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The Spirit Is Willing (1967)

Unrated | | Comedy, Horror | July 1967 (USA)
A couple and their teenage son rent a haunted New England seaside house, and their summer vacation turns into a ghost-hunt.


William Castle


Ben Starr (screenplay), Nathaniel Benchley (novel)

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Complete credited cast:
Sid Caesar ... Ben Powell
Vera Miles ... Kate Powell
Barry Gordon ... Steve Powell
John McGiver ... Uncle George
Cass Daley ... Felicity
Ricky Cordell Ricky Cordell ... Miles Thorpe
Mary Wickes ... Gloria Tritt
Jesse White ... Fess Dorple
Robert Donner ... Ebenezer
Mickey Deems Mickey Deems ... Rabbit Warren
Nestor Paiva ... Felicity's Father
Doodles Weaver ... Booper Mellish
Jay C. Flippen ... Mother
Jill Townsend ... Jenny / Priscilla / Carol
John Astin ... Dr. Frieden


When Ben and Kate Powell (Sid Caesar and Vera Miles) rent a haunted New England house by the sea, their son Steve (Barry Gordon) gets blamed for the destruction caused by three unruly ghosts. Another of 'exploitation king' William Castle's supernatural films, this one is studded with familiar character actors including Harvey Lembeck, Mary Wickes, John McGiver, Doodles Weaver, Jesse White and John ("Gomez Addams") Astin. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Kiss-Hungry Girl Ghosts Looking for a Live Lover in a Haunted House of Mayhem. See more »


Comedy | Horror


Unrated | See all certifications »






Release Date:

July 1967 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Trois fantômes à la page See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)
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Did You Know?


Last film role for Nestor Paiva. See more »


When Ben is in the bathroom preparing to go to bed the first night, he walks out wearing slippers, when he enters the bedroom he is bare foot. See more »


Uncle George: Keep Steve handy, I have a little present for him.
Kate Powell: I hope it's money.
Uncle George: You wouldn't have said that if you were sober.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The people in this movie are fictitious. Only the ghosts are real. See more »


Referenced in All the Way Down (1968) See more »

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User Reviews

5/10 ***/5 ~ Chilling novel travestied by inappropriate comic treatment.
13 March 2003 | by Doctor_MabuseSee all my reviews

Nathaniel Benchley (son of humorist Robert Benchley) wrote The Visitors, a frightening novel about a ghostly haunting, which was purchased for filming by legendary Hollywood showman William Castle.

Castle, who had yet to attain respect as producer (but not director) of Roman Polanski's masterly Rosemary's Baby (1968), had recently completed a successful string of blatant imitations of Hitchcock's Psycho (1960), including Homicidal (1961) and Strait-Jacket (1964), and had stumbled with a pair of inept teen-thrillers, I Saw What You Did (1965) and Let's Kill Uncle (1966).

Evidently seeking to expand his audience while maintaining his position as king of schlock horror, Castle re-visioned Benchley's decidedly adult novel as a family comedy along the lines of his bland 13 Ghosts (1960). Unfortunately, Castle was hopeless as a comedy director, as his overly-broad Hammer remake of The Old Dark House (1963) had demonstrated. Humor had been an essential underlying element of Castle's most successful earlier films, The House on Haunted Hill (1958) and The Tingler (1959), but this had been supplied by star Vincent Price and the ironic wit of screenwriter Robb White rather than any knack on the part of the director. Castle persisted and The Spirit Is Willing descended into lazy slapstick, as did its black-comedy follow-up The Busy Body (1967), also starring Sid Caesar.

In and of itself, The Spirit Is Willing is a fun little movie which today carries an aura of tacky nostalgia, but the golden opportunity for a chilling ghostly thriller along the lines of Robert Wise's classic The Haunting (1963) was recklessly thrown away.

It behooves Dark Castle Entertainment, which has been remaking the Castle "classics", to consider a new, dramatic version of the Benchley novel. With the blockbuster success of films like The Sixth Sense, The Others and The Ring, the time is right for The Visitors to arrive.

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