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Thir13en Ghosts


Thir13en Ghosts (2001) starring Tony Shalhoub, Shannon Elizabeth, F. Murray Abraham

The 2001 film, Thirteen Ghosts, is a remake of the 1960 William Castle film, 13 Ghosts. The two films have the following in common:

  • A penniless family inherits a mansion from a deceased, eccentric relative
  • The mansion contains over a dozen ghosts
  • The ghosts can only be seen with special glasses

That’s pretty much it.

Thirteen Ghosts, starring Tony ShalhoubIn this remake, the family man is played by Tony Shalhoub, a widower, whose wife died saving the rest of the family from a fire. The family is charitably described as dysfunctional. Penniless widower Shalhoub can somehow afford a live-in nanny. The film plays more like a horror video game, with each of the ghosts having a tragic backstory, and a vicious streak, with lots of graphic violence. It has a lot of language I don’t care for, sniping between the family members, etc.

In short, as much as I love Tony Shalhoub’s acting (Monk, etc.), he isn’t able to rescue this film.

Movie quotes from  Thirteen Ghosts

Maggie Bess: Did the lawyer split?

Maggie: Can I rely on you not to get me killed?
Dennis Rafkin: I guarantee nothing.

Maggie: Family, just so we’re all clear, Ms. Maggie does not do windows.

Dana Newman, The Angry Princess: [faint, ghastly whispering] I’m sorry…

Maggie: [in background talking to herself] Stuck in here, bunch of crazy white people…

Dennis Rafkin: Did I say there’s a petting zoo downstairs? NO, there are ghosts downstairs, Arthur!

Dennis Rafkin: I hate my job.

Kalina Oretzia: Who are you to play God?
Cyrus Kriticos: Playing is for children.

Arthur Kriticos: He wasn’t too popular. My dad said he squandered the family fortune.
Kathy Kriticos: We have a family fortune?
Arthur Kriticos: Well, no. Cyrus squandered it.

Maggie Bess: Hey, Bobby, isn’t that great, you got a late uncle.
Robert ‘Bobby’ Kriticos: What’s he late for?
Kathy Kriticos: His next birthday.

Kathy Kriticos: Bathrooms. Bathrooms! Everyone gets their own bathroom!

[seeing their new glass house]
Kathy Kriticos: I sure hope the bathroom’s in the basement…

Arthur Kriticos: First rule: no throwing stones.

Dennis Rafkin: I know this is gonna sound completely whacked, all right? But just – just stay with me. I used to hunt displaced spiritual energies with your uncle.
Arthur Kriticos: I’m sorry?
Dennis Rafkin: Uhh, P.K. agents. Revenants. Uh, uh, uh – Like wraiths. Wraiths? Do you have any idea what I’m talking about?
Arthur Kriticos: [chuckling nervously and shaking his head “No”] Uhh…
Dennis Rafkin: That’s okay. That’s okay, I – I’ll do this the easy way. Ghosts, Arthur. I used to – I used to hunt ghosts with your uncle Cyrus.
Arthur Kriticos: [after a pause] Goats?

Arthur Kriticos: I told them not to leave this spot.
Dennis Rafkin: They’re kids – what do you expect?
Arthur Kriticos: Yeah, well, thank you, Dr. Phil.

Arthur Kriticos: Okay, I want you guys to stay right here. Don’t move.
Kathy Kriticos: Dad, you’re being paranoid and over-protective.
Arthur Kriticos: Yeah, of all this stuff!

Kalina: Yeah, but you helped him! How could you help him without knowing what he was doing?
Dennis Rafkin: I had my reasons…
Kalina: Money, you parasite, you stole people’s souls for money! How depraved is that?
Dennis Rafkin: If you hadn’t noticed, I’M A LITTLE BIT OF A FREAK! I come within ten feet of anything dead I go into seizures. I touch somebody, and a whole life full of shit flashes in front of my eyes! Alright? So yeah, I’m depraved. But Cyrus was my friend and he accepted me, so…
Kalina: [laughs] He didn’t accept you! You’re so pathetic! He used you!
Arthur Kriticos: Shut up! Both of you. Cut him some slack, would you? What difference does it make?
Kalina: [looks at Dennis, shocked] You didn’t tell him, did you?
Arthur Kriticos: [panicked] Oh God, what? What? Tell me what? What now?
Kalina: About the fourth ghost.
Dennis Rafkin: No, don’t do this… I didn’t tell him, don’t do this!
Kalina: He has a right to know!
Arthur Kriticos: What about the fourth ghost?
Kalina: St Luke’s hospital. Six months ago.
Arthur Kriticos: [slowly realizing] You’re saying… my wife’s spirit is trapped in this house?
Dennis Rafkin: I didn’t know you… I didn’t know her. I didn’t know she had a husband…

Trivia for  Thirteen Ghosts

  • In the movie, the characters need special glasses to see the ghosts. In the original 13 Ghosts (1960), viewers needed special glasses to see the ghosts. This is one of the few details from the original that was kept.
  • The special effects and sound mixing were so elaborate in this film, that many people claimed that the movie was physically painful to sit through.
  • The writing etched on one of the walls in the glass house translates to read The Lord’s Prayer.
  • In the original 13 Ghosts (1960), the nephew who inherited the mansion was Cyrus Zorba. In this movie, the uncle who left his mansion to his nephew is Cyrus Kriticos.
  • “The Withered Lover” is the fourth ghost of the Black Zodiac. She is seen walking with an IV with her. IV in Roman Numerals is equal to four.
  • The first film from a major American studio with three Arab-American leads (Tony Shalhoub, F. Murray Abraham and Shannon Elizabeth).


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