Schlockmeister William Castle’s “13 Ghosts” is one of his classic horror films of the late 1950s/early 1960s. Castle was known, at least during this time, for gimmicks – the gimmick for this movie was special glasses to see the ghosts.
Absent-minded paleontologist Cyrus Zorba (Donald Woods), not to be confused with the Dr. Zorba played by Sam Jaffe on the Ben Casey TV show, inherits his eccentric uncle’s house. His uncle Plato Zorba collected ghosts. 11 ghosts, including a killer Italian chef, a headless lion tamer and his lion that for some reason is split in half, a few flaming ghosts, and, for ghost #12, the late Plato Zorba.
Uncle Plato (apparently suffocated in a canopy bed) was discovered by his housekeeper Elaine Zacharides, played by the late, great Margaret Hamilton (best known as the Wicked Witch of the West in “The Wizard of Oz”. Before Uncle Plato died, he converted everything he owned into cash and hid it in the house. His attorney, Ben Rush (Martin Milner) knows that there is a substantial amount of money, but he doesn’t know where it is.
There are a few interesting things to ratchet up the scare factor – Ouija board that tells the Zorbas and Ben that one of them will be harmed, different ghosts causing objects to float in the air, these weird specs that light up inside the frames, a creepy housekeeper, a séance, and a hidden stash of cash.
Filmed in “Illusion-O”. It’s not a great film and by no stretch of the imagination is this on the same level as many other films from 1960, like “Spartacus”, “The Apartment”, or even “The Bellboy, but it definitely has its place in history.