The Backstory Of Each Ghost From Thirteen Ghosts
Let's get one thing out in the open — " Thirteen Ghosts " (or "THIR13EN GHOSTS" if you're cool) rules. The 2001 remake of William Castle's classic 1960 film of the same name is dripping with Y2K era horror goodness, a wild rogues' gallery of terrifying ghost designs, and a supporting role from horror good luck charm Matthew Lillard. The film was part of the Dark Castle Entertainment boom that included the remake of " House on Haunted Hill ," another underrated gem that deserves more love.
Did "Thirteen Ghosts" make money at the box office ? No. Is the plot some deeply meaningful story that will stay with you forever? Also no. Is "Thirteen Ghosts" an absolute blast and a brilliant display of spectacle and special effects from Greg Nicotero and Robert Kurtzman? Abso-f******-lutely.
The original film featured an occultist who captured ghosts from around the world, and for the most part, "Thirteen Ghosts" follows a similar premise. Where the remake shines, however, is the introduction of the Black Zodiac. A twisted inversion of the typical Zodiac that people like to use in place of having an actual personality, the Black Zodiac represents twelve earthbound ghosts that are needed to open the Ocularis Infernum.
"But that's only 12," I hear you replying to the Facebook post for this article. Don't you worry, my sweet summer child, in time you will learn.
The titular spirits are a marvel of horror creativity and even include their own terrifying backstories. As my gift to you all, here's the history of each of the ghosts in "Thirteen Ghosts" as told by someone who watched the original DVD special features way, way too many times as a teenager, complete with guidance to find which ghost aligns with your astrological sign.
The First Born Son
Representing the loss of the firstborn male typically seen throughout scripture, ghost hunter Cyrus Kriticos captured the spirit of Billy Michaels. Little Billy loved Western movies and showed excessive rage whenever his parents dared to pull him away from the television. One day, Billy was challenged to a duel by a neighbor boy who had recently found a real steel-tipped arrow in his father's closet, and Billy, refusing to accept defeat, brought a toy cap gun. The kid was a hell of a shot because the arrow struck Billy right through the back of his head and came out through the middle of his forehead. The neighbor boy was arrested and taken to a juvenile detention center.
In death, Billy is seen wearing an embroidered Western-style button-up, a singular feather headpiece (old school ghosts don't know about cultural appropriation), and wields a tomahawk axe. His name is most likely a reference to Old West gunfighter Billy the Kid and is representative of the Aries sign in the traditional zodiac. The First Born Son exemplifies all of the "negative" traits of an Aries, such as being a stubborn, reckless dare-devil, and possessing a sense of youthful immaturity.
Loosely based on the victims of the real-life Cleveland Torso Murders , The Torso is the captured spirit of Jimmy "The Gambler" Gambino. With a name that feels like a self-fulfilling prophecy, Gambino had a terrible gambling addiction, sacrificing his schooling for visits to the racetrack and late-night gambling in dive bars. After a while, Gambino opened his own booking business, but the same way an alcoholic should never be a bartender, Gambino's addiction got in the way of his payoffs. Gambino quickly became known as the man who would never turn down a bet. His reputation put him on the radar of mobster Larry "Finger" Vatelo, who propositioned Jimmy with a bet over a boxing match.
Jimmy's fighter lost the match, and with no money to his name to pay for his losses, he fainted. When Vatelo's men came to collect and found Gambino unconscious and without the means to hold up his end of the bargain, they took care of him the hard way. Vatelo's men cut Jimmy into pieces, wrapped him in cellophane, and gave him a one-way ticket to sleeping with the fishes.
The Torso seems to be one of the non-violent ghosts, likely because, as a torso, his ability to actually harm someone is a bit limited. He is the Black Zodiac version of a Taurus, explaining his desire for material things, greed, laziness, and boundless rage. Whenever his ghost appears, the endless screams of his severed head can be heard.
The Bound Woman
With a story resembling a typical urban legend shared around a campfire, the Bound Woman centers on the ghost of Susan LeGrow. A privileged teenager, Susan was the daughter of the wealthiest family in town and a proud member of her school's cheerleading squad. Back in the day, this is all it took to solidify that Susan would be the most popular girl in school. Despite her reputation as a "heartbreaker," as was expected of all high school queen bees, Susan spent her senior year dating Chet Walters, the captain of the football team. Unfortunately, as Susan craved more attention, she had been cheating on Chet with another guy, and the two were discovered on Prom Night. Thrown into a fit of rage, Chet clubbed her lover to death and then tied Susan up before strangling her with his tie and breaking her neck.
In a final act of poetic hatred, Chet buried Susan under the 50-yard line on the school's football field. He was put on death row and before his execution delivered his final words: "The b**** broke my heart, so I broke her neck."
As the third member of the Black Zodiac, the Bound Woman represents Gemini, with her history of cheating depicted as an example of the indecisive nature of Geminis and their reputation for being two-faced. As a Gemini ... rude.
The Withered Lover
If you're looking for a scare, look elsewhere, as the story of the Withered Lover is one of tragedy. Jean Kriticos was the loving wife of Arthur Kriticos (Tony Shalhoub) and the mother of their children Bobby and Kathy. Jean was a wonderful mother who was well-loved by her family, but on a tragic night, a stray log rolled out of the fireplace in the family home and ignited the Christmas tree. Arthur ran to save Bobby and Kathy, assuming that Jean would run outside to safety, but she did not, and the left side of her body was horribly burned in the fire. The family took her to St. Luke's Hospital where she sadly died from her injuries.
Despite her violent demise, Jean was likely the only member of the Black Zodiac that was genuinely innocent and kind. When her family took up residence in Cyrus' manor/ghost jail, she did her best to protect them all from danger and keep them safe from the more malicious spirits. The Withered Lover is the traditional Zodiac equivalent to Cancer, represented by her motherly, intuitive, compassionate, sensitive, and emotional nature.
The Torn Prince
Royce Clayton's story sounds like something ripped straight out of an episode of "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" Born in 1940, Royce was a gifted high school baseball player with a bad case of narcissism and a superiority complex. With elite colleges all over the country scouting him and promising to take him away from the simple life in his small town, Clayton felt invincible. All of that changed, however, when a local greaser named Johnny challenged Royce to a drag race. Royce agreed to the race in his prized hot rod, but that pesky Johnny had cut the brake line.
Royce seemed to do okay in the first half, but was unable to handle a dangerous turn and drove off of a cliff, flipping the car three times before it burst into an inferno. The accident shredded large amounts of flesh from his body, including a massive chunk out of the right side of his face. Royce's future was history. His body was buried overlooking the baseball field, and in death, his ghost haunts the corridors of Cyrus' home, baseball bat still in hand. He represents the inverse of Leo, making him self-centered, egotistical, possessive, and impatient.
The Angry Princess
Another tragic tale, the sixth member of the Black Zodiac is the Angry Princess. In life, Dana Newman was considered by many to be one of the most beautiful women in the world. Unfortunately, Dana likely suffered from body dysmorphic disorder. She sought the assistance of a plastic surgeon to aid her low self-esteem unfortunately fueled by a slew of abusive boyfriends. Working for the surgeon, Dana received payment in the form of breast implants, multiple nose jobs, and a laundry list of other needless body modification procedures. After Dana was left working alone one night, she attempted to perform surgery on herself to mend an imaginary imperfection, but the procedure failed and Dana was left blinded in one eye.
With her beauty seemingly destroyed, Dana's self-loathing became too much to bear and she died by suicide in her bathtub. As Cyrus describes it, she was as beautiful in death as she was in life. Dana's insecurities were well on display throughout the home, envious of Kathy's (Shannon Elizabeth) beauty, and enacting revenge on the lawyer Ben Moss who declares "nice tits" and is shortly thereafter sliced in half by a sliding glass door.
The Angry Princess represents Virgo, known for being overly critical, insecure overthinkers, and perfectionists to a fault.
Another story based on real-life history, the Pilgrimess is the ghost of Isabella Smith. In 1675, the orphaned Isabella immigrated to a small New England town in the hopes of starting a better life. Unfortunately, the established colony didn't take too kindly to outsiders, and she was isolated from the rest of the community. Shortly after her arrival, a mysterious illness struck the town's livestock, and they all died. A local preacher decided to use their deaths as a means to accuse Isabella of witchcraft. Despite her pleas of innocence, the preacher suddenly fell ill, and this horrified the town into believing that she was, in fact, a witch.
The town chased Isabella into a barn, which was then lit on fire. Miraculously, she survived the incident, walking out of the barn completely unharmed. This shocked the town, who decided this was proof of her witchcraft and sentenced her to a slow and painful death in the stocks. Children stoned her, adults cursed and spit on her, and after a few weeks, Isabella died of starvation. Whether or not she was actually a witch was never confirmed, not even by Cyrus, but the turmoil she suffered made her a perfect choice to join the Black Zodiac.
The twisted inverse of a Libra, the Pilgrimess is unreliable, impatient, emotionally detached, and vindictive.
The Great Child and the Dire Mother
The eighth and ninth ghosts of the Black Zodiac come in the form of the mother-son duo, Margaret and Harold Shelburne. Margaret was a little person who worked as a sideshow attraction in a traveling carnival but became pregnant after she was sexually assaulted by the Tall Man. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding his conception, Margaret was greatly protective of her son, relentlessly spoiling him and giving him everything he wanted. Her constant infantilization of him meant that Harold spent his entire life in diapers, and never developed any skills to take care of himself. They were mocked mercilessly by their fellow carnival workers, and after a group of them kidnapped Margaret as a sick joke, Harold unleashed a furious search for her.
By the time he found her, his mother had suffocated in the bag they were keeping her in, so Harold killed the workers with an ax, as well as many of the other performers who had mocked them in the past. Harold displayed their disembodied remains for paying customers, motivating carnival broker Jimbo to order an angry mob to execute Harold in retaliation.
The Great Child represents Scorpio, making him insensitive, possessive, aggressive, and vengeful, while the Dire Mother represents Sagittarius, seen as optimistic individuals, almost to the point that it hinders their perception of reality ... like a growing son needing to be seen as something other than a baby.
While the story of George Markley may not be directly inspired by a living person, his tragic demise sounds unfortunately similar to some of the more disgusting events in American history. George Markley was an honest, hardworking blacksmith, but as one of the only Black men in town, found himself suspected of theft by a local man named Nathan. The man threatened to run George out of town, but knowing his innocence, stood up for himself and refused to move to a new town. Furious, Nathan and a gang of his buddies lynched George's wife and children in retaliation, as a means of sending George a message that he'd better leave or else suffer a similar fate. Devastated, George tracked down Nathan and his friend and beat them to death with his sledgehammer.
When the town got word of what had happened, George was taken by an angry mob to his shop where they tied him to a tree and pounded railroad spikes throughout his body with his own sledgehammer. In one final act of horrific racism, the townspeople chopped off George's hand and replaced it with his sledgehammer, not unlike the hook hand of "Candyman."
The Hammer is one of the more malicious spirits caught by Cyrus Kriticos and poses a massive threat to Arthur Kriticos' family when the ghosts are released in the house. As the tenth member of the Black Zodiac, he also represents the stubborn, unforgiving, impulsive, and brutal traits found in Capricorn.
Arguably the most easily identifiable and terrifying ghost of them all, The Jackal tells the twisted tale of Ryan Kuhn. Born to a sex worker sometime in 1887, Ryan Kuhn was a raging misogynist with a demented and insatiable lust for women. He spent his life on earth as a serial sexual predator, with a tendency to attack, rape, and murder random women walking home late at night, or the full-service sex workers just trying to do their work in peace. Recognizing that his animalistic tendencies were a severe problem, Ryan Kuhn willingly committed himself to the Borinwood Asylum. Unfortunately, the treatment was unsuccessful; Ryan slowly lost any grasp he once had on reality and was diagnosed criminally insane. He scratched at the walls in his cell so violently that he shredded off his fingernails, and the frequent clawing forced his hands into a deformed position. One day, Ryan attacked a nurse, forcing the orderlies to confine him to a straitjacket, electing to tighten it whenever he acted out.
Well, Ryan acted out frequently, and with every tightening of the jacket, his limbs continued to bend and contort. He eventually gnawed through the straitjacket, forcing the doctors to trap his head in a primitive head cage and keep him locked in isolated darkness in the basement of the asylum. Ryan grew to hate any form of human contact, screaming wildly whenever anyone dared approach him. The asylum eventually caught fire, but instead of fleeing with the rest, Ryan elected to stay within his cell and let the fire take him over.
He is said to represent Aquarius' extremism, rebellion, and lack of empathy, but it feels cruel to associate any sign with someone as viciously evil as The Jackal.
Horace "The Breaker" Mahoney is the first member of the Black Zodiac that we're introduced to in "Thirteen Ghosts," as the opening scene of the film shows Cyrus and his team capturing his ghost in a junkyard after baiting him with a semi-truck filled with blood. Abandoned by his mother and raised by his father, Horace was relentlessly teased as a child due to his abnormal height and facial disfigurements. His father gave him a job at his junkyard chopping and crushing up old cars, which Horace did alone for most of his teenage years. Unfortunately, after his father died, Horace went insane as a result of his isolation and became a serial killer. For years, Horace would pick up hitchhikers and motorists requiring assistance and bring them back to his junkyard, eventually breaking every bone in their body and then ripping them apart with his bare hands to use their meat as feed for his dogs.
As Horace was about to kill his seventh victim, an undercover police officer, the SWAT team arrived to take him out. Horace managed to strongman his way out of his handcuffs and kill three police officers before he was gunned down. In the years that followed, Horace's earthbound ghost continued a reign of terror, with his body count rising to over 40 before his capture.
As the Black Zodiac representation of Pisces, The Juggernaut avoids taking responsibility, is aggressive, a loner, and extremely sensitive. Probably explains why he went insane the moment he lost the only person who ever cared about him.
The Broken Heart
While the standard Zodiac only features 12 signs, the Black Zodiac required a 13th ghost in order to activate Basileus' Machine which doubled as Cyrus Kriticos' mansion. Said to be "designed by the Devil and powered by the dead," the machine requires thirteen earth-bound spirits to open the Ocularis Infernum (Latin for "The Eye of Hell") allowing the owner incalculable power. Named after the 15th century astrologer, Basileus' Machine was hidden at the core of Cyrus' two-story mansion made of ectobar glass, etched with Latin containment spells to keep the captured ghosts at bay. The machine required a spirit to be sacrificed willingly out of love, in contrast to the other earthbound spirits who died in agony. Hence, the 13th ghost.
Cyrus Kriticos handpicked each earthbound spirit to represent the Black Zodiac, including his nephew Arthur Kriticos. After selecting Jean to be the fourth ghost, he intended for Arthur to be the 13th, The Broken Heart. Cyrus intentionally put Arthur's children in danger in the middle of Basileus's Machine, hoping that he would willingly die to save them, thereby unlocking the power of the Ocularis Infernum. Well, Cyrus' plan failed spectacularly and he was torn to pieces by most of the members of the Black Zodiac, freeing their spirits to pass on, and allowing Arthur to reunite with his children and their nanny Maggie (Rah Digga).
With no conventional Zodiac counterpart, Arthur serves as a reminder to express unconditional love whenever you can and to immediately call bulls*** if your weird, rich uncle leaves you a glass mansion that comes with a free visit from Matthew Lillard talking to ghosts.
- Villainous Symbolism
- Lovecraftian Objects
- View history
The Arcanum is an ancient book written in the 15th century by the astrologer Basileus while he was under demonic possession and it is an item featured in the 2001 supernatural horror film Thirteen Ghosts (also known as Thir13en Ghosts ). It contains spells, profiles on the 13 ghosts of the Black Zodiac, and blueprints for creating a mansion-like machine with which to open and gain control over the Ocularis Infernum (in Latin: "Eye of Hell") .
Over the centuries, many people died trying to obtain the Arcanum, before it eventually fell into the hands of Kalina Oretzia . She and Cyrus Kriticos used the blueprints in the Arcanum to perfectly reconstruct Basileus's Machine, and to gather twelve of the thirteen spirits needed to power and activate the machine.
The Arcanum was most likely destroyed, either when it and Kalina were trapped between 2 closing glass walls in the machine, or otherwise, when the machine exploded.
- 2.1 Arcanum
- 2.2 Black Zodiac
- 2.3.1 Thirteen Ghosts
- 2.3.2 Concept Art
The Black Zodiac (also known as " Niger Orbis IN Latin) is a fictional constellation in Thirteen Ghosts . It consists of thirteen earth-bound spirits which will activate Basileus's Machine and open the Ocularis Infernum.
The order in which the ghosts are placed on the zodiac seems to be based on how dangerous they are (with the exception of The First Born Son, who is threatening, regardless of being the first ghost, while the next three seem benign, or at the very least unable to do any damage).
- The First Born Son - The first ghost in the Black Zodiac. The First Born Son is the ghost of a little boy who dies of a shot through the head or some form of head injury. It may possibly also represent an infant ghost or a firstborn, male child. Cyrus chose the ghost of Billy Michaels as the First Born Son.
- The Torso - The second ghost in the Black Zodiac. The Torso is missing his legs, and/or his waist, it possibly represents a severed or mutilated ghost. Cyrus chose the ghost of Jimmy Gambino as the Torso.
- The Bound Woman - The third ghost in the Black Zodiac. This ghost is of a woman who died having been tied-up in some fashion, but in the Arcanum, the only bound ghost is the Angry Princess (in which case, it just represents general suicide), so it is entirely possible that instead of being physically bound, this ghost had, as a prerequisite, sealed her own fate, as seen by how her infidelity led to her demise. Cyrus chose the ghost of Susan LeGrow as the Bound Woman.
- The Withered Lover - The fourth ghost in the Black Zodiac. This ghost is of someone who died having a withered or worn appearance, it may also represent someone who had her future, dreams, or relationship, destroyed or broken, like being separated from one's mate. Cyrus chose the ghost of his niece-in-law, Jean Kriticos, as the Withered Lover.
- The Torn Prince - The fifth ghost in the Black Zodiac. This ghost has much of the skin on the right side of his body missing, leaving the bones and muscles exposed, it possibly represents a "prince" (spoiled, popular, loved, etc), whose pride was taken down, or had his ego destroyed, (hence the "fallen hero" statement seen in his story). Cyrus chose the ghost of Royce Clayton as the Torn Prince.
- The Angry Princess - The sixth ghost in the Black Zodiac. This ghost apparently is of a young woman who dies by committing suicide, and, as the name suggests, is that of a woman, either popular, spoiled or beautiful (just like a princess) that couldn't see her privileges, and, as such, she would be unhappy with her blessings. Cyrus chose the ghost of Dana Newman as the Angry Princess.
- The Pilgrimess - The seventh ghost in the Black Zodiac. It appears to be the ghost of a female pilgrim or a primitive woman, it may also represent an outsider or stranger, not appreciated by the town, seeing the implications of her alien origins. Cyrus chose the ghost of Isabella Smith as the Pilgrimess.
- The Great Child and The Dire Mother - The eighth and ninth ghosts in the Black Zodiac. The Great Child is the ghost of a very large and obese child, and the Dire Mother is that of a very small stature, they probably are ghosts of a child, spoiled even to its maturity, and a mother bad enough to let it happen. They may also be the ghosts of related mother and child. Cyrus chose the ghosts of Harold and Margaret Shelburne as the Great Child and the Dire Mother.
- The Hammer - The tenth ghost in the Black Zodiac. This ghost is that of a muscular, heavy-set blacksmith who wields a large hammer, further or deeper implications are unknown. Cyrus chose the ghost of George Markley as the Hammer.
- The Jackal - The eleventh ghost in the Black Zodiac. The Jackal is the ghost of a disheveled man wearing a cage on his head, which probably represents bestiality or wildness, seen how much of a savage and how aggressive the ghost is, as well as his depraved sexual implications. Cyrus chose the ghost of Ryan Kuhn as the Jackal.
- The Juggernaut - The twelfth ghost in the Black Zodiac. This ghost is that of a tall, ugly and incredibly strong man. Cyrus chose the ghost of Horace Mahoney as the Juggernaut.
- The Broken Heart - The thirteenth and final ghost in the Black Zodiac. This ghost dies by leaping into the core of Basileus's Machine out of an act of pure love. Cyrus chose his nephew, Arthur Kriticos as the Broken Heart.
- The First Born Son:
- The ghostly whispers which signal the First Born Son's approach are the sound of an arrow whistling through the air.
- Whenever the First Born Son is present, he tends to whisper "I want to play".
- His name in life, Billy Michaels, may be a reference to Billy the Kid due to the fact that he loved cowboy films in life.
- The First Born Son is equivalent to Aries, which is the first sign in the Black and Traditional Zodiacs. They tend to be reckless, dare-devils, irresponsible, youthful immaturity, and stubborn.
- For some reason, despite always dressing as a cowboy, his ghost is seen dressed as an "Indian", even carrying a tomahawk as a weapon.
- Whilst other ghosts appear to only travel across the ground (Cyrus being sure to put spells on the floor and the Hammer being incapable of chasing Arthur through the ceiling) The First Born Son often appears standing on walls or hanging from the ceiling.
- The Latin inscription beneath the First Born Son's symbol in the Arcanum, "Primus Filius", translates to "The First Son". His current name is translated in Latin as "Filius Primogenitus".
- He is the first of the ghosts in the Black Zodiac that is male.
- His ghost file is represented by a toy gun.
- The video narrated by Cyrus that explains The Torso's backstory states that he was killed by Larry "The Finger" Vatello, his gang and his fighter right after he came to from fainting when he lost the bet. However, most other, less direct sources state that he was killed when he tried to renege his bet with Vatello and slip out of town.
- The sounds that signal the Torso's presence are muffled screams.
- The Torso appears to be one of the weaker ghosts encountered, as he cannot harm anyone, as he's never seen harming anyone.
- He is the second male ghost in the Black Zodiac.
- His ghost file is represented by poker cards.
- The Bound Woman's hands are almost always tied behind her back. However, when she and the other ghosts murdered Cyrus Kriticos, her hands are untied.
- The Latin inscription beneath The Bound Woman's symbol in the Arcanum, "Soror Dira" translates to "Dire Sister". Her current name is translated in Latin as "Mulier Terminos".
- Interestingly, much like the Jackal, the whispers which signal the Bound Woman's presence appear to be insane screams and rapid, high-pitched laughter.
- For some reason, it seemed as though in one scene, The Bound Woman was shown hanging, but in other scenes, she was quite able to walk.
- In the film's early script, she was called "The Buried Maiden" ("Ecce In Consepulti" in Latin).
- The Bound Woman is the first of the female ghosts in the Black Zodiac.
- Her ghost file is represented by a prom tiara.
- Of all the ghosts in the movie, the only ghost with no hostility whatsoever is Jean Kriticos, Arthur's wife. Mostly due to her kind nature and lack of hostility, as well as not having a dark past like the others, and she was the only one seen that elects to help her family whenever possible.
- The Latin inscription beneath The Withered Lover's symbol in the Arcanum, "Amator Marcidus", translates to "Languid Lover". Her current name is translated in Latin as "Amator Aridam".
- In the film's early script, she was called "The Withered Maiden" ("Ecce Aridam" in Latin).
- She is the second female ghost in the Black Zodiac.
- Her ghost file is represented by the damaged photo of herself.
- In his containment cube, the overturned car which killed Royce can be seen behind him.
- The video narrated by Cyrus that explains the Torn Prince's backstory states that his car exploded and that this is what killed him. However, most other, less direct sources state that it flipped over, dragging Royce under it. The overturned car behind the Torn Prince in his containment cube would indicate that the latter source is how Royce truly died.
- The noises associated with Royce's presence are violent and angry wails.
- The Latin inscription beneath The Torn Prince's symbol in The Arcanum, "Eques Scissus" translates to "Rent Knight". Rent is another word for "Torn". His name is translated in Latin as "Princeps Scissa".
- He is the third male ghost in the Black Zodiac.
- His ghost file is represented by a baseball trophy.
- In the film's original script, she was called "The Suicide".
- According to the DVD subtitles, the whispers which signal The Angry Princess's approach are her whispering, "I'm sorry."
- In the bathroom scene, "I'm sorry" is written in blood on the floor behind Kathy Kriticos.
- Usually, an area that the Angry Princess is currently present at is covered in blood (visible only through spectral viewers), most notably her containment cube and the bathroom.
- The whispers associated with the Angry Princess usually resemble soft, feminine moans.
- The Latin inscription beneath The Angry Princess' symbol in the Arcanum, "sibi mortem consciscere," roughly translates as "Suicide" ("Suicidium" in Latin) in English. Her current name is translated in Latin as "Et Iratus Principem".
- She is the third female in the Black Zodiac.
- Her ghost file is represented by a razor.
- If one looks closely when Dennis Rafkin comes across the imprisoned Pilgrimess, her containment cube is covered in thick cobwebs and dead leaves, giving it a somewhat witchy or ghastly facade.
- As noted by Cyrus Kriticos, it is unknown whether or not Isabella really was a witch in life.
- In the film's original script, the Pilgrimess was called The Buried Lady ("Sepultus Est Domina" in Latin).
- Being from the 17th century, this most likely makes her the oldest member of the other 12 Ghosts.
- The Pilgrimess is the only ghost not to have a Latin inscription beneath her symbol in the Arcanum, but her current name might be roughly translated as "Et Pilgrimess".
- The Pilgrimess' name is a word describing a female pilgrim and it can translated as "viatrix".
- She is the fourth female ghost in the Black Zodiac.
- Her ghost file is represented by a damaged Holy Bible.
- Originally, Harold died when he choked on his own vomit. However, the producers changed this as they felt it was too weak a backstory.
- It is unknown why The Great Child, as a ghost, appears as he did in life, while most of the other ghosts normally appear as they looked like after or at the moment they died. However, according to Cyrus, when Harold was killed his body was mutilated "beyond what you or I could comprehend"; this is probably the reason the Child appears as he did before he died.
- Naturally, the sounds associated with the Great Child are infantile whimpers.
- Strangely, the Latin inscription beneath the symbol for The Great Child and the Dire Mother in the Arcanum, "Mures", is the Latin word for "mice". His current name is translated in Latin as "De Puero"
- He is the fourth male ghost in the Black Zodiac.
- His ghost file is represented by a baby rattle.
- Originally, Margaret died when Harold choked on his vomit, and fell on and suffocated her. However, the producers changed this as they felt it was too weak a backstory.
- It was shown in Thirteen Ghosts that Margaret was blind in one (the left) eye. But it is unknown if this occurred before or after death.
- Strangely, the Latin inscription beneath the symbol for The Great Child and The Dire Mother in the Arcanum, "Mures", is the Latin word for "mice". Her current name is translated in Latin as "Mater Saeva".
- She is the fifth and last female ghost in the Black Zodiac.
- Her ghost file is represented by a shoe.
- The whispers which signal The Hammer's approach are deep growling.
- The Latin inscription beneath The Hammer's symbol in The Arcanum, "Malleus Ignis", translates to "Fire Hammer". his current name is translated in Latin as "Malleus Est".
- He is the only African-American ghost in the Black Zodiac.
- There was a scrapped ghost character in the early script for Thirteen Ghosts called "The Rat" (roughly translated as "Mus" in Latin).
- His ghost file is represented by railroad spikes.
- According to Kalina Oretzia, The Jackal is the sign of the fictitious "Hell's Winter".
- In the film's original script, the Jackal was called "The Hyena" ("Hyaenis" in Latin).
- The Latin inscription beneath The Jackal's symbol in The Arcanum, "Canis Aureus", literally translates to "The Golden Dog". His current name is translated in Latin as "Draconis".
- Similar to The Bound Woman, the whispers which signal the Jackal's approach appear to be psychotic screaming and/or insane laughter.
- Based on the damage done to the cage helmet, it is implied that the Jackal either managed to break out the helmet or this damage was done during the fire that killed him.
- He is apparently another ghost that committed suicide.
- If one were to listen carefully, it sounds like the Jackal says, "Leave me alone" when Bobby Kriticos is hearing the voice of his mother.
- According to Dennis Rafkin, the Jackal is the Charles "Charlie" Manson of the 12 Ghosts.
- His ghost file is represented by the jaw of a human skull or dentures.
- The whispers which signal The Juggernaut's approach appear to be roaring wind.
- The Latin inscription beneath Horace's symbol reads "Titan", referring to his great size and strength.
- Besides The Jackal, The Juggernaut is the only ghost who was proven a criminal in life.
- According to Dennis Rafkin, he is the only ghost that required bait to lure out.
- He is the only known ghost to continue killing after being killed.
- Quite possibly the most violent of the ghosts.
- His ghost file is represented by shotgun shells.
- The symbol of The Broken Heart (the ghost Arthur was meant to become) is on the key to the front doors of Basileus's Machine.
- Therefore, Kathy's little brother, Bobby, was the only character to have not seen, let alone been attacked by the Jackal.
- The Latin inscription beneath The Broken Heart's symbol in the Arcanum, "Corda Tacita", translates to "The Silence of the Heart". However, this is an error revealing that Corda Tacita actually means the plural "Silent Hearts" in English and the non-plural name "Silent Heart" can be translated in Latin as either "Tacitum" or "Ave Maria". The final Ghost's current English name can be translated in Latin as "Contritos Corde".
- Because he was never a ghost, he has no ghost file or an item to represent him in life.
- 1 Damballa Chant
- 2 Curse of Thorn
- 3 Mask of Loki
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Thirteen Ghosts (also known as 13 Ghosts and stylized as Thir13en Ghosts ) is a 2001 American horror film directed by Steve Beck . It is a remake of the 1960 film of the same name by William Castle .
Ghost hunter Cyrus Kriticos ( F. Murray Abraham ) and his neurotic psychic assistant Dennis Rafkin ( Matthew Lillard ) lead a team on a mission to capture a spirit, called the Juggernaut , in a junkyard. Several of the men are killed during the ensuing capture, including Cyrus himself. However, the team is able to catch the ghost.
Arthur Kriticos ( Tony Shalhoub ), an embittered and naïve mathematician who is also a widower, is informed by the estate lawyer of his uncle Cyrus, Ben Moss ( JR Bourne ), that he has inherited a mansion . Arthur and his financially-insecure family plan to move into this mansion with his two children, Kathy ( Shannon Elizabeth ) and Bobby (Alec Roberts). Their babysitter/nanny, Maggie , ( Rah Digga ) accompanies the family.
Dennis Rafkin, disguised as a power company employee, meets the family and Moss as they tour the mansion. The residence is made almost entirely of glass and metal frames. It contains Latin phrases etched on floors and movable glass walls, along with many priceless artifacts. Arthur and his family are eager about inheriting this new home, and while Arthur is discussing financial matters with the attorney, Kathy and Bobby venture off on their own to explore the mansion. After seeing several ghosts in the basement, Dennis frantically runs upstairs to warn Arthur about the home he is about to own. Moss assures Arthur that Dennis is crazy and should be ignored. Dennis tells Arthur that there are twelve spirits imprisoned in the house, held captive by the spells written throughout the residence on the glass.
Ben Moss is seen sneaking off to collect a valise or suitcase of money, which was intended to be payment. However, upon taking the money, he activates a mechanism set up by Cyrus that seals the entrance and releases the ghosts, one by one. Consequently, Moss encounters the first one to be released, the Angry Princess , and backs up into an open doorway, which snaps shut and slices him in half. Later, the existence of the ghosts is proven to the skeptical Arthur, when he witnesses an attack on his daughter by the ghost known as the Jackal .
Bobby, the younger brother of the two children, disappears after getting separated from Maggie and he wanders into the basement. There he encounters several spirits, including the Torso and the Bound Woman . Arthur manages to find Kathy, and the two battle the Jackal. Kalina Oretzia ( Embeth Davidtz ), a spirit liberator, helps Arthur free Kathy from the Jackal's grip, only to be lost again a few moments later. After this, Arthur's objective is clear -- to find his children and leave this house as soon as possible. This becomes problematic for two reasons: only those equipped with special glasses are able to see the ghosts; and the walls continue to shift, making navigation difficult.
Arthur and Kalina then meet up with Dennis and Maggie and set off for the library, as it is protected and never shifts. Dennis falls behind, though, hindered by one of his psychic visions. He comes to just in time to see the Jackal attack Arthur. Dennis is able to toss one of Kalina's flares at the Jackal, knocking the ghost off Arthur who is wounded.
In the library, Kalina explains that this is not a house - it is a complex machine built by Cyrus, designed by a possessed 15th century astronomer to open the " Ocularis Infernum " (Eye of Hell). Created by the Devil and powered by the dead, and once this demonic device opens the Eye, the Eye would allow its user to see everything in the past and future, Heaven and Earth, the blessed and the damned. To Arthur's horror, he discovers the fourth ghost powering this machine is the spirit of his dead wife, Jean. Kalina goes on to tell Arthur that his children are in grave danger, and the only way to ensure their successful return is to offer his soul in exchange. If Arthur takes his place as the 13th ghost, his sacrifice of pure love would combat all of the evil contained within the machine, thus shutting it down.
Arthur and Dennis make another attempt to save Kathy and Bobby, using a detached pane of glass as a shield against the ghosts' attacks. First facing the Torn Prince as he's unleashed and then the Hammer , causing Dennis to push Arthur into a corner where he is then protected by the glass, sacrificing his own life in the process. After combating and evading some of the Hammer's attacks, Dennis finds himself cornered by the angry spirit and the newly-released Juggernaut; he is brutally beaten and is killed when the Juggernaut breaks his back against a metal pole.
Cyrus is revealed to be alive, having faked his death in order to lure Arthur to the house; Kalina turns out to be his secret partner and lover, and knocks Maggie unconscious. Cyrus has orchestrated the previous events, including the abduction of Kathy and Bobby, so that Arthur will become the 13th ghost not to stop the machine, as Kalina had claimed, but to trigger it. Kalina says the only flaw in the plan is that Arthur will only sacrifice himself if his children are really in jeopardy. When she balks at Cyrus's order to make it so, Cyrus sighs and traps her in a small chamber, telling her that "greatness requires sacrifice", just before she is crushed to death between two glass walls.
Trapped behind the ectobar glass, Arthur is visited by Jean's ghost. Then, all the ghosts disappear from the basement, responding to a tape-recorded summoning spell played by Cyrus. Kathy and Bobby have been placed at the center of a set of whirling, razor-sharp rings. Arthur and Cyrus have a violent confrontation, which is interrupted when Maggie removes the tape and messes up the machine. Due to this breakdown in equipment, the ghosts are released from their trance, and the machine begins to malfunction. All the ghosts, except Jean, immediately grab Cyrus, and hurl him into the spinning rings, slicing him to pieces. Dennis' ghost then appears, telling Arthur to go to his kids. Waiting for a break in the razor rings after the malfunction caused by Maggie, Arthur jumps to save his children, making the leap without dying. The house's glass walls shatter, releasing the spirits from captivity. A peaceful-looking Jean lingers briefly to say goodbye to her family, then departs with the others.
The film ends with a battered Maggie walking through the wreckage, yelling out to Arthur and the kids that she did not agree to this when she came to work for them, and that she is quitting.
- Tony Shalhoub as Arthur Kriticos
- Embeth Davidtz as Kalina Oretzia
- Matthew Lillard as Dennis Rafkin
- Shannon Elizabeth as Kathy Kriticos
- Alec Roberts as Bobby Kriticos
- Rah Digga as Maggie Bess
- F. Murray Abraham as Cyrus Kriticos
- J.R. Bourne as Ben Moss
- Mikhael Speidel as Billy Michaels/The First Born Son
- Daniel Wesley as Jimmy "The Gambler" Gambino/The Torso
- Laura Mennell as Susan LeGrow/The Bound Woman
- Kathryn Anderson as Jean Kriticos/The Withered Lover
- Craig Olejnik as Royce Clayton/The Torn Prince
- Shawna Loyer as Dana Newman/The Angry Princess
- Xantha Radley as Isabella Smith/The Pilgrimess
- C. Ernst Harth as Harold Shelburne/The Great Child
- Laurie Soper as Margaret Shelburne/The Dire Mother
- Herbert Duncanson as George Markley/The Hammer
- Shayne Wyler as Ryan Kuhn/The Jackal
- John DeSantis as Horace "Breaker" Mahoney/The Juggernaut (credited as John De Santis)
Similarities with the Original
- The 2001 film has the same basic plot as the 1960 film: a family inherit a mansion from their late uncle which is inhabited by twelve violent ghosts.
- In both films, one of the ghosts is a deceased relative of the family.
- Like in the 1960 film, the ghosts in the 2001 film can usually only be seen through special glasses .
- In both the 1960 and 2001 films, the family includes a father, a teenage daughter, and a younger son.
- In both films, two of the thirteen spirits are closely related to each other in some way.
- 1 Black Zodiac
- 2 The Angry Princess
- 3 The Jackal
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- The Dark Half
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- Thirteen Ghosts
The Origins Of 'Thirteen Ghosts': The Spirits Of The Black Zodiac
Thirteen Ghosts , the 2001 remake of William Castle's 1960 film, packs a lot of big ideas into its 90-minute runtime, not the least of which is the "Black Zodiac," which provides the origin of its titular ghosts.
In the 1960 original, 13 Ghosts , Dr. Plato Zorba perishes and leaves a large house to his struggling nephew, Cyrus. Unfortunately for Cyrus and his family, the house also contains the uncle's collection of a dozen ghosts - including a lion tamer and his lion, an Italian chef, a flaming skeleton, and others - all waiting for the arrival of a 13th ghost that will free them. The film's claim to fame was its use of colored filters to make the ghosts "invisible" unless viewed through special "ghost viewers" that were handed out to members of the audience.
The remake follows the same basic plot - an eccentric uncle wills a house full of ghosts that can only be seen through special glasses to his nephew's impoverished family - but with an entirely new roster of ghosts. Their presence is also much more integral to the plot. Whereas the ghosts in the original are mostly a MacGuffin (the plot actually revolves around a human villain looking for a fortune hidden in the house), the ghosts in the 2001 version are what powers the uncle's infernal machine.
Thirteen Ghosts also features a character named Cyrus (played by F. Murray Abraham), but this time he's the sinister uncle and his bizarre house is actually a gateway to hell. "Designed by the devil and powered by the dead," Basileus's Machine is said to have been conceived by a 15th-century astrologer while he was possessed by a demon. The plans for the machine are in a book called The Arcanum , which also describes the ghosts needed to power it. The house itself is an enormous ghost trap, complete with transparent walls etched with spells and made of "ectobar glass." (Behind the scenes, the set was designed and fabricated by production designer Sean Hargreaves, who has also worked as an illustrator on many of the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.)
Why does Cyrus want to crank up this machine? Apparently, because it's the only way to gain access to the Ocularis Infernum , an "eye in hell that sees everything," including the past and the future. "If knowledge is power, then the man who controls the Ocularis would be the most powerful man on Earth," Cyrus says.
According to The Arcanum , there are 13 ghosts necessary to access the Ocularis Infernum : 12 needed to power it, and a 13th to shut it down if necessary (though that last part proves to be a lie). These ghosts align with the "Black Zodiac," which was created for the movie . (Though that doesn't mean the film doesn't have significance along traditional zodiac lines .) Besides maybe the elaborate puzzle box of the house itself, these ghosts are the most memorable part of this oddball film. They are brought to (un)life thanks to the special effects work of Robert Kurtzman and Greg Nicotero, and each one matches one of the entries in this mythical "Black Zodiac."
The Firstborn Son
In The Arcanum , the Firstborn Son (rendered in Latin as Primus Filius ) is depicted as a young boy with a split in his head. In a featurette describing the origins of the 13 ghosts that accompanies the DVD, the voice of F. Murray Abraham as Cyrus Kriticos describes Billy Michaels, the boy who became the Firstborn Son ghost, as "simply a stubborn brat" whose "obsession with the world of cowboys and Indians took precedent over all else."
According to the featurette, Billy was done in when he was playing "cowboys and Indians" with a neighbor boy who found a real bow and arrow. The featurette claims that Billy perished while dressed as a cowboy, though in the film he is also wearing a Native American headband, with an arrow sticking out of his forehead.
"His rebellious attitude and refusal to accept defeat was a perfect fit for my... circle of angry spirits," Kriticos concludes.
The Arcanum depicts the Torso ( Truncus , or simply "trunk") as a long-haired human figure with no lower body, walking around on its hands. In the film, the Torso's head is also separated from its body, and both the torso and the head are wrapped in plastic.
According to Kriticos in the featurette that accompanies the DVD , the Torso was once Jimmy "The Gambler" Gambino. Jimmy made a bet with Larry "The Finger" Vatelo and lost, so Vatelo made "several small examples" of Jimmy when he couldn't pay his debt, then wrapped the pieces in cellophane and dumped them into the ocean.
The Bound Woman
The third ghost referred to in the Black Zodiac is the Bound Woman, and the illustration in The Arcanum shows a dour-looking woman in an Elizabethan ruff. Kriticos chooses Susan LeGrow to fill this role, a woman he describes as "born with a silver spoon in her mouth." In the featurette describing the ghosts , Kriticos adds, "Her parents were the wealthiest people in town, which made Susan the most popular girl in school."
However, Susan flirted, toyed with, and rejected men at her whim, leaving "a long trail of broken hearts" until star quarterback Chet Walters found her with another man on the night of the senior prom. Chet clubbed her lover, and Susan disappeared. Two weeks later, she was found "beneath the football field's 50-yard line."
While Kriticos acknowledges that the "jealous monster" Chet would have made a "nice complement" to his cabal of sinister ghosts, the Bound Woman was what Basileus's Machine required, and Susan's ghost fit the bill. In the film, her ghost appears dangling from a rope, although the illustration in The Arcanum depicts that fate for another ghost, the Angry Princess.
The Withered Lover
To fulfill the role of the Withered Lover, Kriticos selected his own niece by marriage, Jean Kriticos. Jean perished in a fire, which separated her from her husband - Kriticos's nephew, Arthur - and their two children. The fire also left half of her body badly burned, making her the ideal choice for the Withered Lover.
In the featurette where he explains the origins of each ghost , Kriticos says that Jean had "just the magnitude of suffering I required." The featurette describes a fire on Christmas night, in which Arthur, in his haste to save his children, inadvertently left his wife to perish in the blaze. However, the film, which shows Jean in a hospital gown with a rolling IV stand, makes it clear she met her end not in the house itself, but later, in St. Luke's Hospital.
In The Arcanum , the Withered Lover ( Amator Marcidus ) is one of the only ghosts to be depicted beneficently, seemingly floating in a long dress with vines in the background - possible echoes of Jean's hospital gown and IV tubes?
The Torn Prince
Born in 1940, the boy who would become Kriticos's Torn Prince was named Royce Clayton. Living a "miserable small-town life," Royce's ticket out was his skill as a "slugger" on his high school baseball team - hence the bat, which the ghost carries with him. A "local hero," according to the newspaper that we see in the featurette , Royce perished in a fiery car collision during a drag race, which also explains the upside-down car that's with him inside his cell.
In The Arcanum , the Torn Prince (in Latin Eques Scissus , which would be more aptly translated as "torn knight"), is depicted as a painter, holding a brush and easel in his left hand while his right arm is missing from the elbow down. All the flesh is also flayed from the right side of his body, just as it is on the ghost of Royce.
The Angry Princess
The Angry Princess is one of the ghosts featured most prominently in the film. Appearing as a pale, unclothed woman with sopping wet hair whose body is covered in deep cuts, she carries the knife that she used on herself. In life, she was Dana Newman, a "young woman whose beauty became her ruin," as Kriticos tells us in a featurette on the DVD . After a string of foul boyfriends, she sought employment with a plastic surgeon, where her wages were paid in "an endless array of needless procedures."
After attempting to perform an operation on herself, she finally took her own life in the bathtub - which probably explains why she appears in the bathroom of the house.
The Latin next to the illustration of the Angry Princess in The Arcanum essentially says that she ended her life, and the illustration depicts a young woman in a cloak and hood, at the end of a noose.
In The Arcanum , the Pilgrimess is shown only as a dour-looking woman in an old-fashioned hood. Unlike most of the other ghosts, there is no Latin next to her picture, only the symbol that represents her in the Black Zodiac.
In the film, she is shown only briefly, where she appears as an elderly woman in stocks. The featurette that accompanies the DVD tells us that Miss Isabella Smith was Kriticos's choice for the Pilgrimess ghost. "Her story began in 1675, when the orphaned Isabella journeyed from England in the hope of finding a comfortable home in a quaint New England town." However, the "tight-knit townsfolk didn't trust outsiders," and when their livestock started to waste away, they decided Isabella must be a witch.
They cornered her in a barn and set it ablaze. When she survived without so much as a scratch, they considered that proof of their suspicions and sentenced her to the stocks. She stayed there for weeks before finally perishing from extreme hunger.
The Great Child And The Dire Mother
Two ghosts for the price of one, the Great Child and the Dire Mother are depicted in the Black Zodiac as a giant clutching the head of a more diminutive figure - the mother, perhaps, though the figure looks only barely human and is possibly male. The Latin word next to the illustration doesn't help much, as it simply says Mures , which translates as "mice." Given that Harold Shelburne, the ghost who represents the Great Child, had the mental development of an infant in life, this may be a reference to the novel Of Mice and Men , which features a large and very strong but developmentally disabled protagonist.
The featurette accompanying the DVD tells us that Margaret Shelburne, his mother, was only three feet tall. Taken without consent by the Tall Man, a member of the traveling "freak show" where she worked, Margaret later gave birth to Harold, who also went to work in the show. She was very protective of her son and babied him well into adulthood, to the degree that he was unable to feed himself and still wore diapers. This led to the two of them being outcasts even among the "freaks," who one day snatched Margaret as a joke on Harold.
Unfortunately, the cruel joke went wrong when Margaret suffocated in the bag they placed her in. When Harold found out, he took an axe and "had his revenge" on most of the carnival, "displaying what was left of them for every paying customer to see." When the owner found out what had happened, he had Harold done away with in gruesome fashion.
In addition to be being the only paired ghosts, the Great Child and the Dire Mother are also unique in that they have alternative histories. According to the commentary track that accompanies the film, Harold's original fate was that he choked on his own vomit and then landed on his diminutive mother when he fell over. The filmmakers felt this backstory wasn't shocking enough compared to the others, and so they concocted a more elaborate tale for Harold and Margaret. This may also explain why they are the only ones who largely appear as they were in life, rather than showing what caused their separate fates.
In the early 1890s, George Markley was working as a blacksmith when he was wrongfully accused of theft. After the townspeople took out their anger on Markley's wife and two children, he retaliated against those responsible with his hammer. Other townsfolk captured Markley and dragged him back to his shop, where he received "a brutal form of frontier justice." He was tied to a tree and nails were driven through his body.
In the film, Markley's ghost is full of railroad spikes, and his hand replaced with the head of his prized hammer. In the Black Zodiac, the Hammer is shown as a muscular, bearded man in a blacksmith's apron and tongs, holding a massive hammer. The Latin inscription reads Malleus Ignis , or "fire hammer."
One of the film's "star" ghosts, the Jackal is prominently featured and wears what looks like a ragged straitjacket with a metal cage over his head. One of the characters describes him as "the Charlie Manson of ghosts."
According to the featurette that accompanies the DVD , the ghost who became the Jackal was once Ryan Kuhn, born in 1887. In life, he went after "stray women with the cunning of a wild animal." He committed himself to an asylum "as a means to cure his insatiable appetite," but, after years of incarceration, he went completely around the bend and began scratching at the walls. Later, he voluntarily perished when the asylum caught fire.
The Jackal is one of the film's more memorable ghosts, getting several opportunities to maim the inhabitants of the house. He is also the only one whose position in the Black Zodiac is explained at all in the film, when one of the characters says that his is "the sign of Hell's Winter."
In The Arcanum , only the Jackal's head is depicted, which is shown inside a cage. The Latin inscription below his sign is Canis Aureus , which translates to "golden dog."
Horace Mahoney, the ghost who becomes the Juggernaut, is the only ghost we actually see Kriticos and his crew capture in the beginning of the film. Nicknamed the "Breaker" because he liked to break his targets "into as many pieces as possible," Mahoney became a serial slayer. He slew nine people while he was alive, and more than 30 after he became a ghost.
"Oversized and horribly disfigured," Mahoney was abandoned by his mother at an early age, according to the featurette on the DVD , and spent his young life in his father's junkyard, breaking and cutting up old cars. When his father passed, Mahoney turned to more unnatural hobbies. He would break people apart and feed them to his dogs. The police eventually caught up to him and "pumped more than 50 rounds" into his giant form, which is why his ghost appears riddled with holes.
In the Black Zodiac, only the Juggernaut's angry face and shoulders are depicted. The Latin inscription next to his zodiac sign simply reads Titan , which requires no translation into English.
The Broken Heart
The 13th ghost in the Black Zodiac, the Broken Heart is "a sacrifice of life... The only ghost to be created out of an act of pure love."
One of the characters describes the 13th ghost as a "failsafe" that is needed in order to stop the process. "A willing human sacrifice" that "stands before the Eye at the final configuration; as the Eye opens, the spirit uses the power of life to essentially short-circuit the system." As we know by the end of the film, however, this isn't true. Instead, the Broken Heart is the final spirit that Kriticos needs to power up Basileus's Machine, and he chooses his nephew Arthur as the sacrifice. This is because he knows Arthur will willingly give his own life to protect his children.
In the Black Zodiac, the Broken Heart is depicted as a knight who appears to be piercing his chest with his own sword. The Latin inscription next to his symbol reads Corda Tacita , which translates to "silent heart." The sign of the Broken Heart is also shown on the key that Arthur uses to unlock the house at the beginning of the movie.
- Thirteen Ghosts (2001)
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- When Cyrus Kriticos, a very rich collector of unique things, dies, he leaves his house, fortune, and his prized collection of ghosts.
- Arthur and his two children, Kathy and Bobby, inherit his Uncle Cyrus's estate: a glass house that serves as a prison to 12 ghosts. When the family, accompanied by Bobby's Nanny and an attorney, enter the house they find themselves trapped inside an evil machine "designed by the devil and powered by the dead" to open the Eye of Hell. Aided by Dennis, a ghost hunter, and his rival Kalina, a ghost rights activist out to set the ghosts free, the group must do what they can to get out of the house alive. — ahmetkozan
- Ghost hunter Cyrus Kriticos (F. Murray Abraham) and assistant Dennis Rafkin (Matthew Lillard) lead a team on a mission to capture a spirit, called the Juggernaut, in a junkyard. Several of the men are killed during the ensuing fight, including Cyrus himself. However, the team is able to catch the ghost. Arthur Kriticos (Tony Shalhoub), a mathematician who is also a widower, is informed by the estate lawyer of his uncle Cyrus, Benjamin Moss (JR Bourne), that he has inherited a mansion. Arthur and his financially insecure family plan to move into this mansion with his two children, Kathy (Shannon Elizabeth) and Bobby (Alec Roberts). Their babysitter/nanny Maggie (Rah Digga) accompanies the family. Dennis Rafkin, disguised as a power company employee, meets the family and Benjamin as they tour the mansion. The residence is made almost entirely of glass. It contains Latin phrases etched on floors and movable glass walls, along with priceless artefacts. Arthur and his family are eager about inheriting this new home, and while Arthur is discussing financial matters with the attorney, Kathy and Bobby venture off on their own to explore the mansion. After seeing several ghosts in the basement, Dennis frantically runs upstairs to warn Arthur about the home he is about to own. Benjamin assures Arthur that Dennis is crazy and should be ignored. Dennis tells Arthur that there are twelve spirits are imprisoned in the house, held captive by the spells written throughout the residence. Benjamin Moss is seen sneaking off to collect a valise of money which was intended to be payment. However, upon taking the money, he activates a mechanism set up by Cyrus that seals the entrance and releases the ghosts, one by one. Consequently, Moss encounters one of them, the Angry Princess, and backs up into an open doorway, which snaps shut and slices him in half. Later the existence of ghosts is proven to the skeptical Arthur, when he witnesses an attack on his daughter by the ghost known as the Jackal. Bobby, the younger of the two children, disappears after getting separated from Maggie and he wanders into the basement. There he encounters several spirits, including the Torso and the Bound Woman. Arthur manages to find Kathy, and the two battle the Jackal. Kalina Oretzia (Embeth Davidtz), a spirit liberator, helps Arthur free Kathy from the Jackal's grip, only to be lost again a few moments later. After this, Arthur's objective is clear - to find his children and leave this house as soon as possible. This becomes problematic for two reasons: only those equipped with special glasses are able to see the ghosts; and the walls continue to shift, making navigation difficult. Kalina explains that this is not a house - it is a complex machine built by Cyrus, known as the "Ocularis Infernum" (Eye of Hell.) Created by the Devil and powered by the dead, once completed, this demonic device would allow its user to see into the future. To Arthur's horror, he discovers one of the ghosts powering this machine is the spirit of his dead wife, Jean. Kalina goes on to tell Arthur that his children are in grave danger, and the only way to ensure their successful return is to offer his soul in exchange. If Arthur takes his place as the 13th ghost, his sacrifice of pure love would combat all of the evil contained within the machine, thus shutting it down. Cyrus is revealed to be alive, having faked his death in order to lure Arthur to the house; Kalina turns out to be his secret partner and lover, and knocks Maggie unconscious. Cyrus has orchestrated the previous events, including the abduction of Kathy and Bobby, so that Arthur will become the 13th ghost not to stop the machine, as Kalina had claimed, but to trigger it. Cyrus then turns on Kalina and crushes her between two glass walls, claiming "greatness requires sacrifice." Arthur and Dennis make another attempt to save Kathy and Bobby with the help of a detached wall. Facing the Hammer, Dennis pushes Arthur into a corner where he is then protected by the wall, sacrificing his own life in the process. After combating the Hammer, Dennis finds himself cornered by the angry spirit and the newly released Juggernaut; he is brutally beaten and dies when the Juggernaut breaks him in half. Trapped behind the glass, Arthur is visited by Jean's ghost. Then, all the ghosts disappear from the basement, responding to a tape-recorded summons played by Cyrus. Kathy and Bobby have been placed at the center of a set of whirling, razor-sharp rings. Arthur and Cyrus have a violent confrontation , which is interrupted by the sound of Maggie beginning to destroy the machine. Due to this breakdown in equipment, the ghosts are released from their trance. All the ghosts except Jean immediately grab Cyrus, and hurl him into the spinning rings. Dennis' ghost then appears, telling Arthur to go to his kids. Waiting for a break in the razor rings, Arthur jumps to save his children, making the leap without dying. The house's glass walls shatter, releasing the spirits from captivity. A peacful-looking Jean lingers briefly to say goodbye to her family, then departs with the others. The film ends with a battered Maggie walking through the wreckage yelling, "I quit!"
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All the Ghosts in Thirteen Ghosts, Explained
Thirteen Ghosts features plenty of terrifying ghosts. Each has its own traits and unique backstories that are hardly explained in the movie.
The 2001 cult-classic horror movie Thirteen Ghosts features just that: thirteen ghosts. Starring Scream 's Matthew Lillard and Tony Shalhoub of Monk fame, it's a remake of the 1960 film of the same name. The movie is hectic, to say the least, so it's understandable that many viewers don't know anything about the ghouls tormenting their screens.
Thirteen Ghosts follows Arthur Kriticos after the death of his beloved wife. He moves with his children into the house of his estranged uncle Cyrus, where they're soon forced to survive the ghosts haunting their new home. Here's a breakdown of the Thirteen Ghosts ' backstories and the astrological signs they represent.
Updated on August 29, 2023, by Ajay Aravind: D ark Castle Entertainment, the movie production label responsible for creating Thirteen Ghosts , is rumored to be planning a television series adaptation. That said, fans know very little about this upcoming TV program, but they can certainly enjoy rewatching the iconic horror film over and over again. Despite failing with critics, Thirteen Ghosts has since become a cult classic. As such, we've updated this feature with more information regarding all 13 ghosts in the movie.
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The First Born Son
The First Born Son is the first ghost in the film's Black Zodiac. This sign is equivalent to Aries in the traditional Zodiac wheel. Aries are plagued by negative traits, including irresponsibleness, stubbornness, immaturity, and recklessness. The First Born Son is the ghost of a boy named Billy Michaels. During his short life, Billy loved Western films more than anything. Upon being taunted by a neighbor, Billy initiated a duel with the boy. His weapon was his favorite toy cap gun, which proved useless against the real arrow that eventually pierced through the back of his head.
The Torso is the second ghoul in Thirteen Ghosts . This person is the representation of the traditional Taurus, whose negative features include materialism, greed, and stubbornness. The origin of the Torso can be traced back to a man named Jimmy Gambino, who was extremely greedy and, unfortunately, developed a gambling addiction. He also gained a reputation due to his serious debts, eventually catching the attention of the mob. When he made a hefty bet, lost, and couldn't pay what he owed, the mobster and his gang cut Jimmy into pieces. They wrapped his limbs in cellophane before dumping them in the ocean.
The Bound Woman
On the Black Zodiac wheel, the first female ghost is the Bound Woman. In Thirteen Ghosts , the Bound Woman is a dark depiction of the classic Gemini Zodiac sign. The Black Zodiac traits of Gemini include manipulation, being two-faced, and inclined to play mind games. This damned soul was named Susan LeGrow, and she lived a very privileged life. Her parents were the richest people in town, which made them very popular. On prom night, however, her boyfriend murdered Susan after catching her with someone else. Susan was strangled with his tie after being tied up, which is precisely why she appears as a bound woman.
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The Withered Lover
In Thirteen Ghosts , the fourth ghost on the Black Zodiac is one of the saddest spirits in the house. This spirit is that of the Withered Lover. Her traditional Zodiac counterpart is Cancer, a sign supposedly known for its overly emotional characteristics. Jean Kriticos was the beloved wife and mother of the three main characters — Arthur, Bobby, and Kathy, respectively. Her death came as a shock to her family. When she and Arthur were asleep one night, a fire accidentally started. So, Arthur, believing that Jean would wait outside, saved their children. Unfortunately, she perished from the resulting burns, becoming the Withered Lover.
The Torn Prince
The next spirit on the Black Zodiac, and one of the angrier ones, is the Torn Prince. He represents Leo in the traditional Zodiac. Leos have the negative traits of vanity, pride, and being overly demanding, as evidenced by the ghost's violent nature. Originally known as Royce Clayton, he was an extremely gifted baseball player and a guaranteed all-star until he was challenged to a drag race. His superiority complex couldn't resist, and he didn't realize that his brake line had been cut. The accident caused a large portion of flesh to be torn from his face and chest. Other sources speculate that his car exploded, but all agree that he's one furious guy.
The Angry Princess
The Angry Princess is the sixth ghost on the Black Zodiac wheel featured in Thirteen Ghosts . She's the beautifully tragic depiction of Virgo. Virgos traditionally possess the negative traits of over-criticizing themselves and holding others to an unreasonable standard. Dana Newman was an incredibly beautiful woman with horrible self-esteem. Her self-criticism and insecurities were further fueled by her numerous abusive relationships. This led to a string of unnecessary plastic surgeries. Eventually, Dana got so desperate that she performed a botched surgery on her face, forcing her to take her own life with the knife she wields as the Angry Princess.
RELATED: The 10 Best Romantic Ships in Horror
Perhaps the oldest of the spirits in the house, The Pilgrimess is the seventh ghost on the Black Zodiac wheel in Thirteen Ghosts. She is the Libra of the group, meaning she's known for traits like deception and trickery. During the 1600s, Isabella Smith settled in a New England town and was immediately treated as an outcast. After the colony's animals started dying, she was (likely wrongly) accused of witchcraft . The townsfolk refused to believe Isabella, and attempted to burn her alive. After she survived the fire, Isabella was humiliated in the stocks for days before ultimately starving to death.
The Great Child
The Great Child is the eighth ghost of the Thirteen Ghosts . He's the personification of a Scorpio on the classic wheel. The negative characteristics of a Scorpio include aggression and obsessive behavior. Harold Shelburne was raised in a carnival as an attraction due to his large stature. He was spoiled greatly by his mother, so much so that Harold weighed nearly 300 pounds and retained the mindset of a child. And when his mother was killed by his fellow circus workers, he went on a rampage. His death was reportedly very brutal. Despite his large, intimidating stature, the Great Child is practically harmless.
RELATED: The 15 Best Horror Movies of All time To Watch Right Now
The Dire Mother
The ninth ghost is nearly always seen with the eighth ghost. However, she's the representation of a Sagittarius, who may be impatient, insensitive, and a bit controlling. Harold's mother, Margaret, had a hard life. Standing at only three feet in height, she was constantly mistreated. This would sadly continue with the circus' Tall Man, who sexually assaulted and impregnated her. That said, she was probably a good mother trapped in a hellish environment. She continuously spoiled Harold, going as far as keeping him in diapers. Her death by suffocation was originally just a cruel prank on Harold.
One of Thirteen Ghosts ' most dangerous entities is the tenth one. The Hammer isn't a friendly ghost, and his backstory is very tragic, too. He fits as the Black Zodiac's Capricorn, with negative traits like pessimism, insensitivity, and arrogance. George Markley was an honest blacksmith until he was accused of theft by a racist white man . He was given an ultimatum to move or else — and, unfortunately, his staying put led to the man's gang beating George's family to death. George was understandably enraged by this and beat the men to death with his sledgehammer. He was then lynched and subjected to railroad spikes being nailed into him before his hand was replaced with his trusty hammer.
If the Hammer is bad, it's following sign should be considered horrible. The eleventh ghost, The Jackal, is referred to as " the Charles Manson of ghosts ." He's a terrifying personification of an Aquarius, marked by emotional distance and often causing pain. The original Ryan Kuhn was an unbalanced man throughout his life. Having developed a taste for violence, he became a serial killer and sexual predator. For help, he went to an asylum where he lost his sanity. Due to his behavior issues and the period in question, he was put in a straight jacket and a head cage. He grew to hate humanity and later died in a fire that broke out in the institution.
RELATED: With The Exorcist, William Friedkin Did the Impossible for the Horror Genre
The twelfth and final official ghost on the Black Zodiac is the Juggernaut. Thirteen Ghosts ' scary opening scene starts with him being captured, making him the only capture the audience gets to watch happen onscreen. As a Pisces, he represents negative features like indecisiveness and self-pity. Horace Mahoney suffered ostracization due to his shocking appearance. Raised by his father, he was put to work at his junkyard, where he began crushing cars. After his father died, Horace became a serial killer, ripping his victims apart and feeding them to his dogs. He was eventually shot several times by SWAT.
The Broken Heart
It's often referenced throughout the movie, including in the title, that there are Thirteen Ghosts. However, the Black Zodiac, like the traditional Zodiac wheel , only has 12 signs. Because of this, the Broken Heart character is not associated with any negative signs. He doesn't have a traditional Zodiac counterpart either. The Broken Heart is a personification of true love and is marked by self-sacrifice. So, Cyrus brought Arthur and his children to the house to turn Arthur into the final ghost, knowing that nothing in the world would stop him from protecting his family. Luckily, there is never an official 13th ghost, and the Kriticos family survives Thirteen Ghosts .
Thirteen ghosts: black zodiac explained.
The 2001 Dark Castle movie Thirteen Ghosts introduced the Black Zodiac, a dark reversal of the standard zodiac, and here's its significance.
The 2001 Dark Castle movie Thirteen Ghosts introduced the Black Zodiac, a dark reversal of the standard zodiac, and here's its significance. While they still occasionally make movies, in the early-mid 2000s, Dark Castle was a prolific producer when it came to glossy, biggish budget theatrical horror. The Dark Castle name is an homage to legendary horror producer William Castle, and several of the company's biggest successes were remakes of films that had been made by Castle, including Thirteen Ghosts.
As far as remakes go, Thirteen Ghosts actually sticks fairly close to the basic plot of the original, although features mostly new characters, and a much more modern high-tech setting. The remake centers on Arthur Kriticos ( Tony Shalhoub ), a widower who is surprised to inherit a mansion from his recently deceased uncle Cyrus (F. Murray Abraham), then moves into the place with his kids and their nanny. Of course, this is no ordinary house, and is being used to imprison twelve angry ghosts in the hopes of using them to complete a complex spell.
Related: 10 Most Terrifying Ghosts in Horror Movie History
Thirteen Ghosts wasn't a box office hit, but it quickly earned a following on home video, and that cult has only grown over the years. Much of this is due to the really cool titular ghosts, the splendid production design on the labyrinthine glass house they reside in, and some of the film's cooler concepts. One such concept is the Black Zodiac.
As previously mentioned, Thirteen Ghosts' Black Zodiac is a dark version of the standard zodiac used in astrology, and also contains twelve main signs, in this case corresponding to the twelve ghosts. However, the Black Zodiac adds in a thirteenth sign, which refers to the thirteenth ghost of the film's title, which Cyrus had yet to capture. The thirteen signs of the Black Zodiac are The First Born Son, The Torso, The Bound Woman, The Withered Lover, The Torn Prince, The Angry Princess, The Pilgrimess, The Great Child, The Dire Mother, The Hammer, The Jackal, The Juggernaut, and The Broken Heart. Notably, the concept of a dark counterpart to the standard western zodiac isn't unique to this film, but the actual signs and ghost rules applied here are all unique to Thirteen Ghosts.
Before his death - which he turned out to have faked to lure in his nephew - Cyrus had captured and contained twelve ghosts that served to represent the first twelve signs on the Black Zodiac. The thirteenth ghost, The Broken Heart, can only be created after the other ghosts have assembled, and must be born out of an act of pure love. Cyrus intended his nephew Arthur to serve as this, sacrificing himself to save his family. Once all thirteen signs on Thirteen Ghosts' Black Zodiac are represented by their corresponding ghosts in one place, they can be used to activate Basileus's Machine, opening the Ocularis Infernum, aka The Eye of Hell. This was Cyrus' goal, as he believed using the eye would grant him godlike powers. Thankfully, Arthur manages to survive, foils his uncle's plan, and the other ghosts, including his own wife (used for The Withered Lover) are free to move on.
More: The Ghosts You Missed In The Haunting Of Hill House
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Where to watch
2001 Directed by Steve Beck
Misery loves company.
Arthur and his two children, Kathy and Bobby, inherit his Uncle Cyrus's estate: a glass house that serves as a prison to 12 ghosts. When the family, accompanied by Bobby's Nanny and an attorney, enter the house they find themselves trapped inside an evil machine "designed by the devil and powered by the dead" to open the Eye of Hell. Aided by Dennis, a ghost hunter, and his rival Kalina, a ghost rights activist out to set the ghosts free, the group must do what they can to get out of the house alive.
Tony Shalhoub Embeth Davidtz Matthew Lillard Shannon Elizabeth Rah Digga Alec Roberts JR Bourne F. Murray Abraham Matthew Harrison Charles Andre Laura Mennell Kathryn Anderson Craig Olejnik Shawna Loyer Xantha Radley C. Ernst Harth John DeSantis Mikhael Speidel Mike Crestejo Jacob Rupp Ken Kirzinger Aubrey Lee Culp Daniel Wesley
Additional directing add. directing.
Matt Earl Beesley David Klohn Ashley Bell
Robert Zemeckis Joel Silver Gilbert Adler Richard Mirisch Terry Castle
Executive Producers Exec. Producers
Steve Richards Dan Cracchiolo
Neal Marshall Stevens Todd Alcott Robb White Richard D'Ovidio
Christine Sheaks Rebecca Gushin
Derek Brechin Edward A. Warschilka Omar Daher
Additional Photography Add. Photography
Robert McLachlan Daniel Sauvé Andrew D. Wilson Tom Fillingham Michael Cox
Production Design Production Design
Art Direction Art Direction
Geoff Wallace Tim Beach Don MacAulay
Set Decoration Set Decoration
Dominique Fauquet-Lemaitre Eric Sundahl Andrew Li Sheila Millar Mira Caveno Lynn Christopher Terri Bishop
Special Effects Special Effects
Charles Belardinelli Malia Thompson
Visual Effects Visual Effects
Derek Thompson Dan Glass Paul Clemente
Ken Kirzinger Suzi Stingl
Dane A. Davis Richard Adrian Julia Evershade David E. Campbell Gregg Rudloff Alyson Dee Moore Stephanie Flack Carolyn Tapp Andrew Lackey Mary Jo Lang Patrick Ramsay
Costume Design Costume Design
Robert Kurtzman Greg Nicotero Stan Edmonds Alan Tuskes Scott Patton Craig Reardon Patricia Murray Bernie Wrightson Bev Wright Chris Cera Lyn Defehr David Perteet Ron Pipes Brian Rae Steve Hartman James Hall
Sandy Monesmith Stacey Butterworth Sherry Linder-Gygli
Dark Castle Entertainment Columbia Pictures Warner Bros. Entertainment 13 Ghosts Productions Canada Inc.
Releases by Date
23 oct 2001, 02 nov 2001, 13 dec 2001, 17 feb 2002, 26 oct 2001, 10 jan 2002, 11 jan 2002, 16 jan 2002, 17 jan 2002, 18 jan 2002, 25 jan 2002, 01 feb 2002, 08 feb 2002, 14 feb 2002, 22 feb 2002, 28 feb 2002, 01 mar 2002, 08 mar 2002, 13 mar 2002, 15 mar 2002, 21 mar 2002, 22 mar 2002, 27 mar 2002, 12 apr 2002, 30 apr 2002, 03 may 2002, 08 may 2002, 31 may 2002, 07 jun 2002, 28 jun 2002, 05 jul 2002, 31 aug 2002, 03 sep 2002, 06 dec 2007, 20 may 2011, 25 feb 2006, releases by country.
- Theatrical +16
Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
- Theatrical 16
- Theatrical 15
- Premiere Night Visions Film Festival
- Theatrical K-18
- Theatrical 12
- Theatrical 14+
- Premiere Tokyo International Fantastic Film Festival
- Theatrical R15+ Tokyo
- Theatrical B
- TV 16 Veronica
- Physical 16 Bluray
- Physical 16 DVD
- Theatrical R-18 Davao
- Theatrical M/16
- Theatrical 18+
- Theatrical M18
- Premiere Lucia Movie Night
- Theatrical 14 German Speaking Region
- Premiere R Westwood, California
- Theatrical R
91 mins More at IMDb TMDb Report this page
Review by single white femalien 2
theres a sexy tittey ghost in thirthirteenen ghosts.. thats how u know its good!
Review by Kat ★★½ 4
Is it a good movie? No.
Is it scary? No.
Is the script and story well done? Also no.
But is it fun? Yes actually... Movies like this will never not remind me of blockbuster and slumber parties. Monk was an odd casting choice, but Lillard made it OK. And its definitely an interesting take on a haunted house movie.
Review by MF<3 ★★ 1
I watched this for the plot and the plot is Matthew Lillard.
Review by Sam Thompson ★★ 1
What sort of cocaine was the editor on and where can I get some...
Matthew Lillard’s psycho performance is easily the standout. The setting is awesome as it’s a character in itself and the designs and makeup for the ghosts is fantastic.
Other than that, this doesn’t offer anything outside of guilty pleasure territory.
Review by Justin Decloux ★★★ 2
(The editor leans forward in his chair, puts his hands under his chin, and nods thoughtfully)
"But what if we added 1000000% more flash frames?"
Review by Fake Shemp 2
Matthew Lillard is filled with saliva.
Review by Erin 🍺 ★★ 3
This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Anytime you see Matthew Lillard drool you know you’re in for a good time. Also a black woman basically saves the day?! Hello we love it
Review by madalyne ★★★½
if i was one of those ghosts i’d be pissed if i was trapped in a house that ugly.
Review by chelsea ★★★½
bad in all the best ways. oh 2000s horror how i love you and your awful editing <3
Review by Ian West ★★★ 6
F. Murray Abraham hams it up big time in the opening junkyard ghost-hunter slaughter scene (which is so over the top and very 2001) and the weirdo menagerie mansion with Latin scribbled all over the place and spectral glasses is a big mood—as is all the dope looking ghosts and super KNB effect work.
Thirteen Ghosts was one of those post 9/11 movies that me and a few friends saw a numerous times theatrically to take our mind off of dead acquaintances and skies filled with ash. So yeah, I was a pretty big fan of this back then (haven’t watched this in over ten years) and I was curious as to how it would hold up and I gotta…
Review by Justin LaLiberty ★★★ 1
for a movie that's basically Event Horizon with Monk and Shaggy fighting the ghosts of hot topic, it's not that bad
Review by nathaxnne [hiatus <3] ★★★★ 7
Matthew Lillard gives a Castle-worthy star turn as a tormented self-loathing psychic formerly employed by Uncle Cyrus to assist in the hunting and collecting of ghosts which thankfully is now understood to be a form of enslavement rather than an eccentric hobby. Thirt3en Ghosts is worth seeing just for him, but also presents a stronger narrative throughline as to why the ghosts are in the house and what comes of it, but does so at the cost of time spent hanging out with the central family, whose warm cohesion was the engine which drove Castle's film. The ghosts are, however, given far more individual screen time and greater character definition which is all to the good. I was also delighted…
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Meet The Ghosts In The Thirteen Ghosts Horror Movie
When the supernatural horror film titled Thirteen Ghosts (13 Ghosts or Thir13en Ghosts) and directed by Steve Beck, hit the airwaves in late 2001, the reaction it got from fans and viewers globally was a mixed one. This unsure feeling most likely arose as a result of the fact that the movie was a remake of a 1960 movie of the same title which was directed by William Castle. Fast forward to over two decades later and the movie that gradually won over horror movie lovers the world over has achieved cult status mainly because of the ghosts’ backstory that was later created by the filmmakers.
Is the movie 13 Ghosts based on a true story?
The short version of the answer to this question is no, 13 Ghosts is not based on a true story. The longer version revolves around the fact that this is usually a question that trails a lot of supernatural horror films and 13 Ghosts is not an exception. Horror filmmakers know and understand that the majority of horror film audiences want and expect an element of reality in the content they come to see and a lot of horror film trailers have conceived a way to give the audience that experience of reality by inferring the same with words such as based on a true story or inspired by live events.
In some cases, the aforementioned claims tend to be factually accurate, based on the set and location, but in a lot of the cases, the movie creators create a semblance of the original with CGI and special effects. The true essence of horror movies is to create entertainment value in a truly relatable and shocking manner. There are however films such as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and The Silence of the Lambs, where the narrator and producers are quite liberal with the way they re-tell the actual horrid actions of Ed Gein, the Wisconsin murderer who had made clothing and furniture from the remains of human beings he murdered.
What are the 13 Ghosts in Thirteen Ghosts?
As earlier mentioned, 13 Ghosts grew to achieve a cult following because the movie producers finally understood that the measly 1 hour 30 minutes runtime of the horror flick wasn’t nearly enough time to get into the backstory of each of the 13 ghosts referenced in the movie. They, therefore, proceeded to create a special DVD feature that gave the audience a glimpse into the history of each of the 13 Ghosts as humans. A very detailed look at these ghosts revealed that some are more dangerous than others.
Let’s meet the 13 ghosts!!!
The First Born Son
In life, the ghost described as the firstborn son was an overindulged and spoiled kid named Billy Michaels. Billy’s unhealthy obsession with Indians and cowboys led to him always carrying on like one. The result of this obsession was the death of Billy at the hands of another kid who had challenged him to a duel. Whereas Billy brought a cap gun to the duel, the other kid’s steel-tipped arrow ultimately cut short Billy’s life. Billy’s ghost, the firstborn son, still carries the instrument that led to his death and although harmless, he was scary enough to land the human occupants of the house in trouble.
This ghost represents a torso severed from a head that is never far off, an accurate description of what happened to the owner when he was alive. He was a bookie named Jimmy Gambino and nicknamed ‘The Gambler’ because of his gambling addiction. Jimmy had lived during the 1900s and his unhealthy character and lifestyle had placed him in the crosshairs of the Mafia after he lost a boxing bet and couldn’t pay up. The Mafia had been ruthless in dealing with Jimmy by butchering him like an animal and dumping his cellophane-wrapped remains in the ocean. The torso also doesn’t do any real damage but is still as scary as a ghost can be.
The Bound Woman
The Bound Woman image source
The ghost of the bound woman was a woman named Susan LeGrow, a beautiful high school girl who was aware of her beauty and had a reputation for leaving broken hearts in her wake without regard for their feelings. At the time of her death, she was caught cheating with another guy by her boyfriend who was the captain of the school football team named Chet Walters, on the night of their senior prom. Chet had murdered the other dude with a club before proceeding to strangle Susan with his tie.
The Withered Lover
The Withered Lover image source
The withered lover was the wife of the movie’s protagonist, Arthur Kriticos. She was a woman named Jean Kriticos and her life had been claimed by a fire that gutted the family house which other members of her family had survived a year and a half prior to the events of the film. She is not harmful to the human occupants of the house.
The Torn Prince
Famous for his baseball talents in the 1950s, the torn prince was a teenage baseball star named Royce Clayton. His life had come to an end after the brake lines of his car had been cut by an envious challenger in a drag race. The sabotaged brake lines led to the accident that claimed his life. His ghost is quite violent and spots a baseball bat with which it wreaks havoc on the human occupants of the mansion.
The Angry Princess
The angry princess carries a knife, the same one she used to kill herself and she is also bloody and naked, a condition she was in at the time of her suicide in a bathtub. In life, she was a beautiful lady known as Dana Newman. Dana, who had lived in the 20th century, had always seen flaws in her makeup and sought to correct them through plastic surgeries. These perceived flaws were probably due to the abuses she suffered in her relationships. She is responsible for the gruesome murder of the lawyer character, Ben Moss.
Scorned and roughly mistreated in life after she was branded a witch by the small North American community she migrated to as an orphan from England, Isabella Smith had been branded a witch and held responsible for the failure of crops in her community. Her claims of innocence fell on deaf ears, and the fact that she somehow survived a burning barn without a scratch didn’t help her cause. The angry community starved her to death following her condemnation to the pillory, a piece of equipment that was still visible in the movie. Her bound hands mean that the only damage she can do is look scary.
The Great Child
Born and died as Harold Shelburne, the ghost known as the great child was part of a circus and was constantly mistreated and looked down on by other freaks. A health condition meant that he was spoonfed for most of his life. He ultimately lost his mind and went on a killing spree to avenge the death of his mother at the hands of the circus’ other freaks. The circus owner, Jimbo had him killed and so cut up that he was hardly recognizable. He appears with the instrument he used to commit the killings, an ax.
The Dire Mother
The Dire Mother image source
Margaret Shelburne was a pint-sized woman standing 3 feet tall who worked in a circus. She was the mother of Harold and their ghosts are often seen together. She was raped by the Tall Man, a colleague at the freak show where she worked, Harold was the result and she dedicated her entire life to him. She was eventually killed by other members of the freak show.
In life, the Hammer was a jolly blacksmith named George Markeley who got into a skirmish with one of the town’s well-placed individuals named Nathan. Nathan had accused George of stealing and the blacksmith was actually asked to leave the town with his family. He denied the allegations and refused to adhere to what he perceived was a corrupt verdict. The result of his stubbornness was losing his family to a mob led by Nathan. George retaliated by using his sledgehammer to avenge his family. He was condemned to death, chained to a tree, and run through with a railroad spike. His left hand was cut off and attached to the hammer. This ghost is deadly and doesn’t hesitate to use his deadly hammer on the human beings in the haunted house.
The Jackal is the ghost of a serial rapist and murderer named Ryan Khun. Born and raised by a prostitute, he ultimately went insane after seeking treatment at Borehamwood Institute and had his head locked in a cage when he broke out of his straitjacket. He died in the fire that engulfed the asylum and his ghost is a vicious and deadly one, definitely one of the top three.
Horace Mahoney was known as ‘The Breaker’ in life and after he was born disfigured, even his own mother rejected him at birth. His father utilized his brute strength in his junkyard. Horace lost it after his father’s death and eventually became a serial killer who would attack and kill hitchhikers after luring them to his junkyard. He was eventually killed by a team of SWAT and his ghost was eventually captured and brought to the haunted house after a further kill count of 40. The juggernaut is the de-facto leader of the ghosts and he is as deadly as they come.
Dennis was revealed as the 13th ghost as the movie drew to a close with his ghost telling Arthur to go to his children before leaving with the rest of the ghosts. Earlier on, Dennis had been cut down by the unified efforts of the hammer and the juggernaut.
Read Also: Shawna Loyer Bio – Movies And TV Shows, Facts About The 13 Ghosts Actress
What is Thirteen Ghosts based on?
The movie is a remake of the 1960 movie with the same title. The 1960 original version was directed by William Castle and distributed by Columbia Pictures. Not coincidentally, both versions of the movie were based on a story titled 13 Ghosts by Robb White.
Will there be a Thirteen Ghosts 2?
As things stand, there are no musings about a sequel, although several suggestions from fans and a wider audience have included a special feature film that centers on Cyrus and the actual hunt for the ghosts. Whether that becomes a reality remains to be seen. However, to relive the events of the movie, you can download the 2001 movie on any of the movie platforms online. There is also a DVD feature that provides the backstory of the ghosts, essentially detailing who they were in life.
Who was Cyrus in 13 Ghosts?
Cyrus Kriticos is the uncle of the movie’s protagonist, Arthur Kriticos. He had lured his nephew to the haunted house with news of his fake demise in a bid to sacrifice said nephew in order to access and gain control of the Ocularis Infernum and by so doing, become the most powerful and influential man on earth.
Which 13 ghost is Pisces?
The Juggernaut exhibited all the classic signs of Pisceans who know they’re different but would rather not be treated that way and his behavior shows what happens when they are left to the darkest recesses of their overactive imagination. Pisces are people born from February 19 to March 20.
- The First Born Son – Billy Michaels
- The Torso – Jimmy “The Gambler” Gambino
- The Bound Woman – Susan LeGrow
- The Withered Lover – Jean Kriticos
- The Torn Prince – Royce Clayton
- The Angry Princess – Dana Newman
- The Pilgrimess – Isabella Smith
- The Great Child – Harold Shelburne
- The Dire Mother – Margaret Shelburne
- The Hammer – George Markeley
- The Jackal – Ryan Khun
- The Juggernaut – Horace “Breaker” Mahoney
- Dennis Rafkin – Dennis Rafkin
Is Thirteen Ghosts a true story?
No, it is not. Although the movie creators tried to weave in some elements of believability, including making the house look like the famous Winchester mansion, there is not enough evidence to support that assumption and the storyline is nothing like the actual Winchester story.
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From the Smithsonian Museums
Spend Halloween With Gruesome Ghosts
Celebrate the scary season with ghostly Japanese prints from the upcoming book “Staging the Supernatural”
National Museum of Asian Art
Ghost stories are deeply embedded in Japan’s culture; the country’s many stories are reinforced in the narratives of books, a ready source for plays in the kabuki theater and an inspiration for artists in the world of prints. As a collector of Japanese woodblock prints, I am fascinated by these stories that are, in some cases, centuries old yet never lost to time, instead being retold into the present day. I love matching an eighteenth- or nineteenth-century ukiyo-e print to a twentieth-century print to compare how these tales are reimagined in contemporary times. Once I purchased my first ghost print, collecting in this genre became addictive. The stories of murder, betrayal, greed, bravery, and revenge enacted in these prints are palpable, and favorites are told and retold time and again.
Who could not respond to the story of a faithful wife, Oiwa, poisoned by her husband so he can marry his rich neighbor? The poison causes her hair to fall out in clumps and her eye to swell and bulge until her husband ties her to a board and throws her in a river to die. One day when he returns to the river, both the board and Oiwa rise from the water, and from that day forward her ghost will haunt him as he moves from village to village, until he dies on Snake Mountain. The imagery of Oiwa holding clumps of her hair in her hand and of her bulging eye became iconic symbols used in the many graphic prints that tell her sad story. — Pearl Moskowitz
Staging the Supernatural: Ghosts and the Theater in Japanese Prints
Meet cat demons, skeletal ghosts, and the nine-tailed kitsune in this brilliant and beautifully illustrated volume of ghost imagery in traditional Japanese theater.
Bandō Mitsugorō III as the Maiden of Dōjōji
The performance depicted here is from a production of The Maiden of Dōjōji, Tie-dyed in the Capital (Kyōganoko musume Dōjōji) at the Nakamura theater in Edo, which opened in the 3rd month of 1816. The role of Kiyohime was played by Bandō Mitsugorō III (1775–1831), shown raising one part of the costume to reveal her demonic mask and wearing robes with a tessellating diamond pattern that suggests the scales of a serpent. Crouched under Mitsugorō’s left arm, a stagehand is ready to assist in the removal of costume elements. As a symbolic contrast to Kiyohime’s ferocious demonic form, the blooming cherry blossoms surrounding her are associated with young female beauty, thereby recalling her original human state and the body of the female pilgrim she has now possessed. Although the print version is static and cannot show the actor’s costume changes in action, this use of iconography is able to suggestively capture the different stages of transformation within a single image.
Asao Takumi I as Naosuke Gonbei, Ichikawa Sukejūrō I as Hamiya Iemon (R), and Onoe Kikugorō III as Satō Yomoshichi (L), with Oiwa’s disembodied head in the center
In this disturbing diptych, Oiwa’s disembodied head lies on the ground by her wicked husband, Iemon. Drawing his sword, Iemon stands upright between his associate, Naosuke Gonbei, on the right and Oiwa’s brother-in-law, Satō Yomoshichi, on the left. There are many variations of the Yotsuya kaidan story, with some scenes performed less often than others or certain techniques developed only for particular productions, and woodblock prints reflect this variety. In this rarely performed scene, Oiwa’s dismembered head has rolled out of a container—the blue spirit flame ( shinka ) rising from the top making it clear the head is supernaturally animated. There are multiple angles of conflict here—not only the tension between Iemon and Oiwa but also between Gonbei and Yomoshichi. Since the beginning of the play, Gonbei has been lusting after Oiwa’s sister, Osode, who is married to Yomoshichi. Iemon convinces Oiwa to remain with him so he can seek vengeance against her father’s murderer, and Osode agrees to divorce Yomoshichi and marry Gonbei for the same reason. (The sisters are unaware that the murderer is actually Iemon.) Gonbei’s villainous nature is indicated by the red makeup lining his eyes and his cowardly posture as he falls back from Oiwa’s reproachful glare. In contrast, Yomoshichi’s powerful stance and stylish clothing make him an appealing figure, and it is he who kills Iemon in the final act, with the help of supernatural assistance by Oiwa. In each performance of this play, the same actor plays both Yomoshichi and Oiwa, providing a multilayered tension between the characters. Onoe Kikugorō III was particularly renowned for his ability to perform multiple roles in the same production through rapid costume and makeup changes, which thrilled the audience. A dummy Oiwa head allowed both characters to appear onstage at the same time during this sequence. This print depicts a performance of Yotsuya kaidan that opened at the Wakadayū theater in Osaka in the 3rd month of 1831. In general, the Osaka style of kabuki is characterized as wagoto, or “gentle style,” in comparison to the aragoto , or “rough stuff,” manner in which Edo-style kabuki was performed. As a visual analogue, Osaka actor prints are comparatively less crowded with cartouches and compositional elements, and the artists paid more attention to depicting the actual physiognomies and emotional states of the actors rather than their stylized and overblown Edo equivalents. Devoid of extraneous elements, the deep black background makes this a relatively refined design, despite the gruesomeness of the scene.
Nakamura Fukusuke I as Iga no Kotarō Tomoyuki (R) and Nakamura Utaemon IV as the ghost of Iga Shikibunojō Mitsumune
The eerie sight of Iga Shikibunojō Mitsumune’s ghost looming over the shoulder of the younger man is made even more haunting by the knowledge that the actor playing the ghost, Nakamura Utaemon IV (1798–1852), had died two months prior to this print’s publication. His spectral status is clear from the muted colors used to render both his ghostly form and the shinka fame alongside his head. Black eye makeup is used for ghosts to make the actor’s eyes appear larger; in this case, it amplifies Utaemon’s exaggerated facial gesture of concentration made by crossing only one of his eyes, a talent that is highly valued among kabuki actors. He is performing a ritual hand movement used by magicians to cast spells. These gestures are also used in Buddhist iconography and would perhaps have been seen as another reminder that Utaemon had already entered the afterlife. As Utaemon was a major celebrity, his death would have been common knowledge among theater fans. The scene is from the play Record of Honorable and Benevolent Rulers ( Meiyo jinsei roku ), which opened at the Ichimura theater in Edo in the 7th month of 1852. It is a dramatized version of a very successful serialized novel by Kyokutei Bakin (1767–1848), The Story of Aoto Fujitsuna (Aoto Fujitsuna moryō-an) , published between 1811 and 1812 with illustrations by Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849). The novel is partially based on a real-life historical figure, a magistrate named Ōka Tadasuke (1677–1752) who was known for his fair judgments. But how could this play be performed if a star actor had died before the production began? In fact, Utaemon’s part was played by a voice imitator, known as a kowairozukai . Although this tradition has died out in the age of voice and video recording, the talent for imitating famous kabuki actors’ voices was greatly appreciated as a form of entertainment in the Edo period. There were professional imitators who could step in for actors who were ill or otherwise unable to perform or who could offer a glimpse of the theater to establishments outside the offcially licensed theaters. There were also commercial publications aimed at general readers in the genre of kowairo , or “voice mimicry,” instructional guides on how to imitate the voices of well-known kabuki actors. Furnished with such a book (and some practice), household members could entertain one another by recreating scenes they may have seen at the theater or in woodblock prints. In this case, the kowairozukai had an additional effect, with Utaemon’s voice seemingly speaking out from beyond the grave. The light dusting of glittering mica along the top of the print adds to the eerie otherworldliness of this performance.
Meet even more ghosts and demons this Halloween with Staging the Supernatural: Ghosts and the Theater in Japanese Prints (published by Smithsonian Books, available October 31). Visit Smithsonian Books’ website to learn more about its publications and a full list of titles.
Excerpt from Staging the Supernatural: Ghosts and the Theater in Japanese Prints © 2023 by Smithsonian Institution