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This remains a mystery, as members of the Motion Pictures Association of America (MPAA), who screen movies beforehand and give it a rating, only give comments and are generally not available for discussion with the filmmakers over their decision. Although The Frighteners contains some mildly frightening and possibly disturbing scenes, the amount of violence and blood was deliberately kept to a minimum in order to obtain a PG-13 rating and reach a broader audience.Peter Jackson stated on a making-of documentary that he sent a preliminary cut to the MPAA, which received an R rating. The crew made several re-cuts, but the MPAA kept giving ridiculous comments (Jackson recollects that one of them was an objection against the amount of bullet holes shot in a door during the scene where Dr Lynskey is chased through the house by Patricia). When it was clear that the MPAA would not change its mind, Jackson decided to make agent Dammers' death scene extra gruesome in post production (with an exploding head rather than a shot in the chest).
First of all, there's the well-known R-rated theatrical version but in the UK Peter Jackson's cult classic got censored in order to avoid the BBFC 18 rating. Two scenes were slightly altered. Unfortunately, this master was used for several European DVD releases as well. All cuts were waived for the Director's Cut release. A partial comparison with pictures can be found here.After its cinematical release Peter Jackson created a special Director's Cut that was for many years only available on a special Laserdisc version. Fortunately, this version was later on released on DVD and features a cut that runs around 12 minutes longer and offers several extended story sequences. A detailed comparison with pictures between those versions can be seen here.
This is explained in the Director's cut in which Frank has one of his flashbacks in the hospital near the end of the film where he sees Johnny chasing Patricia around as part of their fun and games.
Peter Jackson states on the Director's Cut commentary that Frank was driving up the road near the house where Patricia and her mother lived, and it was actually Patricia who engineered the car crash by placing a log in the middle of the open road, forcing Frank to swerve and crash. Jackson said he couldn't remember why it was never fully explained in the final film what had happened but this was the concept behind Frank flashing back to to his wife's dead body and seeing Johnny and Patricia standing over her. He finally remembered that they were responsible for the crash.
Dammers is severely psychologically damaged because he's sacrificed his personality for the good of bringing down the most notorious criminals. He's spent many years going undercover with different cults and sects including spending months with the notorious Manson family, and in between missions he hasn't been de-programmed from his traumatic experiences. He's had no breaks or therapy from his bizarre assignments and emotionally it's taken its toll on him.
In the Director's Cut, Cyrus is shown helping to stretch Stuart through the front door and explains that his ectoplasm has become too tight and stiff.
It's very possible and there've been many recorded cases of people being brought back from the dead, either due to hypothermia or other conditions, after a few minutes, but it would be impossible for it to happen the way it is depicted in the film. Frank is dead for at least ten minutes, and even in the unlikely event that he would survive, his brain would probably be severley damaged from a lack of oxygen. But as the film is a supernatural fantasy anyway, it's not a huge leap in logic.
The reason Patricia was keeping her mother alive was for the sole purpose of being able to live a double life. She was released back into society under her mother's care and as long as her mother was alive, she had her freedom from prison and was able to keep communicating with Johnny in her home. Near the end of the film, there's no way of knowing what happened between Patricia following her mother upstairs and Lucy finding the old lady's dead body but one interpretation would be that the old lady went to her bedroom to find the utility knife that Lucy said was in her closet. Upon realising that her daughter was not only still a murderer but was also trying to frame her, Patricia has ended up killing her, likely on the spur of the moment. Maybe to prevent her from going to the sheriff about everything she knows, or maybe even to just try and stop the old lady from doing something stupid with the shotgun she kept in her bedroom. When Lucy finds the old lady, her dead body is laid on the bed with her arms stretched out. She's obviously been stabbed to death by Patricia with Frank's knife, while Johnny was holding her down.
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