Neil Jordan’s High Spirits
When I was an older kid, past 10 but not yet a pre-teen, my favourite way to spend an afternoon was to buy a bag of Munchos chips and a bottle of Tahiti Treat soda pop, and rent High Spirits on VHS. I loved, and still love, its mix of comedy, romance and ghosts.
Every time I watch High Spirits again as an adult, I go into it expecting it to be juvenile because I liked it when I was young. Minutes into the film, I am brought back to the comedy of the 80s: slapstick and irreverent. What I particularly like about the film is that its first quarter or so doesn’t show any ghosts. Its storyline follows a group of well-meaning Irish country-folk trying to save a castle by making it appear haunted. Then, as the guests are forced to settle into the castle a day after they have arrived, a host of ghosts begin to appear and take over the narrative.
Re-watching High Spirits, I am reminded that it does have its scary parts. Creepy nuns and ancestors returning from the dead are two highlights. It is also steeped in Irish supernatural folklore, which makes the ghost storylines seem natural in the setting.
While High Spirits will never be as clever as Beetlejuice or as biting as Death Becomes Her, it stands out as a funny and creepy, classic dark comedy all the same for me. Check it out for yourself: High Spirits on Youtube.
Jordan, Neil. High Spirits, TriStar Pictures, 1988.