Click here to return to the main site.

DVD Review

DVD cover

High Spirits (1988)


Starring: Peter O'Toole, Steve Guttenberg, Beverly D'Angelo, Daryl Hannah and Liam Neeson
Optimum Home Entertainment
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: 12
Available 12 January 2009

Peter Plunkett has a problem. He owns a dilapidated old castle in the corner of Ireland and, unable to keep up the mortgage payments, is in danger of losing it to a ruthless tycoon who wants to transplant it brick for brick to California as a theme park. Peter and his wacky staff are despondent until they hit on the idea of pretending the castle is haunted so as to attract American tourists. Amongst the new visitors is Jack Crawford, desperate to re-ignite the romance in his marriage to icy wife Sharon. Although Plunkett and his staff do their utmost to “haunt” the castle their efforts are quite lame, until they anger the real castle ghosts who decide to take matters into their own hands. Chaos ensues when beautiful ghost Mary Plunkett falls in love with Jack and decides to break the prohibition on ghosts “tupping” with mortals...

Alarm bells will start ringing for most people when they learn that both Steve Guttenberg and Daryl Hannah star in this movie. Both have, thankfully, almost disappeared without a trace. The romantic scenes rest on these two actors shoulders and, you'll be unsurprised to hear, that both turn in more wooden than usual performances.

The plot to High Spirits is one of the most ridiculous ever committed to paper. It's basically broken down into two main stories: A man and his staff trying to save his ancestral home from being sold out from under him; and an American visitor falling in love with a dead woman. Both of these paper-thin plot threads are badly joined together so that the whole movie makes little sense and out stays its welcome.

There are also bizarre scenes that make little-to-no sense (the phantom bus and the stage that comes to life are just mind bogglingly strange - and very out of place here). In fact these scenes, as well as a few others, just feel like filler material used to pad out a thin storyline.

There's also some cheap, and very '80s, titillation in the form of women running around, Benny Hill style, in their underwear and some cliched slapstick comedy as the castle staff try to convince the visitors that there are real ghosts haunting the site. Oh... and there's a sprinkling of necrophilia thrown in for good measure.

There are good performances from Liam Neeson, Liz Smith and Peter O'Toole - but the whole movie just isn't worth sitting through to see them pull the goods out of the bag.

This DVD is released without any extras, with all the presentational values of a free newspaper promo DVD. Even if you remember this film fondly, £16 is still too high a price to charge for a movie of this quality. I'd wait six months and then look out for it in a bargain bin near you.


Pete Boomer

Buy this item online

We compare prices online so you get the cheapest deal
Click on the logo of the desired store below to purchase this item.

£11.69 (
£10.99 (
£9.99 (
£12.99 (

All prices correct at time of going to press.