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Boasting top-notch special effects and exuberant direction from Peter Jackson, The Frighteners is visually striking but tonally uneven.
All Critics (38)
| Top Critics (12)
| Fresh (24)
| Rotten (14)
| DVD (9)
[Michael J.] Fox seems to be trying to get hip in the movies, and he's lost his way here.
Story was originally conceived as an episode of "Tales From the Crypt," and that is perhaps what it should have remained, as the thinness of the conceit shows throughout, painfully so in the first half.
At times the relentless special effects and tangled plotting veer towards visual and narrative overkill, but the final tonal swerve is shocking and effective.
The actors can't keep the film's mood from verging on hysteria as the story roams all over the map. "The Frighteners" has flitted everywhere, even to heaven and hell, before it's over.
Fortunately director Jackson, at home with all kinds of excess, keeps everything spinning nicely, not even losing a step when the mood turns increasingly disturbing.
An object lesson in what to avoid when making the transition from low-budget films to studio productions.
There's not a boring moment in the film and almost every single scene adds new layers to the film's multiple mysteries.
Violent, frenzied, foul-mouthed ghost comedy.
Despite being awful in almost every respect, The Frighteners does offer one small pleasure: R. Lee Ermey parodying his Full Metal Jacket drill sergeant character.
It actually works up till its last few minutes.
An incredibly underrated scare-comedy from Peter Jackson that deserves a much wider audience.
Quirky Peter Jackson film that's half comedy and half horror/gore-fest. Mostly enjoyable results, although Fox a bit miscast.
Competent filmmaking by professionals (which is to say that the thinness of the plot is neatly covered over by CGI extravagance), despite that it wallows in cartoony humor too often. Eric Stoltz dodged this bullet I think.
Before he began the masonry on Middle Earth, Peter Jackson was renowned for his edgy New Zealand B-movies like 'Bad Taste' and 'Dead Alive'. His first foray into mainstream was 'The Frighteners' and it is an unsung masterpiece. In a conventional chiller-comedy, Frank Bannister (an utterly charismatic Michael J. Fox) would be a mendacious huckster preying on the superstitions of his clientele. The cunning twist is that Frank is a bilking blowhard but he actually does possess a foothold in the world of the supernatural and his accomplices are the poltergeists haunting his customers. The improvisational banter between Frank and his cohorts (Chi McBride and Jim Fyfe) is mischievous but John Astin a.k.a. Gomez Adams is a firecracker as The Judge (a necrophilia joke with a museum mummy is rowdily pushing-the-envelope). The ectoplasmic special effects by the WETA LIMITED company are state-of-the-art (the scythe-wielding Grim Reaper villain slinks with gangly purpose while he squeezes the hearts of his victims). Eccentric horror movie maven Jeffrey Combs is introduced later in the film as a deranged, prattling detective with swastika-etched scars and his delivery of "what did he do Frank? Piss on your hush puppies?" is gut-bustingly funny. Danny Elfman's score is a gothic accompaniment to the bells-and-whistles. If any late-90's movie can be lovingly compared to 'Ghostbusters' in its pursuit of both guffaws and scares, 'The Frighteners' is a terrifically resplendent successor.
Judge: Give it up, Frank! Death ain't no way to make a living!
The Frighteners is a bizarre, messy, but ultimately really fun, interesting, and entertaining film from Peter Jackson. Like Peter Jackson's other "horror" films, this is more of a comedy than anything else. There's a lot more humor than there are scares. It works really well as a horror comedy also. Helped by great supporting roles from Jeffrey Combs and Jake Busey, this is one of those movies that I feel I like a lot more than I should, but oh well.
Frank Bannister is a psychic investigator who uses his ability to see the dead, which he got after a car accident in which is wife died, to make money. He has some ghost friends who haunt peoples houses and then leave one Frank's business cards, giving him easy business. However, he may actually need to do some real work when a ghost that looks like Death continues to kill at random.
Michael J. Fox is pretty good as Frank Bannister. He seems to gel in these movies where he needs to run around a lot and there's a lot of chaos, like Back to the Future. What makes this film so much fun though is how it is approached by Jackson. There's this sense when watching the film that just about anything and everything could happen. I don't always like that, but here I really did.
The Frighteners is a strange film and is very hard to describe. I could try, but it's really one that needs to be seen. There's the chance that you may not have as much fun as me, but it's still worth a look, especially if you like any of the other early movies from Peter Jackson.
Fun and creepy!!!
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