In 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.