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 skinema.com!

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:

Very pale.


Pale and bruised.

Pale, scarred, and bullet-ridden.

Pale, 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:

Skin injury

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 an amputee)

 Grate on face (Not a cute look--no Victoria's Secret photo shoot for this one)

 Scraped face (with wrinkles Pruneface would envy)

 Hidden face (This character, a dwarf, is also wrinkled--an injury known as sun damage)

Next: Very injured skin

 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 capabilities...

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.