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|Index||205 reviews in total|
92 out of 107 people found the following review useful:
Surprisingly Dark, 21 January 2005
Author: mjw2305 from England
What sets out to be a comedy movie with ghosts, (and anyone could be
forgiven for thinking this is what it would be given that Michael J Fox
has the lead) rapidly becomes a very dark supernatural thriller.
The special effects still look good even by todays standards, and the story is solidly written, good characters and good direction, there is not much to criticise in this movie.
The film itself is one that you should not miss, and certainly not because you think its something that it isn't.
8/10 A surprising film, that has probably been overlooked by too many movie lovers.
77 out of 89 people found the following review useful:
The definition of an overlooked film, 6 February 2000
Author: obiwan-27 from New England
I don't know what it is with horror movies, and horror/comedies in
particular. Either they are huge, blockbuster hits (GHOSTBUSTERS, SCREAM)
or they are virtually ignored by theatergoers and critics (everything except
for GHOSTBUSTERS and SCREAM). Unfortunately THE FRIGHTENERS falls into the
last category, which is a shame because it's a great, original
Others like M.A. Rogers have described the plot in detail here, so I won't go into it. Suffice it to say that Michael J. Fox gives a terrific, believable performance here as the ghostbusting conman who gets more than he bargained for. The supporting cast is a hoot (especially the insane FBI agent). Peter Jackson, a man who has proven he can even make a good movie on a camcorder, was given a decent budget here and it really shows. The special effects are noteworthy and are actually put to good use rather than being eye candy. While the violence/gore factor in THE FRIGHTENERS is toned down in comparison to Jackson's earlier films, the comedy is still spot-on. Jackson can do no wrong it seems.
Even if you're not a total horror fan, there should still be something here for you to latch on to and enjoy. Heck, there's almost nothing missing from this movie--romance, comedy, scares, action... it's all there. What's not to like? But don't take my word for it, go rent it and see for yourself.
47 out of 61 people found the following review useful:
Expertly Crafter, 27 December 1998
Author: David Kerr from Meols, England
The Frighteners is an excellent horror-comedy-drama in which Michael J. Fox plays ex-architect and now psychic scamster Frank Bannister. The film revolves around the premise that Frank, after being involved in an accident which resulted in the death of his wife, can now see disembodied spirits and runs a scam in which the ghouls haunt houses under the order of Frank and then he 'exorcises' them for a fee. However, a series of murders begin in Frank's town and it becomes achingly clear that these murders have something to do with his wife's death. The romantic involvement comes in the form of Trini Alvarado (Little Women) who plays a doctor who's husband was killed by the evil forces at work. This film achieves many things, it manages to create a comic atmosphere at times whilst being able to make us feel real sympathy for the character of Frank and his tragic circumstances. This is a truly under-rated film and it is well worth watching.
58 out of 83 people found the following review useful:
Jackson will never do better., 4 July 2000
Author: Shawn Watson (firstname.lastname@example.org) from The Underverse
I used to love The Frighteners and I was one of the few people who
actually saw it in cinemas back in the day. Peter Jackson used to be so
full of imagination and potential. He started off doing raw, gory
horror films (actually broad comedies) like Bad Taste, Braindead, and
Meet the Feebles. The Frighteners was his first Hollywood film, and for
better or worse, the first film in which his love affair with CGI
seized control of his vision.
Michael J. Fox (in his last live-action lead role) is Frank Bannister a psychic investigator/con man with a tragic past who uses his ghost pals to scare people and run a fake ghostbusting racket. His hometown of Clearwater is in the midst of an epidemic in which seemingly healthy people are dying of heart attacks but Frank soon discovers that there is a much more sinister reason behind it and tackles the dark forces before they claim the life of his new love interest.
The mystery and plot twists in The Frighteners are all well-written and keep it alive (pun intended) for the entire running time without the slightest lull. I honestly do mean it when I say that this will probably remain the best film in Jackson's career. Yes, even better than those tedious, overdone LOTR movies, better than King Kong, better than...etc.
So why the 6/10 review? Believe me, back when I was a teenager I would have given this 8/10 without hesitation, but I just cannot stand Jackson as a filmmaker anymore. For a director who began making gritty, in-your-face horror with practical make-up and special effects he come along way/fallen far from his roots. Nothing this guy does these days is 'real'. Nothing is genuinely there, tangible, in front of the camera. It's all a CGI and fake, and The Frighteners was the tipping point for that particular trajectory. Even the Lovely Bones, terrible as it was, had CGI enhancements all over, even outside of the 'Heaven' scenes. Nothing is REAL with this guy, not anymore! He needs to go back to making movies with a camera, some 16mm film, and a boom mike if he wants to get any respect from me or scrape back any shred of credibility. The generic Danny Elfman score, which sounds like absolutely everything else he's ever done, didn't help either.
Universal took a gamble with releasing The Frighteners in the summer season of 1996 (it didn't reach the UK until February 1997, and even then only for about a week) and it was a gamble that they would come to regret. Summer 1996 was an effects filled season with movies like Independence Day, Twister, and Eraser doing huge business. The Frighteners (much more suited to a Halloween release) had a truly terrible trailer, to the tune of Alan Silvestri's annoying Death Becomes Her score, that made it look like a light-hearted comedy. The R-rating was also joke, and a stupid decision. Jackson cut 14 minutes from the movie to lessen the tone but the MPAA still slapped the movie with an R despite the fact that there really, really isn't anything, even in the 124-minute director's cut that warrants such a rating. Plus, the fact that Jackson shot this in rainy New Zealand (doubling as the Pacific Northwest, I assume) meant that a dreary, drizzly, depressing-looking movie fought for box office takings against happy, upbeat, sunny summer movies, and in a year when America was hosting the Olympics too.
Bad move, Universal, very, very bad move.
30 out of 38 people found the following review useful:
"Death ain't no way to make a living.", 15 January 2003
Author: Backlash007 from Kentucky
The Frighteners is a textbook example of how to do a horror/comedy.
Peter Jackson once again proves he can handle the genre masterfully.
With Psychic Investigator Frank Bannister, Michael J. Fox adds another
great character to his pantheon of heroes. The rest of the cast is top
notch as well. Horror icon Dee Wallace Stone is great in this. John
Astin is great in this. R. Lee Ermey is great in this. Even Jake Busey
is great in this. Everyone is great in this. The actors and actresses
do a wonderful job of handling the humor and the scares. But the actor
that really shines here is genre veteran Jeffrey Combs. His portrayal
of F.B.I. Special Agent Milton Dammers is one of his most memorable in
long career of genre roles. Only the best went into this movie: Rick
Baker was brought in to handle some of the visual effects and Danny
Elfman composed the score. I don't know that it's my favorite, but this
may be Jackson's best horror offering thus far in his career. That's a
bold statement considering he's no stranger to horror.
Note for genre buffs: Peter Jackson cameos as the pierced passerby.
28 out of 38 people found the following review useful:
Very entertaining with just the right blend of comedy and horror!, 19 August 2002
Author: MovieAddict2013 from UK
THE FRIGHTENERS has just the right blend of comedy and horror, and will
please most audiences. Director Peter Jackson did a great job directing
this film, and Michael J. Fox gives one of his most unusual
performances as a "ghost buster" who has a rare gift that allows him to
see the dead.
All in all, a unique film that is very different from its competition in the horror drama and really only falls apart towards the end, when it resorts to the typical slasher ending with plot twists. Apart from the end, it's sure to keep you entertained throughout!
23 out of 29 people found the following review useful:
Comic book chills...good for Halloween viewing..., 20 October 2002
Author: Neil Doyle from U.S.A.
THE FRIGHTENERS is about as far out as any comic horror flick can be, making
great use of special effects to get its ectoplasm creatures going through
some scary capers. Michael J. Fox stars as a man who can communicate with
and see dead spirits but the plot is strictly made of comic book horror
fantasy. Everything moves so swiftly you have no chance to think about the
complete lack of logic.
Dee Wallace is frightening as a demented woman hell bent on revenge. Trini Alvarado is a good foil for Fox's romantic interest and Jeffrey Combs makes the most of his role as Special Agent Dammers.
A good mixture of horror, fantasy and humor that is overwhelming in its use of CFX effects. Creepy settings are a plus and give the whole film a Halloween feeling--just don't expect the flashbacks to make any sense of the proceedings. Some of the scenes are too intense for younger viewers.
27 out of 38 people found the following review useful:
Excellent, Underrated, Fantasy/Horror/Comedy film., 6 July 2005
Author: Lucien Lessard from Canada
Frank Bannister (Micheal J. Fox) is been seeing Ghosts after he was in
a car accident with his wife (Angela Bloomfield), who died in the
accident. Frank for years is been conning people as a Ghostbuster with
the help of two wise cracking ghosts (Chi McBride & Jim Fyfe). When a
mysterious ghost disguise himself as the Grim Reaper is been killing
humans for pleasure. With the help of a local doctor (Trini Alvarado),
she willing to help Frank stop this menacing ghost but stopping them in
a way is a Freaked Out FBI Agent (Jeffery Combs).
Directed by Three Time Oscar-Winner:Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Brain Dead, King Kong-2005). Jackson made an very entertaining film that mixes it with Supernatural, Comedy, Thriller and Horror very well. This was a Box Office Disappointment in the Summer of 1996. The film plays better on Video and Television. But it was a must see in the theater, for it's amazing Digital Effects. Fox gives one of his best roles, Combs steals the show in the film. The movie's supporting cast are:Peter Dobson, John Astin, Dee Wallace Stone, Jake Busey, Troy Evens and R.Lee Ermey.
This Review is the Director's Cut for new DVD. Which the film is now 14 minutes longer than the theatrical cut. DVD has an sharp anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) transfer and an strong-Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. DVD has an entertaining commentary track from the director from the original 1998 Director's Cut Laserdisc. This new DVD has the same features from the Laserdisc, including the original 4 and ½ hours documentary. Which the documentary also has deleted scenes, outtakes, interviews with the cast and more. The problem with this DVD is a flip-side disc, which one side is the film and other side of the disc is the documentary.
The documentary is been trimmed down for the DVD but side A does have the 45 minute long storyboard scenes with commentary by the director. Which is not on side B on the documentary of the DVD. Although be careful with this DVD, since it's a flip-side disc and it could get scratches easily. This Director's Cut adds some funny moments and some character development (especially from Combs character). This is a one of a kind film from the increasingly talented filmmaker-Peter Jackson. Don't miss it. Executive Produced by Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future Trilogy). Written by Fran Walsh and the Director. Nice music score by Danny Elfman (Batman, Nightbreed, Red Dragon). Watch for Jackson in a Cameo. Super 35. (**** ½/*****).
20 out of 25 people found the following review useful:
Intermittently enjoyable comedy-horror., 7 October 2003
Author: Jonathon Dabell (email@example.com) from Todmorden, England
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Before his name became synonymous with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Peter
Jackson made his name directing wacky, bloodthirsty horror movies, the most
vile and notorious of which is probably Braindead. With The Frighteners,
Jackson began to move into the mainstream with such luxuries as a big
budget, big stars, and well publicised international release dates (though
he did still insist on filming the action in his native New Zealand).
Sometimes directors fail to make the transition from quirky independent
movies to glossy Hollywood productions (look at John Woo and Michaelangelo
Antonioni) but Jackson's film manages to retain some of his trademark
touches amidst all its polished trappings.
Michael J. Fox plays a psychic investigator in a small American town. Since a car accident gave him one almighty bump on the head, he has been able to communicate with spirits and has made a less-than-honorable living by ridding houses of ghosts which, in actual fact, are his friends! However, he occasionally envisages strange numbers glowing on peoples' heads, and soon after these people seem to die violently. Slowly but surely, he realises that the numbers represent a numerical death list and he gradually discovers that the victims are chosen by a long-since executed serial killer who is continuing his murderous spree from beyond the grave.
So, what's good about the film? The plot is certainly inventive, and Jackson has limitless fun engineering amusing episodes. In one super scene, three of Fox's deceased buddies cause havoc in a museum by fooling around with some skeletal remains. In another, a ghost gets his face gruesomely diced in a car engine. The pace of the film is reminiscent of a rollercoaster ride. Jeffrey Coombs delivers one of the most outlandish and hysterical performances ever witnessed as an unhinged secret agent.
The bad points? The climax settles for a disappointingly conventional chase sequence, with predictable twists and plot contrivances, not to mention three or four over-used "rescue-just-in-the-nick-of-time" moments. The best character - John Astin as "The Judge" - gets removed from the story far too early. And worst of all, there's a really lame moment right near the end where the film cops out completely (I won't spoil it for you, but let's just say that the hero dies-but-doesn't-die, if that makes sense).
All in all, The Frighteners is quite good, but the final quarter lacks invention and costs the film a merit or two.
19 out of 29 people found the following review useful:
* * * out of 4., 11 September 2002
Author: Brandon L. Sites (firstname.lastname@example.org) from Click on my name for over 500 horror movie reviews!
Con man (Michael J. Fox) uses the ghosts he sees and maintains friendships
with in order to rip off people in order to make a living after losing his
wife. However, there is a dead serial killer lurking about killing everyone
and Fox has to stop this ghost before it can claim another victim. This film
moves along at such fast pace you never have time to question what is going
on on-screen. The film itself, is filled with many wonderful visual effects
and proves to be a perfect vehicle for Fox's many talents. It is also
brimming with many original thoughts and idea's. It is highly under rated
and I highly recommanded this film. Just check your brain in at the door
Rated R; Violence and Profanity.
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