The Canterville Ghost,
Directed by Syd MacCartney,
Starring Patrick Stewart, Neve Campbell, Joan Sims, Donald Sinden, Cherie Lunghi, Leslie Phillips
Based on the Oscar Wilde short story this ghostly tale stars Neve Campbell, Patrick Stewart, Joan Sims, Donald Sinden, Leslie Philips, and Cherie Lunghi. An American teenager is forced to move across the Atlantic with her family and moves to an English stately home. Naturally this stately pile has its own resident ghost (which respectable mansion doesn’t?), who has some kind of unresolved business. At first no one believes that the teenager, played by Neve Campbell, convinced she is making up stories, trying to get her family to travel back to the States, but soon things get to the point where no one can doubt what is going on.
As Blu-Ray and digital releases become more available, and as the economy allows us to have more disposable income, more and more of the films from the 1980s and 90s that we never thought would see the light of day again come to our small screens. While by today’s standards The Canterville Ghost is perhaps very tame sauce, it’s still quite enjoyable, and on this very rainy and very windy Saturday afternoon that I’m watching it, sitting with my family, it’s just a perfect moment of entertainment.
The story is one that you should be familiar with: an old, angry spirit in an English stately house is haunting everyone that tries to make the place their home, and all the locals know this. When an American physicist moves into the home, as the owner needs the cash, he brings his family over from America. His wife, played by Lunghi, and two sons are looking forward to the adventure of the new experience, while the daughter, Neve Campbell, is reluctant to be happy there. The father insists that all the alleged haunting is simply the daughter trying to get them all to move back to America. This annoys the ghost even more so than usual.
Patrick Stewart plays the ghost who has haunted the building for over four centuries. Stewart is built for this almost Shakespearean role as the spirit with unresolved issues. The script highlights his talents more than that of any of the other players. They shoehorn in a romance between Campbell and a young Duke that finds her interesting, and while it’s a welcome subplot it still feels too forced to be believed.
While The Canterville Ghost has its share of problems, and is very much of the 90s period it was made in, it’s a pleasure to see the English cast on screen again. Donald Sinden is someone whom I grew up watching in Never the Twain, while Joan Sims was always there in the Carry On films with a smile that is still present here. As I said was watching this, sitting there on a rainy Saturday with family around, watching the overly dramatic and sometimes funny film. It’s a perfect home viewing movie for that type of day for the whole family. I would say though that the extras on the disc are a bit disappointing with only two interviews to speak off.
I cannot say that this is one of those Blu-Ray purchases that you have to buy straight away, but if you have children who would like to watch a ghost story that’s not going to terrorise them, and coming up to Halloween and the cold and dark winter months is the perfect time for that. Take a moment and think about buying The Canterville Ghost, it was built for family days in together, and that experience is worth the cost of the film.
The Canterville Ghost is released by Second Sight on Blu-Ray and DVD on October 30th