Movie: "The Frighteners"
Directed by: Peter Jackson
Writing credits: Fred Walsh, Peter Jackson
Plot: Michael J. Fox isn't going through puberty, he's becoming a wolf... Teen Wolf! Oh wait, wrong movie. In this movie, he plays a man who was in a car accident who later developed the ability to communicate with dead people and then exploit them. But now it appears that Death has come to his little town and he may be the only person who can stop all the murders taking place.
Review: Now here's a movie that seems to always fall through the cracks whenever people talk about Peter Jackson's career. Granted, after he finished this movie, he went on to film the Lord of the Rings trilogy, so it's not surprising that The Frighteners would take a back seat to those mega-movies. It's also nowhere near as insanely gory and bizarre as his earlier works such as Bad Taste and Dead Alive. Still, there's a lot to be said for this horror comedy and I think it deserves a lot more credit than it gets.
First off, the cast is definitely one of the biggest things this movie has going for it. Michael J. Fox is as good as one would expect playing the role of Frank Bannister, a man who lost his wife in a car accident years ago and has basically put his dreams on hold for a while. After the accident, he developed the ability to communicate with the dead, so now he uses them to scam people into paying him to exorcise evil spirits from their homes. Jake Busey is also great as the mass murderer Johnny Charles Bartlett. He's so proud of his killing spree that he tells a reporter "Got me a score of twelve, sir! That's one more than Starkweather" What can I say, the guy loves his work. Fans of R. Lee Ermey will also be happy to learn that he has a fun role in the movie which is pretty much the same as his role in Full Metal Jacket, only now he's keeping the dead people at the graveyard in line instead of soldiers. Even good ol' John "Gomez Addams" Astin has a lil' role as The Judge in the film.
But the real show stealer here is the character of Milton Dammers, played by Jeffery Combs (who horror films will forever remember for his role in Re-Animator). He's twitchy, greasy-haired, a nervous wreck and completely deranged. Naturally, this means he's an FBI agent and he's 100% convinced that Frank is responsible for all the deaths that have occurred in town recently. Dammers is a highly memorable character in the film, "territorial bubble" 'n all, and that's why he easily made my "favorite movie assholes" list.
It may be far from his goriest film ever, but The Frighteners is a genuinely fun movie and it definitely puts an interesting spin on the Grim Reaper. Death even has some striking similarities to the Nazgul in Jackson's next film. Check it out if you haven't seen it already and I'm sure you'll agree that The Frighteners should be a part of every horror fan's library.
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
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