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13 Ghosts

13 Ghosts(1960)

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Remind Me

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Paleontologist Cyrus Zorba barely earns enough money to support his wife Hilda, young son Buck and young adult daughter Medea. On the day the family's furniture is repossessed, they celebrate Buck's birthday. As Buck blows out the candles on his cake, he wishes for "a house and furniture that no one can take away." Buck's wish is followed by a gust of wind and the appearance at the door of a ghoulish looking man who delivers a telegram from attorney Ben Rush directing Cyrus to come to his office the following day. The next morning at his office, Ben informs Cyrus that he has inherited the estate of his late uncle, Dr. Plato Zorba, an eccentric scientist who collected ghosts. Warning that the ghosts come with the house, Ben hands Cyrus a package containing his uncle's "ghost viewer," a device that makes the apparitions visible. The house is occupied by a sinister housekeeper, Elaine Zacharides, whom Buck dubs "the witch." After the family move in, Ben visits them on the night that Buck finds a book printed in Latin and a Ouija board behind a secret panel. When Buck, a ghost aficionado, asks the Ouija if the house contains any spooks, the planchette on the board moves to the number thirteen. The family becomes alarmed when the planchette then floats up into the air and points at Medea, indicating that she will be the next ghost. Although frightened, they decide to remain in the house because the will dictates that if they leave, the estate will be turned over to the state. Later that night, Cyrus goes to the living room to get a book to read and hears the sound of eerie moaning coming from behind the wall. A panel suddenly slides open, and when Cyrus steps behind it, he puts on the ghost viewer. Through the viewer, Cyrus sees a skeleton which, when engulfed by flames, transforms into a whirling specter that attacks him. Once the specter disappears, Cyrus picks up the book, which bursts into flames and burns the number thirteen on his hand. The next day, Cyrus shows the Latin book to his boss, E. Van Allen, a Latin scholar. After scrutinizing its contents, Van Allen states that the book is a record of Plato's work with ghosts. In the book, Plato writes of capturing eleven ghosts. Plato's entries conclude with the assertion that he has become the twelfth ghost and will avenge the crimes committed against him. Upon returning home, Cyrus questions Elaine about Plato's experiments. Elaine explains that she was Plato's assistant until the two argued about his insistence on converting all his assets into cash and withdrawing them from the bank. She then shows Cyrus Plato's bedroom, asserting that spirits killed him there. Once Elaine leaves the room, a lighted candle floats out of its holder and illuminates a panel of drapes. When Cyrus looks behind the drapes, he finds a knob which, when turned, lowers the heavy canopy above Cyrus bed to the mattress. That night, after returning home from a date with Ben, when Medea goes to bed, she is awakened by the windows blowing open and shut. When she goes to investigate, a specter wearing moldering pants springs out from behind the curtain. Medea's screams draw Elaine, who promptly closes the window. The next morning, as Buck slides down the banister, two hundred-dollar bills flutter from the staircase. Buck then ventures into the basement where he finds a steamer trunk belonging to a lion tamer. Upon donning the ghost viewer, Buck sees a lion chasing its headless tamer. Returning upstairs, Buck examines the hundred-dollar bills and when Ben rings the doorbell and sees the bills, he asks where Buck found them. After Buck states that he found them while sliding down the banister, Ben makes Buck swear to keep the money a secret and promises to join the boy in a treasure hunt later that night. Ben then visits Cyrus at his office to inform him that he might be able to convince the state to buy the house if the family immediately vacates it. Their conversation is interrupted by Van Allen, who has deciphered an entry in Plato's diary revealing that Plato's cash is hidden in the house. The diary also mentioned that Elaine is a medium, and Van Allen suggests asking her to hold a séance to contact Plato. That night, after putting Buck to bed, the family holds a séance. As Plato begins to speak through Cyrus, Cyrus puts on the ghost viewer, after which Plato's portrait begins to groan and Cyrus begins to moan in pain, mimicking Plato's death spasms. Pulling off the ghost viewer, Cyrus sinks into a chair and Elaine declares, "Tonight death walks again in this evil house." After the rest of the family retires for the night, Ben, dressed in moldering pants, prowls the house, entering Buck's room where he picks up the sleeping boy and carries him to Plato's bed. As Ben turns the knob to lower the canopy and crush Buck, Plato's ghost enters through a heating vent to avenge his murder. After Buck awakens in fear and flees, the ghost pushes Ben under the canopy, which then crushes him to death. Buck's screams awaken the family, and when he shows them the hundred dollar bills, Cyrus deduces that Ben had been searching for the hidden treasure and tried to drive the Zorbas from the house so that he could claim it for himself. Proclaiming that the earthbound spirits have now been released, Elaine turns to look at the ghost viewer, which then floats into air and explodes.