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The Frighteners (1996)

Michael J. Fox , Trini Alvarado , Peter Jackson  |  R |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (284 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Michael J. Fox, Trini Alvarado, John Astin, Jeffrey Combs, Peter Dobson
  • Directors: Peter Jackson
  • Writers: Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh
  • Producers: Peter Jackson, Robert Zemeckis, Jamie Selkirk
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Universal Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: August 18, 1998
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (284 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 078322799X
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #71,144 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Frighteners" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Production Notes
  • Cast and Filmmakers
  • Theatrical Trailer

  • Editorial Reviews

    Amazon.com

    One movie lover's nightmare is another's raucous joyride, and this special effects-laden horror comedy is bound to split both camps right down the middle. (Or, as Leonard Maltin's Movie & Video Guide puts it, "definitely not for all tastes but a wild time for those who get into it.") Michael J. Fox plays a psychic investigator who can actually see ghosts, and lives with a trio of undead spirits who scare people to promote Fox's ghost-busting business. In a town infamous for serial killings, a new series of deaths prompts Fox to induce his own out-of-body experience so he can battle death in a spirit-plagued netherworld where evil reigns supreme--or something like that. So much happens in this chaotic film that you might feel like you're watching several movies at once--a slasher pic, a supernatural thriller, and a black comedy all rolled into a nonstop showcase for grisly makeup and a dozen varieties of special effects. It's an odd but wildly inventive film from New Zealand director Peter Jackson, who earned critical acclaim for his previous film Heavenly Creatures and would later create the ingenious pseudo-documentary Forgotten Silver. --Jeff Shannon

    Product Description

    In the sleepy little town of Fairwater, a monstrous evil has awakened...an evil so powerful, its reach extends beyond the grave. Director Peter Jackson and Executive Producer Robert Zemeckis unleash a riveting thriller with the most spectacular special effects this side of the hereafter. For Frank Bannister (Michael J. Fox), death is a great way to make a living: ridding haunted houses of their "unwelcome" guests". But he's in cahoots with the very ghosts he promises to evict! It's the perfect scam...until Frank finds himself at the center of a dark mystery. A diabolical spirit is on a murderous rampage, and the whole town believes Frank is behind it. Boasting music by Danny Elfman and co-starring Trini Alvarado, Jeffrey Combs and John Astin, this supernatural chiller is so fiendishly entertaining, it's scary!

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    105 of 109 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Wicked fun September 9, 2005
    Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
    Just before doing "Lord of the Rings," director Peter Jackson (who can be seen in a cameo as "Man with Piercings") made an off-kilter horror/comedy movie called "The Frighteners," the tale of the undead and the guy who makes a living off of them. Though "Frighteners" was barely in theaters at all, this cult flick is funny, creepy, well-acted and wonderfully directed.

    Frank Bannister (Michael J. Fox) has seen spirits and apparitions ever since the car crash that killed his wife. Now he operates an amateur "ghostbusting" operation that is supposed to exorcise ghosts from people's houses -- the problem is that the ghosts who haunt those houses are in league with him (Chi McBride as the opinioated afro-ed Cyrus, Jim Fyfe as the nerdy Stuart, and most of John Astin as what is left of The Judge).

    Frank's business certainly isn't hurt by the fact that for years after a serial killer's murderous spree, people have died mysteriously of heart attacks. Then Frank starts seeing fiery numbers emblazoned on the foreheads of people who will die, including the husband of doctor Lucy Lynskey (Trini Alvarado). As if trying to stop a specter of death weren't hard enough, crazed FBI agent Milton Dammers (Jeffrey Combs) believes that Frank is the one murdering people. But the evil specter is still killing -- and Lucy is the next victim.

    Peter Jackson once said that he has a "moronic" sense of humor, and it shows up in all its glory here -- from bug spray dissolving a ghost's face to a piece of talking oily sludge to a drill sargeant ghost with submachine guns, this is weird and absolutely hilarious. It's the perfect blend of comedy and horror.
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    45 of 50 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Underrated gem from Peter Jackson September 13, 2004
    Format:DVD
    Practically bashed by critics everywhere when released in 1996, the Frighteners can be appreciated today as an underrated gem. After crafting a landmark gorefest with Dead Alive and scoring a hit among critics with Heavenly Creatures, future Lord of the Rings trilogy director Peter Jackson directed this wildly inventive and surprisingly innovative film starring Michael J. Fox as a psychic investigator who, with the help of three ghost pals, runs a phony ghost busting business. Soon enough, people are getting picked off by Death himself, and it's up to Fox to find out what's really going on. So much is going on in the Frighteners that it's easy for the film to become incoherent, but it's exciting visuals and special effects, along with the performance of Fox and the energetic direction of Jackson, make this film a surprise gem that should be (and very well may be) a cult classic. The rest of the cast includes R. Lee Ermy, Jake Busey, and genre stalwart Jeffrey "Re-Animator" Combs.
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    15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Most Entertaining Movies I've Ever Seen December 15, 2005
    Format:DVD
    Originally, this film was supposed to have had a Halloween 1996 release date, but Universal, in its infinite wisdom, elected to shift the release date into the summer - probably because of the awesome special effects. Unfortunately, the summer of '96 was dominated by ID4 and its city-destroying effects, which left the ghosts of Peter Jackson's The Frighteners spinning in the dust. I didn't think much of the film then.

    I remained aloof until one night two or three years ago; I was up late, just flipping through the channels, when I just happened to run across this film. I recognized it, and seeing as nothing else was on, decided to give it a chance. Needless to say, I enjoyed it. It had quirky humor blended with horrific dark elements; the blending is done in such a clever way that it never completely loses either element, yet the tension is ratcheted up by shifting from more humor in the beginning to more horror towards the end. The film really walks a fine line, and it does so beautifully.

    Being so impressed, I had to have it on DVD, and within a few weeks of that late night viewing, I had the original DVD release. Happy as I was to have the film, I was somewhat dissappointed by the lack of special features and, knowing it was from Peter Jackson - the man behind LOTR and the bevy of supplemental materials those films had on their DVD releases - somewhat surprised. I figured it must have been due to the film's poor box office, and assumed a more comprehensive release was out of the question.

    I am pleased to say I was wrong, and this new Director's Cut DVD edition is the answer to any desires I might have had for a better release. A full 14 minutes has been restored to the movie, there's a full-length commentary by Jackson, storyboards, a trailer...
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    38 of 44 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Wicked fun! March 9, 2007
    Format:HD DVD|Verified Purchase
    Just before doing "Lord of the Rings," director Peter Jackson (who can be seen in a cameo as "Man with Piercings") made an off-kilter horror/comedy movie called "The Frighteners," the tale of the undead and the guy who makes a living off of them. Though "Frighteners" was barely in theaters at all, this cult flick is funny, creepy, well-acted and wonderfully directed.

    Frank Bannister (Michael J. Fox) has seen spirits and apparitions ever since the car crash that killed his wife. Now he operates an amateur "ghostbusting" operation that is supposed to exorcise ghosts from people's houses -- the problem is that the ghosts who haunt those houses are in league with him (Chi McBride as the opinioated afro-ed Cyrus, Jim Fyfe as the nerdy Stuart, and most of John Astin as what is left of The Judge).

    Frank's business certainly isn't hurt by the fact that for years after a serial killer's murderous spree, people have died mysteriously of heart attacks. Then Frank starts seeing fiery numbers emblazoned on the foreheads of people who will die, including the husband of doctor Lucy Lynskey (Trini Alvarado). As if trying to stop a specter of death weren't hard enough, crazed FBI agent Milton Dammers (Jeffrey Combs) believes that Frank is the one murdering people. But the evil specter is still killing -- and Lucy is the next victim.

    Peter Jackson once said that he has a "moronic" sense of humor, and it shows up in all its glory here -- from bug spray dissolving a ghost's face to a piece of talking oily sludge to a drill sargeant ghost with submachine guns, this is weird and absolutely hilarious. It's the perfect blend of comedy and horror.
    Read more ›
    Was this review helpful to you?

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