13 Ghosts (1960)

13 Ghosts (1960), produced and directed by William Castle.

A lovable family inherits a haunted house. It is extra-haunted: the previous owner collected ghosts of people who had died by violence (and a ghost lion) and invented special goggles allowing the wearer to see them in all their ghastliness.

This naturally suggested Castle's inspired gimmick: "Illusion-O". Audience members could choose whether or not to see the ghosts by looking through one color filter or another. The home video versions have all been the "with ghosts" version.

When I was young I was confidently assured this was the film to stop your heart, which makes my friends sound like William Castle wearing his marketing hat. I remembered just bits of it from late night TV. The idea of unseen entities all around you is undeniably unsettling. To look, or not to?

Teen daughter Jo Morrow was last seen in Our Man in Havana (1959) and her kid brother Charles Herbert had a close encounter with The Fly (1958). They call spooky housekeeper Margaret Hamilton "the Witch", perhaps not without reason. She was, of course, the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz (1939).

Thirteen Ghosts (2001) is an unloved remake.

Available on Blu-ray from Mill Creek. The company is not known for video excellence but this one has a pretty good image.

On the same disc is 13 Frightened Girls (1963), also by Castle, in color and quite good looking. It is a light "the trouble with diplomats daughters" young adult adventure, like something Disney would do.