Based (rather loosely) on a story by Oscar Wilde, 1986's
made-for-TV film The Canterville
Ghost is a nice family friendly flick. Staring
John Gielgud who plays his role
nicely and a very young Alyssa Milano, the film is light fun especially
go into it without high expectations.
Young Jennifer Canterville (Milano) is being forced to move
by her father Harry (Ted Wass) and his new wife Lucy (Andrea
Marcovicci). Jenny doesn't like that she
had to movie from
and leave all of her friends behind, and is even more upset that her
remarried after the death of her mother.
But when Harry lost his job at about the same time that he
he had inherited a castle, there wasn't much choice.
Except that he doesn't quite own it yet. For
some vague reason the whole family has to
live in Canterville Castle for three months before Harry can claim
and there's the rub. The house is
haunted by one of his distant relatives, Sir Simon (John Gielgud), who
the idea of anyone living in his castle.
Apparently no Canterville has been able to stay in the house for
weeks, let alone three months, and Sir Simon aims to remove the new
in record time.
The first evening there Sir Simon warns the family to leave
and tries to terrorize the adults by putting a large spider in their
the best he can come up with?). Lucy is
frightened, but Jennifer is intrigued.
She follows Sir Simon's green glow through the castle, up some
and into his private rooms. He tries to
scare her off, but she's more interested in getting her dead relative
terrorize her step-mother. With a little
luck Lucy will run off, and Jennifer is willing to help all she can.
As the days go by Jennifer continues to talk to Sir Simon,
rumored to be a ghost because he murdered his wife, and the two start
friends. So much so that when Jennifer's
father announces that he plans to sell the castle as soon as he gets
the deed, Jennifer
confides in Sir Simon who comes up with a plan to scuttle the idea.
Being a family friendly made for TV movie, the haunting of Canterville Castle is played mainly for
even the youngest viewers shouldn't have to worry about becoming scared. Most of the terrorizing is done off screen
and in the past, with Sir Simon laughing as he relates how he made one
or another run off into the night after presenting himself to them. The rest of the time the ghost limits himself
to hiding cookies and moving the parent's bed outside into a bog (with
sleeping in it of course). As is
mentioned, it is more comic than scary.
As it is, the film is innocuous and inoffensive. I
wish they had spent a bit more time developing
the characters, especially Sir Simon (it's never really explained why
haunting his relatives... he certainly has a lot of respect for his
heritage). The humor isn't quite as
funny as it could
be, and the drama isn't as emotional, but it's still a decent way to
movie-watching time with young kids.
The original mono track is decent but not
extraordinary. The dialog is clean and
clear but the background music isn't a deep and rich as it could be. This is an average sounding disc for a
The full frame image, like the audio, is fine. The
colors and detail aren't as impressive as
a new film would be, but it was a decent transfer from a nice looking
Nothing... there isn't even a menu.
A fun if innocuous TV movie that can be enjoyed by the
entire family, The Canterville Ghost
may not be high art and a waste of John
Gielgud's talents, but it's still enjoyable and worth watching. Recommended.