13 Ghosts (1960)

13 GHOSTS (1960)
Article 2807 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-13-2009
Posting Date: 4-20-2009
Directed by William Castle
Featuring Charles Herbert, Jo Morrow, Martin Milner
Country: USA

A family that is struggling financially inherits a house that they can only keep if they live in it. The house contains a fortune hidden by the former owner… and it also contains ghosts collected by him as well.

William Castle was the king of the gimmicks, but, if you look at his movies, for the most part the gimmicks were momentary side issues to the plot; the floating skeleton in HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL affected only one scene, the “choose the ending” scenario in MR. SARDONICUS only came into play at the end of the movie, as did the Coward’s Corner gimmick for HOMICIDAL, etc. This is the most significant exception; the glasses could be used several times throughout the movie, and it seems to me that the movie was actually built around the use of the gimmick. I think this is somewhat responsible for my dislike of this movie; I was extremely disappointed by it on first viewing, and though I’ve given it couple of other chances, I think it falls flat. One of the problems is that many of the ghost scenes end abruptly, which somehow kills any suspense that it may have built up. Another problem is that the dialogue sounds forced and phony; someone like Vincent Price might have made it work, but he’s not in the movie, and the cast here looks rather lost with most of it. In the end, I just don’t find it anywhere near as much fun or as scary as his better films, and I suspect the primary appeal of the film depends on the gimmick; it’s probably a lot more fun if you have the glasses to play with. Still, it doesn’t help that the glasses used in the movie itself look pretty silly. Margaret Hamilton plays the housekeeper, and though some talk is made about her being a witch, it just doesn’t really hold much water here. I consider this one of Castle’s bigger disappointments.

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