(2002) - Warner Bros.
by Todd Doogan of The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras):
Specs and Features
91 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, Snapper
case packaging, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at
41:45 in chapter 10), audio commentary (with director Steve Beck,
production designer Sean Hargreaves and special effects supervisor
Howard Berger), 13 Ghosts Revealed
"making of" documentary, William Castle biography and
filmography, Ghost Files, Club
Reel music video for Excess by
Tricky, theatrical trailer, cast and crew list, DVD-ROM features
(including the film's website), animated film-themed menu screens
with sound, scene access (24 chapters), languages: English and
French (DD 5.1, dubbed in Quebec), subtitles: English, French and
Spanish, Closed Captioned
and gored-up a bit from the original Columbia Pictures version, this
Thir13en Ghosts at least stays
true to the original vision's set-up. A down on its luck family
finds out they've inherited a house from their slightly more than
wacky uncle. Once they move in, they learn that the house is filled
to the roof-beams with ghosts. And these ghosts are pissed. In this
modern rethinking of the B-grade classic, the house is made of
unbreakable and soundproof glass, with incantations written on every
surface, and the ghosts are brutal in both demeanor and design.
There's the Exorcist look-a-like "Jackal", who claws his
victims with his skeletal fingers. There's the lusciously grotesque
"Tortured Princess;" naked save for her open gashes and
sharp knife. Let's not forget the burly and unredeemable "Juggernaut"
and, of course, Pinhead taken to another level with "The
Hammer," a man with railroad spikes driven into every part of
his body. These are just a snapshot of the twelve ghosts living in
the house. Why the house is filled with ghosts in the first place
and how the family fits in, is all part of the fun. And honestly,
this flick is fun... at least up until the lame-assed ending.
Thir13en Ghosts is a Halloween
roller coaster. That's all it is and that's all it was meant to be.
The effects are great, the chills plentiful and the new take on an
old set-up works. I actually liked the movie for what it was. But as
I said above, the ending is pretty weak. Up until then, the movie
had me squirming in my chair. Then the ending had to go and spoil
everything. I'm just going to forget the whole ending and remember
this movie up until then. And there's an interesting twist that's a
holdover from the original film - instead of the audience having to
wear special glasses to see the ghosts, the characters in the film
do. It's a very cool device and it lends to the horror in a good
way, because in certain scenes we see what they can't and that makes
for some tense moments. Check this flick out, it's not half bad.
The DVD is pretty cool too. The anamorphic widescreen transfer is
virtually perfect. The blacks are so dark, they're cold. Line detail
is incredible, with no ringing, and you'd be hard pressed to find
one spec of artifacting. This is one of the best transfers put out
by Warner yet. The sound is nice and loud in all its Dolby Digital
5.1 glory. There's plenty of play in the surrounds and good,
centered dialogue up front. In theaters, this film thumped hard. In
your home, this DVD sound does its best to replicate that.
Happily, this DVD is also a nice special edition. I was hoping the
disc would have some explanations for the ghosts and some of their
back-stories. Well, they're here - not exactly the way I hoped, but
it's still a nice effort. The Ghost Files section is verbally
introduced by F. Murray Abraham as Uncle Cyrus, who takes us through
his museum of ghosts. Each is represented by an artifact and when
you click on it, it goes into a short story about their past. Some
make sense, others don't and pretty much all of them contradict the
online versions of their tales in the Black Zodiac section of the
official site. That's also here too, via DVD-ROM. You'll also find a
fun audio commentary with the director and key members of the crew.
The discussion is light-hearted and goes into good detail about the
shoot, how they did some of the stuff they did and how it all came
together. And if you want even more on that, there's a very nice
documentary about the making of the film as well, with some nice
behind-the-scenes stuff on the ghosts. Rounding it all out is the
trailer, a listing of the crew, the video for Excess
by Tricky and an extensive bio of producer William Castle, who made
the original film.
Thirteen Ghosts is a pretty
cool shocker. It had me for a while. I liked the ghost designs, the
set-up and a lot of the characters. It's definitely not a worthless
flick and should be on everyone's DVD viewing list this Halloween.
It's a long ways away, but it's never too late to plan your next