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MOVIE REVIEWS: HIGH SPIRITS

by Dawn, June 23, 2010

Written by OBS Staff Member Rose

Peter Plunkett (Peter O’Toole) owns a remote Irish castle that serves as a hotel, which hasn’t had a guest in ages. Behind on his mortgage payments, the castle is in danger of foreclosure. While trying half-heartedly to hang himself in his study, in bursts his mother who shames him with guilt because he has allowed the castle, his ancestral home, to fall to such disarray; how would his dead relatives feel. This sparks an idea in Peter. Ghosts. He schemes to turn the hotel into a supernatural tourist attraction to gain customers, knowing full well the castles has no ghosts at all.

The hotel is transformed into a haunted edifice by the staff, replete with silly string cobwebs, fake corpses and campy special effects to attract new visitors. With Plunkett’s marketing savoir-faire comes the arrival of new guests who hardly believe the masquerade of theatrics and feel cheated by the scam.

The truth to the masquerade comes out on the first night after many mishaps with the haunted house act. Jack (Steve Guttenberg) who is one of the guests, feels sorry for Plunkett and commiserates with him over drinks until their properly inebriated. Guttenberg retreats back to his room which turns out to be the wrong room and happens upon the real ghost of Mary Plunkett, the great-great-great-great-great niece of Peter Plunkett. With the appearance and intervention of the castle ghosts, they take the guests on a wild haunted ride.

High Spirits, a late 80’s fantasy comedy, is directed by Neil Jordan who won an Oscar for The Crying Game and directed Interview with a Vampire and includes a broad assemble cast of Peter O’Toole, Liam Neeson, Darryl Hannah, Steve Guttenberg, Beverly D’Angelo, Jennifer Tilly, Peter Gallagher and many others. When real ghosts start coming out of the woodwork at Castle Plunkett, having the diversity of so many characters involved is a sure recipe for hilarity and slapstick comicality. Each actor comfortably embraces their character which is defined by outrageous quirks and idiosyncrasies; everyone is atypical and it makes their interactions quite colorful and spirited.

My favorite line occurs after Sharon (Beverly D’Angelo) who is Jack’s wife, realizes she is getting groped in the shower by a strange man, which happens to be a ghost, screams for Jack. When Jack appears, she yells at him for not being there and says “He was rubbing my back and it felt good, I should have known it wasn’t you!”  Yea, she’s a miserable little crab apple and D’Angelo plays one perfectly.

Amusing and merely adorable with mediocre special effects, it’s no wonder it was never catapulted onto 80’s comedic film consciousness; High Spirits is not even available at Blockbuster. Your not suppose to take the movie too seriously though, your just suppose to enjoy the entertainment is supplies. If you can find a copy of it, pop it on a rainy Sunday afternoon, kick back and enjoy.

Rating: 7.5/10 stars
Running Time: 99 minutes

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