High Spirits Review

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Dispirited married couple Jack (Guttenberg) and Sharon (D'Angelo) take a second honeymoon at a supposedly haunted castle in Ireland, where Peter O'Toole's host (Plunkett) is merely scamming wealthy spook-hungry Americans. But when real ghosts turn up, all hell (and a little purgatory) breaks loose and Jack falls in love with Mary (Hannah), a ghostly wraith with a fine figure.


Irishman Neil Jordan, who wrote and directed High Spirits, started his career in 1981 with the dark thriller Angel, followed up with the imaginative The Company Of Wolves and then became big box office news with Mona Lisa. This latest offering from such an obviously gifted filmmaker is as far from those powerful movies as you could hope not to get.

Steve Guttenberg and his appalling wife Beverly D’Angelo decide on a second honeymoon - a visit to Peter O'Toole’s ancestral pile located somewhere in the Emerald Isle. They are two of a party lured by O'Toole’s advert: Come to Ireland, check out a castle and see some ghosts. Of course, it’s a ploy on O'Toole’s part - there aren’t really any spooks, he’s just trying to raise some cash. But what’s this? The fumblings of the quaint Irish folk pretending to be ghosts and the presence of various stereotyped Americans whingeing on about the realism of said spectres stir strange rumblings in the bowels of the castle. Oh no! It’s the real undead, awoken from their years of serene slumber and determined to give the Yanks - in a friendly, 15 certificate kind of way- what they came to see.

One of the real wraiths is the winsome beauty Daryl Hannah, murdered by her loony husband on her wedding night a good couple of hundred years ago. Guttenberg falls for her, but will they find happiness? He thinks not. But they fall in love, they overcome the problems of human-ghost relationships, they determine to live together for ever. In the meantime, Guttenberg’s wife gets what she deserves in the form of Daryl’s psychopathic husband, while O'Toole’s dad (Ray McAnally, who in fact is only six years older than O'Toole) pops up from beyond the grave to give him some advice, and a jolly good time is had by all.

High Spirits is an instantly forgettable romp, entertaining while it lasts but, considering Jordan’s past work, a disappointing first big-budget production.

It’s safe, it’s mainstream and it’s silly, but Guttenberg and Hannah strike up enough chemistry to give this big budget apparition at least a little depth.