Thirteen Ghosts

on October 26, 2001 by Paul Clinton
   This jumbled remake of a 1960 William Castle shocker uses state-of-the-art visual effects as a substitute for any kind of a clear story. The movie is all smoke and mirrors, and evaporates not long after the end of the show.

   After inheriting a house from his deceased uncle, Arthur (Tony Shalhoub) moves in with his college-age daughter (Shannon Elizabeth) and young son. He discovers that Uncle Cyrus (F. Murray Abraham) left him a few other surprises--namely 12 ghosts trapped in the basement behind an elaborate maze of glass doors and metal machinery. It doesn't take long for the family to find themselves trapped with the ghosts, trying to find a way out with the help of spastic psychic Rafkin (Matthew Lillard, in a relentless "comic relief" role).

   Writers Neal Stevens and Richard D'Ovidio try to spice up their rote haunted-house plot with half-baked medieval mythology about the Black Zodiac, Eye of Hell and other nonsense. Director Steve Beck, a visual effects supervisor who is making his helming debut, uses speeded-up editing and other gimmicks to keep his flimsy movie on its wobbly feet.

   When showman extraordinaire Castle exhibited the movie, he handed out "Illusion-O" glasses that allowed viewers to see the ghosts. Now, the characters themselves use plastic glasses, which might have been commissioned from a local high school's wood-shop class.    Starring Tony Shalhoub, Matthew Lillard, Shannon Elizabeth and F. Murray Abraham. Directed by Steve Beck. Written by Neal Stevens and Richard D'Ovidio. Produced by Gilbert Adler and Dan Cracchiolo. A Warner Bros. release. Horror. Rated R for horror/violence, gore, nudity and some language. Running time: 90 min.

Tags: Tony Shalhoub, Matthew Lillard, Shannon Elizabeth, F. Murray Abraham, Steve Beck, Neal Stevens, Richard D'Ovidio, Gilbert Adler, Dan Cracchiolo, Warner Bros, Horror

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