Quantcast

Thirteen Ghosts (2001) – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

One of the joys of covering the Scream Factory titles for me is the ability to revisit some films that I haven’t seen in a significantly long time with a completely refreshed pair of eyes. Does it always pan out? No. But its still exciting to have another look. Thirteen Ghosts was a film I didn’t think much of (Or care for) back when it was released in 2001, but I was always a much different person then that I am now. While I wasn’t particularly fond of it, I’ve noticed over the years that there does seem to be a cult following for this one, so I’m looking forward to another chance. Regardless, this second release for the film (Originally on a double feature release with the 2005 House of Wax remake) is quite loaded and given the typical loving touches that Scream Factory is known for. They even nabbed Shannon Elizabeth (Very much an “it girl” in the early 2000s when this came out) back for an interview. You can pre-order now to secure a copy for the July 28th release date.

Film

A state-of-the-art remake of the classic William Castle horror film about a family that inherits a spectacular old house from an eccentric uncle. There’s just one problem: the house seems to have a dangerous agenda all its own. Trapped in their new home by strangely shifting walls, the family encounters powerful and vengeful entities that threaten to annihilate anyone in their path.

Well, it appears my feelings are mildly similar to how they were back in 2001. I’m a bit more appreciative of the production value of the film, but ultimately ho-hum on the overall final product. Retroactively, Thirteen Ghosts excels as a B-picture, but the original ambitions were to play just as well as an A horror title back in 2001. Everyone here in the cast was somebody and the budget for the film was rather large for a film of this type. Box office and critic/audience reaction to the film weren’t positive at the time either, but it did find itself an appreciative cult audience at the time and over the years.

First off, the production design, make-up and effects work on this film are outstanding. At a swift 90 minutes, its absolutely worth watching for that aspect alone. Howard Berger and his team have done a doozy on these creatures in the film. Not your traditional spectres, but full fledged monsters nonetheless, they are hulking nightmares captured on celluloid. Every one of them would make for a fine solo film of their own right. And the movie really cares about their look, performance and lore. The kills are also quite nifty and leave you begging for more as there are quite enough of them.

While we have a notable cast, the big star of the film is the damn house at the center of everything. This impressive glass laden monument is a gear shifting, nerdy delight. I’m not sure how much sense it all makes or the feasibility of it all because it is fun to watch it in action. Its also quite enjoyable to just to sit and admire and watch characters simply wander through it. Looking at behind the scenes footage and hearing the actors discuss it, the interior was a sight to behold. While this movie clearly was quite expensive, it didn’t go to waste in production and every dollar is clearly seen on screen.

Sure, I gave 2001’s Thirteen Ghosts 2 stars and then praised it shortly after. There are plenty of shortcomings in the script, performances and editing of the film. Some stuff quite embarrassingly so. But, something interesting caught me when taking in the interviews on the bonus features. I’m too old for this movie now and I was back in 2001, too. This is the perfect R rated horror film for an underage kid to sneak in behind adults backs. That’s where an audience has built over the years for it. I can easily see this scaring the living daylights out of them at that age. The reason being is that this movie excels where it counts. Scary monsters, graphic deaths and a wicked house of haunts. It also feels in step with the original William Castle spirit as well.

Video

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail:  No details have been provided regarding the transfer on this new release for Thirteen Ghosts from Scream Factory. Unlike the previous release, it moves from a BD-25 disc to BD-50. It also now carries its correct theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The image looks well enough, with plenty of easily made out detail with solid clarity. Its sharp and has a nice film-like look to it. Looking at it, it does feel like a bit of an older, dated HD master that could use improvement. But, overall, this is well enough.

Depth:  There is a solid look in the depth of field here. Its not wildly three dimensional or having hallways that look pushed way back, but its clean and spacious enough to be fine. Movements are smooth, cinematic and have no real issues in natural motion with blurring or jittering during action.

Black Levels:  Blacks are deeper than they are that lighter gray look (Thanks to being on film). No real issues with hidden details occur. No major crushing issues occur.

Color Reproduction:  While the film does feature a range of colors, they mostly come across with a flatter aesthetic to them. Nothing really pops too much, except the easily deep red blood.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish. Facial features and textures make out best in close up shots and fare decently in medium and further away. Creature and gore make-up look quite good here, holding up to time and presenting a convincing look after 19 years.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio

Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: Thirteen Ghosts arrives on Blu-ray for the second go around carrying what I assume is the same audio track featured on the previous release. And from my ears, that’s a fine decision. This mix is pretty intricate, very loud and consuming. The speaker design has a presence from every corner of the room at all times. It’s not shy and its not quiet. There is some very nice touches on the layering and the depth of the track as well. In addition, they have provided a 2.0 track for another option.

Height: N/A

Low-Frequency Extension:  The subwoofer really has a nice range of boom here between gunfire, glass shattering, deeper soundscapes, slamming, crashing and more.

Surround Sound Presentation: This one has a really wicked rollercoaster of sound throughout the room with its speaker usage. Even the rear channels are set very loud for effectiveness. Screams, haunting sounds, slicing and the like pop up in their own corners and travel across the room in this impactful sound design.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp, feels plenty part of their environments no matter the intensity.

Extras

Thirteen Ghosts – Collector’s Edition comes with reversible covert art featuring the original poster design.

Audio Commentary

  • With Director Steve Beck
  • With The Creative Team (Director Steve Beck, Production Designer Sean Hargreaves and Special Makeup Effects Artist Howard Berger)

Interview With Actress Shannon Elizabeth (HD, 9:57) – She met with Joel Silver about this film which geeked her out because she loves Xanadu which he produced. Shannon discusses her love of horror movies in her youth and how they give her anxiety now. Being both Lebanese, she enjoy and found a lot of respect in working with Tony Shalhoub. Her bathroom scene is covered which was her first scene film where she saw one of the ghosts on set as well as the scene where she gets pulled up the wall by one of the ghosts. Elizabeth talks about her nerves being on edge following every day of filming and having to take a while to wind down. When it comes to the legacy of the film, she didn’t discover as much until she started doing conventions and is happy to have been a part of the films she’s done and being a part of people’s lives in that manner.

Interview With Actor Matthew Harrison (HD, 14:43) – His process of getting the role was rather usual in that he just went out for an audition and impressed working with a very cool headed Steve Beck on a “huge huge” “insane” movie to shoot. He has a pretty deep and intricate understanding of his character that merely appears in the opening moments of the film. Harrison goes over working with Matthew Lillard (“Super…genuinely good…very energetic guy”) along with a funny story, shooting his death and working with the prosthetic team on it and the thoughts on the legacy of the film.

Interview with Actor John DeSantis “The Juggernaut” (HD, 13:14) – The insanely deep voiced actor talks of Star Wars and Alien getting him into loving film and his military background leading him to becoming a background actor. DeSantis discusses getting the role in Thirteen Ghosts and goes over the process of being made up and getting the body suit as well as learning about the process. He even shows off a head cast/bust for his character given to him after production wrapped. We get his take on the background of “The Juggernaut” too. John goes over some stunts and fight scene details and talks about his thoughts on the first seeing the film and its legacy.

Interview With Actor Herbert Duncanson “The Hammer” (HD, 5:56) – Originally hired as a stand-in for the film, he wound up with the part of “The Hammer” on his second day as the actor cast didn’t show up. Duncanson goes over his understanding of the character’s backstory and the make-up process for the film. He found that Steve Beck did a “super” job and was amused with how the house set functioned. Regarding the film “I really enjoyed it. I thought it was awesome.”

Interview With Producer Gilbert Adler (HD, 8:32) – Answering the prompted questions, he talks the formation of Dark Castle having originally been a producer of Tales From The Crypt, creating a remake that those living or related to those who made the original would love, working with Steve Beck and the reception of the movie as well as how it plays now.

Thir13een Ghosts Revealed (HD, 18:40) – While encoded in HD, this 4×3 video is clearly an SD featurette from the original DVD release that has been upscaled to HD. This is pretty much your generic “Making of” that would come with the DVD, an edit of the “Original EPK” interviews and footage that is also available, untethered, on this disc.

Ghost Files (HD, 14:10) – SD sourced, HD upscaled. With a voice over from F. Murray Abraham, this appears to be formerly an interactive feature on the DVD release where you selected a ghost from the film and it would play a video on the history/background of that character. Now presented in a just a straightforward watch with the intro, followed by the clips played one after another.

Original EPK (HD, 43:24) – Looks like an SD sourced upscale. Features the on set press kit interviews from the time of release with Tony Shalhoub, Embeth Davidtz, Matthew Lillard (In a Green Lantern shirt), Shannon Elizabeth, Rah Digga, F. Murray Abraham, Steve Beck, Howard Berger and others. In addition there are plenty of additional material like behind the scenes footage from on the set and in the special effects workshop.

Trailer & TV Spots (HD, 5:20) – All presented in 4×2 Letterbox and look like SD upscales.

Summary

Thirteen Ghosts offers little more than an effects showcase, but still works well enough for a decent cheesy, late-night venture.  Scream Factory has given it some pretty loving attention in its new Blu-ray release, the first time its been available by itself. The audio is terrific and the video is fine (Though a new transfer would have been nice). On the extras end, the new interviews are very fruitful and fun. Getting Shannon Elizabeth back was key. This is likely the best release the film is likely to see for the foreseeable future (if ever)!

This is a paid Amazon Associates link

Share

Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

  1. No Comments