1988 / Director. Neil Jordan.
Neil Jordan, Peter O'Toole, Liam Neeson, Steve Guttenberg, Daryl Hannah, Beverly D'Angelo, Jennifer Tilly, Connie Booth, Peter Gallagher and Liz Smith - such an ensemble of talent is hard to refuse. 1988's HIGH SPIRITS seemed like an event. Director Neil Jordan was riding high, having previously made Angel, Mona Lisa and The Company Of Wolves. He seemed to have a knack for atmospheric storytelling and HIGH SPIRITS could have been a fantastic romp. Sadly it's a mess. Actually, it's a steaming pile of funky ectoplasm. What should have been a frivolous and quirky misadventure was reduced to a disjointed and chaotic farce. An Irish family face the threat of losing their ancestral castle and hatch a scam to lure gullible American tourists on the promise of being haunted. The staff dress up as apparitions, banshees and an assortment of other idiotic ghouls but when the guests reject the scam and try to leave, the castle's REAL ghosts have other ideas. HIGH SPIRITS is too shambolic for my liking. It could have been great if only it had adopted more of a Monty Python sensibility. I revisit it every few years on the hope that it will win me over but it never manages to hold me attention. It feels more like a noisy Halloween party or a performance at Draculas restaurant. The tragedy is that HIGH SPIRITS is shot really well and the set design is fantastic. Aesthetically it reminds me of Young Frankenstein and Haunted Honeymoon (two personal favs) but a terrible script and trite performances reduce it to muck. I can't even embrace it as a cult film. I'll try again in a few years. lol (i want to like it)