13 Ghosts is one of William Castles more routine films and is usually quickly skimmed over by genre reviewers. Castle was a crude director and his work usually pedestrian and lacking in style. Many of his films were carried by their sheer chutzpah of Castles gimmickry or usual collaborator Robb Whites often inventive scripts. However, 13 Ghosts progresses in a dull and stolid way. The hauntings consist of routine and cheap double exposure effects or candles, biscuit tins and the like floating around on wires. One scene that momentarily generates some atmosphere is the seance. Certainly, Margaret Hamilton, twenty years earlier the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz (1939), has an effectively cold and austere presence as the maid.
Many of Robb Whites scripts raised haunted house themes but in the end transpired to only be mundane crime thrillers. Such is also the case here and it is something where Robb White, in turning the latter third of the film over to young Charles Herbert and his secret and the attempts to find the money hidden in the house, kills the atmosphere.
William Castles other films of genre note as producer-director are: as director of Crime Doctors Manhunt (1945), the sixth in a series of Columbia crime thrillers, of which Castle directed several, this featuring a forensicologist up against a split-personalitied killer; the psycho-thriller Macabre (1958); House on Haunted Hill (1959); the classic The Tingler (1959), probably Castles best film; the psycho-thriller Homicidal (1961); Mr. Sardonicus (1961) about a man with his face caught in a grotesque frozen smile; the juvenile comedy Zotz! (1962) about a magical coin; the remake of The Old Dark House (1963) for Hammer; the Grand Guignol psycho-thriller Strait-Jacket (1964) with Joan Crawford; The Night Walker (1965) a psycho-thriller about a dream lover; the prank phonecall psycho-thriller I Saw What You Did (1965); the psycho-thriller Lets Kill Uncle (1965); the ghost comedy The Spirit is Willing (1967); the reality-bending sf film Project X (1968); as producer of the classic occult film Rosemarys Baby (1968) for Roman Polanski; as producer of the anthology series Ghost Story (1972-3); Shanks (1974) with Marcel Marceau as a puppeteer who can resurrect the dead; and as producer of the firestarting insect film Bug! (1975).
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