The Frighteners: A Forgotten Treat At Halloween

MOV_5a27532d_bIn My Humble Opinion:  The 1996 film The Frighteners is a generally forgotten film when it comes to horror movies.  Granted, it’s far from the scariest movie out there, but it’s a truly entertaining picture that successfully blends both the horror and comedy genre together.  The 1996 film written & directed by Peter Jackson was the last film he wrote, produced, and directed before descending upon Middle Earth and becoming a household name for his Lord of the Rings / The Hobbit trilogies.  The film stars a young Michael J. Fox as Frank Bannister, a psychic paranormal investigator who is haunted by the loss of his wife, who died in a car accident years prior.  Plagued with grief, Bannister now uses his ability to see and interact with ghosts to con people out of money in order to make ends meet.  Low and behold his abilities and integrity are put the test when the “Grim Reaper” turns up in the small town Bannister inhabits to continue a murder spree that was put in motion many years earlier (I’m trying to avoid spoilers if you haven’t seen the movie yet so I’ll end the description here).

Considering the movie was released in 1996 the special effects are surprisingly impressive.  The “ghosts” embody what I imagine we all typically envision when we think of what ghosts would look like if they existed in real life.  The “Grim Reaper” is a digitally created nightmare that, despite the movies comedy chops, instantly reminds you why the film is considered horror as well.  The New Zealand – American film was a moderate success grossing $29.3 million at the box office compared to its $26 million budget.  The film earned Saturn nominations for writing, directing, special effects, music, and certainly put Peter Jackson on the map with regards to his writing and directing abilities.  If you haven’t seen the film yet I strongly encourage you to check it out, especially with Halloween approaching.  If you have seen it, make some time to break out of the repetitive viewing of other classics like Halloween, Friday the 13th, Nightmare and Elm Street, and re-discover this commonly overlooked horror classic.

Sinister: Surprisingly…Scary Good!

Sinister Poster

In My Humble Opinion: I’ve said it before, but the horror genre is a movie genre that you generally have to sit through a good 5 to 6 movies before you finally come across one that’s decent.  Luckily, with a recommendation from my friend Mark Campanale I was able to avoid this tedious act and watched Sinister, a movie with a clever twist on the typical horror film.  Sinister, starring Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’onofrio and an always in a position of authority Fred Thompson depicts Ethan Hawke’s character moving his family into a new house in order to conduct research for his new crime thriller book.  A man haunted by the fact that he may have already had his 15 minutes of fame, Ethan Hawke’s character is looking to capture the glory he once had with a best seller he wrote previously.  From the get go you can tell his character is obsessed with getting back in the limelight.  He moves his family into the very house where a family was murdered and the youngest daughter has gone missing.  He goes as far as to lie to his wife about the house’s history.  He eventually comes across a box of home videos shot on old-fashioned 8mm film (true snuff film style) and begins putting the pieces of the whole story together.  I don’t want to give too much away if you haven’t seen it so I’ll stop there.  I will say that movie does suffer from the ever-present bad decision-making that seems to infect horror movies (What’s that sound in the attic? Let me go check it out / I’m seeing strange things around here…but I will wait till the last possible minute to decide to leave).  If you can look past those bad decisions, which is easier to do with this film than most horror movies you’re in for a fresh, scary treat.  Sinister delivers a refreshingly new horror storyline while retaining the ability to offer jump in your chair shock moments (wait till the lawn care home video and you’ll know what I’m talking about)  I’m already looking forward to the sequel and where the storyline goes from here!