Tuesday, October 30, 2018
Overlooked Movies: 13 Ghosts (1960)
I remember when the movie 13 GHOSTS played at the Eagle Drive-In Theater, just up the road from where I lived as a kid, but I didn't see it then and never watched it in all the years since then. But Svengoolie showed it this past weekend, and I figured with Halloween coming up, this would be a good opportunity for me to watch it after all this time. I'm glad I did. It's a pretty enjoyable little movie.
The plot is simple: a family that's down on its luck (dad Donald Woods, mom Rosemary DeCamp, hot teenage daughter Jo Morrow, and plucky, inquisitive adolescent son Charles Herbert) inherit a spooky old house complete with creepy housekeeper (who else but Margaret Hamilton). The cast also includes a very young Martin Milner as a lawyer. Woods' eccentric old uncle who owned the place supposedly collected ghosts, a dozen of which share the house with the new occupants. Strange things happen, accompanied by special effects that are pretty simple, even for the time period, but effective despite that. There's a human mystery to go along with the supernatural one, but you'll figure it out right away, not that that really matters.
The appeal of this movie, which was written by Robb White (better known as a novelist) and directed by the legendary gimmick-meister William Castle, is that everybody has tongue planted firmly in cheek and seems to be having a great time making it. The movie's not really scary, although it does attain semi-spooky levels from time to time. Personally, I'd rather watch something like that than some gory, super-serious modern horror film, but that's just me. I recall some of my friends talking about 13 GHOSTS on the playground at school, and I'm glad I finally know what they were talking about.