The Spirit is Willing (1967)

Article 3125 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-17-2009
Posting Date: 3-5-2010
Directed by William Castle
Featuring Sid Caesar, Vera Miles, Barry Gordon
Country: USA
What it is : Tepid ghost comedy

A couple moves into a haunted house with their teenage son. The ghosts play havoc with their lives.

Despite my real affection for William Castle and his horror movies, I tend to be less taken with his attempts at comedies. In a sense I find this surprising; the trailers for his movies are some of the most hilarious I’ve seen, and he himself has a wicked sense of humor. But somehow, that humor gets left behind when he directs a comedy. I was not impressed with either THE OLD DARK HOUSE (Castle’s version) or ZOTZ, and both of those are better than this one. It’s too laid back and aimless to be effective, and the mood sometimes gets shrill (such as when everyone is yelling at each other) or glum (when the wife believes that her husband is cheating on her). Furthermore, the movie misses every opportunity to add a few shudders to the mix, largely because the movie is blanketed throughout with a rinky-dink musical score that just screams “COMEDY”. It’s a bit of a shame; the cast is pretty impressive; it’s loaded with a whole slew of familiar faces, and you just wish the movie would give the actors something to do. As it is, I barely smiled, much less laughed, though one sight gag (when we finally spot Felicity at the birthday party) did raise a single chuckle. But one chuckle does not make a comedy, and I found this one fairly interminable.


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