Fix: Childhood Nostalgia, Spooky But Not Scary, Comedy, House Porn, Positive Father-Daughter Relationships
Platforms: Available to rent on most streaming platforms (unfortunately Netflix JUST removed this from its rotation on October 1, but, alas, the post was already written)
An afterlife therapist and his daughter meet a friendly young ghost when they move into a crumbling mansion in order to rid the premises of wicked spirits.
A money-grubbing rich lady wants to find the secret treasure in her newly inherited run-down mansion, but it seems that there’s already some people of the palest persuasion living inside. She recruits the help of a ghost psychologist and his put-upon teenage daughter to help get rid of the ghosts, but instead, they befriend them.
I don’t need to explain the premise of this movie to you, because if you’re of a certain age, you grew up watching this alongside other great YA Halloween movies like Hocus Pocus. Sure, they play fast and loose with the metaphysics, and the trio of jerky ghosts who are supposed to be “comic relief” are usually not, but there’s so many other great things about it. I like that between the fun things, there’s moments of sadness that make the story more layered than a straight up movie based off a cheesy comic: the fact that Casper has been a ghost that’s outlived his entire family (whom he can’t even remember), Dr. Harvey unable to let go of his dead wife, and he and Kat trying to navigate their father/teenaged daughter relationship without her.
Also, the set for the Whipstaff mansion is just supremely cool. That library! The funky curved hallways. The foyer with that huge light!
The secret laboratory with that amazing chair ride!
A interesting fact I also learned from my husband as I was writing this post: Apparently there’s a whole theory about how Casper is the ghost of Ritchie Rich. The similarities are uncanny. We can thank The Simpsons for this theory.
What ‘90s kid didn’t want to be Christina Ricci? She had so many great roles as a teenager. I’m glad she escaped child actor hell (I think? I can’t recall hearing anything super crazy, but I haven’t actually Googled her to be sure.) Kat is a great character, vulnerable but brave, and super relatable with cute moments like this:
I used to think Bill Pullman was so sexy when I was a kid (I can thank While You Were Sleeping for that), and in my quest to see how he’s aged (since I haven’t seen him act in anything lately) I just learned he’s been without the sense of smell for years. Anyway! Pullman was in so many movies I’ve loved that I’ve got a special place in my heart for him (actually, even my husband randomly commented as we were watching, “Bill Pullman is a national treasure.” HA.). I think he’s great in this role as Kat’s well-meaning but still grieving father.
Cathy has consistently been acting, but I’d maintain (in my head) this is her most famous role. I have no idea what she’s like in real life, but she was born to play Carrigan (which, by the way, is SUCH a great villain name). That overly coiffed blonde bob, those long claws nails, the raspy voice… *chef’s kiss*
If you don’t know who Eric Idle is then you’ve probably never watched any TV or movies, like, ever. Obviously a great comedic actor, Eric plays the bumbling Dibs to Carrigan’s bitch so, so perfectly.
OMG, who didn’t crush hard for Devon Sawa in this movie?? Look at those floppy bangs! He got the intense smoldering eye contact down at, like, 14. That hair and the intense stare are giving me Cary Elwes as Westley via The Princess Bride vibes, and you should know that is another one of my absolute favorite childhood movies. Casper even has his own “As you wish”:
I used to have that “Remember Me This Way” song that plays during their dance on repeat and imagine this scene. (I recently listened to it not that long ago in the car and…it’s so dang cheesy. I had such low standards back then.)
Couch-Sharing Capability: High
For maximum nostalgia, watch this with your similarly aged friends and bask in your fond memories. It’s also totally great alone, perhaps on in the background while you decorate for Halloween this weekend?
Recommended Level of Inebriation: Spooky Cocktails
This is the perfect time to get your mixologist hat on and do some funky themed cocktails. I’d suggest something bluish-white to mimic the ghost’s…skin?…or something reddish like the elixir they use to bring people back to life. Bonus points if you serve it in a similarly shaped bottle:
Use of Your Streaming Subscription: Excellent
Or at least it WOULD’VE BEEN excellent if Netflix hadn’t rudely gotten rid of it just in time for Halloween! But I’m sure it’s going to be on TV at some point this month, and, honestly, you should just own this one anyway.
Anyone else love this movie as much as I do?