Black SplatHigh Spirits (1988)

"He’s an unlovely combination of a son of a bitch and a rat’s knackers."

High Spirits - Jack and Peter get drunk

Description: Peter O’Toole as Peter Plunkett gives his opinion to Jack (Steve Guttenberg) about Jim Brogan, an American who holds the mortgage note on Peter's home in the motion picture High Spirits (1988). Brogan's son-in-law, Jack doesn't want Peter to lose his castle and agrees his father-in-law is a son-of-a-bitch, but asks, "What's a rat's knackers?" Peter explains, "A rat's knackers is an unholy trinity of a muckraker, a gobshite and hoors melt."

Peter Plunkett is the owner of Dromore Castle, a dilapidated hotel/bed & breakfast located along the coast of Ireland in County Limerick. Presently, Peter fears he will default on his mortgage and lose his ancestral home to Mr. Jim Brogan, who calls Peter a "low-life, shit-for-brains, pecker-head" while discussing the castle affairs during a long distance phone call from America.

It is suggested Peter transport the castle to Malibu, California and turn it into a theme park called "Irish World" but Peter considers the idea utterly absurd, for where would he come up with such capital ("The number of stamps alone is mind boggling!") when he is already having financial difficulties paying his current mortgage. At present, Peter has three weeks to come up with the money he owes or face eviction.

High Spirits - Peter Punchett in a suicidal state of mind

The whole situation frustrates Peter who turns to drink and half-heartedly contemplates suicide. But then Peter is struck with a marvelous idea while talking to his aged mother who talks to the ghosts of her ancestors that allegedly still roam the halls of the castle. He will turn Castle Plunkett into a tourist attraction known as "The Most Haunted Place on the Emerald Isle."

But first Peter needs to rustle up ghosts for his guests. He has no problem convincing the castle staff to dress up as ghosts and manipulate bogus hauntings because jobs are scare in the village and so they set about to welcome those willing to travel to their hotel and experience a ghostly abode where the dead outnumber the living and where the guests will find hotel halls filled with long-legged beasties, banshees, pookas, ghouls of all description and things that go bump in the night.

"The full moon has risen...those of you with nervous dispositions would do well to protect yourselves. Lock your windows, bolt your doors, say your prayers, for tonight, they may be walking abroad...the banshee and the pooka. Good night. Sleep well, if you can..Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha" - Peter Plunkett

High Spirits - Peter welcomes his guests to Plunkett Castle

After a bus ride that ends in the lake, the "moist" guests check into the castle. They include: Brother Tony (Peter Gallagher) who is on vacation before he takes his final priestly vows; Miranda, (Jennifer Tilly) a baby-talking siren with a devil-worshipping ex-boyfriend whose flirtatious behavior has Brother Tony stimulated; Malcolm, (Martin Ferrero) a cynical parapsychologist from Duke University, his wife, and their two boys; and an unhappily married couple, Jack and Sharon (Beverly D'Angelo) on their second honeymoon.

Sharon is the daughter of Jim Brogan who comes to Ireland to spy on Peter Plunkett and sabotage his efforts to convert his failing hotel into a haunted castle attraction. Her father really has no intentions of extending the mortgage. He wants the castle for his own, because he was born there.

As the guests sit down for dinner, Malcolm, the paranormal investigator declares there are no ghosts at the castle. Now, that may be true for the moment, but as Plunkett's staff bumble their attempts at haunting the castle, the real ghosts in residence take umbrage at their ridiculous supernatural sham and start to reveal themselves.

High Spirits - Portrait of Mary Plunkett

As the staff sets out to spook up the place, they rely on an arsenal of spooky tricks including, spinning beds, a knight's armor on roller skates, holographic-like reflections of a sword-wielding mummy, and a rope-controlled flying banshee.

When the haunting is botched and the guests see the castle is a hoax, they all decide to leave, but the real ghosts in the castle whip up a storm that blows Jack into a tree, strips off the clothes of all the guests, disassembles their limousine and forces them to stay in the castle one more night to see what real ghosts can do as the the rotting bodies buried in the family crypt come to life and Peter gets to speak with the ghost of his father.

High Spirits - Peter talks with his father's ghost

Peter Plunkett: [speaking to the ghost of his father] What did you have to give me this place for? You knew I was an incompetent! All I wanted to be was happily useless. You made me miserably useless. What did you give me this place for? [starts throwing papers up into the air] baths to run, bills to be paid, and then dying on me, just like that! Most people give some warning, you know. Premature senility, angina, gout, bed-ridden for years... but not you. Oh, no, no, no. Healthy as an old goat, you pop off one day in the orchard. And what then? Not a god-damned word, not a whisper? Did it never occur to you I might need some advice?... I missed you Daddy
Plunkett Senior: Aww! Give your daddy a hug...[Peter hugs his father, and falls through him, landing on the floor] Oh, sorry. Peter.

High Spirits - Jack watches Martin attack Mary

Meanwhile, Jack is lead to the ghost of Mary Plunkett (Daryl Hannah), Peter's great, great, great, great, great, great cousin who kneels before a tree and prays to St. Bridgett to release her from her eternal nightmare of being killed each night by her husband, Martin (Liam Neeson). Jack had stepped between the knife blade that her ghostly husband used to stab her in the stomach every night for the past two centuries. This act of selflessness enables Mary to have on night of freedom from her cursed past.

"Last night when you took Martin's sword in my stead you broke the cursed chain that bound me for two hundred years. My marriage was arranged by my father, and I didn't love Martin. He had warts and his feet stank (and he squished). On my wedding night I refused to be tupped by him. He thought I loved another, though I did not. And in a jealous fury, he did me to death. Now every day for me is the same. If I get murdered one more time, I'll scream." - The Ghost of Mary Plunkett [to Jack]

High Spirits - Sharon and the elderly Mary

"You threw me over for this. I mean, I know you like passive women, Jack but she's half dead. I hope she has a great personality because this hurts." - Sharon [to Jack about Mary]

Mary senses that Jack loves her and reveals that on Halloween night a ghost can come to life. On all Hallow's eve Jack and Mary make love, but the act of love reveals her true age, that of a two hundred years old woman. Suddenly, Jack is reluctant to kiss Mary, suggesting moisturizer, but he does and his love restores Mary's beauty.

"You're a ghost. I'm an American. It would never work out." - Jack [to Mary]

Meanwhile, Jack's wife, Sharon who reported back to her father that Plunkett Castle was a "nightmare" is lured to her death by Martin, whom she lusted after. But there is a happy ending. Sharon (called a "dwarf" and "as cold as a penguin on a block of ice, by Jack) gets to share eternity with Martin as a ghost, and Mary is restored to life as Sharon dies, which allows Mary to live at the castle as a human with Jack.

High Spirits - The couples swap partners as they dance

In the end, the guests are free to leave as Brother Tony falls in love with Miranda, and Malcolm, the parapsychologist promises Peter he will recommend Castle Plunkett as the "Most Haunted Castle in the Western Hemisphere."

Note: The narration for the High Spirits (1988) movie trailer follows:

"These brave Americans have traveled all the way to Europe to visit a genuine haunted castle. Their host doesn't want them disappointed. But when you fake a haunting, the real ghosts get mad. Now they're out of the closet. Love is in the air. And Jack's just dreamy enough to imagine life with a ghost. Darryl Hannah. Peter O'Toole. Beverly D' Angelo. Steve Guttenberg. There's nothing like a vacation to give your spirits a lift. HIGH SPIRITS."

High Spirits - Movie Poster

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