William Castle was born in 1914 and orphaned by the age of eleven. At fifteen he dropped out of high school to work in films. Over the course of his career he directed sixty-seven B-movies and produced twenty-five more including Rosemary's Baby. Many directors credit him with influencing them including Alfred Hitchcock (Psycho) and John Waters (Hairspray) and in 1999 Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future) co-founded a production company called Dark Castle Entertainment with the intent of remaking Castle's films.
The first release, House on Haunted Hill, earned over $15 million in its opening weekend but wasn't a hit with critics. The company's second movie, THIR13N Ghosts, opened in theaters in 2001 and managed to gross $68 million worldwide. Starring Tony Shalhoub (Monk), Matthew Lillard (Scooby-Doo), and Shannon Elizabeth (American Pie), THIR13N Ghosts is based on the idea of the dark zodiac signs coming to life. Shout Factory has chosen to release the blu-ray, calling it the Collector's Edition.
After a house fire killed his wife, Arthur Kriticos (Shalhoub) finds himself without money and living in an apartment with his two children. When Arthur is visited by estate lawyer, Ben Moss (JR Bourne; Teen Wolf), he learns his eccentric Uncle Cyrus (F. Murray Abraham; Amadeus) has passed away and leaves Arthur and his children his house. However, when they go to the home to check it out, they get more than they bargained for in the strange edifice.
Cyrus was a ghost hunter and apparently trapped apparitions in the basement of his home which is made up of a series of movable, glass walls. His partner, psychic Dennis Rafkin (Lillard), has also come to the home disguised as a utility worker in order to find the money Cyrus supposedly left behind. When Moss finds the money, he triggers a trap that opens the ghosts' cells letting them loose in the house. Arthur, his children, their nanny, and Rafkin are sealed inside the house and have to fight off the ghosts in order to stay alive.
Shalhoub is well suited to portray Arthur, a lost widower trying to deal with his pain while taking care of his children. He seems outwardly scared and weak but summons an inner strength hidden below the surface. Lillard is the somewhat goofy and awkward outcast who just wants what he believes he is owed. The rest of the cast is good, with Abraham playing the villain perfectly and Rah Digga (Carmen: A Hip Hopera) as the Afro-American nanny, Maggie, who infuses the movie with shots of humor.
- The 1080p video quality is pretty ok but nothing incredibly special. I will say it showcases the detailed work done by the costume and makeup designers very well. The DTS-HD master audio 5.1 fairs better with sounds attacking from all different angles. While the mix is rather loud, it serves its purpose to envelope the viewer completely. There are numerous extras to watch including:
- Audio Commentary
- With Director Steve Beck
- With The Creative Team (Director Steve Beck, Production Designer Sean Hargreaves, and Special Makeup Effects Artist Howard Berger)
- Interview with Actress Shannon Elizabeth
- Interview with Actor Matthew Harrison
- Interview with Actor John DeSantis "The Juggernaut"
- Interview with Actor Herbert Duncanson "The Hammer"
- Interview with Producer Gilbert
- Thir13een Ghosts Revealed
- Ghost Files
- Original EPK
- Trailer & TV Spots
Shout Factory was smart to release this movie, as it has a cult-like following from what I understand, and the Blu-ray will certainly be sought after. You can tell they did nice work with the production quality and it really pays off, especially when the ghosts are on screen. There are so many details to take in, that had the quality not been as strong as it is, it would have been a disappointment.
The movie itself isn't the best but this collector's edition release will be a treat to anyone who loves the film and/or guts and blood, as there is plenty of both.