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Thirteen Ghosts

Starring Tony Shalhoub, Embeth Davidtz, Matthew Lillard, Shannon Elizabeth, Rah Digga and F. Murray Abraham
Screenplay by Neal Marshall Stevens and Richard D'Ovidio
Story by Robb White; based on the 1960 movie
Directed by Steve Beck
website: www.13ghosts.com

IN SHORT: As Beautiful to look at as it is Awful to sit through. [Rated R for horror violence/ gore, nudity and some language. 94 minutes]

Once upon a time, when we were teenaged, a typical Saturday night would involve getting blotto and going to the movies. When you're blotto, even bad movies look good and truly awful movies can sometimes approach the level of Art. That pretty much sums up to almost total waste of time that is Thirteen Ghosts. The producers must remember their Days of Being Blotto, for they've thrown zillions of dollars of production values at the screen and paid their script writer about a buck thirty seven.

The scenery chewing starts at scene one, in which a legion of heavily armed men stalk "something lurking" in an auto junkyard. The psychic Rafkin (Matthew Lillard) screams in pain as he uses his powers to locate the subject. His boss Cyrus Kriticos (F. Murray Abraham), climbs a stack of crushed chassis to avoid the spray from the tanker truck filled with blood that is laying out a scent for his hounds. Bodies fly. Humans die in visually impressive ways and we cut to...

Poor widower math teacher Arthur Kriticos (Tony Shalhoub) has two kidlets (Shannon Elizabeth and Alec Roberts) and a smart mouthed nanny (Rah Digga) on the payroll. A knock at the door reveals a sharply dressed lawyer bearing the news of an inheritance from an uncle he barely knows. There's an architecturally impressive glass house and a fortune to go with it. And a guy from the Power Company who looks suspiciously like Mr. Rafkin. Well, someone has got to explain the story to us dumbos in the audience!

Once in the house, though, the lawyer grabs his fee from a bag in the basement, gives the finger to a whole bunch of captured spirits -- not friendly spirits. Murderers. Suicides. Victims. Nasty spirits -- and splits. A huge machine of some kind moves all the doors around and our family finds themselves trapped. No way out. No way in. Except for a psychic residue liberator, Kalina (Embeth Davidtz) who found some way in ("I'll explain it to you later") and knew of Cyrus' evil plans. She's come to free the ghosts from their cages and prevent the machine from opening the "Eye of Hell". The way to do that involves the suicide of one of our remaining stars.

OK, stop and think about the logic of this. You've got a dozen plus ghosts in the basement, murderous thugs all, and this ditz wants to let them go free??? AND kill the star? Gee, d'ya think? Tony Shalhoub has saved many lousy movies in his career. Not even all his powers can save this thing.

It's not a good thing when the scenery is more interesting to look at than the performances in the filmstory. Everybody overacts. The story can't decide whether it wants to be simply stupid or confusing as, um, hell. While a couple of the murders are unique to our screenwatching experience, only one is truly spectacular. There's not enough gore to keep even the most rabid kidlets happy.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Nine Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Thirteen Ghosts, he would have paid . . .

$2.00

'cuz as awful as this sucker is, and it is truly awful, it would be a great ride with another pair of killings . . . and if we had been totally Blotto.

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