REVIEWED
4/20/03

STORY



LOOK

The Frighteners
Director: Peter Jackson
Year: 1996
TRT: 1:50


Leave it to Peter Jackson to throw some cinematic oddness your way. This movie is a strangely compelling amalgamation between horror, mystery, supernatural and comedy. It doesn't quite always work, but with Michael J. Fox helming a pretty decent cast, it's amazing it's pulled off as well as it was. Robert Zemeckis (Back To The Future) had a strong influence, I think, in helping Jackson break into the Hollywood system. Though some of the CG effects are a bit dated by today's standards, we can see how a bit of experimenting was going on that helped Jackson secure the backing behind his next big project, The Lord of the Rings.

The town of Fairwater has been plagued with an unusually high number of deaths, all the victims seemingly healthy until being cut down in the prime of life. Frank Bannister (Fox), a charlatan of sorts, takes advantage of his unique ability to actually communicate with certain spirits to make a couple of extra bucks while trying (unsuccessfully) to get on with his life after the death of his wife five years earlier. His partners (great performances by John Astin and Chi McBride) help him out for whatever reasons, but know it's really not a great way to make a "living." But there's some pretty sinister shit going down, and Bannister is in the unique position to try and actually do something to stop it. It's a love story (like Titanic!, but different), and quite a wild ride.

Peter Jackson Cameo: Bannister runs into the punked-out Jackson while exiting the newspaper building.

Great Scenes: When we find out that Special Agent Dahmers is, indeed, wearing a lead breast-plate. Love to see Jeffrey Combs do such a great job in a "big-budget" picture. And a good stereotype casting of R. Lee Ermey as the drill sergeant.

DVD Notes: None, saw it on VHS.