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Film: 13 Ghosts

13 Ghosts (1960) is a horror movie directed by William Castle and written by Rob White. It was filmed in "Illusion-O", allowing viewers to see the ghosts using special glasses made of red and blue cellophane; viewing them through the red filter made them visible, while watching through the blue filter made them vanish. (It is worth noting, though, that the ghosts were quite visible without using the red filter.)

The film concerns Cyrus Zorba, whose occultist uncle Dr. Plato Zorba has willed a huge, ramshackle house to Cyrus and his impoverished family, fully furnished and outfitted with a housekeeper, plus a fortune in treasure. Now for the bad news: This house is haunted by twelve ghosts, who are imprisoned there, waiting for an unlucky thirteenth ghost to free them. The only way to see the ghosts is with special goggles left behind by Dr. Zorba In addition, there is a more mortal peril in the house with them, in the form of someone who wants to claim Zorba's money for himself, and is willing to kill its rightful heirs to steal it.

The movie was remade as Thir13en Ghosts in 2001.

1960 original has:

  • Actor Allusion: Elaine is referred to as a witch multiple times, referencing the most famous role of her actor Margaret Hamilton: Wicked Witch of the West. This time, though, she's a Good Witch.
  • Death Trap: The bed that Ben used to kill Plato Zorba. He also tries to use it on Buck but is foiled by the angry ghost of Plato who kills him in it instead.
  • Dem Bones: One of the ghosts is a skeleton on fire.
  • Dramatic Wind: Presence of ghosts and other otherworldly things are punctuated by sudden gusts of wind.
  • Evil Chef: The ghost chef Emilio, who murdered his family before death.
  • Genre Blind: Cyrus Zorba needs to brush up on his Haunted House tropes, ex. when ghosts start throwing cleavers, the recommended course of action is to move out. And those sounds are never just the wind.
  • Losing Your Head: Shadrack the Great, who lost his head when he put it into mouth of the lion... and it bit him. The ghost of the lion also dwells in the house.
  • Never Recycle a Building: Especially one that seems to have ghosts in every darned room of the house!
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: They can, and will given half the chance, kill humans. Although it turns out to mostly be just an act — the ghosts are really more harmless eccentrics who like scaring people. The only person they actually kill is the crooked lawyer when he finally turns on the family.
  • Split Screen: Used early in the film when Hilda calls Cyrus about the mortgage.


Yuugen KaishaGhost FictionThir13en Ghosts
St. Trinian'sFilms of the 1960sThe Alamo

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