Ghosts
Movies based on the actually individual ghosts would be nice someday. Or a TV series.
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13 ghosts: every ghost in the black zodiac explained.
The Black Zodiac in Dark Castle's 2001 horror movie 13 Ghosts had some of the most imaginative and terrifying spirits ever seen on the big screen.
The black zodiac: why there are 13 ghosts in 13 ghosts explained, the first born son, the bound woman, the withered lover, the torn prince, the angry princess, the pilgrimess, the great child & the dire mother, the juggernaut, who is the 13th ghost in thirteen ghosts, thirteen ghosts original vs. remake: ghost differences explained, why 13 ghosts is still being discussed, a 13 ghosts tv reboot is on the cards.
- The 2001 film 13 Ghosts has gained a cult following due to the intriguing backstories and unique designs of its titular 13 ghosts.
- The Black Zodiac concept, which features 13 different ghosts, was ahead of its time and each ghost could be a horror movie villain on their own.
- The film explores the tragic pasts and deaths of the ghosts, and while the movie only delves slightly into their backstories, there is potential for future projects to expand on their stories.
The 2001 Dark Castle horror 13 Ghosts , also referred to as Thir13n Ghosts or Thirteen Ghosts, is a highly underrated cult movie. 13 Ghosts centers on the Kriticos family and their attempts to escape the 13 Ghosts held by ancient glyphs in the presumed-dead Cyrus Kriticos' glass mansion. Every ghost in the movie has a complete origin story and unique aesthetic design, making it possible for each ghost to be a horror movie villain in their own right. All the ghosts differ from how they look to how they kill, and the Black Zodiac was an innovative character concept that was wildly ahead of its time when the movie was released in 2001.
13 Ghosts gained a cult following largely because of the creative prosthetic special effects seen in the film. The set designs in 13 Ghosts are truly unique and the costume design of the 13 Ghosts themselves ensures each has a clear origin story and M.O. that sets them apart from the rest, from the First Born Son to the dreaded Angry Princess. The movie itself only expands a little on the 13 Ghosts' backstories, but future projects from Dark Castle Entertainment could finally expand on what's known about all 13 Ghosts. This is an incredibly exciting prospect for 13 Ghosts fans since what's already been revealed about the spirits of the Black Zodiac is terrifying, unnerving, and ripe for a sequel or spinoff.
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13 Ghosts' culminates when Cyrus Kriticos' "Basileus's Machine" begins to open up the Ocularis Infernum, which would grant Cyrus powers from Hell. The only way Cyrus could get the machine to work is if the spirits of the Black Zodiac were made complete. Cyrus had gathered all 13 ghosts in order to achieve his goal since the Ocularis Infernum would only open if the machine was powered by the spirits. Their presence not only powers Cyrus' machine itself but also helps power the mansion. All 13 Ghosts are connected through their tragic pasts and deaths, dying in a way that fulfills a certain set of criteria which is represented in their names such as The Juggernaut and The Withered Lover.
In 13 Ghosts , the 13 ghosts gathered by Cyrus represent individual members of the Black Zodiac. The reason there are only 12 ghosts despite the movie's title being 13 Ghosts is also revealed by the ending. Cyrus's initial plan was to force Arthur to sacrifice himself and become the 13th ghost called The Broken Heart. The 13th ghost in 13 Ghosts can only be created by a person sacrificing themselves in an act of love, which Arthur was prepared to do for his family. Luckily, he didn't need to, and the entire Black Zodiac is unleashed to roam free once again.
Of all the ghosts in 13 Ghosts, The First Born Son has one of the most sympathetic and tragic backstories. It would be unfair to label him as being an outright malevolent spirit like some other ghosts in the Black Zodiac. The First Born Son was a boy named Billy Michaels who had an unhealthy obsession with pop culture involving cowboys and Indigenous Peoples. Any attempt to rip him away from his fantasy life would earn rage, but that didn't protect Billy from a real arrow fired into his head by another boy during an ill-conceived duel. Billy is a relatively harmless child ghost and is one of the least harmless of the 13 ghosts, but he does scare them into the path of more violent demonic-like spirits.
Out of all 13 ghosts in 13 Ghosts, The Torso is the only one whose name directly describes what he is, a disembodied torso wrapped in cellophane. Prior to dying, the torso was part of a compulsive gambler named Jimmy Gambino. Gambino was also a bookie but his own gambling prevented him from being able to pay out the winnings of a "made man" in the mob. Goons killed Jimmy and dumped his remains into the ocean. Aside from having one of the most interesting backstories, The Torso is easily one of the most disturbing ghosts in the Black Zodiac with such a striking and unique design that he feels like something directly out of a more modern horror franchise.
The Bound Woman is one of the Black Zodiac that 13 Ghosts devotes notably less screen time to and gives less exposition on. The Bound Woman was named Susan LeGrow and had a privileged upbringing. She was a rich, popular cheerleader who dated the captain of the school football team. That was until the captain found her with another boy on prom night and had a rather horrific reaction, bludgeoning his romantic rival to death and strangling Susan with his own tie. Like the First Born Son and the Torso, she's more frightening than an actual threat and is perhaps the most tragic of all 13 ghosts in 13 Ghosts .
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The Withered Lover is one ghost in 13 Ghosts that's not a threat to the Kriticos family once they get trapped inside Cyrus' house of horrors due to her particularly tragic backstory. Cyrus found his ghost for The Withered Lover segment of the Black Zodiac from his own family. She was Jean Kriticos, wife of protagonist Arthur and mother to his children Kathy and Bobby. Jean died in a house fire that the rest of her family survived, and it's the only one of the 13 ghosts' backstories that's shown on-screen in 13 Ghosts . Her inclusion as one of the initial 12 spirits wasn't a huge twist, but it still helped add some personal stakes to Thirteen Ghosts' interesting premise.
The threat of the Torn Prince's can be missed when compared to the likes of The Jackal and The Juggernaut. The Torn Prince was a high school baseball star in the late 1950s, explaining the ever-present baseball bat weapon that he'll happily use to attack any of 13 Ghosts ' living characters. Named Royce Clayton in life, The Torn Prince died during a drag race, after losing control of his car in a horrific accident. He shouldn't blame himself though since his opponent had secretly tampered with his brakes. Though not the most dangerous of all 13 ghosts in 13 Ghosts , he definitely causes some havoc with his weapon.
Like The First Born Son and The Bound Woman, The Angry Princess's backstory is tragic and makes her a figure of empathy as much as fear. Born Dana Newman, The Angry Princess was an incredibly beautiful woman by all standards but her own. Sadly, she was unable to be happy with her looks, seeing imperfections others didn't and constantly trying to improve her appearance through surgery. After a self-administered but botched facial surgery left her disfigured, Dana died by suicide. In 13 Ghosts, the slimy lawyer character Ben Moss makes a rude comment about her nude ghostly appearance and pays for it accordingly.
Named Isabella Smith, The Pilgrimess was a victim of the Salem witch trial hysteria that gripped New England in the late 1600s. A local outcast, Isabella was accused of witchcraft, and when an attempted burning didn't work, the perception that she was evil only increased. In the end, The Pilgrimess was left to slowly die of starvation in the stocks her ghost remains locked in when she becomes one of the Black Zodiac in 13 Ghosts . She's one of the oldest ghosts trapped in the mansion and feels right out of American Horror Story: Roanoke . Of all 13 ghosts in 13 Ghosts , The Pilgrimess is the only one whose arms are bound. While she is threatening, there isn't really much she can do other than look scary.
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The Great Child and The Dire Mother are among the most creepy of the 13 Ghosts. Margaret Shelburne was a woman with dwarfism who worked in an American Horror Story- style carnival show. Her enormous son Harold was the result of a sexual assault by the carnival's tallest member of the freak troupe. Some of the other freaks later murdered Margaret, leading Harold to go crazy with an ax and kill most of them before he himself was killed by an angry mob. These ghosts in 13 Ghosts, especially The Great Child, are striking to behold, and arguably among the most memorable.
The Hammer is among the most terrifying of the 13 ghosts that 13 Ghosts contains. Born George Markley, The Hammer wasn't a bad person, working as a blacksmith in a small town. That was until he was falsely accused of theft by a white man and his family was brutally murdered. In a grief-fueled rage, George took his trusty sledgehammer and bludgeoned their killers. Of course, the townspeople blamed him and killed him by driving railroad spikes into his body. This is probably the only racial commentary made in the film, as 13 Ghosts and other early '00s horror movies weren't known for commenting on social issues, and horror films having a clear message is a relatively modern trend.
Easily the most volatile and unpredictable out of all 13 ghosts in 13 Ghosts , The Jackal was born Ryan Kuhn in 1887 and grew up to be a sick and twisted man. The Jackal is also one of the few of the 13 ghosts who was just as violent and sadistic before they became a spirit. Most of the 13 ghosts' names and stories hint at a tragic past, but this isn't the case with The Jackal. A vicious and compulsive sexual predator and killer, Ryan did actually seek help for his affliction, checking into an asylum. Before long he had completely lost what was left of his mind. He eventually died and became one of the 13 Ghosts when the asylum burned down.
Horace "Breaker" Mahoney, aka The Juggernaut, is definitely the most dangerous out of all the ghosts in 13 Ghosts. He can be considered almost a "final boss" of the Black Zodiac. A mountain of a man, Horace was a serial killer who would pick up hitchhikers or offer rides to the stranded, only to take them back to his junkyard and tear them apart with his bare hands. He'd then feed their bodies to his dogs. The Juggernaut is the first ghost that 13 Ghosts introduces thanks to a flashback of Cyrus and Matthew Lillard's Dennis capturing him for the Ocularis Infernum machine. Along with The Hammer, The Juggernaut sadly decimates friendly psychic character Dennis Rafkin.
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The thirteenth ghost in 13 Ghosts was supposed to be Arthur (Tony Shalhoub), at least according to Cyrus Kriticos' (F. Murray Abraham) master plan. By dying in the house, Arthur would have become The Broken Heart. This would activate Basileus's Machine, a device " designed by the devil and powered by the dead," the purpose of which was to grant Cyrus near-limitless power. However, Arthur survives.
While the 13th ghost in the Black Zodiac, The Broken Heart, never appears, the ghost of Dennis manifests after he's killed. This means that, technically, Matthew Lillard is the 13th ghost in 13 Ghosts. The movie does tease early on that Cyrus himself might be the 13th ghost, but then pulls an almost M. Night Shyamalan-level twist. Cyrus faked his own death and doesn't actually die until the movie's climax, after which he doesn't come back as a ghost.
2001's 13 Ghosts is a remake of a 1960 movie of the same name, but they're totally different especially when it comes to the ghosts. 13 Ghosts 1960 doesn't expand much on its titular ghosts and doesn't name the spirits in the house inherited by the Zorba family. They're also considerably less violent, both in terms of their actions and how they died. The spirits in the 1960 13 Ghosts don't look nearly as harrowing by modern standards, but this is to be expected.
There's no Black Zodiac in the original 13 Ghosts , although Cyrus is both present and the protagonist. The 12 ghosts in the remake also need someone to die in the house and create a 13th to free themselves. The inspiration this gave for the 2001 Thirteen Ghosts / Thir13n Ghosts/13 Ghosts , in which Cyrus needs 13 ghosts to activate Basileus's Machine, is obvious. However, that's effectively where the similarities end.
13 Ghosts is a cult gem of a 2000s horror movie, and its Black Zodiac of 13 ghost characters has gained a lot more attention in the age of streaming. The early 2020s have seen great success with horror reboots, with everything from Scream to Hellraiser getting some type of new movie. These endeavors have proven to be incredibly victorious, seeing great box office returns, and 13 Ghosts could follow suit. Despite being a box office failure, 13 Ghosts has garnered quite a cult following over the years making it a unique entry into the horror genre at large.
There simply wasn't a market for a movie like 13 Ghosts in the early 00s, but this very much isn't the case in the 2020s when audiences are eager for fresh and interesting concepts in their horror content. The production design in 1 3 Ghosts was ahead of its time and all 13 ghosts were horrifying to behold. 13 Ghosts deserves its resurgence in popularity, and the flexibility of the age of streaming feels like the perfect time to explore 13 Ghosts in a dedicated project.
The backstories of the 13 ghosts in 13 Ghosts are fascinating. They're the key reason the 2001 movie has managed to garner such a steady level of interest in the decades since its release. Dark Castle Entertainment may be resurrecting 13 Ghosts with the specific intent of exploring the names and stories of the 13 Ghosts. As reported by DreadCentral in August 2023, Dark Castle Entertainment is developing a 13 Ghosts TV series. The show will be written and developed by Patrick Mediate (Primordial Pictures) and Aaron McLane (Fear the Walking Dead ). It's expected will take an almost anthology-like approach with each episode dedicated to the story of a different ghost from the 13 Ghosts original film.