The Screen Room
High Spirits (1988)
I’m very aware how often I start so many of these posts with: “I watched a film recently that I hadn’t seen for ages”.
The fact is, I used to watch certain films quite regularly when I was younger and had more time, but as we all know life takes over and things change. I quite often find myself realising I haven’t seen a certain film for years and then suddenly get an overwhelming urge to re-watch it.
Well with that in mind I recently watched a film that I’d not only not seen for ages (probably around 20 years or more) but also one I think I’d only ever seen all the way through once to begin with.
High Spirits (1988)
I wouldn’t be at all surprised if many of you don’t know about this movie. If you were around when it came out you’ve probably forgotten it exists, and if you weren’t born in 1988 you can be forgiven for not being aware of it since it’s as if it was hidden from the world sometime around the mid 90s.
If you haven’t seen it, it’s a quirky comedy/fantasy starring Peter O’Toole (Lawrence of Arabia), Steve Guttenberg (Cocoon), Daryl Hannah (Blade Runner), Beverly D'Angelo (National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation), Peter Gallagher (While You We’re Sleeping) and a very young Liam Neeson (Taken) among many others.
It was written and directed by Irish filmmaker Neil Jordan (The Crying Game, Interview with the Vampire) and was his first big budget film.
This is what it’s about according to the internet:
“Irish hotelier Peter Plunkett (O'Toole) attempts to fill the chronic vacancies at his castle by launching an advertising campaign that wrongly portrays the property as haunted. Unfortunately, he fails to scare a single American tourist with his hokey and dreadfully unconvincing effects. When two actual ghosts, Mary (Hannah) and Martin (Neeson), show up to add some authenticity, they end up falling for two of the guests, Sharon (D'Angelo) and Jack (Guttenberg).”
My sister LOVES this movie!!
In actual fact one of the reasons I watched it again recently was so I could remind myself of it enough to do a post about it. I always think it’s a shame when a film gets forgotten about and I know my sister will love seeing this post pop up on her Facebook news feed (don't forget to check out the page).
I won’t lie though, I don’t love it quite as much as my sister does but then we all have our own tastes. Saying that, watching it again recently as an adult (and I use that term loosely) I found a new appreciate for it that I was perhaps too young to realise in my early to late teens.
The story is funny and charming and highly entertaining in a “you just have to go with it” kind of way.
It has a very unique style of humour about it which is perhaps why it hasn’t become one of the more treasured comedies of its kind. Sometimes regional humour doesn’t land with everybody but to those it does will no doubt love it.
Peter O’Toole steals the show as the hard drinking/occasionally suicidal owner of Castle Plunkett, an old, run down Irish Castle-Hotel. So much so that, as good as the rest of the cast is you tend to forget they’re even there whenever O’Toole is on screen. He’s hilarious!
This is a very different kind of film for most of the cast based on movies they’d done before, and in a funny way that’s kind of what makes it work. D’Angelo plays the pole opposite of her lovable, supportive character Ellen Griswold in the National Lampoon’s films, Guttenberg plays a slightly downtrodden husband type and a youthful looking Liam Neeson plays a ghost who’s forced to replay the murder of his new bride (Hannah) every night for eternity.
The only actor playing a familiar role is Jennifer Tilley who, if you’ve seen Liar Liar (1997) you’ll know is great at playing seductive women.
This is a fun, charming, nostalgia-filled, off the wall comedy that’s sure to give you a few giggles, especially if you appreciate Irish humour.
It’s available to rent from Amazon Prime Video for £3.49.
Seen it? Let me know below.👇