31 Days of Guilty Pleasures – ’13 Ghosts’

Jason McDonald

A few years ago I did a daily countdown to Halloween that featured some of my favorite scares from 31 different horror movies. This year I’m bringing back the feature, but this time we’re taking a look at some of my favorite guilty pleasures.

There’s no rhyme or reason to how these movies are being listed, so the placement on the countdown doesn’t denote any sort of ranking. Also, my definition of guilty pleasure is a movie that ranges from either being not very good to outright bad, but there’s something about it that still makes it endearing to watch.

Director Steve Beck only has two directorial projects on his resume and both projects have similar legacies. In 2001 and 2002 Beck directed both “Thirteen Ghosts” and “Ghost Ship.”  Both films have received middling reviews, but have had long lasting presences with movie goers because of their spectacular kills.  We’ll get into that more further down, but let’s just say that both “Thirteen Ghosts” and “Ghost Ship” are infamous for splitting people in half.

In “13 Ghosts” Arthur (Tony Shalhoub) moves his family into his Uncle Cyrus’ home after his apparent death at the hands of a malevolent spirit. Arthur soon discovers that the home is specially designed to contain 12 spirits within its walls.  However, the house isn’t just a prison for the spirits, it’s a giant machine designed to give its user the ability to see into the past, present, and future.  All it needs is the spirit of one more soul and Arthur and family are the prime candidates.

So one of the key scenes in the film is when a greedy lawyer (lol redundancy) sets off the house by accidentally trigger a money trap.  What follows is one of the coolest deaths in the movie when the lawyer gets sliced in half vertically.

It’s a pretty radical scene and one that a lot of people loved.  Director Steven Beck must’ve loved the idea as well, because a year later he seemingly decided to up the ante on slicing people in half with this scene in “Ghost Ship” where he cuts a whole boat full of people in half.

Also, I can never talk about that “13 Ghosts” scene without talking about how the Angry Princess disturbs me.  That sliced nipple always sends a shiver down my spine.

Probably the best aspect of “13 Ghosts”, aside from Tony Shalhoub and Matthew Lillard, is that the film has beautiful set design.  The house has all these amazing sliding glass doors and walls that are covered with inscriptions.  The house reminds me a lot of the Cube, but without the impossible space and spinning rooms.

“13 Ghosts” is far from a classic, but the movie is still extremely entertaining.  It’s just one of those movies that feels like it would be benefit from more creative kills to accompany its group of insane ghosts.


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