Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Yucky Movies of October: 13 Frightened Girls

29) 13 Frightened Girls

William Castle was the producer who always had a gimmick. He gave us the electrified seats for The Tingler and fright-breaks in his movies. You could vote on the fate of and ending to Mister Sardonicus, who was such a jerk that there was only one ending (and it didn't end well for him). 13 Ghosts required special glasses to see the ghosts presented in Illusion-O! His films are always simple pleasures. Mannered thrillers and horror films filled with hammy actors and good production values for low-budget pictures. I'm sure they're not the same now that you can watch them at home, but they still provide a lot of pleasure.

Miss Pittford's Academy is home to 13 daughters of men who make the world move, Ambassadors and the like. Each is from a different country and our lead is, of course, the American girl. Candace, the daughter of an American diplomat, decides to become "The Kitten," her spy identity as she tries to solve a murder that was clearly set up to frame her father. Mostly, her plan is to flirt her way to an answer though...


I was really hoping for skeletons on strings and axe murderers with a title like 13 Frightened Girls but instead got a tarantula and a limp, family-friendly Cold-War-era murder mystery. The girls are bland and their behavior is beyond stereotypical, which lends it that quaint air of fun. We're really introduced to them through a sequence involving the girls and a series of phone calls. America and China are friends but not "officially" as their countries aren't supposed to recognize one another. Russia is frosty and won't see eye to eye. This is very much a time capsule of the times... the sexist, gender-roled times.

The biggest - or, rather, ONLY- "yuck" is that the 16 year old Candace is all crushed out for her father's assistant, a man who looks to be pushing 40. (I wanna turn you over and spank you til my hand falls off. -Shudder) That said, it's fun to watch children play grown-ups at the "Spy Game." I'd never heard of this one before the new Castle set came out. I can see why. It's a family-friendly programmer but without the creaking gimmickry that made him so cherished by moviegoers everywhere.

(The other feature on this particular disc is Castle's original 13 Ghosts. I've seen that one several times over the years and wanted to review something new for my month of "Yucky" movies. Seems I steered a bit wrong.)

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