The Ghosts of Buxley Hall

Movie review by
Tracey Petherick, Common Sense Media
The Ghosts of Buxley Hall Movie Poster Image
Dated ghostly hijinks lack panache but have family appeal.
  • NR
  • 1980
  • 92 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

An entertaining but useful lesson in gender equality.

Positive Messages

The value of gender equality and respect for women of all ages and in different contexts. The importance of standing up for your beliefs and not getting pushed around. The benefits of working as a team.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The female characters -- of all ages -- are strong, determined, and likable and are the standout positive role models from the movie. This is despite the frequent, if jokey, deprecation by some of the male characters. Some characters are motivated by money. The lack of diversity in the cast means that the few Black actors -- playing extras as manual laborers -- stand out for the wrong reasons.

Violence & Scariness

The "scares" are more silly than scary. A fake severed head and fake blood are depicted. Characters are draped in sheets to look like ghosts. When bullies pick on a character a fight ensues -- with no serious injuries or blood. There is a passing reference to a landmark called "Suicide Hill."

Sexy Stuff

An uncomfortable -- but non-explicit -- sex education class is presented as humor.

Language

Mild insults such as "bug off," "you big ape," and "shut up."  One use of "bugger." The term “bollix” is also used in the context of "messing up" -- but notable for its similarity to the word "bollocks."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A character has a secret stash of booze and drinks straight from the bottle. The same character is plied with alcohol in a restaurant and is shown drunk and slurring.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Ghosts of Buxley Hall is a jaunty ghost story -- and Disney TV movie -- with no real scares but mild intrigue and a few laughs. Tongue-in-cheek sexism is rife -- female characters are consistently patronized but their charm and confidence means the joke is well and truly on the men. Don't expect chills or creepiness -- this is more of a ghostly romp with slapstick hauntings and charming ghosts. The only real peril comes from money-grabbing characters with sinister plans, but even they are portrayed as clownish and relatively unthreatening. A casual reference to "Suicide Hill" is alarming, but the ensuing scene is a jolly race to the top of said hill. An uncomfortable sex education lesson is played for laughs but may simply confuse younger viewers. In one scene, after being plied with alcohol, a character is clearly drunk, slurring his words. Overall, the takeaway is positive as gender equality triumphs and the underdogs prevail.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bybigmoviefan2020 November 25, 2020

A serious time movie is poetical good

PG-13: mild scares, brief suggestive image and insults

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What's the story?

In THE GHOSTS OF BUXLEY HALL, a progressive girls' school merges with Buxley Hall's traditional military academy for boys, much to the horror of its resident ghosts. With the bank threatening to withdraw its funding, the two headteachers must collaborate to make the new school financially viable. But the Hall's founder, the long-dead General Buxley (Dick O'Neill) emerges from a painting with his cohorts, determined to scare off the female imposters and restore the academy to its traditional standing. Meanwhile, wealthy orphan Jeremy (Rad Daly) joins the school bringing hope of a generous donation -- but only if his conniving aunt doesn't get her hands on his money first.

Is it any good?

This made-for-TV Disney movie from 1980 takes a while to get going but if you persevere you can't help but be sucked in. A fun cast of characters includes friendly ghosts, plucky school girls, and an entertainingly wicked aunt. While the men are generally portrayed as old-fashioned and sexist, it's all presented with a heavy dose of irony, and the female characters (young and old) make strong, positive role models. The schoolgirls transform the mood at Buxley Hall with loud music, hair styling, and T-shirts with slogans like "Never underestimate the power of a woman" -- pretty forward-thinking for a 40-year-old movie.

Kids will giggle at The Ghosts of Buxley Hall's meager special effects, and there are plenty of weak jokes throughout, but as the pace picks up the story gets more compelling and even the humor improves. After building to a tense but exciting finale -- as the boys and girls work together in a classic Disney-style stand off -- the happy ending is a big shout out for equality (and even a hint of romance).

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about gender roles in The Ghosts of Buxley Hall. How are the women portrayed in comparison to the men? How do the men treat the women? Do you feel the representations are realistic? 

  • How do the different characters demonstrate the importance of standing up for their beliefs? Why is this a valuable character trait? Can it ever be a negative trait? Can you think of any real-life examples?

  • Talk about how ghosts are portrayed in movies -- they're not always scary. Can you think of other movies in which the ghosts are friendly? How to choose a scary movie for your kid.

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy

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