The Frighteners (1996) Poster

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Surprisingly Dark
mjw230521 January 2005
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.
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Expertly Crafter
DaveKerr27 December 1998
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.
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Fun and frenetic
januaryman-15 September 2013
The Frighteners is a fun little movie from the mid-90s. It has an pleasing mix of stars who hit their stride in the 80s (Fox,Wallace, and Ermey) and others who count this as among their first works (Alvarado, Busey, McBride). It is an odd mix of horror and humor from Peter Jackson and had state-of-the-art special effects for the time.

The Frighteners, filmed and produced in New Zealand, was the biggest special effects movie made at that time outside the Hollywood movie base. It made extensive use of blue screens and had over 400 computer-enhanced special effects. Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh wrote the script and Jackson directed and produced the film.

The Frighteners has an overall tone of whimsy but also has some impressive horror movie moments. The Danny Elfman score fits the movie perfectly. Frank Bannister, played by Fox, is a widowed psychic investigator exploring supernatural goings on in a placid rural town. Newcomer Alvarado plays his romantic interest. Veteran actor John Astin plays a ghost called The Judge who has seen his better days. Ermey plays drill instructor (go figure), Sgt Hiles, who is in charge of the local cemetery. He has several lines and a general demeanor that pays homage or satirizes (depending on your viewpoint) his character in 1987's Full Metal Jacket. Jake Busey plays a good bad man, and McBride plays a funny role as Bannister's ghostly aide.

The Frighteners is amusing, frightening, entertaining, and a bit exhausting. It is a great Fall or Halloween movie.
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Michael J Fox works brilliants - look how many scenes he acts alone without other people together!!!
Be_Bad_Boy31 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
The basic concept of what Jackson was trying to do with The Frighteners is what originally drew me to the movie (remember, this was back in the day when Jackson himself was relatively unknown). Unlike the Ghostbusters Peter Venkman, who was more than content to dupe people into believing in supernatural, the lead character in The Frighteners fully believes in the existence of the supernatural, even using his own connections with the supernatural world to help convince people they are being haunted. He then goes in and cleans up the haunting, charging exorbitant fees for his services. That subtle difference in a character's motivations really made me interested, especially knowing the lead was being played by Michael J. Fox, one of my favorite actors.

The problem for Fox's Frank Bannister comes when his own con-job comes true, a real haunting is going on by an extremely nasty ghost who's not just haunting, but killing people. Due to his own supernatural powers, Bannister can see who the evil spirit has slated for death, putting him in the awkward position of stopping the spirit and saving the doomed people, even those who have attempted to debunk Bannister's abilities.

Michael J. Fox is brilliant in the leading role. Until this point, most of the characters Fox had played were really goody-two-shoes types, from Back to the Future's to "Family Ties". Frank Bannister is a person who is uncomfortable around people due to his supernatural connections. There is nothing overt about Fox's performance that communicates this, it's in the little things: the way he conducts himself around people to his clothes and haircut. At the same time, Bannister isn't quite at home with the ghosts that surround him. Honestly, how comfortable could it be to have a ghostly old-west Judge chasing a ghost dog who's carrying his jawbone around your house? Considering how many of the scenes involved Fox filming to nothing but air (and adding the ghosts in later), his performance is quite amazing. Giving virtual performances is often a trying experience and not everyone can pull it off, but there's no doubt in Fox's performance that the ghost world he can see exists as strongly as the physical world.

Fox isn't alone in the performance department though. Jackson filled his spirit world with some spectacular actors, from Fox's "business partners", '70s afro-ed Chi McBride and geeky Jim Fyfe, to the more characterized performances of The Judge (John Astin), the drill sergeant guardian of the graveyard (R. Lee Ermey) and the evil spirit himself, played by Jake Busey in a role that makes him seem a little too much like his old man. Jackson's selections are a far cry from his prior independent film, mostly gained through the advantage of having Robert Zemeckis as the Executive Producer.

The Frighteners marks that in-between period of Jackson's career, as he transitioned from a small-time independent horror director to the big budget filmmaker he'd become. This transition means there are some aspects of Jackson's less polished filmmaking involved. Most notably is something that hasn't gone away yet in Jackson's career: his insistence on filming in New Zealand.
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The best Horror Comedy movie ever
JontheLobsterLover16 September 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I remember my older brother showing me this movie when it first came out. I was younger and had a very vivid imagination so it scared the hell out of me. Today I went back and re-watched this movie I have not seen since then and while my imagination is still vivid, I respect the movie now because of it.

The movie starts off I would say 80/20 Comedy/Horror. You get to see the shenanigans that MJF and his two ghost cohorts pull off. Watching the transformation of his character as he slowly realizes that he's up against more then he thought.

The story develops unbelievably well. The characters (living and dead)are well thought out and brought to life, with such great enthusiasm it's amazing. The story evolves slowly and dramatically, each minute bringing more and more to the story.

The acting is amazing. MJF, awesome. Playing both the con artist, and then the hero. Jake Busey pulls of crazy well, but then again he is his fathers son.

The CGI I think is pretty awesome for the time. The grim reaper shots, still give me the creeps.

Over all I have a love for this movie that makes me want to keep watching it again and again.
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scary, funny and exciting.
r-stubbe20 July 2012
During the 90's i rented about 7 movies per week. There is no other film that has made an impact on me as this one did.

I've seen it all. David Lynch movies, Scorsese, mr. O. Stone, James cameron. Small independent movies from all over the world. Big Hollywood productions. Japanese films (without subs i might add). The best of the best, with great casts and even better directors. This little gem is unbelievable. It blew me away at every turn. I totally wasn't prepared for this movie and since i only saw one Peter jackson movie before this one, my expectations weren't that high. But after this film i immediately went looking for more of Peter's stuff.

This movie has it all. It's enormously entertaining, scary at times but also very funny. It's not predictable at all. Mr. Fox is absolutely brilliant. Even now, 16 years later i still remember this film because it made a huge impact on me. I saw it's rating here on IMDb. 7 points is really not enough compared to the joy this film has given me.
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Very entertaining with just the right blend of comedy and horror!
MovieAddict201619 August 2002
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!

4/5 stars

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Comic book chills...good for Halloween viewing...
Doylenf20 October 2002
Warning: Spoilers
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.
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"Death ain't no way to make a living."
Backlash00715 January 2003
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.
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Weird, but Entertaining and Original
claudio_carvalho8 November 2017
After the traumatic experience of losing his beloved wife Debra (Angela Bloomfield) in a car accident, the architect Frank Bannister (Michael J. Fox) acquires the ability of seeing ghosts. He quits his profession; abandons the construction of his dream house to live with Debra and becomes a con man, using the ghosts Cyrus (Chi McBride), Stuart (Jim Fyfe) and The Judge (John Astin) to haunt houses and then charging the dwellers to exorcise their homes.

Dr. Lucy Lynskey (Trini Alvarado) visits the reclusive Patricia Ann Bradley (Dee Wallace-Stone), who was a former delinquent and girlfriend of the serial–killer Johnny Bartlett (Jake Busey) that lives with her mother, she notes that Patricia has bruises. Lucy returns home and together with her husband Ray Lynskey (Peter Dobson), they are haunted by a poltergeist. She calls Frank and soon Ray has a heart attack. Lucy meets Frank in a restaurant and he realizes that Soul Collector is marking numbers in the forehead of his victims before killing them. Frank becomes prime suspect of the police due to his knowledge about the murders and he is arrested. Meanwhile the psychotic FBI agent Milton Dammers (Jeffrey Combs) comes to the city to investigate the murder cases. When Frank finds that Lucy will be the next victim of the Reaper, he takes the ultimate decision to fight the entity to save her.

"The Frighteners" is a weird, but entertaining and original film by Peter Jackson. The story is too violent for comedy and too silly for horror; therefore the genre is indeed a combination of comedy, romance, horror and fantasy. The special effects are excellent and state-of-art for a 1996 movie. Michael J. Fox shines in the role of the psychic Frank Bannister and Trini Alvarado is perfect in the role of his romantic pair Dr. Lucy Lynskey. All the characters are interesting and peculiar, and the cast has great performances independently of the special effects. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Os Espíritos" ("The Spirits")
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Intermittently enjoyable comedy-horror.
barnabyrudge7 October 2003
Warning: 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.
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Excellent, Underrated, Fantasy/Horror/Comedy film.
hu6756 July 2005
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/*****).
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Far more fantasy than horror but still enjoyable
kannibalcorpsegrinder3 September 2013
Accused of murder, a small-town psychic charlatan learns that his skills in dealing with the deceased are put to the test for real when the murder spree continues despite everything he can do to stop it and must keep the spirit from harming his friends.

This here turned out to be quite an infuriating and quite troubling if somewhat interesting effort. Most of this is due to the fact that the film is far more of a fantasy effort that a straight-forward horror effort which is strange considering the subject matter at hand. This is mainly found in the finale at the hospital about the subject being sent into a heavenly arena and all the different after-effects on the body being adjusted to life back on Earth, all this just makes for a rather confusing time being that the main purpose is to stop the rampage of the ghostly figure throughout the town that only he can see and believe, so the sudden influx of mystical elements that this does at the very end makes for a confusing time. As well, the fact that these scenes force the film along far longer than it really should as the lengthy running time here really kills this one in that last section, not only with the sudden influx of fantasy but the mindless need to pay off far more plot- threads than it needed. Overall, this really could've used a few minutes shaved off here by deciding to abandon a few of these plots. That said, there's a lot to like here especially the scenes of the hooded ghostly menace in action, most notably the kinetic sequence in the holding cell where the good ghosts go fight the hooded ghost and take the fight between the walls and they good barreling through the different sections of the room as the humans watch and wait for them to appear and disappear, as well as a couple stellar attacks on a moving car that look absolutely amazing, an ambush in a graveyard and finally the hospital confrontation that makes for a lot of fun, so as an action film and horror film it definitely works wonders. As well, the CGI used is actually well-done and doesn't look cheap or fake at all, and gives the ghosts a fluidity that actually comes off nicely and makes up for some of the other flaws.

Rated R: Graphic Violence and Graphic Language.
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Pretty funny
SanteeFats19 August 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This movie only becomes a kind of horror movie towards the end of it. Even then there is humor. I find this to be a rather funny show. Michael J. Fox does his usual fine job of acting, Trini Alvarado is cute as the widowed love interest, John Astin is good as a spirit named the Judge. There are a couple of things that do not hang together though. Why can the spirits go through walls, doors, etc but a vehicle that runs into them carries them along? Why did the murderer spirit's hand pass through Lucy's head and then he could punch her and Frank in the face and bodies? How about that FBI agent? Talk about a whack-a-doodle!! And how about that haircut of his? The sheriff is played by a long character actor Troy Evans. the mouth that roars "R. Lee Emery" appears here as the cemetery control freak sergeant and as usual about all he does is rant and rave.
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Indulgent But Impressive
LeonLouisRicci11 August 2013
This one has received mixed Reviews. It's hard to imagine that anyone could be critical of the imagination that went into this entertaining, if overblown, Movie. It has enough energy and creativity for three Films. But it doesn't know when to quit. It just goes on and on, almost, but not quite, draining the fresh flourishes from the Film.

There are Artistic touches that impress and it looks very much like the Cartoony Movies that Jackson had made up to this point. But this may have suffered from too much Zemeckis and too much Money. The Director never needed a lot of Money to make Cool, Off-Beat, and Artistically rewarding Stuff.

Just one example, in the opening Scene we see an Evil Entity haunting a Women and it is shown protruding from behind walls and carpets. It is different and diabolical. But it won't be the last time this effect is used. Suffice to say that repetition is the bane of this really good Film.

There are Plots on top of Plots and not just in the Cemetery. It could be just a bit too much for some, and yet it is so charming that others may say, give me more.
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A roller-coaster ride of comedy, thrills, and special effects. My favourite Peter Jackson movie.
buddyboy2814 May 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Michael J.Fox (in what sadly became his last live-action movie role) is on fine form as troubled con-man, Frank Bannister who has the ability to see ghosts, and uses his unique gift to make money in the small town of Fairwater. He has his ghost "colleagues" haunt the houses of the residents and then offers his services to evict the spooks. It's the perfect scam until more and more healthy people start turning up dead, seemingly from heart attacks, and Frank soon realises that he must use his gift to stop a genuine evil spirit.

Starting out like an all-out fantasy comedy, the film brilliantly switches tone around the halfway mark and becomes darker and more violent but director Peter Jackson never stops supplying the laughs either. The twisty plot takes in a host of unforgettable and quirky characters along for the ride. Trini Alvarado plays Lucy, probably the most normal character as a woman who loses her husband and finds herself becoming more involved with Frank and the strange goings on.

John Astin, Chi Mcbride, and Jim Fyfe are hilarious as Frank's ghost pals who reluctantly help him out. Most of the film's funniest scenes feature these three characters and Frank's interactions with them. Peter Dobson as Lucy's dead husband Ray also adds a lot of fun into the proceedings. His banter with Fox is brilliant, especially in the scene where he goes to his own funeral. And last but not least is Jeffrey Combs' character, FBI agent Milton Dammers who is one of the weirdest lawmen in movie history. A deeply disturbed individual who has been undercover over the years so many times in different cults, without any therapy, that he has become insane himself.

I've always loved this film and thought it was underrated and now I've seen the director's cut I enjoy it even more. This version of the film makes the events and characters much more clearer. The mix of genres and the performances combine to fantastic effect. A top-notch black comedy thriller.
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Don't fear the reaper
The_Dinosaur24 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Well maybe you should fear him. I just watched this film for the first time in a long time. I think it is a great mix of horror and comedy.

The story is about a man who can interact with the spirits of the dead, but people start dying and he sees these deaths and soon gets blamed for them, when actually it appears to be the grim reaper.

This film has a lot of strong characters like 'The Judge' who is the ghost of a judge from the old west, who is probably one of my favorite characters in this film. All the actors did a great job portraying the characters. It is just a really good film.

The story flows well, it can keep your attention even after the first time you have watched it. That is one of the reasons I liked it because I can watch it more than once and still enjoy it.
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Low profile, high quality
neil-4768 November 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Since his wife's murder, Frank Bannister (Michael J Fox) has made a living as a phony medium, preying on the recently bereaved. Except that Frank really can see ghosts. But when the ghost of a mass murderer returns, intent on continuing his handiwork, Frank's directionless existence must, of necessity, acquire some focus.

This comedy horror film is effective as both. It occupies a pivotal place in Peter Jackson's filmography: Bad Taste showed that he could do good things with limited resources, Heavenly Creatures showed that he had some artistic chops, and now The Frighteners showed that he could be trusted with someone else's money to marshall script, effects, and performers into a pleasing end product. Next stop, obviously, The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, then and now the biggest logistical and financial production exercise in the history of cinema and, then and now, a major financial and artistic triumph.

The Frighteners is much smaller scale, of course, but with its own genre, it is a very successful film - exciting, amusing, suspenseful, and somewhat scary.
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Frikken awesome
ertai848 July 2003
This is a truly underrated movie. Peter Jackson's directing is excellent and the CG is beautiful for 1996. The story is unique, and this is one of the only movies I have ever found to successfully combine humor and horror. Check it out.
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Jackson will never do better.
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.
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* * * out of 4.
brandonsites198111 September 2002
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 however.

Rated R; Violence and Profanity.
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How I like my horror--light and humorous.
carbuff10 May 2015
Fun movie which, as another reviewer commented, seems like it's out of the 80s when it was actually made in the mid-90s, although, for me personally, that is not a bad thing, since I enjoy a lot of stuff from 80s.

This movie is a light action/comedy/horror mix and it plays very well with decent acting, production values and special effects. The unusual and pretty unpredictable story keeps moving, and I liked that the horror was not extreme, unlike so much that is produced today. (True horror fans aren't even going to acknowledge this movie as horror, but it's not far short of as much as I myself want to experience.)

Whereas I can't really imagine watching this movie at a theater, since it really doesn't have that blockbuster vibe, it is perfect for a slow night at home on a big screen TV with popcorn and a coke.
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The most under-rated horror film should be this one!
w1cht3l18 March 2004
I don't know why I say that, you may think me as faker. but actually if you hadn't watch this film of coz you don't agree with me. My net-freind, Miki, is a fans of MJF. Michael J Fox...yeah. she recommend this film to me by buying the VCD to me. I am not lazy or what, I don't spend women money but as she is so good so I received this movie and read first she say that it's good of coz I don't know. but when I watch frighteners...yeah! that is exactly what miki say, the best horror film. I don't hate MJF but really not heard of this movie b4, but when watch it...I just know what is really high-class horror film! combined with funny (Comedy) , action, drama, really the best result.

maybe you don't get what I say. also the cast here (this film) isn't well known...but I think if you watch it will know why I say that this is definitely the most unexpected best horror movie.

Better than ring or titanic...=) matrix also worse than this film. don't always watch sexy girls like buffy the vampire this film and I am sure that you will throw every film VCD into litter bin...=) just kidding. but frighteners is really brilliant movie
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Near perfect horror fun!
daggersineyes30 August 2013
Wow! Just watched this movie and what a trip it was!! I can't believe something as lame as Ghostbusters garnered all the attention while this gem was swept aside like the red-headed step-child. So many fantastic characters and twists and turns it made my head spin. I loved everything about this flick including the awesome special effects & the silly humour. Fox shone like he always does and the dude playing the insane FBI agent was brilliant!! Great story, wonderfully directed with great actors and a magic blend of hilarity, scariness, suspense, shocks and spookiness!

I read some of the reviews here and can't believe how negative some of them are & the reasons they give for their negativity. eg "Oh boo hoo! It was awful coz the music sounded like some music I heard in another movie" and "Mr Jackson used CGI & expensive cameras and stuff & I don't think he should be allowed to, so I'm going to punish him with lower marks" etc etc Seriously? I think some people just love to be miserable.

This is well worth seeing - it's just become one of my favourite movies. And now I just need to find (and buy) the Director's Cut for even more fun!
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