13 Ghosts (1960)

13 Ghosts

I was having such an enjoyable non-Halloween movie watching day with 4 John Candy movies in a row. So relaxing, but horror calls and I answer. Today I watched the original 1960’s 13 Ghosts. I had not seen this William Castle movie, in several years and I could not reckon whether I enjoyed it or not. Well, I don’t love it, but it is not the worst horror film ever made. The move would be pretty good actually, if it were not for the gimmicky nature of the plot and the whole goggles thing to accompany the Illusion-O aspect of the film. What is Illusion-O you ask? In the theaters, scenes involving ghosts were shown in a “process” dubbed Illusion-O: the filmed elements of the actors and the sets — everything except the ghosts — were displayed in regular black-and-white, while the ghost elements were tinted a pale blue and superimposed over the frame. Audiences received viewers with red and blue cellophane filters. Choosing to look through the red filter intensified the images of the ghosts, while the blue filter “removed” them. Castle’s claims to the contrary, not many heart attacks or nervous breakdowns were averted by the Illusion-O process; although the blue filter did screen out the ghostly images, the ghosts were visible with the naked eye, without the red filter. They were far from horrifying: they were cartoonish drawings that had no animated movement and would just float — or not — around the frame. They were about as visible, and as frightening, as their depictions on the poster at the top of this article.

I am starting to feel like a factory worker with these movies, watching the film sort of like I am labeling a can of peas. It is an unforeseen consequence of this horrible experiment.

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Garry Vander Voort

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