13 Ghosts (1960)

13 ghosts poster 1960 movie william castle
6.5 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 6/10

Some fun moments

Rather cheap

Movie Info

Movie Name:  13 Ghosts

Studio:  William Castle Productions

Genre(s):  Horror/Mystery/Suspense/B-Movie

Release Date(s):  July 10, 1960

MPAA Rating: Movie Rating

13 ghosts margaret hamilton witch charles herbert

Um….lady, quit staring at me

Cyrus Zorba (Donald Woods) has just struck it big.  He and his wife Hilda (Rosemary DeCamp), his daughter Medea (Jo Morrow), and his son Buck (Charles Herbert) have inherited a home from his uncle Dr. Plato Zorba…but unfortunately, the home comes with some catches.  The house is haunted by thirteen ghosts that Zorba caught over his years of experimenting and the ghosts can only be seen through goggles invented by Plato.  A Ouija board reading indicates that the ghosts want to harm Cyrus’ family, but the offer of a free home could be too great to pass up…but are the ghosts the danger?

Directed by William Castle, 13 Ghosts is a horror mystery.  The low budget film promoted Illusion-O vision which provided viewers with special glasses to see the ghosts.  The film was often double-billed with The Electric Monster (1958) or Japanese sci-fi film Battle in Outer Space (1959).

13 ghosts monster martin milner

Hey…I’m a solid ghost!

William Castle filled a niche.  His movies were often cheesy but almost acknowledged that they were popcorn movies that were often gimmick driven.  13 Ghosts is no exception, but the film and the story itself does have its moments.

The movie is a basic haunting story wrapped in a mystery.  The ghosts appear menacing, but actually turn out to be the “good guys” (even if they scarred the father with “13” for no apparent reason).  The mystery builds with the obvious reveal that the overeager Benjamin Rush (Martin Milner) is the villain, but I did kind of expect The Wizard of Oz’s Margaret Hamilton to be working with him.

The cast is rather generic but feature prolific child actor Charles Herbert as Buck.  Herbert is a cautionary tale in Hollywood of what happens when child actors stop being child actors and the roles dry up but here he is at the peak of his game.  Adam-12 star Martin Milner plays the heavy and Jo Morrow plays the daughter.  The film also features Margaret Hamilton and multiple jokes and nods are given to her role in The Wizard of Oz in a very tongue-in-cheek way.

13 ghosts lion tamer ghost

So is the lion one of the ghosts?

The Illusion-O vision is rather cheesy.  Despite having special glasses that allowed you to see the ghosts, they were visible without them to audiences.  The quality of the film is different during these scenes and that hurts the movie a little (but Castle didn’t expect it to be available for home purchase decades later).

13 Ghosts is a fun little film that is short and to the point.  It is better than a lot of the ultra-cheap public domain films, but it still has that vibe at points.  I actually expected a little more comedy going into the film, but the movie actually has a bit more horror than I expected.  13 Ghosts was remade in 2001.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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