William Castle ‘s 13 Ghosts was one of many gimmicky horror movies of the sixties. Here, the theatergoer got a special pair of horizontal glasses. One had an orange strip, one had a blue strip. If you looked through the orange strip you could see the movie’s ghosts thanks to a process dubbed Illusion-O. 13 Ghosts is one of 8 movies on the 5 DVD William Castle Collection.
Ten year-old Buck Zorba (child star Charles Herbert) is a big fan of ghost stories. His father is not good at providing for the family so their furniture gets repossessed on his birthday. Buck wishes for a house with furniture of their own and his wish is granted when a long lost uncle’s last will and testament leaves Mr. Zorba an old house with furniture, a strange housekeeper (Margaret Hamilton, the wicked witch from the Wizard of Oz), and twelve ghosts.
Adam 12’s Martin Milner plays the lawyer who gives the Zorbas the good news.
Mr. Zorba also inherits a weird thing in a box that turns out to be a pair of glasses that allow you to see ghosts. Haunted or not, and it is, the Zorbas must live in the house or forfeit their inheritance. There is also the bit about the dead uncle’s missing money.
13 Ghosts is a fun to watch and pretty good horror B-movie even if it did depend on the Illusion-O gimmick made pointless here as the ghosts are visible without the special glasses. The story and acting are solid enough to make this William Castle DVD worth watching.
13 Ghosts was remade (as was Castle’s The House on Haunted Hill which is not in this collection) in 2001 with Tony Shalhoub and Shannon Elizabeth. The 2001 version relied on lots of blood and gore, Castle’s version relies on the director’s talent.
Other movies in the William Castle Collection DVD set include 13 Frightened Girls, Homicidal, Strait-Jacket, The Old Dark House, Mr. Sardonicus, The Tingler, and Zotz! The 5th DVD is the bonus feature disc with Spine Tingler: The William Castle Story.