13 Ghosts (1960)

85 or 88 mins | Horror | July 1960

Director:

William Castle

Writer:

Robb White

Producer:

William Castle

Cinematographer:

Joseph Biroc

Editor:

Edwin L. Bryant

Production Designer:

Cary Odell

Production Company:

William Castle Productions
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HISTORY

The film's working titles were Thirteen and Ghost Train. Although onscreen credits note "color scenes by Pathé," the viewed print was in black and white. The NYT review erroneously lists the film's running time as 128 minutes. The Filmfacts review mentioned the Illusion-O "gimmick," which was the studio's name for the effects created by a pair of special glasses, called a "ghost viewer," that the audience would wear. One window of the glasses was tinted blue and one red; when the viewer looked through the red one, ghosts would appear on the screen, but when the viewer looked through the blue, the ghost could not be seen. The review added that producer William Castle appeared in a prologue to the film to explain the process, but Castle was not in the print viewed. In 2001, Warner Bros. released a remake of 13 Ghosts, titled Thir13en Ghosts, directed by Steve Beck and starring Tony Shaloub and Embeth Davidtz. ...

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The film's working titles were Thirteen and Ghost Train. Although onscreen credits note "color scenes by Pathé," the viewed print was in black and white. The NYT review erroneously lists the film's running time as 128 minutes. The Filmfacts review mentioned the Illusion-O "gimmick," which was the studio's name for the effects created by a pair of special glasses, called a "ghost viewer," that the audience would wear. One window of the glasses was tinted blue and one red; when the viewer looked through the red one, ghosts would appear on the screen, but when the viewer looked through the blue, the ghost could not be seen. The review added that producer William Castle appeared in a prologue to the film to explain the process, but Castle was not in the print viewed. In 2001, Warner Bros. released a remake of 13 Ghosts, titled Thir13en Ghosts, directed by Steve Beck and starring Tony Shaloub and Embeth Davidtz.

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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
27 Jun 1960
---
Daily Variety
23 Jun 1960
p. 3
Film Daily
1 Jul 1960
p. 6
Filmfacts
1960
pp. 175-76
Hollywood Reporter
16 Oct 1959
p. 1
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jan 1960
p. 3
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jan 1960
p. 16
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jan 1960
p. 6
Hollywood Reporter
5 Feb 1960
p. 20
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jun 1960
p. 3
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
16 Jul 1960
p. 771
New York Times
6 Aug 1960
p. 9
Variety
29 Jun 1960
p. 6
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc to the prod
WRITER
Wrt by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Asst cam
Key grip
Gaffer
Best boy
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Harry "Hoppy" Hopkins
Prop master
2d propman
Lead man
COSTUMES
MUSIC
SOUND
Sd supv
Mikeman
Cableman
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
Hair styles
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Ghost Train
Thirteen
Release Date:
July 1960
Production Date:
18 Jan--1 Feb 1960
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
William Castle Productions
1 July 1960
LP17292
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound Recording
Black & white with color sequences
Eastman Color scenes by Pathé
Lenses/Prints
Illusion-O
Duration(in mins):
85 or 88
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
19630
SYNOPSIS

Paleontologist Cyrus Zorba barely earns enough money to support his wife Hilda, young son Buck and young adult daughter Medea. On the day the family’s furniture is repossessed, they celebrate Buck’s birthday. As Buck blows out the candles on his cake, he wishes for “a house and furniture that no one can take away.” Buck’s wish is followed by a gust of wind and the appearance at the door of a ghoulish looking man who delivers a telegram from attorney Ben Rush directing Cyrus to come to his office the following day. The next morning at his office, Ben informs Cyrus that he has inherited the estate of his late uncle, Dr. Plato Zorba, an eccentric scientist who collected ghosts. Warning that the ghosts come with the house, Ben hands Cyrus a package containing his uncle’s “ghost viewer,” a device that makes the apparitions visible. The house is occupied by a sinister housekeeper, Elaine Zacharides, whom Buck dubs “the witch.” After the family move in, Ben visits them on the night that Buck finds a book printed in Latin and a Ouija board behind a secret panel. When Buck, a ghost aficionado, asks the Ouija if the house contains any spooks, the planchette on the board moves to the number thirteen. The family becomes alarmed when the planchette then floats up into the air and points at Medea, indicating that she will be the next ghost. Although frightened, they decide to remain in the house because the will dictates that if they leave, the estate will be turned over to the state. Later that night, Cyrus goes to ...

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Paleontologist Cyrus Zorba barely earns enough money to support his wife Hilda, young son Buck and young adult daughter Medea. On the day the family’s furniture is repossessed, they celebrate Buck’s birthday. As Buck blows out the candles on his cake, he wishes for “a house and furniture that no one can take away.” Buck’s wish is followed by a gust of wind and the appearance at the door of a ghoulish looking man who delivers a telegram from attorney Ben Rush directing Cyrus to come to his office the following day. The next morning at his office, Ben informs Cyrus that he has inherited the estate of his late uncle, Dr. Plato Zorba, an eccentric scientist who collected ghosts. Warning that the ghosts come with the house, Ben hands Cyrus a package containing his uncle’s “ghost viewer,” a device that makes the apparitions visible. The house is occupied by a sinister housekeeper, Elaine Zacharides, whom Buck dubs “the witch.” After the family move in, Ben visits them on the night that Buck finds a book printed in Latin and a Ouija board behind a secret panel. When Buck, a ghost aficionado, asks the Ouija if the house contains any spooks, the planchette on the board moves to the number thirteen. The family becomes alarmed when the planchette then floats up into the air and points at Medea, indicating that she will be the next ghost. Although frightened, they decide to remain in the house because the will dictates that if they leave, the estate will be turned over to the state. Later that night, Cyrus goes to the living room to get a book to read and hears the sound of eerie moaning coming from behind the wall. A panel suddenly slides open, and when Cyrus steps behind it, he puts on the ghost viewer. Through the viewer, Cyrus sees a skeleton which, when engulfed by flames, transforms into a whirling specter that attacks him. Once the specter disappears, Cyrus picks up the book, which bursts into flames and burns the number thirteen on his hand. The next day, Cyrus shows the Latin book to his boss, E. Van Allen, a Latin scholar. After scrutinizing its contents, Van Allen states that the book is a record of Plato’s work with ghosts. In the book, Plato writes of capturing eleven ghosts. Plato’s entries conclude with the assertion that he has become the twelfth ghost and will avenge the crimes committed against him. Upon returning home, Cyrus questions Elaine about Plato’s experiments. Elaine explains that she was Plato’s assistant until the two argued about his insistence on converting all his assets into cash and withdrawing them from the bank. She then shows Cyrus Plato’s bedroom, asserting that spirits killed him there. Once Elaine leaves the room, a lighted candle floats out of its holder and illuminates a panel of drapes. When Cyrus looks behind the drapes, he finds a knob which, when turned, lowers the heavy canopy above Cyrus bed to the mattress. That night, after returning home from a date with Ben, when Medea goes to bed, she is awakened by the windows blowing open and shut. When she goes to investigate, a specter wearing moldering pants springs out from behind the curtain. Medea’s screams draw Elaine, who promptly closes the window. The next morning, as Buck slides down the banister, two hundred-dollar bills flutter from the staircase. Buck then ventures into the basement where he finds a steamer trunk belonging to a lion tamer. Upon donning the ghost viewer, Buck sees a lion chasing its headless tamer. Returning upstairs, Buck examines the hundred-dollar bills and when Ben rings the doorbell and sees the bills, he asks where Buck found them. After Buck states that he found them while sliding down the banister, Ben makes Buck swear to keep the money a secret and promises to join the boy in a treasure hunt later that night. Ben then visits Cyrus at his office to inform him that he might be able to convince the state to buy the house if the family immediately vacates it. Their conversation is interrupted by Van Allen, who has deciphered an entry in Plato’s diary revealing that Plato's cash is hidden in the house. The diary also mentioned that Elaine is a medium, and Van Allen suggests asking her to hold a séance to contact Plato. That night, after putting Buck to bed, the family holds a séance. As Plato begins to speak through Cyrus, Cyrus puts on the ghost viewer, after which Plato’s portrait begins to groan and Cyrus begins to moan in pain, mimicking Plato’s death spasms. Pulling off the ghost viewer, Cyrus sinks into a chair and Elaine declares, “Tonight death walks again in this evil house.” After the rest of the family retires for the night, Ben, dressed in moldering pants, prowls the house, entering Buck’s room where he picks up the sleeping boy and carries him to Plato’s bed. As Ben turns the knob to lower the canopy and crush Buck, Plato’s ghost enters through a heating vent to avenge his murder. After Buck awakens in fear and flees, the ghost pushes Ben under the canopy, which then crushes him to death. Buck’s screams awaken the family, and when he shows them the hundred dollar bills, Cyrus deduces that Ben had been searching for the hidden treasure and tried to drive the Zorbas from the house so that he could claim it for himself. Proclaiming that the earthbound spirits have now been released, Elaine turns to look at the ghost viewer, which then floats into air and explodes.

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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