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Thir13en Ghosts (2001)

Directed by Steve Beck Story by Robb White Screenplay by Benjamin Carr & Richard D’Ovidio

   One of the more enjoyable aspects of viewing the behind the scenes of a film being simply, that I get to learn; not too hard to please there. Of which upon researching this movie had found it had been a remake. Surprised however, an entirely different notion of which I was not. Why bother with being original anymore right? A quick synopsis being that a rich uncle collects ghosts for a living in hopes of reaching a particular goal; you have to watch either version to know what that is. Leaving his house to his nephew and children who had been struggling at the time.

   Some major differences being that in the original they kept both parents whereas the updated version had the wife die in a tragic fire. Another difference being that for the original’s release they incorporated 3D glasses for the audience to be able to see the ghosts in the film. The remake simply working them in so that those in the house would have to adorn the special glasses to be able to see the spirits. As well, in the original the couple was forewarned of the fact that the uncle collected ghosts as opposed to the remake in which it was kept secret by Dennis Rafkin (Matthew Lillard) who attempts to convince the group of such a belief. Another major thing being that the son interacted with the ghosts in the original when that is not exactly the case in the remake. Though a particular ghost does call out to the son Bobby (Alec Roberts). It should also be known that I have yet to see the original (though now on my list) so anything else may have slipped by, it was just what I was able to obtain from research. What I greatly enjoyed about this film was how intricately beautifully and constructed their labyrinth seemed. As well the stories put together for each of the ghost trapped within the house. However their backgrounds are only actually visible in the special features and briefly discussed in the film at that. But they are as follows:

  The Torso: A gambler who was unable to turn down any bet while barely making his payoffs. After placing a bet on a boxing match with a made man and viewing his fighter going down, he’s taken and later chopped into many pieces and thrown into the ocean. **Daniel Wesley played the torso being an actual double amputee. They put a black bag over his head and made a severed neck (CGI) for over the mask**

   The Dire Mother: Being a mere 3 feet in height wanting only to feel as though she belonged yet becoming a mere circus attraction. Margaret had been raped one night by the Tall Man spawning a beastly sized child of which they were mercilessly taunted for. Which later resulted in the entire circus’ death as well as their own.

   The Great Child: Having an extremely over protective mother and barely being able to care of himself, he remained in diapers his entire life. Mocked constantly by their own kind and made to believe one evening that his mother had been kidnapped, as though some joke. Filled with rage and searching for her, he finds she had been suffocated and takes an ax to those having participated. Later meeting his own demise along with.

   The First Born son: Simply a spoiled brat with a fascination of cowboys taking president over anything else. When one day a neighbor finds an actual bow and arrow and taunts the boy into a duel of which his capped gun was no match for.

   The Angry Princess: Blessed with natural beauty but the inability to recognize it led to a string of abusive relationships and by her late 20s, depression sinking in. As a means to fix her self-image she begins turning to work for a plastic surgeon who paid in surgeries. Alone one night at the office she attempts surgery on herself left blinded. Mutilating herself in a bathtub convinced of never achieving what was wanted. **Shawna Loyer‘s makeup took the longest, being a 5 hour procedure**

   The Torn Prince: A baseball player who was wanted by every college ruins his chance one night while drag racing, losing control and flipping his car as it burst into flames.

   The Jackal: Born to a prostitute he later adopted a sickening appetite in attacking other prostitute. Committing himself to an asylum in an attempt to change turns into years within a padded room as he began scratching at the walls. Permanently bound to a straight jacket which was tied tighter, creating a contortion of his bones as way to shut him up. Gnawing through his jacket, doctors locked his head in a cage condemning him to the basement. But when a fire occurred in later years everyone had managed to escape, forgetting the lost soul who was not worth the risk to save.

   The Pilgrimess: Journeying from England to a town in which frowned upon outsiders to begin with. The town became suspicious once livestock began dying out around them. Accused of witchcraft and the town rallying together to burn her inside a farmhouse of which she emerged from moments later, without so much as a scratch. Resulting in a slow death in the stocks when she succumbed to her starvation.

   The Juggernaut: Born over-sized and disfigured, he was put to work in his fathers junkyard. Though after his father’s death finally snapping as he began bringing back victims to his only home and ripping them apart with his bare hands. Sure to break every bone in their body. One night picking up an undercover cop and having at least a dozen men try to subdue him, using up to 50 rounds of ammo that eventually take his life.

   The Withered Lover: After decorating the family Christmas tree and retreating to bed a log rolled out from the fireplace igniting an entire house. As her husband rushed to save their children assuming his wife would exit on her own, he finds she in fact was left behind with the flames too high to try and save. **The withered lover is Arthur’s (Tony Shalhoub) wife as stating previously that one of the differences being the main character loses his wife in the beginning**

   The Hammer: A blacksmith wrongfully accused of stealing refuses to move knowing he was innocent. But returns home one evening to find his wife and child beaten and hung as he approached the house. Tracking down those who had done the horrible deed, he was later captured and tied to a tree to have nails driven into his body with his own hammer. Cutting off his hand once they had finished.

   The Bound Woman: She had born into a wealthy family whose only flaw was in how she treated men. Senior year she began dating the star football player who caught her in the middle of an indiscretion. Choosing revenge by burying her underneath the football field, bound in rope and strangled to death.

   I enjoyed that the ghosts were not simply an unexplained gesture or questionable shadow one may happen to see. But actual people of which embellished the house they were confined to. The make-up was amazingly constructed unlike prior films; at least as far ghosts are concerned. Using chant’s to assist in capturing them was a great added effect used in it’s favor.

   Arthur’s son Bobby became obsessed with death after the loss of his mother as an outlet of coping. While his daughter Kathy (Shannon Elizabeth) helped take care of the houses bidding’s it was their nanny Maggie (Rah Digga) who he would have rather did the work. Elizabeth not being a necessarily important component of making the movie enjoyable, I found her performance was too forced or fake, for a better term. Though I tend to like her more humorous roles than anything else she does. Digga being an added humorous counterpart but overshadowed by Lillard’s execution. His character acts as a guide (a psychic who worked with Arthur’s uncle in helping obtaining the ghosts) for the family maneuvering around the house. While appearing at first as a crazed person who only interest lay in getting the money owed later proves his nonsense ramblings to be in fact quite accurate. The pairing of Tony Shalhoub and F. Murray Abraham (Uncle Cyrus) as kin being a nice fit as both were able to play both roles it’s justice. Overall the movie went above and beyond as far the dedication and months that went into setting up the shots of the house. Even constructing a fantastic composition of noises surrounding the entire film. Chants are repeatedly heard along with constant moans and whispers emanating from the ghosts throughout. Sure to give a scare here and there and a great example of the right way to go about a remake.