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|“||This house is not a house. We're in the middle of a machine, designed by The Devil, and powered by the dead.||„|
|~ Kalina Oretzia about the Basileus Machine.|
The Basileus Machine, as described by occult scholar Kalina Oretzia, is an eldritch house-like machine "designed by the Devil and powered by the dead". It serves as the main plot element in the 2001 supernatural horror movie Thirteen Ghosts (also known as Thir13en Ghosts). This elaborate and complex contraption physically resembles a mansion with walls made of Ectobar Glass etched with Latin Barrier Spells; at the heart of the house is a central core of huge, mechanical gears and a rotating crest of rings. It requires 13 earth-bound spirits, all of which represent the Black Zodiac in order to work. Once the machine is activated, it will supposedly open the Ocularis Infernum (Latin for "The Eye of Hell") which grants the user unfathomable power and unlimited knowledge.
The machine is named after the 15th century Italian astrologer Basileus, who created the blueprints for the machine in his book known as the Arcanum while he was under demonic possession, and the machine was built by collector Cyrus Kriticos nearly 600 years later within a nearby woods outside the American community of Willow Grove in Pennsylvania. However, it was destroyed before it could gain the thirteenth ghost needed to complete the Black Zodiac and open the Ocularis.
This intricate, occult machine was built to resemble a manor, entirely made of sound-proof Ectobar glass and iron, some of the electrical wires are still visible from the outside, so as its 2 upper floors (above the basement) which includes Bedrooms with Bathrooms inside thpose rooms. The glass panels that form the house all have protection spells to prevent the imprisoned ghosts from escaping or traveling to places others go to. Some important parts are the machine's Core (where the ghosts feed the machine their life energy in order to open the Eye of Hell), the fully-protected Library, and especially the basement, made of Containment Cubes that hold the ghosts as prisoners until the machine is activated.
Connection with the Black Zodiac
The machine was designed to use the ghosts of the Black Zodiac to open the Eye of Hell, and works when thirteen earth-bound souls, twelve of which each represent a sign of the Black Zodiac are fed to the machine's core, sucking their energy.
The main doors into the house are activated by a key inserted into a slot like a credit card.
The machine is activated by a pedal-like switch in the room which holds the machine's core. Once the machine is activated, it will automatically seal all possible ways out of the house and release the captive ghosts from their containment cubes one by one.
Once all of the ghosts have been released, a tape recording of a Latin chant is used to draw all the ghosts to the machine's core, where each one feeds their life energy to the machine. Once the machine has been fully powered up by all thirteen ghosts, it will open the Ocularis Infernum.
It is also shown that using the controls at the machine's core to reopen the house's exits when the machine is active will cause it to malfunction and explode; and that the rotating crest of rings at the machine's core will, when this happens, protect anyone inside.
- The Basileus Machine (translated in Latin as "Basileus Apparatus") Is also often referred to as the "Basileus Device" ("Basileus Fabrica" in Latin), "Basileus' Machine", "Basileus' Device", the "Glasshouse" ("Vitrum Domus" in Latin), the Glass House ("Domus Vitrum" in Latin), "The House" ("Domus" in Latin) and "The Machine" ("Apparatus" in Latin).
- The name of the machine's designer Basileus originates from the old Greek term (Greek: βασιλεύς) and title that has signified various types of monarchs in history. In the English-speaking world, it is perhaps most widely understood to mean "King" or "Emperor".
- The First Born Son:
- The ghostly whispers which signal the First Born Son's approach are the sound of an arrow whistling through the air.
- Whenever the First Born Son is present, he tends to whisper "I want to play".
- His name in life, Billy Michaels, may be a reference to Billy the Kid due to the fact that he loved cowboy films in life.
- The First Born Son is equivalent to Aries, which is the first sign in the Black and Traditional Zodiacs. They tend to be reckless, dare-devils, irresponsible, youthful immaturity, and stubborn.
- For some reason, despite always dressing as a cowboy, his ghost is seen dressed as an "Indian", even carrying a tomahawk as a weapon.
- Whilst other ghosts appear to only travel across the ground (Cyrus being sure to put spells on the floor and the Hammer being incapable of chasing Arthur through the ceiling) The First Born Son often appears standing on walls or hanging from the ceiling.
- The Latin inscription beneath the First Born Son's symbol in the Arcanum, "Primus Filius", translates to "The First Son". His current name is translated in Latin as "Filius Primogenitus".
- He is the first of the ghosts in the Black Zodiac that is male.
- His ghost file is represented by a toy gun.
- The Torso:
- The video narrated by Cyrus that explains The Torso's backstory states that he was killed by Larry "The Finger" Vatello, his gang and his fighter right after he came to from fainting when he lost the bet. However, most other, less direct sources state that he was killed when he tried to renege his bet with Vatello and slip out of town.
- The sounds that signal the Torso's presence are muffled screams.
- The Latin inscription beneath The Torso's symbol in the Arcanum, "Truncus," translates to "Trunk", which is another name for the human torso. His name is translated in Latin as "Abdominis".
- The Torso appears to be one of the weaker ghosts encountered, as he cannot harm anyone, as he's never seen harming anyone.
- He is the second male ghost in the Black Zodiac.
- His ghost file is represented by poker cards.
- The Bound Woman:
- The Bound Woman's hands are almost always tied behind her back. However, when she and the other ghosts murdered Cyrus Kriticos, her hands are untied.
- The Latin inscription beneath The Bound Woman's symbol in the Arcanum, "Soror Dira" translates to "Dire Sister". Her current name is translated in Latin as "Mulier Terminos".
- Interestingly, much like the Jackal, the whispers which signal the Bound Woman's presence appear to be insane screams and rapid, high-pitched laughter.
- For some reason, it seemed as though in one scene, The Bound Woman was shown hanging, but in other scenes, she was quite able to walk.
- In the film's early script, she was called "The Buried Maiden" ("Ecce In Consepulti" in Latin).
- The Bound Woman is the first of the female ghosts in the Black Zodiac.
- Her ghost file is represented by a prom tiara.
- The Withered Lover:
- Of all the ghosts in the movie, the only ghost with no hostility whatsoever is Jean Kriticos, Arthur's wife. Mostly due to her kind nature and lack of hostility, as well as not having a dark past like the others, and she was the only one seen that elects to help her family whenever possible.
- The Latin inscription beneath The Withered Lover's symbol in the Arcanum, "Amator Marcidus", translates to "Languid Lover". Her current name is translated in Latin as "Amator Aridam".
- In the film's early script, she was called "The Withered Maiden" ("Ecce Aridam" in Latin).
- She is the second female ghost in the Black Zodiac.
- Her ghost file is represented by the damaged photo of herself.
- The Torn Prince:
- In his containment cube, the overturned car which killed Royce can be seen behind him.
- The video narrated by Cyrus that explains the Torn Prince's backstory states that his car exploded and that this is what killed him. However, most other, less direct sources state that it flipped over, dragging Royce under it. The overturned car behind the Torn Prince in his containment cube would indicate that the latter source is how Royce truly died.
- The noises associated with Royce's presence are violent and angry wails.
- The Latin inscription beneath The Torn Prince's symbol in The Arcanum, "Eques Scissus" translates to "Rent Knight". Rent is another word for "Torn". His name is translated in Latin as "Princeps Scissa".
- He is the third male ghost in the Black Zodiac.
- His ghost file is represented by a baseball trophy.
- The Angry Princess:
- In the film's original script, she was called "The Suicide".
- According to the DVD subtitles, the whispers which signal The Angry Princess's approach are her whispering, "I'm sorry."
- In the bathroom scene, "I'm sorry" is written in blood on the floor behind Kathy Kriticos.
- Usually, an area that the Angry Princess is currently present at is covered in blood (visible only through spectral viewers), most notably her containment cube and the bathroom.
- The whispers associated with the Angry Princess usually resemble soft, feminine moans.
- The Latin inscription beneath The Angry Princess' symbol in the Arcanum, "sibi mortem consciscere," roughly translates as "Suicide" ("Suicidium" in Latin) in English. Her current name is translated in Latin as "Et Iratus Principem".
- She is the third female in the Black Zodiac.
- Her ghost file is represented by a razor.
- The Pilgrimess:
- If one looks closely when Dennis Rafkin comes across the imprisoned Pilgrimess, her containment cube is covered in thick cobwebs and dead leaves, giving it a somewhat witchy or ghastly facade.
- As noted by Cyrus Kriticos, it is unknown whether or not Isabella really was a witch in life.
- In the film's original script, the Pilgrimess was called The Buried Lady ("Sepultus Est Domina" in Latin).
- Being from the 17th century, this most likely makes her the oldest member of the other 12 Ghosts.
- The Pilgrimess is the only ghost not to have a Latin inscription beneath her symbol in the Arcanum, but her current name might be roughly translated as "Et Pilgrimess".
- The Pilgrimess' name is a word describing a female pilgrim and it can translated as "viatrix".
- She is the fourth female ghost in the Black Zodiac.
- Her ghost file is represented by a damaged Holy Bible.
- The Great Child:
- Originally, Harold died when he choked on his own vomit. However, the producers changed this as they felt it was too weak a backstory.
- It is unknown why The Great Child, as a ghost, appears as he did in life, while most of the other ghosts normally appear as they looked like after or at the moment they died. However, according to Cyrus, when Harold was killed his body was mutilated "beyond what you or I could comprehend"; this is probably the reason the Child appears as he did before he died.
- Naturally, the sounds associated with the Great Child are infantile whimpers.
- Strangely, the Latin inscription beneath the symbol for The Great Child and the Dire Mother in the Arcanum, "Mures", is the Latin word for "mice". His current name is translated in Latin as "De Puero"
- He is the fourth male ghost in the Black Zodiac.
- His ghost file is represented by a baby rattle.
- The Dire Mother:
- Originally, Margaret died when Harold choked on his vomit, and fell on and suffocated her. However, the producers changed this as they felt it was too weak a backstory.
- It was shown in Thirteen Ghosts that Margaret was blind in one (the left) eye. But it is unknown if this occurred before or after death.
- Strangely, the Latin inscription beneath the symbol for The Great Child and The Dire Mother in the Arcanum, "Mures", is the Latin word for "mice". Her current name is translated in Latin as "Mater Saeva".
- She is the fifth and last female ghost in the Black Zodiac.
- Her ghost file is represented by a shoe.
- The Hammer:
- The whispers which signal The Hammer's approach are deep growling.
- The Latin inscription beneath The Hammer's symbol in The Arcanum, "Malleus Ignis", translates to "Fire Hammer". his current name is translated in Latin as "Malleus Est".
- He is the only African-American ghost in the Black Zodiac.
- His ghost file is represented by railroad spikes.
- The Jackal:
- According to Kalina Oretzia, The Jackal is the sign of the fictitious "Hell's Winter".
- In the film's original script, the Jackal was called "The Hyena" ("Hyaenis" in Latin).
- The Latin inscription beneath The Jackal's symbol in The Arcanum, "Canis Aureus", literally translates to "The Golden Dog". His current name is translated in Latin as "Draconis".
- 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 is 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.
- If one were to listen carefully, it sounds like the Jackal says, "Leave me alone" when Bobby Kriticos is hearing the voice of his mother.
- According to Dennis Rafkin, the Jackal is the Charles "Charlie" Manson of the 12 Ghosts.
- His ghost file is represented by the jaw of a human skull or dentures.
- The Juggernaut:
- The whispers which signal The Juggernaut's approach appear to be roaring wind.
- The Latin inscription beneath Horace's symbol reads "Titan", referring to his great size and strength.
- Besides The Jackal, The Juggernaut is the only ghost who was proven a criminal in life.
- According to Dennis Rafkin, he is the only ghost that required bait to lure out.
- He is the only known ghost to continue killing after being killed.
- Quite possibly the most violent of the ghosts.
- His ghost file is represented by shotgun shells.
- The Broken Heart:
- The symbol of The Broken Heart (the ghost Arthur was meant to become) is on the key to the front doors of Basileus's Machine.
- Arthur, like his daughter Kathy, was attacked by the Jackal.
- Therefore, Kathy's little brother, Bobby, was the only character to have not seen, let alone been attacked by the Jackal.
- The Latin inscription beneath The Broken Heart's symbol in the Arcanum, "Corda Tacita", translates to "The Silence of the Heart". However, this is an error revealing that Corda Tacita actually means the plural "Silent Hearts" in English and the non-plural name "Silent Heart" can be translated in Latin as either "Tacitum" or "Ave Maria". The final Ghost's current English name can be translated in Latin as "Contritos Corde".
- Because he was never a ghost, he has no ghost file or an item to represent him in life.
- There was a scrapped ghost character in the early script for Thirteen Ghosts called "The Rat" (roughly translated as "Mus" in Latin).