- View history
The Jackal is the ghost of Ryan Kuhn and the eleventh ghost featured in The Black Zodiac .
- 1 Biography
- 2 After Death
Born to a prostitute at some point in the year 1887, Ryan Kuhn grew up to develop a sick, insatiable and uncontrollable taste for women. As a result, he became a wild and cunning, sexual predator, attacking, raping, and murdering strays and prostitutes in the dead of night like a wild animal.
Seeking treatment, Ryan committed himself to Borinwood Asylum, where he eventually went insane. He scratched at his cell's walls so violently, that his fingernails were torn completely off, making his hands claw-like.
When Ryan attacked a nurse, the doctors decided to put him in a straitjacket and tightened it whenever Ryan acted out, contorting his limbs horribly. However, Ryan gnawed through it, so the doctors locked Ryan's head in a cage-type helmet and locked him in a dark, basement cell, where he grew to hate any human contact, and would cower and scream madly whenever approached.
The symbol of the Jackal.
When a fire broke out at the asylum, while everyone else escaped, Ryan chose to stay behind and meet his deserved fate, and he apparently died in the fire.
Following his death, Ryan's spirit remained bound to earth, and was subsequently captured by Cyrus Kriticos in order to become The Jackal. The Jackal was then moved to the basement of Basileus's Machine with the other eleven ghosts. The Jackal is the fifth ghost to be released.
He eventually comes across Kathy , and viciously attacks her, clawing at her. But he is forced to release her when Kalina arrives and hurls a flare at The Jackal. He pursues Kathy, Kalina and Arthur , but is separated from them by a sliding glass door, the barrier spells preventing him from crossing.
The Jackal running through the mansion.
Later, The Jackal re-encounters the group up in the house and attacks Arthur; viciously clawing at his back until Kalina uses another flare to ward The Jackal off. Later, a Latin chant causes the Jackal, along with the other eleven ghosts, to go to the center of the machine and power it up.
When The Jackal and the other ghosts are freed from the trance, they throw Cyrus into a rotating crest of rings. The house then explodes, destroying its walls and freeing The Jackal and the other eleven ghosts.
The Artifact of The Jackal
- According to Kalina, The Jackal is the sign of Hell's Winter.
- In the original script, the Jackal was called The Hyena .
- The Latin inscription beneath The Jackal's symbol in The Arcanum, "Canis Aureus", literally translates to "The Golden Dog."
- Similar to The Bound Woman , the whispers which signal the Jackal's approach appear to be psychotic screaming and/or insane laughter.
- Based on the damage done to the cage helmet, it's implied that the Jackal either managed to break out the helmet or this damage was done during the fire that killed him.
- He is apparently another ghost that committed suicide.
- The Jackal flees with evident panic from lit flares, suggesting that he retains a dread of the fire that killed him.
- If one were to listen carefully, it sounds like the Jackal says, "Leave me alone" when Bobby is hearing the voice of his mother.
- According to Dennis, the Jackal is the Charles "Charlie" Manson of the ghosts.
- The Jackal is also highly similar to the famed serial killer Jack the Ripper. Though Jack the Ripper was never identified, he also lived during the Victorian era, and was known to target prostitutes and other lower class women in a brutal and bloodthirsty manner.
- His ghost file is represented by the jaw of a human skull.
- He was the next-to-last ghost seen to disappear at the end of the film.
- He and the Tall Man are the only known men to have raped someone, or in his case, more than one person.
- Clips in the Jackal's backstory include scenes from House on Haunted Hill (1999) , another film from the creators of 13 Ghosts .
- His backstory states he committed himself to psychiatric care, implying that he did understand what he was doing was wrong.
- If one looks closely at his face in the face, the Jackal appears to have multiple teeth in his mouth.
- 1 Black Zodiac
- 2 The Jackal
- 3 The Angry Princess
13 ghosts: every ghost in the black zodiac explained.
The Black Zodiac in Dark Castle's 2001 horror 13 Ghosts had some of the most imaginative - and terrifying - spirits ever seen on screen.
The black zodiac: why there are 13 ghosts in 13 ghosts explained, the first born son, the bound woman, the withered lover, the torn prince, the angry princess, the pilgrimess, the great child & the dire mother, the juggernaut, who is the 13th ghost in thirteen ghosts, thirteen ghosts original vs. remake: ghost differences explained, why 13 ghosts is still being discussed, a 13 ghosts tv reboot is on the cards.
- The 2001 film 13 Ghosts has gained a cult following due to the intriguing backstories and unique designs of its titular 13 ghosts.
- The Black Zodiac concept, which features 13 different ghosts, was ahead of its time and each ghost could be a horror movie villain on their own.
- The film explores the tragic pasts and deaths of the ghosts, and while the movie only delves slightly into their backstories, there is potential for future projects to expand on their stories.
The 2001 Dark Castle horror 13 Ghosts (also referred to as Thir13n Ghosts or Thirteen Ghosts ) is a highly underrated cult item, mostly thanks to the titular 13 ghosts' names and stories being even more intriguing than the plot of the movie itself. 13 Ghosts centers on the Kriticos family and their attempts to escape the 13 ghosts held by ancient glyphs in presumed-dead relative Cyrus Kriticos' glass mansion. It's been years since Dark Castle Entertainment 's heyday, but some of their earlier works like 13 Ghosts have gained cult followings. For 13 Ghosts, the reason for the enduring legacy — aside from featuring equally-cult horror icon Matthew Lillard — is that every ghost has a complete origin story and unique aesthetic design. In 13 Ghosts all ghosts are different, from how they look to how they kill. Every one of the 13 Ghosts ghosts could be a horror movie villain in their own right, and the Black Zodiac as a concept was wildly ahead of its time when the movie released in 2001.
13 Ghosts was Dark Castle's second movie produced, after 1999's House on Haunted Hill . It's very much a product of its time, but 13 Ghosts gained a cult following because of the creative prosthetic special effects. 13 Ghosts has got a great central premise, but it's not just the 13 ghosts of the Black Zodiac that gained director Steve Beck's movie a small-but-dedicated fanbase (similar to his other cult hit with Dark Castle Ghost Ship ) . The set design of 13 Ghosts is truly unique, and the costume design of the 13 ghosts themselves ensures each, from the First Born Son to the dreaded Angry Princess, has a clear origin story and M.O. that sets them apart from the rest. The movie itself only expands a little on the 13 ghosts backstories, but future projects from Dark Castle Entertainment could finally be expanding on what's known about all 13 ghosts in 13 Ghosts — an exciting prospect, since what's already been revealed about the spirits of the Black Zodiac is terrifying, unnerving, and absolutely ripe for a sequel or spinoff.
Related: The Horror Films of Dark Castle Entertainment Ranked, Worst To Best
The plot of 13 Ghosts' isn't the easiest to follow towards the end of the movie, but the film culminates when Cyrus Kriticos' "Basileus's Machine" — a Nikola Tesla-like machine that the entire mansion is part of — begins 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. Cyrus had gathered all 13 ghosts in 13 Ghosts in order to achieve his goal, since the Ocularis Infernum will only open if the machine is powered by the spirits of those who died under very specific circumstances. Their presence not only powers Cyrus' machine itself but also helps power the mansion. The thread that connects all 13 ghosts in 13 Ghosts is their tragic pasts and deaths. Each ghost in 13 Ghosts died in a way that fulfills a certain set of criteria which is represented in their names (The Juggernaut, The Withered Lover, etc.).
In 13 Ghosts , the 13 ghosts gathered by Cyrus represent individual members of the Black Zodiac. This is what made the 13 ghosts' names and stories so important beyond being a memorable part of 13 Ghosts as a movie, as each of their unique backstories is integral to the plot. The reason there are only 12 ghosts despite the movie's title being 13 Ghosts is also revealed by the ending. Cyrus's initial plan was to force Arthur to sacrifice himself and become the 13th ghost, The Broken Heart. The 13th ghost in 13 Ghosts 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 ghosts were set free. However, while this is a seemingly happy ending for the Kriticos family, it's a terrifying prospect for humanity. Ghosts like The Hammer, The Jackal, and the Juggernaut had been responsible for multiple deaths prior to Cyrus capturing them — and at the end of 13 Ghosts the entire Black Zodiac is unleashed to roam free once again.
The first ghost in 13 Ghosts is The First Born Son. Of all the ghosts in 13 Ghosts, The First Born Son has one of the most sympathetic and tragic backstories, and it would be unfair to label him as being an outright malevolent spirit like some other ghosts in the Black Zodiac. 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, 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. Unlike Damien from The Omen or Samara from The Ring , Billy is a relatively harmless child ghost, and is one of the least harmless of the 13 ghosts. He doesn't attack anyone directly in 13 Ghosts , but he does scare them into the path of more violent demonic-like spirits.
Out of all 13 ghosts in 13 Ghosts, The Torso is the only one whose name directly describes what he is — a disembodied torso wrapped in cellophane. Prior to dying, 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. In an act of brutality reminiscent of Th e Sopranos , mob goons killed Jimmy and cut him up, dumping his remains into the ocean. The Torso is one of the most visually striking of the thirteen ghosts in 13 Ghosts , and seeing double-amputee actor Daniel Wesley bring him to un-life is truly the stuff of (very inclusive) nightmares. Aside from having one of the most interesting backstories, The Torso is easily one of the most disturbing ghosts in the Black Zodiac, with such a striking and unique design that he feels like something directly out of a more modern horror franchise like the V/H/S/ movies or from the twisted realm of the Cenobites in Hellraiser rather than a haunted house, which is testament to just how innovative the 2001 movie was for its time.
While all of the 13 ghosts' names and backstories are unique, some feature in the film more than others, and The Bound Woman is one of the Black Zodiac that 13 Ghosts devotes notably less screen-time to (and subsequently gives less exposition on). In 13 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, bludgeoning his romantic rival to death and strangling Susan with his own tie (a story that sounds straight out of a True Crime documentary). Like the First Born Son and the Torso, she's more "scary" than an actual threat, and is perhaps the most tragic of all 13 ghosts in 13 Ghosts .
The Withered Lover is one ghost in 13 Ghosts 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. That's due to her particularly tragic backstory. Cyrus found his ghost for The Withered Lover segment of the Black Zodiac from his own family — as she was Jean Kriticos, wife of protagonist Arthur and mother to his children Kathy and Bobby. Jean died in a house fire that the rest of her family survived, and it's the only one of the 13 ghosts' backstories that's shown on-screen in 13 Ghosts . Her inclusion as one of the initial 12 spirits wasn't a huge twist, but it still helped add some personal stakes to Thirteen Ghosts' interesting premise.
In 13 Ghosts all ghosts can be dangerous in their own way, but The Torn Prince can sometimes be missed when compared to the likes of The Jackal and The Juggernaut. However, just like all ghosts in 13 Ghosts, this Black Zodiac sprit could easily be a terrifying horror movie antagonist in his own right. 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 13 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 (similar to Ken Miles in Ford v Ferrari ). He shouldn't blame himself though, as his opponent had secretly tampered with his brakes. Though not the most dangerous of all 13 ghosts in 13 Ghosts , he definitely causes some havoc with his weapon.
The next ghost in 13 Ghosts is The Angry Princess, and like The First Born Son and The Bound Woman, her backstory is tragic and makes her a figure of empathy as much as fear. Born Dana Newman, The Angry Princess in Thirteen Ghosts 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 a self-administered (but botched) facial surgery left her disfigured, Dana took her own life, opening her wrists in a bathtub. In 13 Ghosts the slimy lawyer character Ben Moss makes a rude comment about her nude ghostly appearance and pays for it accordingly.
One of the oldest of the 13 ghosts in 13 Ghosts, 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 when she becomes one of the Black Zodiac in 13 Ghosts . She's one of the oldest ghosts trapped in the mansion and feels right out of American Horror Story: Roanoke' s story . Of all 13 ghosts in 13 Ghosts , The Pilgrimess is the only one whose arms are bound, and while she is threatening there isn't really much she can do other than look scary.
In 13 Ghosts all ghosts are unsettling in their own way, but The Great Child and The Dire Mother are among the most creepy — though not because they're violent like The Jackal or dismembered like The Torso. Margaret Shelburne was a woman with dwarfism 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. These ghosts in 13 Ghosts, especially The Great Child, are striking to behold, and arguably among the most memorable. As American Horror Story: Freak Show characters , these two would fit right in, just like The Pilgrimess with Roanoke, showing the subtle influence 13 Ghosts has had on modern horror.
The final three ghosts of the Black Zodiac are definitely the most dangerous to the Kriticos family, and The Hammer is among the most terrifying of the 13 ghosts that 13 Ghosts contains. 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 the film, as 13 Ghosts and other early 00s horror movies weren't known for commenting on social issues, and horror films having a clear message, like Get Out 's meaning , is a relatively modern trend.
Easily the most volatile and unpredictable out of all 13 ghosts in 13 Ghosts , The Jackal was born Ryan Kuhn in 1887 and grew up to be a sick and twisted man. The Jackal is also one of the few of the 13 ghosts who was perhaps just as violent and sadistic before they became a spirit. Most of the 13 ghosts' names and stories hint at a tragic past, but this isn't the case with The Jackal. 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 and became one of the 13 Ghosts ghosts when the asylum burned down, although unlike Freddy Krueger (another sexual predator burned to death who returns to haunt the living), no burn scars can be seen on The Jackal.
Horace "Breaker" Mahoney, The Juggernaut, is definitely the most dangerous out of all the ghosts in 13 Ghosts and can be considered almost a "final boss" of the Black Zodiac. A mountain of a man, Horace was a serial killer who would pick up hitchhikers or offer rides to the stranded, 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. The Juggernaut is the first ghost that 13 Ghosts introduces thanks to a flashback of Cyrus and Matthew Lillard's Dennis capturing him for the Ocularis Infernum machine. Along with The Hammer, The Juggernaut sadly decimates friendly psychic character Dennis Rafkin (who plays a similar ill-fated role to Dick Hallorann in The Shining ) .
The thirteenth ghost in 13 Ghosts was supposed to be Arthur (Tony Shalhoub), at least according to Cyrus Kriticos' (F. Murray Abraham) master plan. By dying in the house, Arthur would have become The Broken Heart. This would activate Basileus's Machine, a device " designed by the devil and powered by the dead," the purpose of which was to grant Cyrus near-limitless power. However, Arthur survives.
While the 13th ghost in the Black Zodiac, The Broken Heart, never appears, the ghost of Dennis manifests after he's killed. This means that, technically, Matthew Lillard is the 13th ghost in 13 Ghosts. The movie does tease early on that Cyrus himself might be the 13th ghost, but then pulls an almost M. Night Shyamalan-level twist . Cyrus faked his own death and doesn't actually die until the movie's climax (after which he doesn't come back as a ghost).
2001's 13 Ghosts is a remake of a 1960 movie of the same name, but they're totally different, especially when it comes to the ghosts. 13 Ghosts 1960 doesn't expand much on its titular ghosts and doesn't name the spirits in the house inherited by the Zorba family. They're also considerably less violent, both in terms of their actions and how they died. The spirits in the 1960 13 Ghosts don't look nearly as harrowing by modern standards, but this is to be expected (the shower scene in Psycho , while iconic, doesn't prompt anywhere near the fear it did when it was screened in 1960, either).
There's no Black Zodiac in the original 13 Ghosts , although Cyrus is both present and the protagonist, and the 12 ghosts in the remake also need someone to die in the house and create a 13th to free themselves. The inspiration this gave for the 2001 Thirteen Ghosts / Thir13n Ghosts/13 Ghosts , in which Cyrus needs 13 ghosts to activate Basileus's Machine, is obvious. That's pretty much where the similarities end, however.
13 Ghosts is a cult gem of a 2000s horror movie, and its Black Zodiac of 13 ghost characters has gained it a lot more attention in the age of streaming. There's been a resurgence of interest in 13 Ghosts, and its unique premise — and, of course, there's already a growing number of fans demanding that 13 Ghosts gets a reboot treatment. The early 2020s have seen great success with horror reboots, with everything from Scream to Hellraiser getting some type of new movie. These endeavors have proven to be incredibly victorious, seeing great box office returns, so why not 13 Ghosts ?
While much of 13 Ghosts felt incredibly dated even a few years after it was released, it still managed to avoid most of the tropes that killed early 2000s horror movies. In addition, despite being a box office failure 13 Ghosts has garnered quite a cult following over the years. It is a unique entry into the horror genre as a whole, but came out during a time when torture porn movies like Hostel, US remakes of Japanese movies like The Ring and The Grudge, and found-footage flicks like The Blair Witch Project were coming to the fore.
There simply wasn't the market for a movie like 13 Ghosts in the early 00s — but this very much isn't the case in the 2020s, when audiences are eager for new and interesting concepts over out-and-out scares or gore. The production design was ahead of its time, and all 13 ghosts in 13 Ghosts were a horrifying sight to behold. All in all, 13 Ghosts deserves its resurgence in popularity, and the flexibility of the age of streaming feels like the perfect time to explore the 13 Ghosts ghosts in a dedicated project — a fact that hasn't escaped Dark Castle Entertainment's notice.
The backstories of the 13 ghosts in 13 Ghosts are fascinating. They're the key reason the 2001 movie has, despite never being a blockbuster hit, managed to garner such a steady level of interest in the decades since its release. A lot has changed since 2001, and it's reported that Dark Castle Entertainment may be resurrecting 13 Ghosts with the specific intent exploring the names and stories of the 13 ghosts. As reported by DreadCentral in August 2023, Dark Castle Entertainment are developing a 13 Ghosts TV series. The show will be written and developed by Patrick Mediate (Primordial Pictures) and Aaron McLane (Fear the Walking Dead ), and will take an almost anthology-like approach with each episode dedicated to the story of a different ghost from 13 Ghosts. A treatment synopsis shared by Mediate and McLane explains more:
“Every culture in the world has its ghost stories, and this re-imagining of 13 Ghosts presents an international sampling of these supernatural tales. The ghost stories within each episode will have their own stylistic look and feel that will be explored and influenced by each individual director. This makes our ghost vignettes stand out stylistically as they set the theme for each episode.”
While this is an incredibly intriguing prospect, it should be noted that the 13 Ghosts TV series hasn't been greenlit just yet. The premise, however, looks like a thought-out continuation of the Black Zodiac and the 13 ghosts of 13 Ghosts. The fact that the 2001 movie hasn't waned much over the decades is a testament to how instantly captivating all 13 ghosts in 13 Ghosts are thanks to their unique names and backstories. A project that explores these in full and fleshes them out could be what propels 13 Ghosts to becoming a household-name horror franchise rather than the respected-yet-under-viewed cult classic it, and its roster of 13 terrifying ghosts, is.
Thir13en Ghosts (2001)
Full cast & crew.
Writing credits , cast (in credits order) verified as complete , produced by , music by , cinematography by , editing by , casting by , production design by , art direction by , set decoration by , costume design by , makeup department , production management , second unit director or assistant director , art department , sound department , special effects by , visual effects by , stunts , camera and electrical department , casting department , costume and wardrobe department , editorial department , location management , music department , script and continuity department , transportation department , additional crew .
Release Dates | Official Sites | Company Credits | Filming & Production | Technical Specs
Contribute to This Page
- Full Cast and Crew
- Release Dates
- Official Sites
- Company Credits
- Filming & Production
- Technical Specs
- Plot Summary
- Plot Keywords
- Parents Guide
Did You Know?
- Crazy Credits
- Alternate Versions
Photo & Video
- Photo Gallery
- Trailers and Videos
- User Reviews
- User Ratings
- External Reviews
- Metacritic Reviews
- External Sites
Related lists from IMDb users
The Backstory Of Each Ghost From Thirteen Ghosts
Let's get one thing out in the open — " Thirteen Ghosts " (or "THIR13EN GHOSTS" if you're cool) rules. The 2001 remake of William Castle's classic 1960 film of the same name is dripping with Y2K era horror goodness, a wild rogues' gallery of terrifying ghost designs, and a supporting role from horror good luck charm Matthew Lillard. The film was part of the Dark Castle Entertainment boom that included the remake of " House on Haunted Hill ," another underrated gem that deserves more love.
Did "Thirteen Ghosts" make money at the box office ? No. Is the plot some deeply meaningful story that will stay with you forever? Also no. Is "Thirteen Ghosts" an absolute blast and a brilliant display of spectacle and special effects from Greg Nicotero and Robert Kurtzman? Abso-f******-lutely.
The original film featured an occultist who captured ghosts from around the world, and for the most part, "Thirteen Ghosts" follows a similar premise. Where the remake shines, however, is the introduction of the Black Zodiac. A twisted inversion of the typical Zodiac that people like to use in place of having an actual personality, the Black Zodiac represents twelve earthbound ghosts that are needed to open the Ocularis Infernum.
"But that's only 12," I hear you replying to the Facebook post for this article. Don't you worry, my sweet summer child, in time you will learn.
The titular spirits are a marvel of horror creativity and even include their own terrifying backstories. As my gift to you all, here's the history of each of the ghosts in "Thirteen Ghosts" as told by someone who watched the original DVD special features way, way too many times as a teenager, complete with guidance to find which ghost aligns with your astrological sign.
The First Born Son
Representing the loss of the firstborn male typically seen throughout scripture, ghost hunter Cyrus Kriticos captured the spirit of Billy Michaels. Little Billy loved Western movies and showed excessive rage whenever his parents dared to pull him away from the television. One day, Billy was challenged to a duel by a neighbor boy who had recently found a real steel-tipped arrow in his father's closet, and Billy, refusing to accept defeat, brought a toy cap gun. The kid was a hell of a shot because the arrow struck Billy right through the back of his head and came out through the middle of his forehead. The neighbor boy was arrested and taken to a juvenile detention center.
In death, Billy is seen wearing an embroidered Western-style button-up, a singular feather headpiece (old school ghosts don't know about cultural appropriation), and wields a tomahawk axe. His name is most likely a reference to Old West gunfighter Billy the Kid and is representative of the Aries sign in the traditional zodiac. The First Born Son exemplifies all of the "negative" traits of an Aries, such as being a stubborn, reckless dare-devil, and possessing a sense of youthful immaturity.
Loosely based on the victims of the real-life Cleveland Torso Murders , The Torso is the captured spirit of Jimmy "The Gambler" Gambino. With a name that feels like a self-fulfilling prophecy, Gambino had a terrible gambling addiction, sacrificing his schooling for visits to the racetrack and late-night gambling in dive bars. After a while, Gambino opened his own booking business, but the same way an alcoholic should never be a bartender, Gambino's addiction got in the way of his payoffs. Gambino quickly became known as the man who would never turn down a bet. His reputation put him on the radar of mobster Larry "Finger" Vatelo, who propositioned Jimmy with a bet over a boxing match.
Jimmy's fighter lost the match, and with no money to his name to pay for his losses, he fainted. When Vatelo's men came to collect and found Gambino unconscious and without the means to hold up his end of the bargain, they took care of him the hard way. Vatelo's men cut Jimmy into pieces, wrapped him in cellophane, and gave him a one-way ticket to sleeping with the fishes.
The Torso seems to be one of the non-violent ghosts, likely because, as a torso, his ability to actually harm someone is a bit limited. He is the Black Zodiac version of a Taurus, explaining his desire for material things, greed, laziness, and boundless rage. Whenever his ghost appears, the endless screams of his severed head can be heard.
The Bound Woman
With a story resembling a typical urban legend shared around a campfire, the Bound Woman centers on the ghost of Susan LeGrow. A privileged teenager, Susan was the daughter of the wealthiest family in town and a proud member of her school's cheerleading squad. Back in the day, this is all it took to solidify that Susan would be the most popular girl in school. Despite her reputation as a "heartbreaker," as was expected of all high school queen bees, Susan spent her senior year dating Chet Walters, the captain of the football team. Unfortunately, as Susan craved more attention, she had been cheating on Chet with another guy, and the two were discovered on Prom Night. Thrown into a fit of rage, Chet clubbed her lover to death and then tied Susan up before strangling her with his tie and breaking her neck.
In a final act of poetic hatred, Chet buried Susan under the 50-yard line on the school's football field. He was put on death row and before his execution delivered his final words: "The b**** broke my heart, so I broke her neck."
As the third member of the Black Zodiac, the Bound Woman represents Gemini, with her history of cheating depicted as an example of the indecisive nature of Geminis and their reputation for being two-faced. As a Gemini ... rude.
The Withered Lover
If you're looking for a scare, look elsewhere, as the story of the Withered Lover is one of tragedy. Jean Kriticos was the loving wife of Arthur Kriticos (Tony Shalhoub) and the mother of their children Bobby and Kathy. Jean was a wonderful mother who was well-loved by her family, but on a tragic night, a stray log rolled out of the fireplace in the family home and ignited the Christmas tree. Arthur ran to save Bobby and Kathy, assuming that Jean would run outside to safety, but she did not, and the left side of her body was horribly burned in the fire. The family took her to St. Luke's Hospital where she sadly died from her injuries.
Despite her violent demise, Jean was likely the only member of the Black Zodiac that was genuinely innocent and kind. When her family took up residence in Cyrus' manor/ghost jail, she did her best to protect them all from danger and keep them safe from the more malicious spirits. The Withered Lover is the traditional Zodiac equivalent to Cancer, represented by her motherly, intuitive, compassionate, sensitive, and emotional nature.
The Torn Prince
Royce Clayton's story sounds like something ripped straight out of an episode of "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" Born in 1940, Royce was a gifted high school baseball player with a bad case of narcissism and a superiority complex. With elite colleges all over the country scouting him and promising to take him away from the simple life in his small town, Clayton felt invincible. All of that changed, however, when a local greaser named Johnny challenged Royce to a drag race. Royce agreed to the race in his prized hot rod, but that pesky Johnny had cut the brake line.
Royce seemed to do okay in the first half, but was unable to handle a dangerous turn and drove off of a cliff, flipping the car three times before it burst into an inferno. The accident shredded large amounts of flesh from his body, including a massive chunk out of the right side of his face. Royce's future was history. His body was buried overlooking the baseball field, and in death, his ghost haunts the corridors of Cyrus' home, baseball bat still in hand. He represents the inverse of Leo, making him self-centered, egotistical, possessive, and impatient.
The Angry Princess
Another tragic tale, the sixth member of the Black Zodiac is the Angry Princess. In life, Dana Newman was considered by many to be one of the most beautiful women in the world. Unfortunately, Dana likely suffered from body dysmorphic disorder. She sought the assistance of a plastic surgeon to aid her low self-esteem unfortunately fueled by a slew of abusive boyfriends. Working for the surgeon, Dana received payment in the form of breast implants, multiple nose jobs, and a laundry list of other needless body modification procedures. After Dana was left working alone one night, she attempted to perform surgery on herself to mend an imaginary imperfection, but the procedure failed and Dana was left blinded in one eye.
With her beauty seemingly destroyed, Dana's self-loathing became too much to bear and she died by suicide in her bathtub. As Cyrus describes it, she was as beautiful in death as she was in life. Dana's insecurities were well on display throughout the home, envious of Kathy's (Shannon Elizabeth) beauty, and enacting revenge on the lawyer Ben Moss who declares "nice tits" and is shortly thereafter sliced in half by a sliding glass door.
The Angry Princess represents Virgo, known for being overly critical, insecure overthinkers, and perfectionists to a fault.
Another story based on real-life history, the Pilgrimess is the ghost of Isabella Smith. In 1675, the orphaned Isabella immigrated to a small New England town in the hopes of starting a better life. Unfortunately, the established colony didn't take too kindly to outsiders, and she was isolated from the rest of the community. Shortly after her arrival, a mysterious illness struck the town's livestock, and they all died. A local preacher decided to use their deaths as a means to accuse Isabella of witchcraft. Despite her pleas of innocence, the preacher suddenly fell ill, and this horrified the town into believing that she was, in fact, a witch.
The town chased Isabella into a barn, which was then lit on fire. Miraculously, she survived the incident, walking out of the barn completely unharmed. This shocked the town, who decided this was proof of her witchcraft and sentenced her to a slow and painful death in the stocks. Children stoned her, adults cursed and spit on her, and after a few weeks, Isabella died of starvation. Whether or not she was actually a witch was never confirmed, not even by Cyrus, but the turmoil she suffered made her a perfect choice to join the Black Zodiac.
The twisted inverse of a Libra, the Pilgrimess is unreliable, impatient, emotionally detached, and vindictive.
The Great Child and the Dire Mother
The eighth and ninth ghosts of the Black Zodiac come in the form of the mother-son duo, Margaret and Harold Shelburne. Margaret was a little person who worked as a sideshow attraction in a traveling carnival but became pregnant after she was sexually assaulted by the Tall Man. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding his conception, Margaret was greatly protective of her son, relentlessly spoiling him and giving him everything he wanted. Her constant infantilization of him meant that Harold spent his entire life in diapers, and never developed any skills to take care of himself. They were mocked mercilessly by their fellow carnival workers, and after a group of them kidnapped Margaret as a sick joke, Harold unleashed a furious search for her.
By the time he found her, his mother had suffocated in the bag they were keeping her in, so Harold killed the workers with an ax, as well as many of the other performers who had mocked them in the past. Harold displayed their disembodied remains for paying customers, motivating carnival broker Jimbo to order an angry mob to execute Harold in retaliation.
The Great Child represents Scorpio, making him insensitive, possessive, aggressive, and vengeful, while the Dire Mother represents Sagittarius, seen as optimistic individuals, almost to the point that it hinders their perception of reality ... like a growing son needing to be seen as something other than a baby.
While the story of George Markley may not be directly inspired by a living person, his tragic demise sounds unfortunately similar to some of the more disgusting events in American history. George Markley was an honest, hardworking blacksmith, but as one of the only Black men in town, found himself suspected of theft by a local man named Nathan. The man threatened to run George out of town, but knowing his innocence, stood up for himself and refused to move to a new town. Furious, Nathan and a gang of his buddies lynched George's wife and children in retaliation, as a means of sending George a message that he'd better leave or else suffer a similar fate. Devastated, George tracked down Nathan and his friend and beat them to death with his sledgehammer.
When the town got word of what had happened, George was taken by an angry mob to his shop where they tied him to a tree and pounded railroad spikes throughout his body with his own sledgehammer. In one final act of horrific racism, the townspeople chopped off George's hand and replaced it with his sledgehammer, not unlike the hook hand of "Candyman."
The Hammer is one of the more malicious spirits caught by Cyrus Kriticos and poses a massive threat to Arthur Kriticos' family when the ghosts are released in the house. As the tenth member of the Black Zodiac, he also represents the stubborn, unforgiving, impulsive, and brutal traits found in Capricorn.
Arguably the most easily identifiable and terrifying ghost of them all, The Jackal tells the twisted tale of Ryan Kuhn. Born to a sex worker sometime in 1887, Ryan Kuhn was a raging misogynist with a demented and insatiable lust for women. He spent his life on earth as a serial sexual predator, with a tendency to attack, rape, and murder random women walking home late at night, or the full-service sex workers just trying to do their work in peace. Recognizing that his animalistic tendencies were a severe problem, Ryan Kuhn willingly committed himself to the Borinwood Asylum. Unfortunately, the treatment was unsuccessful; Ryan slowly lost any grasp he once had on reality and was diagnosed criminally insane. He scratched at the walls in his cell so violently that he shredded off his fingernails, and the frequent clawing forced his hands into a deformed position. One day, Ryan attacked a nurse, forcing the orderlies to confine him to a straitjacket, electing to tighten it whenever he acted out.
Well, Ryan acted out frequently, and with every tightening of the jacket, his limbs continued to bend and contort. He eventually gnawed through the straitjacket, forcing the doctors to trap his head in a primitive head cage and keep him locked in isolated darkness in the basement of the asylum. Ryan grew to hate any form of human contact, screaming wildly whenever anyone dared approach him. The asylum eventually caught fire, but instead of fleeing with the rest, Ryan elected to stay within his cell and let the fire take him over.
He is said to represent Aquarius' extremism, rebellion, and lack of empathy, but it feels cruel to associate any sign with someone as viciously evil as The Jackal.
Horace "The Breaker" Mahoney is the first member of the Black Zodiac that we're introduced to in "Thirteen Ghosts," as the opening scene of the film shows Cyrus and his team capturing his ghost in a junkyard after baiting him with a semi-truck filled with blood. Abandoned by his mother and raised by his father, Horace was relentlessly teased as a child due to his abnormal height and facial disfigurements. His father gave him a job at his junkyard chopping and crushing up old cars, which Horace did alone for most of his teenage years. Unfortunately, after his father died, Horace went insane as a result of his isolation and became a serial killer. For years, Horace would pick up hitchhikers and motorists requiring assistance and bring them back to his junkyard, eventually breaking every bone in their body and then ripping them apart with his bare hands to use their meat as feed for his dogs.
As Horace was about to kill his seventh victim, an undercover police officer, the SWAT team arrived to take him out. Horace managed to strongman his way out of his handcuffs and kill three police officers before he was gunned down. In the years that followed, Horace's earthbound ghost continued a reign of terror, with his body count rising to over 40 before his capture.
As the Black Zodiac representation of Pisces, The Juggernaut avoids taking responsibility, is aggressive, a loner, and extremely sensitive. Probably explains why he went insane the moment he lost the only person who ever cared about him.
The Broken Heart
While the standard Zodiac only features 12 signs, the Black Zodiac required a 13th ghost in order to activate Basileus' Machine which doubled as Cyrus Kriticos' mansion. Said to be "designed by the Devil and powered by the dead," the machine requires thirteen earth-bound spirits to open the Ocularis Infernum (Latin for "The Eye of Hell") allowing the owner incalculable power. Named after the 15th century astrologer, Basileus' Machine was hidden at the core of Cyrus' two-story mansion made of ectobar glass, etched with Latin containment spells to keep the captured ghosts at bay. The machine required a spirit to be sacrificed willingly out of love, in contrast to the other earthbound spirits who died in agony. Hence, the 13th ghost.
Cyrus Kriticos handpicked each earthbound spirit to represent the Black Zodiac, including his nephew Arthur Kriticos. After selecting Jean to be the fourth ghost, he intended for Arthur to be the 13th, The Broken Heart. Cyrus intentionally put Arthur's children in danger in the middle of Basileus's Machine, hoping that he would willingly die to save them, thereby unlocking the power of the Ocularis Infernum. Well, Cyrus' plan failed spectacularly and he was torn to pieces by most of the members of the Black Zodiac, freeing their spirits to pass on, and allowing Arthur to reunite with his children and their nanny Maggie (Rah Digga).
With no conventional Zodiac counterpart, Arthur serves as a reminder to express unconditional love whenever you can and to immediately call bulls*** if your weird, rich uncle leaves you a glass mansion that comes with a free visit from Matthew Lillard talking to ghosts.