Details

Cast: Eddie Murphy (Jim Evers); Terrence Stamp (Ramsley); Nathaniel Parker (Edward Gracey); Marsha Thomason (Sara Evers); Aree Davis (Megan Evers); Marc John Jeffries (Michael Evers); Jennifer Tilly (Madam Leota); Wallace Shawn (Ezra) and Dina Waters (Emma). Directed by Rob Minkoff; screenplay by David Berenbaum; and produced by Don Hahn and Andrew Gunn. A Buena Vista release of a Walt Disney picture. Running time: 98 minutes.

Plot Summary

As the opening credits roll by, the movie audience sees guests at a masked ball swirling around in an opulent antebellum ballroom - then tragedy strikes. Fast forward a hundred and fifty years and we see Jim Evers, the workaholic half of Evers & Evers Realty closing yet another deal, and another. Evers is so driven that he doesn't make it home in time for an anniversary dinner with his wife and business partner, Sara. When he does finally arrive home - hiding behind a large, plush teddy bear wearing a platinum and diamond wrist watch - Sara is not amused. She greets him with a long list of the family occasions he's recently missed. To placate Sara, Jim suggests a weekend trip to the lake. Just then, the telephone rings.

A prospective client, Master Edward Gracey, wants to sell his house and he would like to meet with Sara that weekend to discus the sale. Sara is about to say no, but when Jim sees the address, he tells her to agree to the meeting. After all, it's on the way to the lake and it will only take 20 minutes of their time at the most. When the Evers family arrives at the mansion the next day, one look at the place should have told them to turn the car around and leave then and there. The children, 13-year old daughter Megan and 10-year old son Michael, want to leave immediately. As if the front of the house weren't creepy enough, a trip around the back reveals a backyard graveyard. But true to the vanity license plate on their sapphire-blue BMW - EVRSELL - the Evers march up to the front door and knock on the elaborate door-knocker. They are greeted by a cadaverous looking butler named Ramsley.

Ramsley is not pleased that Sara brought her husband and children with her, but never-the-less he ushers them into the house. Where they are to meet and dine with Master Gracey. Gracey, who has the demeanour and attire of another era, is a handsome, but haunted looking gentleman. Like Ramsley, he looks as though he hasn't been outside in the daylight for at least a century. "Do you believe in ghosts?" he asks Jim Evers. Ever the salesman, Evers quips - "we won't put that in the listing, prospective buyers are more interested in the number of bathrooms." At the end of a dinner where Gracey has displayed far more interest in Sara, than in the food, Ramsley appears to announce that the storm, which suddenly blew up during diner has "washed out the road" and that the Evers would have to stay the night. The Evers are not pleased, but have no alternative.

After Ramsley shows them to their rooms - they become separated and the "fun" begins. While Jim and the children are lured by assorted ghosts and ghouls, including Madam Leota, a wise-cracking ghost trapped in a green globe, to explore the mansion and the backyard mausoleum, Sara goes off in search of them and discovers a portrait of a lady who bares a decided resemblance to herself and a beautiful antique wedding dress stored away in the attic. What is going on she wonders? Eventually, after many not-so-frightening special effects, the tragic truth comes out - Gracey believes that Sara is his long dead fiancée Elizabeth. Years before he had been led to believe that Elizabeth had taken her own life on the eve of their wedding. In his grief, he hung himself. Since that tragic day, the occupants of Gracey mansion have 'lived' in limbo, haunting the mansion for more than a century. Sara's presence brings out the truth, the villain is unmasked, the ghosts are freed, and the Evers drive off into the sunset - literally.

Nat's Review

Nat's Edward Gracey is the highlight of this film. He lavishes as much attention to this role, as he would if it were Shakespeare. He imbues the role with a courtly charm and integrity; thus making Gracey a tragic-romantic character. Aside from his somewhat ghostly complexion, looks gorgeous; beautifully costumed in costumes by designer Mona May. In short, "Haunted Mansion" isn't a great film, but Nat makes the film worth watching.

Status

The film is out on VHS and DVD in most countries.

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