Film: Thir13en Ghosts

A little late to call the boys in gray now.

Thir13en Ghosts is the 2001 remake of the 1960 film 13 Ghosts. Arthur Kriticos (Tony Shalhoub) finds himself as a heir to a elaborate glass mansion after his uncle Cyrus dies. The mansion turns out to be harboring a sinister purpose, as the in-house machinery starts moving the glass walls that are inhabited by the eponymous ghosts, held in check by Latin phrases etched in the panels.


This remake contains the examples of:

  • Act Of True Love: The only way to shut down the Ocularis Infernum is through an act of self-sacrifice (which would create a ghost made from True Love, which would act as the shut-down). Arthur is quite willing to make that sacrifice when his kids are taken by the ghosts. Which is what Cyrus wants, actually. That's why he put the kids in peril, after all...
  • All There in the Manual: The DVD extras for the remake gives the background of each of the ghosts and how they fit into the Black Zodiac.
  • And I Must Scream: Ghost #2, the Torso, who is a naked man chopped into three pieces (torso, head, and legs) and wrapped in plastic. Extra information shows this is how he died.
  • Artifact of Doom: The "Ocularis Infernum" ("Eye Of Hell"), an ancient device that is empowered by the "Black Zodiac" and would give the person who controls it the capacity to be virtually omniscient.
  • Asshole Victim: Ben Moss.
  • Ax-Crazy: The Jackal.
  • An Axe to Grind: The Great Child carries an axe.
  • Bald of Evil: The Hammer and the Great Child.
  • Batter Up: The Torn Prince carries a baseball bat.
  • Beard of Evil: Cyrus.
  • Big Damn Heroes: When The Jackal is attacking Kathy, Kalina arrives to help.
  • Big Fancy House: Cyrus' house, a mansion that is loaded with expensive memorabilia, and completely made of transparent walls. Even without the ghosts out to kill them, the rest of the family makes a complaint about the latter ("I hope the bathroom's in the basement").
  • The Big Guy: The Juggernaut. He stands at seven feet tall and is so strong that, in life, he could tear people apart with his bare hands.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: The Angry Princess' eyes.
  • Blessed with Suck: Dennis Rafkin is a medium with the ability to detect ghosts and and instantly read minds through physical contact. He also has no control whatsoever over his powers and they tend to give him seizures.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Various characters show this when dying-like Cyrus at the beginning.
  • Bloodless Carnage: You would have thought a person being cut to pieces would cover those directly below in blood.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Bobby.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: Ben Moss finds one waiting for him as Cyrus' payment for his services as executor of his estate. Picking it up triggers a mechanism that begins to release the ghosts and very quickly leads to his death.
  • Bullet Time: Brief slow motion effects are shown randomly in the early parts of the movie.
  • Cassandra Truth: Arthur has hard time believing Dennis' warnings about the ghosts at first.
  • Chained by Fashion: The Hammer.
  • Chairman of the Brawl: Arthur attempts to break the glass surrounding the house with a chair.
  • Child by Rape: How The Dire Mother got her child.
  • Clean Cut: "Did the lawyer split?"
  • Closed Circle: Once the entire house goes into lockdown, there is now way of leaving. The location also has no cell phone reception.
  • Clothing Damage: When Kathy's attacked by the Jackal, her clothes are torn to shreds. This becomes Fridge Horror if one learns of the Jackal's backstory...
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: The Angry Princess' suicide note.
  • Creepy Basement: It's literally filled with ghosts!
  • Creepy Child: Ghost #1, the First-born Son, who is dressed as a cowboy with an arrow through his head and carries a tomahawk around. Played oddly with the Great Child, who isn't an actual child, but is a huge, 40-year-old man in a diaper holding an ax.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: A good number of the ghosts died in downright horrible circumstances. Also, Ben Moss and Kalina both meet very grisly fates.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Dennis vs. the Hammer and the Juggernaut. Guess who wins?
  • Dead All Along: Inverted. Cyrus is alive the whole time.
  • Decomposite Character: In the 1960 film, the character Elaine was a medium, the dead uncle's female assistant, and the housekeeper. This version has the 3 separate characters of a (male) medium, the uncle's female assistant, and the housekeeper.
  • Driven to Suicide: How The Angry Princess died.
  • Drop the Hammer: Guess.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The film ends with Cyrus being violently punished, the ghosts being released, and with all the members of the Kriticos family and Maggie alive, and even the ghost of Jean seems to have found peace at the end. Likewise, Dennis finally found peace after his Heroic Sacrifice against the Hammer and the Juggernaut.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Kalina may be in on the whole thing, but she is horrified when Cyrus suggests putting Arthur's kids in danger.
    • In the Jackal's backstory, he realized how despicable his actions were and had himself committed to an asylum but eventually went insane just as rehabilitation proved impossible for his already messed up mentality. When the fire that claimed his life broke out. He refused help and decided it was better to simply die.
  • Everything's Better with Spinning: The central part of the "Ocularis Infernum" is a group of massive concentric razor-sharp that spin around like a gyroscope.
  • Evil Laugh / Laughing Mad: The Jackal
    • The Bound Woman as well, though she doesn't appear as often as The Jackal does. This is particularly evident after the ghosts kill Cyrus.
  • Eye Scream: The Angry Princess committed suicide after an attempt at performing self-cosmetic surgery went horribly wrong and left her blinded in one eye.
  • Fainting Seer: Dennis Rafkin's visions are in Screamer form, so it's no wonder even the mildest of them leave him grabbing his head in pain.
  • Fan Disservice: The Angry Princess is completely naked, though covered in deep, self-inflicted slashes — including one right through a nipple.
  • Flipping the Bird: Dennis, to the Hammer.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: The Angry Princess.
  • Ghostly Goals: Largely of the general vindictiveness type, but many of them are in the house specifically because they are trapped there.
  • Go Out with a Smile: In a sense. Dennis doesn't actually die smiling, but, when he later appears as a ghost, he seems a lot more content and at peace then when he was alive. This is because he no longer had to suffer the constant barrage of horrifying and grotesque imagery his psychic powers gave him.
  • Goggles Do Something Unusual: The main characters wear special glasses to see the ghosts, in a Shout-Out to the Illusion-O gimmick of the original.
  • Gorn: Mostly avoided, although the death of Moss is a very effective and shocking example. According to the director's commentary, the creators were surprised they managed to get away with it without using any discretion shots.
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: In the remake, Cyrus Kriticos must find thirteen specifically-themed spirits to power his infernal machine. His nephew Arthur would have been the thirteenth ghost, if he'd killed himself as Cyrus planned.
  • The Grotesque: The Great Child and The Dire Mother.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Ben Moss finds himself backing away from the Angry Princess until - CHOMP - he gets vertically bisected by a glass door slamming shut. We get a nice view of his frontally-sectioned head and chest when one half falls away. Leading to an awesomely funny line: "Did the lawyer split?"
  • Hates Being Touched: Dennis, and for a good reason. And according to the ghost backstories, The Jackal hates it as well after his stay in a mental hospital and might be the reason he died when the place went up in flames.
  • Haunted Headquarters: Inverted.
  • Haunted House: Invoked: Cyrus Kriticos builds the glass house as an infernal engine, and then deliberately moves specific ghosts into it as a power source.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Dennis fights the Hammer and the Juggernaut alone because there's only enough room in the corner behind the shield for one, so he throws Arthur behind it because he has a family to rescue.
    • Subverted with Arthur, who's led to believe that he has to perform one to save his family. At the last moment, he realizes it's a Batman Gambit by Cyrus and his death would actually fulfill his uncle's plans.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Cyrus is thrown into the spinning rings by most of the ghosts and chopped to pieces.
  • Hollywood Hype Machine: Shannon Elizabeth's appearance here owed much to the fame she earned by being in American Pie.
  • Human Sacrifice: The last ghost will manifest itself this way.
  • I Shall Taunt You: Dennis taunts one of the ghosts in anger after one scare too many.
  • Impending Doom P.O.V.: Various takes show the ghosts' view, approaching someone.
  • Infant Immortality: Played straight with Bobby, averted with the First Born Son.
  • Jump Scare: Lampshaded.
    Dennis: Oh, God! I hate it when they do that!
    Maggie: Do what?
    Dennis: They wait for your to stick your FACE right up against the glass! And then give you a big, fat "boo"!
  • Karmic Death:
    • Cyrus Kriticos, who gets killed by the ghosts he captured and tried to exploit.
    • Kalina, who taunted Dennis for not realizing he was being used by Cyrus - except she was being used by him too.
    • Ben Moss is in on the whole thing and taunts the Angry Princess when he sees her inside her containment cube, and is later killed when he is bisected by glass doors while backing away from said ghost.
  • Kick the Dog: Cyrus does this at the beginning, when he slaps Dennis' medication out of his hand for no discernible reason. He also does a more extreme form of dog-kicking later, when he has Kalina squished to death between two panels of glass.
  • Knife Nut: The Angry Princess.
  • Large Ham:
    • Matthew Lillard, of course.
    • Cyrus (played by F. Murray Abraham) absolutely devours the scenery whenever he's on-screen.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang: Enforced by the house changing configurations repeatedly, separating everybody.
  • Letters 2 Numbers: As you can see, letters "t" and the first "e" in "Thirteen" have been have replaced by numbers 1 and 3 in the film's name.
  • Lock Down: How Cyrus' house becomes a Closed Circle.
  • Losing Your Head: The Torso's head.
  • Mad Bomber: Kalina.
    "Well, the other option is I have enough explosives to blow us back to the middle ages, of course none of us would be around to brag about it afterward."
  • Malaproper: Bobby makes a few of those.
  • The Mole: Kalina.
  • Mrs Exposition: While taking shelter in Cyrus' office, Kalina explains the purpose of the house and the Black Zodiac, complete with Title Drop.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: All of the ghosts' titles.
  • Neck Snap: How the Bound Woman died.
  • Oh, Crap: Dennis' reaction when he learns that the Jackal is loose.
  • Parental Abandonment: The Juggernaut's backstory. He was abandoned at birth by his mother and his father died years later.
  • Power of Love: The thirteenth ghost's specialty.
  • Psychic Powers: Dennis. He's understandably less-than-pleased with having them.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: The Great Child.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: When the house is destroyed, all the ghosts are free again... especially the most dangerous ones.
  • The Remake: Of the original 13 Ghosts.
  • Rich Bitch: The Bound Woman, when she was alive.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The Hammer had one in life, when a gang, led by someone who falsely accused him of stealing, killed his wife and children.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Maggie.
  • Scary Black Man: The Hammer.
  • Screamer Trailer: Used in-universe as new ghosts are revealed or about to get up to their usual shenanigans.
  • See-Thru Specs: Both movies used special glasses to see the ghosts, but in the original the audience got them, while in the remake the characters got them.
  • Serial Killer: The Juggernaut and the Jackal.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Dennis wears an awesome suit throughout much of the movie.
  • Slashed Throat: Cyrus gets this at the beginning of the film... or so it seems at first.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: The Torn Prince a.k.a. Royce Clayton was this in his backstory.
  • Smug Snake: Ben Moss.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: "Mirror Mirror" by rapper Rah Digga (who plays Maggie) plays over the end credits.
  • Spanner in the Works Cyrus is beaten in the end when Maggie (who has just woken up from being knocked out by Kalina) happens upon the records playing the chants that are controlling the ghosts and messes with them. This causes the ghosts to break free and turn on Cyrus.
  • Spirit Advisor: Ghost Dennis, who seems much more at peace with things than he was when he was alive, briefly acts as one for Arthur, complete with a You Will Know What to Do message.
  • Sword Cane: Cyrus has one.
  • Tempting Fate: Arthur says that there's no such thing as ghosts. Almost immediately, Kathy is attacked by the Jackal right in front of him.
  • Thirteen Is Unlucky: Well, if the "Ocularis Infernum" ended up working, it would be lucky for the operator. Although the road to that point...
  • Title by Number
  • Title Drop: The speech about the Black Zodiac and how the "thirteenth ghost" (one created by an Act Of True Love) would disrupt the Ocularis Infernum, which the other captured ghosts are meant to power up.
  • Two-Faced: The Withered Lover and The Torn Prince.
  • Unexpected Inheritance: Cyrus was just a crazy uncle up until the moment he passed away.
  • Unhappy Medium: Dennis Rafkin.
    "If you haven't noticed, I'm a little bit of a freak! I come within ten feet of anything dead, I go into seizures. I touch somebody, and a whole life full of shit just flashes in front of my eyes!"
  • Video Wills: Cyrus leaves one of these, leaving Arthur (who is out of luck and living in an apartment with his family after his house burned) with his fortune and home...
  • Western Zodiac: The movie uses its own (invented) "Black Zodiac" to account for 12 of the ghosts' presence and assign them titles.
  • What the Hell, Townspeople?: The backstories for the Hammer and the Pilgrimess have this in spades.
  • Window Love: Arthur and Jean.
  • Window Pain: Being squeezed flat between two closing glass panels (and bisected by one of them) definitely counts.
  • Witch Hunt: The Pilgrimess died as a result of this.
  • Wolverine Claws: The Jackal prefers to use his fingernails when he's attacking.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: The Great Child and the Hammer.
  • Worst Aid: When Dennis goes into spasms, Arthur grabs him in an attempt to help him and unknowingly makes his condition worse.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Cyrus has no problem sacrificing Arthur's children to complete his plans. His partner, on the other hand, is horrified at the suggestion.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Cyrus does this to Kalina.