Thirteen Ghosts

Thirteen Ghosts Information

Thirteen Ghosts (also known as 13 Ghosts and stylized as THIR13EN Ghosts) is a 2001 Canadian-American supernatural horror film directed by Steve Beck. It is a remake of the 1960 film 13 Ghosts by William Castle. It was shot entirely around Lower Mainland, British Columbia.


Ghost hunter Cyrus Kriticos (F. Murray Abraham) and his psychic assistant Dennis Rafkin (Matthew Lillard) lead a team on a mission to capture a spirit called the Juggernaut (John DeSantis). Several men, including an apparent Cyrus, are killed while the team is able to catch the ghost. Cyrus's nephew Arthur (Tony Shalhoub), a widower, is informed by Cyrus's estate lawyer, Ben Moss (J. R. Bourne), that he has inherited Cyrus' mansion. Financially insecure, Arthur decides to move there with his two children, Kathy (Shannon Elizabeth) and Bobby (Alec Roberts) and their nanny Maggie (Rah Digga).

Posing as a power company inspector, Dennis meets the family and Moss as they tour the mansion. The residence is made entirely of glass sheets inscribed with Latin phrases, which Dennis recognizes as barrier spells. While searching the basement, Dennis is hit by psychic flashes and discovers the twelve angry ghosts he and Cyrus captured are imprisoned in the house, held captive by the spells. As Dennis warns Arthur, Moss slips downstairs and picks up a valise of cash, unwittingly triggering a mechanism that seals the house and releases the ghosts one by one. He dies when a set of sliding doors snaps shut, cutting him in half. Bobby slips away from Kathy and Maggie and enters the basement, where he sees several of the ghosts, particularly that of the Withered Lover - his mother Jean, who had died of injuries sustained in a house fire. He is knocked unconscious and dragged away.

Using a pair of spectral glasses that allow the wearer to see into the supernatural realm, Dennis convinces Maggie that the ghosts are real. Dennis discovers that the Jackal, one of the most dangerous of the twelve ghosts, has been released and that the family is now in grave danger. The Jackal attacks Kathy when she and Arthur enter the basement in search of Bobby, but they are saved by Kalina Oretzia (Embeth Davidtz), a spirit liberator who is attempting to free the ghosts. Kathy disappears soon afterward, and the four adults gather in the library, where Arthur learns that Jean's ghost is trapped in the house. Kalina explains that the house is a machine, powered by the captive ghosts, that can allow its user to see the past, present, and future. The only way to shut it down, she says, is through the creation of a thirteenth ghost from a sacrifice of pure love. Arthur realizes that he must become that ghost by dying to save his children.

Armed with a pane of the special glass, Arthur and Dennis enter the basement to find the children. Dennis barricades Arthur into a corner behind the glass, protecting Arthur but allowing two ghosts, the Hammer and the Juggernaut, to beat Dennis to death. It is then revealed that Cyrus faked his death to lure Arthur to the house; Kalina is his secret partner. Cyrus has orchestrated the abduction of Kathy and Bobby so that Arthur will become the thirteenth ghost, which will not stop the machine as Kalina had claimed, but trigger its activation. Cyrus kills Kalina and summons the ghosts to activate the machine.

Arthur arrives at the main hall and witnesses all twelve ghosts orbiting a clockwork device of rotating metal rings, with his children at the center. Discovering Cyrus' true fate, Arthur fights Cyrus while Maggie disrupts the machine's controls, releasing the ghosts from its power. The ghosts hurl Cyrus into the rings, slicing him to pieces. With the encouragement of Dennis' ghost, Arthur jumps into the machine, avoiding the rings and saving his children. The walls of the house shatter as the malfunctioning machine rips itself apart, freeing the ghosts. Dennis smiles at Arthur and departs, and Jean's ghost appears before the family and tells them that she loves them before she and all the other ghosts disappear.

As the family leaves the house, Maggie exclaims that she is quitting.


  • Tony Shalhoub as Arthur Kriticos
  • Embeth Davidtz as Kalina Oretzia
  • Matthew Lillard as Dennis Rafkin
  • Shannon Elizabeth as Kathy Kriticos
  • Alec Roberts as Bobby Kriticos
  • Rah Digga as Maggie Bess
  • F. Murray Abraham as Cyrus Kriticos
  • J.R. Bourne as Ben Moss
  • Mikhael Speidel as Billy Michaels/The First Born Son
  • Daniel Wesley as Jimmy "The Gambler" Gambino/The Torso
  • Laura Mennell as Susan LeGrow/The Bound Woman
  • Kathryn Anderson as Jean Kriticos/The Withered Lover
  • Craig Olejnik as Royce Clayton/The Torn Prince
  • Shawna Loyer as Dana Newman/The Angry Princess
  • Xantha Radley as Isabella Smith/The Pilgrimess
  • C. Ernst Harth as Harold Shelburne/The Great Child
  • Laurie Soper as Margaret Shelburne/The Dire Mother
  • Herbert Duncanson as George Markley/The Hammer
  • Shayne Wyler as Ryan Kuhn/The Jackal
  • John DeSantis as Horace "Breaker" Mahoney/The Juggernaut (credited as John De Santis)
  • Ken Kirzinger as Station Stunt performer

The Ghosts

The first twelve of the thirteen ghosts that make up the fictional "Black Zodiac" each have their own unique background stories. Although these stories were not described in the film, the production and make-up teams explain their guidelines on the DVD special feature "Ghost Files". Cyrus narrates each ghost's back story. They also seem to increase in danger as their numbers increase.

1. The First Born Son - The First Born Son is the ghost of Billy Michaels, a boy who loved cowboy films above all things. Any attempt by his parents to drag Billy out of his fantasy world of Cowboys and Indians would send him flying into a rage. One day, a neighbor boy challenged him to a duel, using a bow and a real steel-tipped arrow that he found in his parents"? closet against Billy's toy gun. Billy died when the neighbor shot the arrow through the back of his head. Billy's ghost is dressed in his cowboy suit and holding a tomahawk, with the arrow still protruding from his head. His ghost whispers "Wanna play?".

2. The Torso - The Torso is the ghost of a bookie named Jimmy "The Gambler" Gambino. Having established a reputation as a professional gambler, Jimmy attracted the attention of a mobster named Larry "The Finger"? Vitello. Larry approached Jimmy to place a large bet on a long shot in a heavyweight boxing match. Knowing the risk of placing bets for the Mafia but needing to uphold his reputation, Jimmy agreed to place the bet and shook hands with Larry, sealing his fate. After the fighter Jimmy placed the bet on took a deciding blow, Jimmy was cleaned out of all his money. Jimmy found himself unable to pay off Larry"?s bet when he arrived to collect his winnings, so Larry chopped him into several small pieces, wrapping them in cellophane, and dumping them into the ocean. His ghost appears as his decapitated, legless torso, wrapped in cellophane and trying to walk around on its hands as his head, also wrapped in cellophane, lies screaming on the floor.

3. The Bound Woman - The Bound Woman is the ghost of Susan LeGrow, a girl with a wealthy background and a penchant for playing with boys' affections, leaving a long trail of broken hearts. On the night of her high school senior prom, Chet Walters, a football player she was dating, caught her cheating on him with another boy; the next morning, the boy was found beaten to death and Susan went missing. Two weeks later, she was found buried beneath the 50-yard line of the school's football field, bound in rope and strangled to death; Chet was convicted of her murder and placed on death row. Before he was executed, Chet"?s final words were "The bitch broke my heart, so I broke her neck"?. Her ghost is wearing her prom dress with a tie wrapped around her throat and is hanging from the ceiling with her hands tied behind her back.

4. The Withered Lover - The Withered Lover is the ghost of Jean Kriticos, Arthur's wife. She was burned severely while saving her family from a devastating house fire one night, and died of her injuries in the hospital. Her ghost initially appears in a hospital gown, hooked up to an IV pole and showing severe burns on her face. After the destruction of the machine, her ghost is wearing her normal clothes and her burns have vanished. Unlike the other ghosts, she is not a vengeful spirit and tries to help her family.

5.The Torn Prince - The Torn Prince is the ghost of Royce Clayton, a 1950s high school baseball star with a bad attitude and a superiority complex. As the star slugger of his baseball team, every college in the country courted him, all offering him an opportunity to escape his small town life. But one day, during a drag race against a greaser, he died when he lost control of his car, Lil"? Sweetheart, and drove off of the road, flipping three times and bursting into flames. Royce was buried in a plot overlooking his favorite baseball diamond. His ghost carries a baseball bat, and parts of his face and body are torn to shreds from being dragged underneath his car while it flipped three times. He uses the bat as a melee weapon, and while inside his containment cube, he swings the bat against the glass walls, trying to break free.

6. The Angry Princess - The Angry Princess is the ghost of Dana Newman, a young woman blessed with the physical beauty of a goddess, but cursed with the inability to recognize it. Driven to depression and self-loathing by a string of abusive boyfriends, she began to work for a plastic surgeon who paid her in nose jobs, breast implants, and hundreds of other unnecessary cosmetic procedures. One night, she tried to perform surgery on herself to fix an imperfection on her face only she could see, but the attempt left her blind in one eye. She committed suicide in the bathtub by cutting herself with a butcher knife until she bled to death. After she died, people said that she was as beautiful in death as she was in life. Her ghost is naked, still holding the knife and showing all the self-inflicted wounds, and her cube is drenched in blood.

7. The Pilgrimess - The Pilgrimess is the ghost of Isabella Smith, a 17th-century New England colonist who came to America from England seeking a new home in a quaint New England town, but was shunned by other settlers who didn"?t trust outsiders. Accused of witchcraft by the town preacher after the town"?s livestock began to die from an unknown ailment, she fell under further suspicion when the preacher himself succumbed to that illness. The townspeople trapped Isabella in a farmhouse and set it on fire, but she miraculously emerged without any injuries. The astonished townspeople then locked her in the pillory and left her to starve to death after weeks of being spat on, cursed at, and having rocks thrown at her. Her ghost still has the pillory's yoke locked around her hands and neck.

8 and 9. The Great Child and The Dire Mother - The Dire Mother is the ghost of Margaret Shelburn, a woman whose diminutive height of three feet tall constantly attracted stares from others. She joined a carnival freak show managed by a man named Jimbo, but was raped by one of the other members and gave birth to a son, Harold (The Great Child). Margaret spoiled Harold throughout his life, so that he always wore diapers and had to be spoon-fed even as he grew to a vast size and weight. One night, some of the carnival freaks kidnapped Margaret as a cruel prank, sending Harold into a panic-fueled rage, destroying the entire carnival as he searched for her. When he finally found her, she died of suffocation. He flew into a rage and killed the culprits with an axe, putting their remains on public display for every paying customer to see, and was in turn killed and mutilated by an angry mob when Jimbo found out what had happened. Their ghosts are always together, with Harold wearing a food/vomit-splattered bib and carrying the axe, while Margaret sometimes feeds him.

10. The Hammer - The Hammer is the ghost of George Markley, a blacksmith who lived in a small town in the early 1890s. He was wrongfully accused of stealing by a man named Nathan, and was threatened with being run out of town. Knowing he was innocent, George stood up to Nathan and refused to leave. A gang led by Nathan attacked and murdered his wife and two children as they were walking home from the market; enraged and seeking revenge, George hunted down Nathan and his thugs and used his blacksmith's hammer to beat them to death. The townsfolk captured George and executed him by chaining him to a tree outside his shop, driving railroad spikes into his body with his own hammer, severing his left hand, and crudely attaching the hammer to it. His ghost is still pierced with the spikes and wrapped in the chains, and he wears the hammer in place of his missing left hand.

11. The Jackal - The Jackal is the ghost of Ryan Kuhn, who was born in 1887 to a prostitute. Developing a sick and insatiable appetite for the female gender as an adult, Ryan began attacking prostitutes and stray women with the cunning of a wild animal. Seeking to be cured of his insatiable appetite, Ryan committed himself to Borehamwood Asylum but eventually went completely insane after years of imprisonment in a padded cell, scratching at the walls so violently that his fingernails were torn completely off. In response to this, the doctors kept him permanently bound in a straitjacket, tying it tighter whenever he acted out, causing his limbs to contort horribly until he gnawed through it in an attempt to free himself. Ryan was then confined to a dark basement cell, with a metal cage locked around his head, and grew to hate any kind of human contact, screaming madly or cowering whenever approached by people. When a fire broke out at the asylum, everyone but Ryan escaped; he chose to remain behind and let himself be burned to death. His ghost wears the loosened straitjacket and head cage, with the front bars snapped apart.

12. The Juggernaut - The Juggernaut is the ghost of Horace "Breaker" Mahoney, a serial killer of enormous height, strength, and grotesque appearance. Abandoned by his mother at an early age and ostracized by everyone because of his appearance, he eventually got a job crushing and chopping up cars in his father's junkyard. After his father died, and with no other parent to steer him, Horace went insane and began bringing hitchhikers and stranded drivers to the junkyard, meticulously breaking all their bones and tearing them apart with his bare hands, feeding the pieces to his dogs. One of his potential victims was an undercover police officer, who called for backup and brought the police to surround the junkyard. Over a dozen officers overpowered Horace and arrested him. Horace broke free of his handcuffs and killed three officers before being shot dead by five officers who pumped nearly 50 rounds of ammo into his body. The officers then shot an extra magazine of bullets into Horace"?s corpse just to be sure that he really is dead. His ghost still wears the bullet-riddled clothing from the night he was killed, with his body covered in bleeding bullet wounds. Dennis Rafkin and Cyrus Kriticos note that Horace killed nine people while he was alive, then 31 more as a ghost; Horace kills several of Cyrus' assistants in the attempt to capture him, then later kills Dennis as well.

13. The Broken Heart - The thirteenth ghost would have been Arthur Kriticos himself. Cyrus planned for him to sacrifice himself out of love for his family, the final step needed to activate the house's machine.


In the US, the film opened ranking 2nd, making $15,165,355. It spent 10 weeks in the US box office, eventually making $41,867,960 domestically, and $68,467,960 worldwide.


Reviews for the film were mostly negative. Praise was directed toward the production design but the film was criticized for its lack of scares and a number of strobe effects throughout that could cause seizures. It holds an approval rating of 15% on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, based on 94 reviews with an average rating of 3.4/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The production design is first rate, but 13 Ghosts is distinctly lacking in scares." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 30 out of 100, based on 24 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C+" on an A+ to F scale.

Roger Ebert praised the production values saying, "The production is first-rate...The physical look of the picture is splendid." However, he criticized the story, lack of interesting characters, loud soundtrack, and poor editing. It is on his list of "Most Hated" films.

See also

  • List of ghost films

Notes of Research


This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "Thirteen_Ghosts" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.



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