High Spirits

Director: Neil Jordan

While it has been invariably noted that High Spirits misses the mark, Jordan’s contribution to the Irish Gothic tradition remains interesting on a number of levels. Despite the producers’ interference, it is still possible to read the original whimsical and ironic intent. This supernatural comedy is simultaneously a domestic melodrama and a romantic tale about star-crossed lovers divided by time. The story centres on an old castle owned by Peter Plunkett (Peter O’Toole), who is unable to make the mortgage repayments. He has the bright idea of turning it into a haunted hotel, with his staff providing the ghostly entertainments and special effects. The guests see through the sham, but when they try to leave the real ghosts take over. Unfortunately, critics have failed to see beyond the crude stereotypes and the self-consciously ham theatricals.
U.S.A., 1988. Colour. Dolby stereo. 96 mins.

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