’13 Ghosts’ (B-Movie Review) — Part One

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From the blog that features only the most significant and tasteful movies ever made. Here’s another from the vaults of a hopeless B-movie fan!

Submitted for your derision/approval! 🙂 It’s 13 Ghosts from 1960!

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This one comes from director and producer William Castle, who invented a cheesy gimmick low-tech special effect called Illusion-O. This bit of movie magic requires viewers to wear funny glasses to see the incredibly gory details of the ghosts. So expect a truly high-class production here (okay, maybe not).

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When Dr. Plato Zorba (really!) dies and leaves a spooky old house to his nephew, Cyrus, and family, not only does the place seem to be haunted, but the housekeeper is the Wicked Witch of the West. Definitely not a good sign.

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But Cyrus’ family is so poor and Dr. Zorba’s lawyer, Ben Rush, tells them they have to move in or they won’t inherit the place. It will, however, be converted to a B&B for ghost hunters and psychics. (Well, no, not really.)

So there are supposed to be 13 ghosts — but you knew that, right? The thing is, despite assistance from a handy ouija board and multiple glares from the Wicked Witch, they only count 11. Or maybe 12. I think.

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There’s the wailing lady, the clutching hands (just hands), a floating head (just head), a fiery skeleton, an Italian chef murdering his wife and her lover (that’s three, I guess), a hanging lady, an executioner with a severed head (which is arguably 1–1/2 ghosts), an adult lion and its decapitated tamer (does the lion count?), another floating head, and Plato Zorba the Greek himself. So … 11 or 12. What. Ever.

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At some point, Cyrus uses a special pair of glasses (left with the house) and sees the ghosts in all their Illusion-O-created splendor. The audience can also enjoy these ridiculous special effects, too. These glasses were reserved for “brave” viewers who could stomach a bit of fake flame or blood red mixed in with their black-and-white movie experience.

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And, then, Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz show up! Psych!

But, eventually, something more happens. But it takes a while and a lot of ghostly doings. The magic of B-movie screenwriting and healthy dashes of Illusion-O manage to stretch an incredibly thin plot over the course of 84 minutes.

Things actually manage to get interesting about two-thirds of the way through this threadbare horror flick, when it turns out there’s big money hidden in the house.

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Stay tuned and watch in awe as I stretch this review of a movie with a gossamer-thin plot into Two Parts! 🙂

PLUS! The joy of watching movies so bad, they’re awesome!

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PS: My sincere thanks to Joe Stroud for becoming my very first Patreon supporter here! 🙂

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Originally published at http://debbimacktoo.wordpress.com on May 11, 2019.

New York Times bestselling author of seven novels, including the Sam McRae Mystery series. Screenwriter, podcaster, and blogger. My website: www.debbimack.com.

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