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Wayback Wednesday: Casper (1995)

There’s a lot more death than I remember.

Millenials, picture this: the year is 2006. You’re 10 years old. You come home from school and turn on YTV. Halloween is only a few days away and the network has embraced seasonal content. That means a continuous broadcast of wonderfully spooky movies like Corpse Bride (2005), The Addams Family (1991), Beetlejuice (1988), and of course, Casper (1995). God, I miss being a kid.

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Credit: / Universal Pictures

If you haven’t seen Casper before, the movie is about the titular ghost who lives in  Whipstaff Manor with his three ghostly uncles, the Ghostly Trio, who haunt the mansion. When spoiled heiress Carrigan Crittenden inherits the mansion, she hires Dr. James Harvey, a paranormal psychologist, and his daughter Kat, to rid the house of its ghostly infestation. Plot twist, it’s not because she cares about saving the townspeople of Friendship, Maine from ghosts, but rather because she wants the treasure that’s believed to be hidden in the house. Sidenote, Friendship is a gorgeous town. Why do small towns in Halloween movies always look so picturesque and liveable? Maybe it’s to show that horror, and hauntings, can exist, and sometimes even thrive, in places where things are on the surface, postcard-perfect.

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Credit: / The Casper Portal / Universal Pictures

While Casper’s uncles, Stretch, Fatso, and Stinky, do their best to run the Harveys out of the mansion, Casper aims to make Kat his friend, something he’s been without for decades. He’s a friendly ghost, but a ghost nonetheless which tends to send people running. It’s a shame really because he has this huge, amazing, mansion to hang out in, but nobody to hang out with. He’s essentially Anna from Frozen (2013). He’s even ignored by his relatives, just like Anna! Wow, I did not intend for that comparison to be made, but here we are folks.

The cast in this movie is nothing short of ’90s brilliance. Bill Pullman as Dr. Harvey, you guys, Bill Pullman! A League of Their Own (1992), Sleepless in Seattle (1993), While You Were Sleeping (1995)… If you were making a movie in the ’90s and needed to add a sensitive, charming father / husband character to your movie, Bill Pullman was your first call. That sensitivity and charm are only bolstered when he’s acting opposite child-actress-extraordinaire, Chrisitna Ricci, as Kat. I’m honestly a little surprised the she decided to do this movie after having already perfectly portrayed Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family, and its sequel, Addams Family Values (1993). Clearly she wasn’t afraid of the dangers of type-casting. Oh my God, in the scene where she and her dad are driving to Maine, she sounds JUST LIKE Cher Horowitz in Clueless (1995). I wouldn’t go as far as to call it valley-girl, but there’s something about her pitch and the way she phrases things that is highly reminiscent of the ’90s icon. I will now include a picture from Clueless, because I fucking love that movie. Wayback Wednesday?

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Credit: / Paramount Pictures

Cathy Moriarty, who plays Carrigan, is essentially to the ’90s what Jennifer Coolidge was to the ’00s. She nails that bitchy, neurotic, high-maintance diva that is always a welcome antagonist when the movie’s protagonist is an innocent child. Eric Idle as Dibs, her put-down, accident-prone, dim-witted assistant? Forget about it. The Monty Python legend gets in a lot of memorable one-liners, my personal favourite coming after Carrigan falls off a cliff (we’ll get there), and all he says is, “are you a ghost yet?”

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Credit: shameless / Universal Pictures

There are also cameos from Dan Aykroyd, Mel Gibson, Clint Eastwood, Rodney Dangerfield, and the Crypt Keeper so, get into it. They were probably expensive.

Ok, the death in this movie…

It’s rampant. First, you have Casper who died from pneumonia because he was an idiot 12-year-old who caught a cold. Then there’s Carrigan who tries to murder Dibs with an axe, then run him over with her car, and then FALLS OFF A FUCKING CLIFF. Finally, Dr. Harvey falls into an open manhole after a night of binge-drinking with the Ghostly Trio. Remember, this movie is based on a children’s comic book. Oh, something else not entirely appropriate for a children’s movie? Casper repeatedly asking Kat, “can I keep you?” Living or dead, that’s not cute. It’s creepy, and I really don’t recommend doing it. It’s almost as creepy as when Kat moves into his room and Casper says, “yes, a girl on my bed!” YOU’RE 12, AND A GHOST. WHAT IS HAPPENING?

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Credit: / Universal Pictures

While this movie is adorable, and the cast is charismatic as hell, unfortunately not a lot happens plot-wise. Casper hangs out with, and tries to romance, Kat, and Dr. Harvey gets into shenanigans with the Ghostly Trio. That’s pretty much it. But the movie is so endearing and the cast is clearly having so much fun, that it’s worth a re-watch. Especially this time of year! Put on your pyjamas, get comfortable on the couch, and put it on. There are actually a ton of hilarious one-liners that probably flew right over your head as a kid. Oh my God, when the Ghostly Trio are shovelling dessert into their mouths and Fatso says, “I feel like Oprah on hiatus.” SAVAGE. I love Oprah, but SAVAGE.

Finally, I leave you with this: Kat kept a scrunchie in her jewelry box. A SCRUNCHIE.

Did you ever watch Casper on TV as a kid?

Let me know in the comments or on social media!



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