All Of The Spirits In Thirteen Ghosts, Explained

All Of The Spirits In Thirteen Ghosts, Explained


The 2001 Dark Castle horror remake Thirteen Ghosts is a highly underrated cult item, mostly thanks to its great line-up of angry spirits; here are all 13 ghosts in Thirteen Ghosts explained. Alas, poor Dark Castle Entertainment. Formed in 1999, Dark Castle was named after B-movie pioneer William Castle and was designed with the goal of crafting crowd-pleasing theatrical horror movies with recognizable actors and studio budgets. Many of their films were remakes of horror classics, some of which had been produced or directed by Castle himself.

While Dark Castle’s output tended to be profitable, the company never did get much respect, either from critics or hardcore horror fans. However, in the years since Dark Castle’s heyday (they still exist, but aren’t nearly as high-profile today), some of their earlier works, like Thirteen Ghosts, have gained cult followings and are seen as fun products of their time. No one would ever mistake even the best of Dark Castle’s films for a landmark effort like The Exorcist, still one of the scariest movies, but that doesn’t mean many aren’t worth watching.


Related: Every Upcoming & Rumored Conjuring Movie (What’s Next For The Conjurverse?)

Thirteen Ghosts was Dark Castle’s second movie produced, after 1999’s House on Haunted Hill. It’s far from an amazing effort, but it’s got a great central concept, incredible production design, and some of the coolest ghosts ever created for the big screen. Here’s the full rundown of all 13 ghosts in Thirteen Ghosts, though there are technically only 12 spirits. Yes, 12, not 13, for reasons that make sense if one has actually seen the film.

All 13 Ghosts in Thirteen Ghosts Explained

Tony Shalhoub and Shannon Elizabeth in Thir13en Ghosts or 13 Ghosts or Thirteen Ghosts

Thirteen Ghosts plot isn’t the easiest to follow towards the end of the movie but the ending of the film basically features a Nikola Tesla-like machine that is supposed to open up the Ocularis Infernum, which would grant Cyrus powers from Hell. The only way Cyrus could get the machine to work is if the spirits of the Black Zodiac were made complete, therefore he needed all 13 ghosts in Thirteen Ghosts in order to achieve his goal. His initial plan was to force Arthur to sacrifice himself and become the 13th ghost, The Broken Heart. This ghost can only be created by a person sacrificing themselves in an act of love, which Arthur was prepared to do for his family. Luckily, he didn’t need to, and the spirits were set free.

In the horror remake, the 12 spirits represent individual members of the Black Zodiac. Their presence not only powers the Cyrus’ machine itself but also helps power the mansion. The thread that connects all 13 ghosts in Thirteen Ghosts is their tragic pasts and deaths. Each spirit must have a death that fulfills a certain set of criteria which is represented in their names (The Juggernaut, The Withered Lover, etc.). Like in Bly Manor, some of the ghosts are frightening yet harmless, others are previous serial killers and rapists. Cyrus took great care to find each of these specific spirits in order to complete his complex spell, though he ultimately failed in the end, since Arthur didn’t have to sacrifice himself. Arthur was supposed to be the 13th ghost, but since he isn’t, what follows is that the 12 spirits were eventually set free.

1. The First Born Son

Thirteen Ghosts - The First Born Son

The first ghost in Thirteen Ghosts is The First Born Son. In life, The First Born Son was a boy named Billy Michaels, who had an unhealthy obsession with pop culture involving “cowboys and Indians.” Any attempt to rip him away from his fantasy life would earn rage (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’s Mike Teavee, anyone?), but that rage and a toy gun didn’t protect Billy from a real arrow fired into his head by another boy during an ill-conceived duel. Billy doesn’t attack anyone directly in Thirteen Ghosts, but he does scare them into the way of more violent demonic-like spirits.

Related: Every Horror Movie Based On Ed & Lorraine Warren’s Ghost Cases

2. The Torso

Thirteen Ghosts All Ghosts Reaching

Out of all 13 ghosts in Thirteen Ghosts, The Torso is the only one that is exactly what it sounds like, a disembodied torso wrapped in cellophane. In life, the torso was part of a compulsive gambler named Jimmy Gambino. Gambino was also a bookie, but his own gambling prevented him from being able to pay out the winnings of a “made man” in the mob, and the criminal didn’t take it too kindly. Like something out of The Sopranos, mob goons killed Jimmy and cut him up, dumping his remains into the ocean.

3. The Bound Woman

Thirteen Ghosts - The Bound Woman

In Thirteen Ghosts The Bound Woman was named Susan LeGrow and had a privileged upbringing. She was a rich, popular cheerleader who dated the captain of the school football team. That was until said captain found her with another boy on prom night, and had a rather horrific reaction, to say the least. He bludgeoned his romantic rival to death, then strangled Susan with his own tie. Like the First Born Son and the Torso, she’s more “scary” than an actual threat.

4. The Withered Lover

Thirteen Ghosts - The Withered Lover

The Withered Lover is one ghost that’s definitely not any kind of threat to the Kriticos family once they get trapped inside their presumed-dead relative Cyrus’ house of horrors. Of course, that’s due to her particularly tragic backstory, as she was Jean Kriticos, wife of protagonist Arthur (Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s Tony Shalhoub) and mother to his children Kathy and Bobby. Jean died in a house fire that the rest of her family made it out of alive.

5. The Torn Prince

Thirteen Ghosts - The Torn Prince

The Torn Prince was a high school baseball star in the late-1950s, explaining the ever-present baseball bat weapon that he’ll happily use to attack any of Thirteen Ghosts’ living characters. Named Royce Clayton in life, The Torn Prince died during a drag race, after losing control of his car in a horrific accident. He shouldn’t blame himself though, as his opponent had secretly tampered with his brakes. Though not the most dangerous out of all 13 ghosts in Thirteen Ghosts he definitely causes some havoc with his weapon.

Related: Why Faces Of Death Was So Controversial (& What It Means For The Remake)

6. The Angry Princess

Thirteen Ghosts - The Angry Princess with Kathy Kriticos

The next ghost in the early 2000s horror remake is The Angry Princess. Born Dana Newman, The Angry Princess was an incredibly beautiful woman, by all standards but her own. Sadly, she was unable to be happy with her looks, seeing imperfections others didn’t, and constantly trying to improve her appearance via surgery. A string of abusive relationships did nothing to help her self-image. After botching an attempt to perform face surgery on herself, Dana died by suicide, cutting her wrists in a bathtub. In Thirteen Ghosts the Slimy lawyer character Ben Moss makes a rude comment about her nude ghostly appearance, and boy does he pay for it.

7. The Pilgrimess

Thirteen Ghosts - The Pilgrimess

Named Isabella Smith, The Pilgrimess was a victim of the Salem witch trial hysteria that gripped New England in the late 1600s. A local outcast, Isabella was accused of witchcraft, and when an attempted burning didn’t work, the perception that she was evil only increased. In the end, The Pilgrimess was left to slowly die of starvation in the stocks her ghost remains locked in during Thirteen Ghosts. Out of all 13 ghosts in Thirteen Ghosts she’s the only one whose arms are bound and while she is threatening there isn’t really much she can do other than look scary.

8 & 9. The Great Child & The Dire Mother

Thirteen Ghosts - The Great Child and the Dire Mother

In Thirteen Ghosts The Great Child and The Dire Mother are another case of the ghosts being exactly what they sound like. Margaret Shelburne was a little person who worked in an American Horror Story style carnival freak show, and her enormous son Harold was the result of a sexual assault by the carnival’s tallest member of the freak troupe. Some of the other freaks later murdered Margaret, leading Harold to go crazy with an ax and kill most of them, before he himself was killed by an angry mob.

10. The Hammer

Thirteen Ghosts - The Hammer

These final three ghosts are definitely the most dangerous to the Kriticos family and Thirteen Ghosts’ other human characters. Born George Markley, The Hammer wasn’t a bad person at all, working as a blacksmith in a small town. That was until he was falsely accused of theft by a white man and his family was brutally murdered. In a grief-fueled rage, George took his trusty sledgehammer and bludgeoned their killers. Of course, the townspeople blamed him and killed him by driving railroad spikes into his body. This is probably the only racial commentary made in this horror movie, as Thirteen Ghosts isn’t necessarily known for including any social commentary at all.

Related: Both Friday The 13th 8 & Nightmare 5 End With The Villains Turning Into Children

11. The Jackal

Easily the most volatile and unpredictable out of all 13 ghosts in Thirteen Ghosts, The Jackal was born Ryan Kuhn in 1887 and grew up to be a sick and twisted man. A vicious and compulsive sexual predator and killer, Ryan did actually seek help for his affliction, checking into an asylum. Not that it did him any real good, as before long he had completely lost what was left of his mind. He eventually died when the asylum burned down.

12. The Juggernaut

Thirteen Ghosts - The Juggernaut

Horace “Breaker” Mahoney, The Juggernaut, is definitely the most dangerous out of all 13 ghosts in Thirteen Ghosts and can be considered almost a “final boss” of the group. A mountain of a man, Horace was a serial killer who would pick up hitchhikers or offer rides to the stranded (similar to Holden’s psychopath buddy Edmund Kemper in Mindhunter), only to take them back to his junkyard and tear them apart with his bare hands. He’d then feed their bodies to his dogs. Along with The Hammer, The Juggernaut sadly decimates friendly psychic character Dennis Rafkin.

Next: How Ghosts Work In American Horror Story, Explained (All Seasons)

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Michael Kennedy
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Michael Kennedy is an avid movie and TV fan that’s been working for Screen Rant in various capacities since 2014. In that time, Michael has written over 2000 articles for the site, first working solely as a news writer, then later as a senior writer and associate news editor. Most recently, Michael helped launch Screen Rant’s new horror section, and is now the lead staff writer when it comes to all things frightening. A FL native, Michael is passionate about pop culture, and earned an AS degree in film production in 2012. He also loves both Marvel and DC movies, and wishes every superhero fan could just get along. When not writing, Michael enjoys going to concerts, taking in live professional wrestling, and debating pop culture. A long-term member of the Screen Rant family, Michael looks forward to continuing on creating new content for the site for many more years to come.

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