Thirteen Ghosts may be derided by critics, but it's adored by horror fans. It may be something to do with its great effects, a striking set, its own mythology, and amazing prosthetics, as well as a delightfully campy script and Matthew Lillard twanging around like a gibbon on speed.
Here's a reminder of the hugely enjoyable Thirteen Ghosts.
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1. House on Haunted Hill
- Similarities: Almost everything!
- Tagline: Six strangers have the chance to make $1,000,000 EACH. All they have to do is make it through the night alive.
This really is the closest you're going to get: same production company, writer, original director AND even same box office takings! The plot is similar too: a gaggle of innocents in a creepy, deserted property fight for survival against a bunch of disgruntled ghosts. Great fun.
2. House of Wax
- Similarities: Same era, campy, remake
- Tagline: The flesh is weak. Wax is forever.
A group of attractive youngsters (including Paris Hilton) fall foul of a maniacal waxwork-maker and his house of horrors. A marvelous romp serving Vincent Price via The CW, House of Wax never fails to capitalize on the trash cache of its star slasher fodder: one of the taglines on posters boasted "See Paris Die!"
3. Darkness Falls
- Similarities: Same era, campy
- Tagline: Stay In The Light!
Over a decade before 2016 hit Lights Out, the same plot was used in Darkness Falls: the boogeyman only gets you in the dark. Loaded with jump scares and plotted around a charming mythology of its own, this vengeful ghost is a fun watch.
4. Dead Silence
- Similarities: Great SFX, varied enemies
- Tagline: You scream. You die.
In the years between Saw and The Conjuring, James Wan and Leigh Whannell came up with Dead Silence, a jump-scare kill binge about a witchy woman and her hordes of nefarious puppets.
- Similarities: Great SFX, futuristic facility
- Tagline: Don't Look For A Reason... Look For A Way Out
It's a closed room mystery with futuristic elements, a sadistic puzzle that's satisfying even on rewatching. A true '90s classic.
6. Cabin in the Woods
- Similarities: Great SFX, futuristic facility, varied enemies
- Tagline: You think you know the story.
It may be sacrilegious to suggest that a modern classic like Cabin in the Woods was influenced by a shlock horror like Thirteen Ghosts, but there's an undeniable similarity in the visuals behind the Facility's glass booths, and in the wild inventiveness of the manifold ghoulies.
7. Rose Red
- Similarities: Big house, ghosts, same era
- Tagline: Every House Has A Story To Tell... This One Will Kill You.
At 255 minutes long, you get a lot of bang for your buck with ABC's ghostly mini-series adapted from one of Stephen King's lesser-known tales, which happens to feature a fab cast, including Heavenly Creatures's Melanie Lynskey and Bones's Emily Deschanel.
8. Ghost Ship
- Similarities: Ghosts, SFX, same composer & production company, same era
- Tagline: Sea Evil
A marvelous soundtrack from Thirteen Ghosts's John Frizzell underpins a riot of ghostly excess, including one of the greatest mass kill set-pieces ever produced by schlock horror.
9. We Are Still Here
- Similarities: Ghosts, great SFX
- Tagline: This house needs a family.
In the vein of The Evil Dead and The Innkeepers, the ghosts of We Are Still Here manage to be spooky without detracting from the comedy-horror angle of the movie. Horror legend Barbara Crampton also stars, just for added joy.
10. The Haunting
- Similarities: Ghosts, big house, remake
- Tagline: Some houses are born bad.
Prime Catherine Zeta-Jones era horror with some creative deaths and gleefully melodramatic moments, culminating in a climax that William Castle himself would have been proud of.
11. Ghosts of Mars
- Similarities: Ghosts, great SFX, campy
- Tagline: Terror is the same on any planet
There's camp and then there's Ghosts of Mars: not only are they ghosts, but they're aliens, too! Apocalypto-flavored make-up and outlandish costumes create a great spectacle. It'd be nine years until John Carpenter directed another picture.
12. The Ward
- Similarities: Varied enemies
- Tagline: Only Sanity Can Keep You Alive
John Carpenter again in this female-led madhouse ghost story, leading the viewer through a kind of horror movie Girl, Interrupted. You may catch the twist coming before the end, but that doesn't detract from your enjoyment of the film.
- Similarities: Great SFX, creepy building
- Tagline: A Ghost Story
Honorable mentions of movies sharing either style, era or SFX that may appeal to fans of Thirteen Ghosts:
- Book of Blood
- Jeepers Creepers
- Crimson Peak
- Tower of Terror
- The Gift
- The Mothman Prophecies
- What Lies Beneath
- Tombs of the Blind Dead
- The Abominable Dr Phibes
- Theater of Blood