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Posted in Movies with tags , , , , , on 10/23/2010 by Chris

19. The Frighteners was a big stepping stone for director Peter Jackson, as this was the first movie of his to feature extensive CG and visual effects work (courtesy of the then-expanding Weta Digital), which would ultimately lead him to his next big project, the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It’s also one of Michael J. Fox’s last movies in a leading role, as he would soon semi-retire from movie making due to his struggle with Parkinson’s. This movie is so good in places that it’s easy to forgive its shortcomings. The CG effects still hold up reasonably well for something produced in the mid-’90s, and even the more cartoonish-looking effects seem appropriate, given the horror-comedy atmosphere of the plot. Michael J. Fox is also perfect for the role of Frank Bannister, a “psychic investigator” with the ability to interact with ghosts, who he then uses to scam people out of money. The movie isn’t flawless; it runs a bit long for something like this (especially the Director’s Cut, which adds a handful of extra scenes but hits the two-hour mark as a result), and though Fox’s ghost pals are clearly there for comic relief, they’re not quite as funny as they could have been. In addition, horror vet Jeffrey Combs shows up halfway through as a crazed FBI agent, but after a few amusing scenes he quickly becomes an annoyance. Still, The Frighteners is a blast if you can dig the idea of a supernatural thriller crossed with an offbeat, macabre and occasionally screwball comedy. As Leonard Maltin put it, “definitely not for all tastes but a wild time for those who get into it.”  3.5/5

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