Once television became affordable and popular enough in American households during the 1950s, Hollywood and the film studios added all sorts of attractions to lure people back to the theaters and away from their TV sets. The 13 Ghosts movie was released in 1960, and it’s one of the fun horror films to watch. The movie starred Charles Herbert, Jo Morrow, Rosemary DeCamp, Martin Milner, Donald Woods, Margaret Hamilton, and John Van Dreelen.
The 13 Ghosts movie was directed by William Castle, known for low-budget, B-movies, and horror films such as House on Haunted Hill (1959) and The Tingler (1959), both of which starred Vincent Price. He enjoyed over-the-top gimmicks in both production and promotion. For example, for I, Castle had a vibrating device attached to the seats in movie theaters. Castle, who was born William Schloss Jr. and translated the name from German into its English equivalent, would make cameo appearances in his films à la Alfred Hitchcock.
Anyway, let’s get back to our motion picture. In the story of the 13 Ghosts movie, Dr. Plato Zorba wills his house to his nephew Cyrus and family. The house has a buried treasure and twelve terrifying ghosts who are looking for a thirteenth to free them. The way to see the ghosts for the family was through special goggles. The promotion for the film claimed that the audience could use a special viewer to see or not see the ghosts. Director William Castle used a process he called “Illusion-O,” where the film was black and white and the ghosts were tinted blue. The special viewer for the audience had red and blue cellophane filters. If you looked through the red filter, it was supposed to intensify the images of the ghosts. The blue filter removed the ghosts for the faint of heart. (Actually, you could see the ghosts with the naked eye, and the movie was shown on TV. However, the red filter did help.)
There was a remake of the film in 2001 titled Thir13en Ghosts . It starred Tony Shalhoub, Embeth Davidtz, F. Murray Abraham, Matthew Lillard, Shannon Elizabeth, Adam Kminski, Alec Roberts, and Rah Digga.
If you are interested in reading more about movies during this doo wop era that we explore, please click here for a blog post about 3D Movies. If you would like to consider purchasing a DVD of 13 Ghosts, please consider this: 13 Ghosts