Man things were bad for the horror genre pack in the dawn of the new millennium. Having FINALLY distanced itself from the slasher-a-minute trope started by Scream in 1996, and still some breathing room until the flux of Japanese remakes that’d plague the box office like a cursed video tape in a frat house, horror needed a new craze popularising. Many movie executives would have frowned at the idea of borrowing the entire plot from The Thirteen Ghosts of Scooby Doo and updating it for a teen audience, calling it foolish and unlikely to reinvent the haunted house genre, and they were right. Thir13en Ghosts (does my spellchecker love this title) took every used, worn, predictable character made possible by Screams’ meta-humour and polished them to perfection, and dropped them into a story so contradictory the Riddler himself armed with a hole-punch couldn’t have riddled the plot with more holes. Not only that but the film wasn’t scary; over-reliant on quick cuts and sudden-jump sound effects rather than running with the idea that A GLASS HOUSE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WOODS FILLED WITH THE GHOSTS OF PSYCHOPATHS COULD BE USED FOR INSTILLING TERROR IN VIEWERS. Up yours Microsoft spelling & grammar, this is Thir13en Ghosts.
Part 1: A Lifetime Supply of Ghosts
We open in a car scrap yard where a man in a cape called Cyrus, played by F. Murray Abraham channelling Vincent Price, has come to unwind after a hard day entertaining small children with magic tricks (presumably).
He’s tracked down the last of his 12 ghosts with the help of a psychic, or ghost-whisperer, called Denis, played by Matthew Lillard, desperately trying to fulfil his 3 ghost-movie picture deal with Warner Brothers so he doesn’t have to return for Scooby Doo 3: Hey Gang ,Let’s Just Arrest the Creepy Racist Janitor. The phantom they are hunting is a rather nasty blighter named The Breaker, a 9ft tall kill-a-majig with many a kill under his belt, impressively having racked up over 40 victims despite the handicap of being dead. How does one catch a ghost? Simple, spray enough blood around to kill a thousand people in need of a transfusion (hospitals are always willing to empty their blood banks to a man who looks as big a magician as Cyrus here), then trap it in a glass box….because ghosts are made of acidic Xenomorph juice, apparently – I didn’t see Ghostbusters so I’m not too sure on how accurate the science is here. Mistrustful of Cyrus’ true intention for his “13 ghosts” (because a man who has no more than 12 murderous spooks is an upstanding citizen), Denis sneaks a peak inside his head using his psychic powers acquired through borrowing a cliché from all Japanese supernatural horror films. What he finds confuses him:
Two interlopers called Kalina and Soon-To-Die are caught and dragged over; turns out they are ghost rights’ activists who are once more picketing over Cyrus’ “mistreatment” of the dead. That’s right, THE MURDEROUSLY ACTIVE SOULS OF DECEASED SERIAL KILLERS HAVE A CAMPAIGN GROUP FOR THEIR CIVIL RIGHTS. Do these two release paedophiles into school districts for a day job!? This ghost’s name is The Breaker and he’s killed like 40 people despite being dead! – this phantasm doesn’t need protection, he needs to be hovered up, frozen then blasted into the sun ‘ya damn tree-huggers! To prove a point, The Breaker (or Betsy the Cuddler to some) indulges in a modest rampage through Cyrus’ men, eventually finding himself ensnared in the box which is infused with magic words. Mission successful, with an added benefit of the one ghost-hugger having been killed by the innocent and totally harmless behemoth. There is a slight drawback in Cyrus having also died during the foray, which means everyone gets the weekend off \o/ albeit rendering the last 11 hunts totally redundant. The cape was a red herring – Cyrus is not an invincible super hero OR all powerful warlock <:O
Intrigue hooked as we are now, we get to the part of the film about psycho ghosts and haunted houses we paid to see: dysfunctional family matters. In order to rush through the characterisation as fast as possible all of this is done off-screen; killing the wife in a fire before the story begins, the Signs approach to forcing audiences to give a crap about under-developed, emotionally stunted characters. A year after his wife became so much charcoal, Arthur is struggling to bring up his kids Bobby and that staple of late 90s/early 2000s hormonal lust Shannon Elizabeth (or ‘the hot naked boobs from American Pie’). Not that Arthur is a stranger to TV fame himself, as no doubt everyone recognises him as Dr. Banton from X-Files season 2 ‘Soft Light’. Oh and apparently he had some stint on a seldom seen detective show.
Directing 101, if the characters aren’t engaging to begin with, don’t try and make us sympathise with the following personality types.
|Arthur||Widower Father||Dull math teacher struggling to support a family of 3 and a freeloading maid. Sympathetic were not for 3 persistent traits; explosive anger outbursts, being so, so dull, and never failing to see an opportunity to complain about his financial situation or dead wife.|
|Shannon||Daughter/Sex Symbol||Stand-in Mother character. Aside from boobs and a smile that could warm Jack Torrance’s heart, she can rank herself the most annoying scream queen since Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s Marilyn Burns.|
|Bobby||Pre-teen Son||Remarkably chirpy for a kid who lost his mother recently under fucking horrific circumstances; dressed in a skeleton shirt and reading newspaper reports on car crashes, the kid is a death worshiping trauma junkie. Probability of him starting the Mother killing fire: 99% (+/- 1% margin of error).|
|Maggie||Sassy Maid||A throwback to the jive-talkin’ days of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Usually found delivering lines that’d make Spike Lee vomit in rage. Winner of ‘Most Needlessly Crow Barred in Token Ethnic Character’ award, 2003.|
What kind of skin-flint couldn’t take to this quirky rosta of characters after…let’s check the runtime…..100 MINUTES!?
A slimy lawyer representing Cyrus arrives to inform them of their uncles’ fate via a video will & testament.
Slimy Lawyer: Your creepy uncle is dead. He has bequeathed his entire estate to you. There is, however, a catch: you must stay in your new luxury, top-of-the-range luxury mansion for a whole night!
Arthur: Anything but that!!! D:
Slimy Lawyer: Bills and maintenance are taken care of, you’ll want for nothing ever again.
Arthur: Want for nothing except for the love of my dead wife. My dead, dead wife.
Bobby: She burnt alive in a house fire. You may not be able to tell by my smiles and comfort with the subject, but I’m pretty traumatised by it. Certainly this is no indication that I started the blaze…..
Shannon: No need to explain the narrative to him, if he wasn’t paying attention to the title sequence that’s his problem.
Maggie: Where is this house?
Slimy Lawyer: Wait, who are you exactly? Anyway it’s a few hours drive away. We can go now if you’d like.
IRONIC STATEMENT IN 3…2…1…
Arthur: Well….I was planning on wallowing in grief for the evening, but I guess this could be a way to take my mind of death and loosing a loved one.
They aren’t the only ones on their way to the house – Kalina packs up her arcane belongings and heads out to infiltrate Cyrus’ legacy.
The house is a marvel; a construct of nothing but glass walls and copper frames, located in the heart of a forest it’s also bird crap central, so good luck finding time enough to scrape it down daily. Denis is waiting for them, disguised as an electrician with a story about their house having blown out the power a few blocks over. Once the door is unlocks a grand tower of cogs churns lethargically to life somewhere in the depths of the house. The cast run around the labyrinthine construct in a disorganised fashion while Arthur moans about life to anyone he can snag the ear of.
Bobby: Dad check out all these cool toys!
Arthur: Your mother’s dead 😦
Shannon: Holy…have you seen the size of these bathrooms? 😀
Arthur: She’s still dead 😦
Maggie: Whoa, when you look through these glasses laying around everywhere you can see weird words and symbols all over the walls.
Arthur: Can they bring back my dead wife? 😦
Denis: So I’m gonna go down to the basement to check the circuit breakers and try to find your uncles lost fortunes.
Arthur: Hi, it’s Denis right. Nice to meet you. Did you know my wife is dead? 😦
To be fair Arthur isn’t all about moaning, he also tries to stop people having fun of any kind. While he’s distracted going over the paperwork with Slimy Lawyer, the family (for some reason this includes Maggie) run around and alone, marvelling at the intricate moving parts, such as the 13 ringed spinning floor in the centre of the central hall.
Denis trundles down to the basement in search of the money owed him by Cyrus, discovering the ghosts are being kept prisoner. None look to happy to see him again after the part he played in their imprisonment, including the recently kidnapped Breaker. Wait, you mean after Cyrus died his team still brought the ghost of The Breaker back to his mansion? Why, in Scooby’s name? Do they not think that, erm gee, PROOF OF THE AFTERLIFE is worthy of public knowledge, maybe deserving a closer examination at a museum? They don’t even sell their story to the press even though judging by the reactions towards the spooks so far this is definitely a world where ghosts are not a commonly accepted thing! C’mon henchmen, did not one of you think of saying “Just in case you were interested, we know this house filled with definitive proof of the existence of God and thus the dismissal of science as nothing more than mysticism. That’ll be $8M please.” MORONS! IMBECILES! DUMB ASSES! Denis freaks, never suspecting Cyrus would be crazy enough to keep poltergeists in his house, because that’s even crazier than wanting to hunt maniac spectres dressed as a wizard for some reason.
Denis: Zoiks, like Mister, you’re not going to believe this but there are spectres in your house!
Arthur: I have no idea what that might be.
Denis: Spectres? Wraiths? Poltergeists? Spooks? Banshees? Ectoplasmic entities?….Anything?
Arthur shakes his head apologetically.
Denis: You’re kidding me? Ghosts? Disgruntled spirits of the dead – Patrick Swayze!
Arthur: Ooooh, I see….my wife is dead 😦
Denis: DAMN IT WILL YOU SHUT UP! We have got to get your kids out of here! I don’t know what Cyrus is planning with a year’s supply of ghosts in his wine cellar but I am not sticking around to find out.
While Denis distracts Arthur, the Slimy Lawyer, ears bleeding from spending 10 suicide inducing minutes in Arthur’s company, sneaks away into the heart of the ghastly prison, taunting the DEAD PSYCHOS (cannot stress that point hard enough) as he goes until he finds the briefcase of money Denis mentioned. In an unfortunate turn of events, greed is bad as the money case is rigged to trigger the machine which begins to change the house, locking the entrance and causing the walls to move. Three of the ghost cages open and the dead are free to stalk the house, namely;
|The Angry Princess||Boobed Knife Girl||Threat level: How could anything with tits be dangerous?Philosophy: Knife to see you, to see you knife.Noticeable attributes: As free of clothes as she is of life.|
|The Bound Woman||Noose Neck||Threat level: Could kill you with both hands tied behind her back.Philosophy: I get choked up at family reunions.Noticeable attributes: More trustworthy than a loving mother.|
|The Withered Lover||Arthur’s Dead Wife||Threat level: Ha, only when her daughter turns 30 and still isn’t married to a rich lawyer-doctor.Philosophy: Death has freed me of my manic depressive husband.Noticeable attributes: Less trustworthy than a psychotic ghost.|
Okay on paper these don’t sound very scary, but can you imagine how terrifying it must be for the characters being stalked by a hot naked model, a girl bound completely with rope with no free arms, and the loving spirit of your dead wife/mother? With each freed ghost the central machine spins faster and the house morphing increases .Regretting heckling the knife-wielding boobed spirit as she bares down on him, the Lawyer is killed when the house changes again and he is split in two – yeah, not only are the ghosts on display as threatening as Casper, the doors are now proven to be a bigger threat. Good job scripting team. Naked Girl stalks up to Shannon’s room and prepares to stab her up as she unknowingly fingers her in the bath, when Arthur arrives to ruins a good thing to inform Shannon they are leaving immediately. Bobby isn’t exactly the sharpest kid, believing the choked cries from the basement are Maggie’s idea of a prank, even though he is wearing the glasses and a girl hanging by her throat keeps flashing in the semi-darkness. An unseen woman who sounds uncannily similar to his mother warns him not to go, but who are you going to trust in this situation; insane giggling stranger, or the pleas of your mother? So he goes in, gets scared by the noose woman and runs off into the underground maze, meeting ghost #5:
|The Torso||The head, arms and legs with no-body to be with||Threat level: Mostly [h]armless.Philosophy: Being a Hollywood extra will cost you an arm and a leg.Noticeable attributes: Moves about as fast as a glacier in a global ice age|
Reunited with Maggie, Arthur discovers the doors are locked. Breaking a flimsy chair has little effect on the plate glass either. Denis sits by the entrance, a broken man, in a suit he was wearing beneath his disguise, contrary to his plan of “not sticking around”.
Denis: It won’t do any good. The house is locked down and the ghosts are out.
Maggie: Weren’t you wearing a jump suit?
Shannon:…..You did just hear him say we’re locked in a haunted house right?
Maggie: Guurl, it’s the early new millennium; only white folk die in horror movies these days. Don’t matter to me if there are goobers floatin’ around scaring all y’all, I can just sit it out and ask people about their outfits till the credits roll.
Arthur: What if I tried breaking the glass with something harder than kindling?
Denis: You think us mere mortals have a chance of breaking something as strong as glass? Also the glass is magic – keeps out the ghosts.
Arthur: Let’s just grab Bobby and leave. Maggie, where’d you leave my son?
Magie: Urm, I lost him.
And this brings me to my biggest grip with the movie: just what the hell is Maggie payed for? She doesn’t cook because Shannon does that, she didn’t drive them up to the house, she stated she doesn’t clean (ESPECIALLY windows), and she doesn’t watch out for Bobby, going as far as loosing the kid in a building with TRANSPARANT WALLS! What does she contribute?!?! Arthur is either being played like a chump or….there is ‘or’, he’s 100% chump. The hunt for an exit will have to wait until they find Bobby, a child who natural selection has deemed worthy of being poltergeist food. As all of this has been going on several other ghosts have been freed of their cages – we’ll find out which ones later.
Maggie: So how come I can’t see any ghosts?
Denis: You have to be wearing these glow glasses.
Shannon: Wow, glasses that let the wearer see the dead. Cyrus must have made a fortune off them.
Denis: Actually, he never patented them. He was too busy building a machine designed by the devil and powered by ghosts in order to become rich.
Arthur: How would the Satan machine make him richer than patenting ghost-seeing glasses?
Denis: His book of spells didn’t specify. Now most of the ghosts will be in the basement, so it’s best we stay out of the basement.
Arthur: Gotcha. Now let’s go check out look for Bobby in the basement.
Part 2: Trapped in a Glass Cage of Emotion
Denis explains that the ghosts can’t walk through the walls because they are inscribed with runes; ghosts are bound by the laws of magic, which goes some way to explaining why Cyrus chose to dress like he was performing at vaudeville. The Scooby Gang proceed down into the basement that won the 2001 award for ‘Least Safe Room Outside an Abattoir’. Maggie bitches and whines about not being able to see any ghosts, so to shut her up he gives her his all-seeing spooktacles – this fails to cease her prattling as there are no ghosts to see. Denis realises that the cage doors in this section are open (that he needed someone to inform him that they can’t see invisible people with their PHYSICS DEFYING glasses, rather than just looking at THE OPEN CAGE DOORS does not fill me with confidence in his abilities).
Denis: Remember those ghosts I mentioned?
Arthur: Nope, too busy dwelling on my own misery.
Denis: Regardless, they got free. The safest thing to do right now would be to go back upstairs and leave your son to God’s mercy.
Arthur: Okay people you heard the man; split into two teams: Denis you’re with Maggie, Shannon’s with me.
Shannon/Denis: Please don’t leave me alone with him/her!
This decision is primarily an excuse for the plot to be split into two manageable chunks; One drops exposition like a crucified man drops a handful of marbles, while the other gets all the action sequences to show us why we should fffear the ghosts – and with some of these designs an explanation is defiantly needed. Denis exposits about the ghosts and sews the seeds of what mystery plan Cyrus was concocting, all the while giving us far too brief cameos from most of the free roaming ghoulies, including new fleeting appearances by:
|The Dire Mother||The last Munchkin||Threat Level: More likely to smother her son to death before proving a danger to anyone else.Philosophy: A good mother knows never to stop breast feeding. Ever.Noticeable attributes: Can push an overweight, 6’2” man-child out of her 3’5” vagina.|
|The Great Child||Matt Lucas||Threat Level: This guy has mother-issues with issues. Oh, and a fire axe. As safe and stable as an origami fireman’s ladder.Philosophy: I love my mommy, and one day I’ll love her to death.Noticeable attributes: One weakness: kill his mother and he’ll owe you a life debt of gratitude.|
|The First Born Son||You’ve got to be joking||Threat Level: Couldn’t give Casper bad dreams.Philosophy: Maybe smiling more cutely will inspire fear…Noticeable attributes: Has uncanny knack to look even less threatening than the sexy naked ghost, even though armed with a tomahawk in hand and an arrow embedded in his face.|
Elsewhere Shannon is providing the vital damsel in distress role as she is attacked by “the zodiac of Hell’s winter”: the Jackal.
|Jackal||The that guy of the group – you know, the one who always goes that bit too far in every respect.||Threat Level: A danger to clothes, but most likely to Daffy Duck himself into another early grave.Philosophy: Patch Adams taught to laugh away my mental health problems. Psychosis taught me to overcome my traumatising memories of Patch Adams.Noticeable Attributes: Aside from having a cage over his head and claws (claws!)? What he lacks in sanity and social graces he makes up for in batshit insanity and a propensity for violence. Fun guy.|
Be prepared to see a lot of this grinning face because he’s in this movie so frequently from here on out I’m thinking he was the only ghost who slept with the director. He drags Shannon away from Arthur’s bitter ramblings, and Arthur himself who is but a mere avatar for his bitterness, much to her gratitude, proceeding to shred her face and clothes. Thus audiences worldwide become reaquainted with Boobs, the talent behind…er in front of Miss Elizabeth.
It’s no contest against American Pie, but it’s certainly enhanced the enjoyment factor by a measurable amount.
Out of the plot’s arse comes Kalina and her anti-spectre flares to save Shannon from another of Arthur’s monologues and presumably the flesh-rending attacks of Jackal.
Arthur: Geez, that was a close one. Are you okay honey?
Arthur: That’s my girl. And who the heck are you, miss?
Kalina: I’m a spectral rights activist here to free the defenceless spirits your uncle has cooped up in his basement.
Arthur: Yet you brought anti-ghost weapons. How does that fit in with your die and let dead policy?
Kalina: I’m complex that way 😀
They hide from another territorial dispute with yet another pissed off (Read: defenceless) ghost, the Pilgrimess, in one of Cyrus’ libraries. Maybe they’ll find a shred of Kalina’s credibility in there. They really seem to be pushing the boundaries of plausibility on how dangerous these ghosts are come this latest arrival:
|The Pilgrimess||The old woman with her head and arms trapped in stocks||Threat Level: As intimidating as…well, an old woman with her head and arms trapped in a plank of wood.Philosophy: At least I might re-die with dignity this time.Noticeable Attributes: Is considered a threat despite having no teeth, hands or turning capabilities, and the speed of a motion-sick snail riding a crippled tortoise. That’s pretty remarkable going, unless Kalina is simply a gerontophobe.|
Still an unbeliever despite moments ago witnessing his daughter performing a flying strip tease of her skin, Kalina thrusts the spooktacles onto Arthur, allowing him to see the ghosts. Suddenly he realises Shannon has disappeared from a locked room with see-through walls, and although he’s now got concrete proof that 1) the house is filled with ghosts, and 2) they are at ease with violently dismembering them all, he chooses to stay and listen to what Kalina has to say rather than save his dwindling family members.
Kalina: As luck would have it, this ancient tomb I brought along holds the secrets to this house.
Arthur: Why do you have a copy?
Kalina: ‘Copy’? This is the one and only.
Arthur: Then why do you have it, not my late uncle?
Arthur: And how did you get in here without anybody seeing you? Even if you did get by the front door, this place is transparent.
Kalina: Says the man who can’t find a kid in a greenhouse. You want an explanation or not? So Cyrus was following the 15th century instructions in this book of a machine designed by a man possessed by Satan; using the souls of 13 specific ghosts it allows the user can see past and future simultaneously, making him the most powerful man on earth.
Arthur: and the Devil would want this machine because…?
Kalina: Because he knew it’d curse the world with a crappy movie at some point.
Cyrus was to gain this power to become an all seeing God. He captured the 12 ghosts of the Black Zodiac needed to complete the device, but there is a failsafe in the 13th ghost: the loving sacrifice – y’see where this is going. Do you recon somewhere in the house is an empty case with a sign ‘CONTAINS ONE LOVING SACRIFICE: IN CASE OF GHOST POWERED SATAN MACHINE MALFUNCTION, BREAK GLASS ’? Kalina informs Arthur that he has to throw himself into the machine in order to stop it and save his kids, EVEN THOUGH right at the beginning of the film Kalina’s partner said Cyrus needed the 13th ghost to complete his scheme. Is this movie hoping we forget integral conversations from earlier so it can try and shock us with an inevitable betrayal and ham-fisted twist, or is the script that lazy even the writers couldn’t be arsed to do a second draft? They reunite upstairs with Maggie and Denis, who is justifiably suspicious of Kalina’s sudden appearance, like there isn’t enough to be suspicious about what with ghosts and her bewildering reversal on what the 13th ghost is for. They too had no luck finding Bobby, but hey at least they didn’t loose one of their search party. This was perhaps the worst rescue attempts since Dr Johnson defined the word ‘fail; in search of the one kid they lost the other but managed to pick up a complete stranger. Still 4 went in and 4 came out so why not call it a win and…
Arthur: We’re going back down to find my kids.
They split once more into two teams, only this time the presence of Kalina means that both can have a member whose reason is outspoken by their NOT ghost expert team mate; Denis with Arthur, Maggie with Kalina. Oh and Kalina tells Arthur that Denis ghostnapped his wifes’ soul and made her company to this evil plot. Arthur punches Denis then sort of gets over this dick move. Team XY go in search of the kids in (you guessed it) the paranormally thriving basement, while Team XX try and find a way of stopping the machine and allowing them to escape. Congratulations movie, you have rending the last 40 minutes runtime redundant.
Part 3: Building a Better House Trap
Like some sort of reverse Borg network, Arthur actually seems to be getting smarter as he looses contact with his kids, bringing one of the ghost-glass doors along as a shield as he and Denis return once again to the basement. Where’s the harm, it’s not like he has one left to loose this third round. The final barrage of ubber-pissed ghosts await them now, the house having saved the most dangerous till last:
|The Torn Prince||Harvey Dent, the baseball years||Threat Level: If a human with a baseball bat could kill a super advanced alien in Signs, imagine how dangerous this supernatural fucker is.Philosophy: Swing awayNoticeable Attributes: A delicious blend of charred flesh on the one side, and damp and rotted on the other – sort of like Two Face, if played by Swamp Thing.|
|The Hammer||Cenobite Candy Man 2001||Threat Level: Every square inch of this ghost has several ways to kill you horribly.Philosophy: (Insert M.C.Hammer Joke here)Noticeable Attributes: Looks like the illegitimate love child of Candy Man and Hellraiser’s Pinhead. Plus his wanking hand has been replaced by a sledge hammer – no wonder he’s so angry.|
They press on regardless as armed spooks wail on the glass to no avail, unless making the mortals shit their pants was on their too do list.
Maggie and Kalina reach the engine of death, which despite being a story high and looking like this:
Has until now gone unnoticed in a house that looks like this:
Chances of finding the kids with observational skills like this are slim – I’m not even sure these people could find a wig in a William Shattner flick! Kalina busies herself with the machine and Maggie is confronted with the blood-crusted ghost of Cyrus. Or is it? She removes the glasses and still he remains like a malevolent stage magician. Before Maggie can say something contrite along the lines of “how comes I can see him with out the glasses”, Kalina mercifully brains her with the Necronomicon and revels her true colours as a mole for Cyrus, ensuring things go according to plan inside the house by exposing his plan and separating the group, all so Arthur will kill himself to save his kids, become the 13th ghost, yadda yadda.
Cyrus: Excellent work Kalina, you did everything I asked. Oh apart from knock out that dreadfully annoying woman 3 hours ago.
Kalina: But I did murder my ghost hugging partner back in the junk yard – remember how big a threat he could have been if he had more than 2 lines in the film?
Cyrus: Come then, let’s away. The faster we do this the sooner I can change clothes and wash this clotted chicken blood from my neck – it’s been a week since I last wore fresh underwear.
Kalina: Is it safe to leave Maggie here, you know, around all the priceless and delicate machinery?
Cyrus: Hmmm, how hard did you hit her?
Kalina: Oh quite hard I think.
Cyrus: Excellent. The odds of anyone waking up after a mild blow to the head within the next few minutes are less probable than that of my Devil designed ghost time machine working. Muhahaha!
So….why did Cyrus need to fake his death in the first place? Monk said he’d barely spoken to the guy his whole life and the kids didn’t even know they had an uncle, so why go to such extreme lengths? Funerals, death certificates, his will & testament – all things that take up valuable time and will need to be explained to government officials when he becomes supreme overlord of earth. Why not instead have a video to say “To my nephew, sorry your wife is dead so why not come visit my summer place and take a break?” It’d be so much less convoluted; he could have sent Denis away at the door, kept the family from realising what was going on around them, talked Arthur into becoming the 13th ghost rather than leaving it to Kalina and chance, AND have gotton a fresh change of clothes because he must have been wearing the same gear for nigh on a week by now.
Back with the rescue party (*smirk*) things are predictably going as flawlessly as a barefoot Parkinson’s sufferer left in charge of the nitro-glycerine in a dark room littered with Lego pieces. They’ve been backed into a corner by The Hammer, and while this is adequate protecting there is only enough room for one. Having prophesised his own death earlier Denis knows he must distract the ghosts so Arthur can save his kids to make up for imprisoning his deceased wife in this carnival of horrors. In the blue corner, weighing in at 90 pounds 4 ounces: Denis the Dweeb! And over in the red corner, with over 30 victims staining his hammer hand and a punch like a freight train, weighing 400 pounds of pure spectral muscle and iron, and 9 ounces of mercy: The Hammer! Denis gets ten bells smashed out of him and then reinserted just to be knocked out again, as happens when your lone upper hand is foreknowledge of your painful death against a Blacksploitation Pinhead. Luckily things get a little better for Denis, because Hammer backs off to allow things to get far worse; Juggernaut is out and looking for the guy who locked him up.
|The Juggernaut||Your day could not possibly get any worse from here||Threat Level: Once punched Death in the face. Then raped him.Philosophy: Revenge is a dish best served with a broken spine.Noticeable attributes: Good at origami, although his cranes do tend to end up looking more like a guy with his head up his own ass. Prefers to use spinal columns in place of more traditional paper. Great at children’s parties|
His vision comes to pass and Arthur is forced to watch Denis get knightfalled.
Kalina plays an arcane speech over the loud speakers as the time of alignment comes and all the ghosts are called to the central hall for the ceremony to begin. Cyrus then squashes her between a moving wall simply because he is a bastard man. Alone, Arthur gathers his courage and runs after the ghosts, taking Denis’ spooktacles with him; even having witnessed how temperamental the dead can get he’s still willing to steal from them. Pure class, this guy. The floor in the hall is spinning and flipping into a strange but lethal clock-thing, and the kids are bound in the middle. He notices Cyrus observing him and after counting down the ghosts for those not keeping track it dawns on him that Cyrus isn’t among the undead – y’know, instead of just looking at him without the glasses. He charges the old man, only to get the beating, not that he wanted, but that he needed. Sure Arthur was emotionally manipulated and a few people died, but Cyrus makes a good point about his drive, dedication and passion in following out his dreams, compared to Arthur’s steeling for mediocrity and constant self-pitying, that make it hard not to side with the prick. He tells Arthur he will spare his children if he dies for them. After all, if you can’t trust the word of a mad man who lied about his own death and built a psychotic ghost trap to power a device of Satan then who can you trust?
Abruptly everything goes wrong, fore Maggie has awoken from her all too brief coma and is (sigh) DJ mixing the archaic sound reels, fudging up the ritual and freeing the ghosts from their trance and allowing them to get revenge by throwing Cyrus into the whirling blades (don’t worry, if the kids aren’t already mentally damaged for life by this point, being showered with the entrails of their uncle won’t break them). Denis appears in Casper form.
Denis the Friendly Ghost: It ain’t over yet Arthur. Go to your kids.
Arthur: Why, the machine is stopping of its own accord.
Denis: Yeah but how will they know you love them if you don’t risk diving through viciously fast razor blades to hug them before it stops? Anyone could just wait till its safe.
Arthur: This is because I stole your glasses isn’t it?
He makes the leap of faith/suicide run and hugs his kids as the house kerplodes and the ghosts – who as you may remember were all mass murderers before and even more so after death – run free with a cheer. This is played out like a victory for the audience, but it was only the ghost cages of Cyrus that kept these lethal things off the streets and upping their body counts, so how is this a happy ending!? Dead Wife comes to comfort her family now looking like herself before the fire (that decision would have been more comforting for Bobby earlier when you were trying to win him over, stoopid!), telling them she loves them and disappearing to leave her loved ones to a life of debt, poverty and deep psychological damage a lifetime of psychiatry bills won’t even begin to heal.
And they all lived happily ever after. Apart from Denis who died and got grave-robbed. And the lawyer, who was killed by a door. And Kalina who was murdered by the man she loved. And Cyrus who was foiled by his own petard. And the protagonists who are now homeless and mentally scarred. Oh and the future victims of the 11 angry ghosts, but the violent poltergeists are free to murder again, so that’s sort of a win. Plus Maggie survived…this film sucks!