A dermatologist's worst nightmare:
The Skin of "13 Ghosts"
This horror remake assumes ghosts have no dermatologists.
At least eleven have very scary skin. No wonder they're haunted.
This high end remake of a low end subject features a family invited
to live in a house haunted by a group of ghosts. And not just
any placid mild mannered, friendly ghosts. These spirits are mad
as heck and not going to take it any more. You've heard of road
rage? Multiply that by thirteen and you've got: Ghoul Rage.
Why so grouchy? Is it the house's imitation IKEA furniture
that the spooks have to put up with for eternity? The lack of
breath mints to overcome phantom halitosis? No, their major peeve
is that the purgatory HMO doesn't cover visits to the dermatologist.
All these spooks have serious skin problems with no relief in
sight. Don't believe us? Take out your 13 X magnifying class,
and let's have a look, shall we?
To simplify this up close and personal visit, the
web site staff as labored long hours to divide the specters up
into easy to peruse categories. Just another public service from
Ghostly Pale skin
Albinism has long been used by movie moguls to scare
audiences who don't realize that a lack of skin color does not
equal evil. "13 Ghosts" has it's share of pale spirits.
In fact, look at the juxtaposition of the stark white skin of
this ghoulish girl (or is it girlish ghoul) with the persistently
tan skin of ingenue Shannon
Elizabeth. Though pale skinned actresses have, for a brief
time, been portrayed as attractive, this image suggests a backlash.
Could we be returning to the excessively sunny dark ages of the
1960's? A time where baby oil flowed freely over sun bather's
hides, sun block was non-existent, and millions of skin cancers
go their start? Now dermatologists are really getting scared...
But the movie doesn't stop there, it ups the ante
by adding the following conditions to pale skin:
Pale and bruised.
Pale, scarred, and bullet-ridden.
bald (albinopecia), and obese.
If this actor needs more film work, his agent should
contact the producers of the next "Hellraiser" sequel.
Next skinematic cliche to exploit:
Scarred villains date back to the earliest silent films. In this
haunted house the variations include:
|| Half face (severe
road rash, not shown to spare the kiddies)
|| Burn face (has
to walk around wearing less-than-fashionable hospital gown--another
source of ghostly anger)
|| Gash face (also
|| Grate on face
(Not a cute look--no Victoria's Secret photo shoot for this one)
|| Scraped face (with
wrinkles Pruneface would
|| Hidden face (This
character, a dwarf, is also wrinkled--an injury known as sun
Next: Very injured
Spikes through head (hate it when that happens!)
Arrow through head
The skin typically provides an effective barrier from
invaders from the outside world. Bacteria, fungi, and viruses
usually are repelled by the structural and immune functions of
the skin. But occasionally the barrier is broken. Dermatologists
are equipped to remove invasive creatures (such as ticks), or
objects (like splinters). The injuries above are clearly more
than just a skin problem. Spikes and arrows through the skin,
skull, and brain go beyond even the most agressive dermatologist's
For those of you keeping track,
that makes twelve skin-challenged spooks. The thirteenth ghost
is presumably Dr. Zorba, played by esteemed character actor F. Murray Abraham. Zorba
is taken out of this world in a ghostly assault early in the flick.
His spectral appearance can't be found in the movie's trailer,
but Abraham himself has prominent acne scars. These pesky defects
are so hard to treat that even singer Ricky
Martin, actor Sean Connery,
and super model Elizabeth Hurley
continue to have them. Now that's scary...
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© 2001 Vail Reese M.D.