William Castle definitely knew how to entertain his audience. Thirteen Ghosts introduced what he called "Illusion-O" which was a special pair of glasses that each audience member was given as they entered the theater. If they believe in ghosts they were supposed to look through the red part of the viewer. If they didn't believe in ghosts they were supposed to look through the blue part of the viewer. Corny? Yes. Effective? Absolutely. I didn't see it with the glasses, however, it's easy to imagine using them as the plot unfolds.
While Thirteen Ghosts is not William Castle's best effort, I think it works rather well. The plot is a classic haunted house story where the Zorba family inherits their uncle's house, only to discover that it is haunted. While the ghost effects are less than spectacular, the film is well acted which helps give the film a higher rating in my book. Donald Woods [True Grit] plays the quintessential early 1960's Dad and Rosemary DeCamp [Petticoat Junction, That Girl] fill in nicely as the Mom. Child star Charles Herbert [The Fly, The Donna Reed Show] is great as the "I see dead people" kid and Martin Milner [Adam-12, Emergency!, Swiss Family Robinson] is quite good as lawyer Ben Rush. Personally the star of the show is Margaret Hamilton [The evil witch in The Wizard of Oz] whose creepy character is a total rock star in every scene. Love it!
A gory remake of Castle's film was done in 2001 under the title of Thir13en Ghosts starring TV's Tony Shalhoub [Monk], Embeth Davitz [Army of Darkness] and Matthew Lillard [Scream]. It was panned by critics but I must admit that I liked it and consider it a worthy adaptation of the source material. It's hardly a masterpiece but there are some really great effects in it and it's far creepier and scarier than the original. See them both and decide for yourself.
RATING: Very Good.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.