13 Ghosts Blu-ray Review – Spooky Horror or Light Comedy?

Rounding off my look at the excellent William Castle boxset volume one released by Powerhouse Films is 13 Ghosts (1960). This one’s a bit of a strange film neither really being an out and out horror or a comedy horror. This one stars Charles Herbert as father that relocates his family into a haunted house.

I guess with this being a William Castle film you are probably wondering what gimmick is used this time around. Well it’s Illusion-O which requires special glasses that consist of all red and all blue sections. Look through one colour to see the ghost and the other not too. I know who doesn’t want to see them right? In any case you don’t need any glasses just watch the original black and white version. With all of that out of the way I think it’s time to take a more detailed look, so without further ado here’s the 13 Ghosts Blu-ray Review.

  • 13 Ghosts (1960) (Part of the William Castle Volume One Boxset)
  • Genre: Horror
  • Directed by William Castle
  • Running Time: 85/83 Mins
  • UK Rating PG
  • Discs: 1
  • Released By Powerhouse Films aka Indicator
  • Blu-ray Released: 22 October 2018
Plot

When the Zorba family experience financial difficulties their son wishes for a fully furnished house. That wish is seemingly immediately realised when Buck’s uncle, Dr. Plato Zorba leaves them an old mansion that also comes with 12 ghosts but as the film title suggests there needs to be a thirteenth.

Style / Direction13 Ghosts Blu-ray Review

The film is directed by William Castle with the cinematography handled by Joseph Biroc. There’s a couple versions to choose from including the original ‘Illusion-O’ 85 minute version that is supposed to require special glasses to see the ghosts. In all honesty the normal black and white version is the best one to watch. This of course is another of Castle’s gimmicks used to publicize his film.

The tone of the film would suggest this is more of a comedy horror yet for all of the light hearted nature it doesn’t really provide the laughs. Therefore it must simply be a regular horror but again the tone simply doesn’t allow the film to be scary in the slightest. It’s neither one thing nor the other and that’s a bit of a problem.

Music / Audio Effects

The music is composed by Von Dexter.

Acting / Characters

It’s a strange film with it not really feeling much like a horror and that largely comes down to the way Charles Herbert plays the father, Buck Zorba. It’s a performance that feels like it’s a comedy and this is only further added to by the young son.

Cast
  • Charles Herbert as Buck Zorba
  • Jo Morrow as Medea Zorba
  • Rosemary DeCamp as Hilda Zorba
  • Martin Milner as Benjamin Rush
  • Donald Woods as Cyrus Zorba
  • Margaret Hamilton as Elaine
  • John van Dreelen as Van Allen
  • William Castle as Himself
  • David Hoffman as Messenger
  • Roy Jenson as Dr. Plato Zorba’s ghost
Conclusion: 13 Ghosts (1960) Film Review

I’d have to say that 13 Ghosts for me at least seems to miss the mark as a horror or comedy-horror film that results in something of an oddity. Whether this was Castle’s intention is unclear but it seems to me at least that this could have been a decent serious horror had those chosen to go down that direction. In the end what we are left with in my opinion at least is one of William Castle’s less interesting pictures.

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Conclusion: 13 Ghosts Blu-ray Review

Forgive me for seemingly repeating myself but Powerhouse Films again excels with excellent picture quality whilst they include several different versions which will keep film fans like me very happy. Unlike some companies they really do appear to be movie lovers which is only further enforced by their excellent set of extras. The 82 minute ‘Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story’ is well worth a look.

Extras
  • Original ‘Illusion-O’ Version (85 mins)
  • Black & White Original version (83 mins)
  • Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story (82 mins)
  • Audio Commentary
  • Larger Than Life: The Making of Spine Tingler! (9 mins)
  • Stephen Laws Introduces 13 Ghosts (13 mins)
  • The Magic of Illusion-O (8 mins)
  • Isolated Music & Effects Track
  • Original Trailer
  • Trailer Commentary by Sam Hamm
  • Promotional Materials Gallery
  • Reversible Sleeve
  • 36 Page Booklet

On to my movie rating for 13 Ghosts (1960)

  • Movie Rating: WORTH A LOOK
  • Blu-ray Picture: EXCELLENT
  • Extras: EXCELLENT

13 Ghosts (1960) is available now on Blu-ray.

Amazon UK Links

https://amzn.to/2SAU84p

 


Film Trailer

For those of you yet to see the film I’ll leave you with a little taster…

Clip may not be representative of the Blu-ray version

So that’s my 13 Ghosts Blu-ray review, don’t forget to keep a look out for the rest of the William Castle boxset reviews.

 

Note: The Amazon links on this page are affiliate / associate links. By buying through the links we may receive a commission for the sale. This has no effect on the price you pay.

Summary: 13 Ghosts (1960) Blu-ray Review

Director(s): William Castle

Actor(s): Charles Herbert, Jo Morrow, Rosemary DeCamp, Martin Milner, Donald Woods, Margaret Hamilton, John van Dreelen, William Castle, Roy Jenson

Genre: Horror, Comedy,

  • Movie Rating
  • Blu-ray Picture Rating
  • Extras
4.2

Summary

A film that’s neither a true horror nor comedy-horror.

Pros

  • Well Shot
  • Excellent Blu-ray Release

Cons

  • William Castle’s Illusion-O Glasses Gimmick
  • Lacks Genre Identity

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