13 Ghosts (1960)

Ah, William Castle, the god of gimmick, how do your films prosper later in life when the gimmick’s not around any more to support them? 13 Ghosts is one case where the gimmick actually does survive into the DVD age, cos it involves the actual film print being tinted at certain point (that sort of thing is easier to provide for home viewing than electrified seating or flying skeletons, I suppose). Unfortunately for me, I don’t have that edition; instead I have a rather ropey all-b/w VHS rip from Archive.org that required a certain amount of TV control fiddling to make watchable. So I didn’t exactly get the full Illusion-O experience, but then again, the ghosts are always visible in black and white anyway, so. Anyway, I’ve seen a bit of the remake under “club conditions”, i.e. it was playing on the screen at a goth club one night, with the sound off, and I just remember a scene of a man getting sliced in half vertically. No such scene appears in the original, obviously, and I daresay it indicates Dark Castle (who made the remake, and also brought us those godawful pieces of shit Death Ship and Gothika) have completely missed the point of the original; I mean, it’s not exactly the most adult horror film in either concept—family inherits house from eccentric occultist uncle who left behind vast amounts of hidden money and the ghosts of the title—or in execution, it’s essentially aimed at kids and I doubt it really needed “upgrading” for adults. It’s of its time and I thought it had a certain degree of period charm that I don’t suppose the Dark Castle version will ever acquire; no masterpiece of cinema by any stretch of the imagination, but fun enough for what it is.

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