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80s silliness at it's best
on 28 March 2010
High Spirits is an amusing ghost caper movie from the 80s that somewhat fell into obscurity despite it's noteable cast and half-original (for it's time) storyline. Thankfully High Spirits has at least made it's re-release on DVD. Mixed with obvious bad special effects, bad clothes and costumes and very corny yet predictable dialogue, the movie is something of a blast from the past reminding us strongly of how much the comedy genre has evolved since 1988. Still, with amusing performances from Liam Neeson, Peter O'Tool, and the incredible Liz Smith, it will still provide just the hint of a smile at the corner of your mouth even if the movie is so obviously past it compared to the films of today.
Castle Plunkett, the run-down crumbling stone castle set deep in the country somewhere in Ireland is about to be forceably sold to an American businessman with the intentions of turning the once grand place into an Irish themed amusement park. Peter Punklett (Peter O'Toole), descendent of the family, finds himself in dire straits unable to afford the mortgage and devastated at the imminent foreclosure. Prompted by a brain storm after his whacky and eccentric mother (Liz Smith) advises him there are ghosts in the castle, Peter decides to open the castle up as 'haunted hotel' where he and his staff will use trickery to make the guests believe the castle is truly haunted.
Soon, after some planning and preparation, a bus load of American tourists arrive eager to see some spooks for themselves; amongst the vacationers are Jack Crawford (Steve Guttenberg) and his beautiful but neurotic wife Sharon (Beverly D'Angelo), who are having marital problems further complicated by Sharon's apparent addiction to valium.
It doesn't take very long before Peter Plunkett's plans and trickery begin to go awry, but what he doesn't know is that his mother was truthful in her revelation about the castle and it's spirit life. Angered with the way that Peter has bumbled his way through the ordeal, the spirits begin to revolt and give the vacationers something they really won't forget.
In addition to the chaos beginning to occur around the castle, Jack encounters the troubled spirit of Mary Plunkett (Daryl Hannah), the bride who was done to death by her husband Martin Brogan on her wedding night three hundred years ago. After accidentally setting Mary free from her curse of repeating her murder every night for the rest of eternity, Jack soon finds himself falling impossibly in love while his neurotic and overbearing wife suddenly finds an undeniable attraction to Mary's disgusting but rogueishly handsome husband, the ghostly Martin.