13 Ghosts (1960)

USA, 1960
82m [black and white version], 85m [colour version]
35mm film, “Illusion-O”, black and white, Eastmancolor sequences, 1.85:1
mono, English
Production Start Date: 18 January 1960
Original Release Date: 10 July 1960 [USA]

An American horror film directed by William Castle. It was remade in 2001 by Steve Beck as Thir13en Ghosts (2001).

Plot Summary

Dr Zorba dies and leaves his old mansion to his nephew Cyrus and his family. But when they move in they discover that it’s haunted by Zorba’s collection of ghosts which can only be seen through special goggles that he invented. But who will become the thirteenth ghost in the collection?


Directed by: William Castle
© MCMLX [1960] by William Castle Productions. Copyright renewed in 1988 by Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.
Columbia [opening logo]. A William Castle production
Produced by: William Castle
Written by: Robb White
Director of Photography: Joseph Biroc
Film Editor: Edwin Bryant
Music by: Von Dexter
Sound Supervisor: Charles J. Rice
Make-up Supervision: Ben Lane
Hair Styles by: Helen Hunt
Photographic Color Effects by: Butler-Glouner, Inc.
Art Director: Cary Odell

Charles Herbert (Buck Zorba)
Jo Morrow (Medea Zorba)
Martin Milner (Ben Rush)
Rosemary De Camp (Hilda Zorba)
Donald Woods (Cyrus Zorba)
Margaret Hamilton (Elaine Zacharides)
John Van Dreelen (Van Allen)
John Burnside, Roy Jenson [ghosts – uncredited]
William Castle [introduced by – uncredited]
David Hoffman [messenger – uncredited]

Alternative Titles

Ta 13 fantasmata – Greece
I 13 fantasmi – Italy
13 kummitusta – Finland
13 spøgelser – Denmark
13 spöken – Sweden
Thirteen Ghosts – alternative title
Los trece fantasmas – Spain
Tretten spøgelser – Denmark
Das Unheimliche Erbe – Austria

Thir13en Ghosts (2001)

Extracts included in
13 Ghosts: The Magic of Illusion-O (2001)
Heartstoppers: Horror at the Movies (1992)
Horrible Horror (1986)
Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story (2007)
TCM Underground: 13 Ghosts/The Tingler (2008)

See also
House on Haunted Hill (1999)
The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Production Notes

When the film was first released, the main titles were in colour and the rest of the film in black and white with occasional colour tints. The ghosts were filmed in red against a blue background and were visible to the audience only if they put on a pair of special “ghost viewer” glasses, a process Castle called “Illusion-O”. Braver audiences members were encouraged to take the red lenses to intensify the appearance of the ghosts while others were expected to take the blue lenses which was meant to hide them. The ghosts remained visible on screen if the lenses were removed.

Later 16mm and television broadcast versions were in black and white throughout. As was the original US laserdisc release which also deleted Castle’s prologue and epilogue. The 2001 DVD release included both the black and white version and the “Illusion-O” version, complete with a pair of “ghost viewer” glasses. The Castle introduction and epilogue are still missing from the main film but are included as extras on the disc.



  • Columbia Pictures Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy Films, 1928-1982 by Michael R. Pitts pp.244-246
  • Ghosts and Angels in Hollywood Films by James Robert Parish pp.329-330 – illustrated credits, synopsis, review
  • Horrorshows: The A-Z of Horror in Film, TV, Radio and Theatre by Gene Wright p.164 – credits, review
  • Reference Guide to Fantastic Films by Walt Lee p.488 – credits
  • Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Film Sequels, Series, and Remakes: An Illustrated Filmography Volume II by Kim R. Holston and Tom Winchester p.294-295 – illustrated credits, synopsis, review
  • Sixties Shockers by Mark Clark and Bryan Senn pp.387-388 – illustrated credits, review
  • Step Right Up!… I’m Going to Scare the Pants Off America by William Castle pp.161-163 – note
  • Twice the Thrills! Twice the Chills! Horror and Science Fiction Double Features, 1955-1974 by Bryan Senn pp.178-180 – illustrated credits, synopsis, review