Comedic horror movie released in 1996. Directed by Peter Jackson and written by Jackson and Frances Walsh. Starred Michael J. Fox, Trini Alvarado, John Astin, Jeffrey Combs, Dee Wallace-Stone, Jake Busey, and R. Lee Ermey. Fox plays a sleazy "psychic investigator" who has the ability to see ghosts. He soon discovers that Death itself is apparently roaming around, carving numbers in people's foreheads, and killing them at random.

This is not high art. In fact, this is really, really not high art. It has more than its fair share of scripting problems, but it's also tons and tons of fun to watch. The computerized special effects of Death and the haunted house are wildly kinetic, and the action sequences are furiously intense. There are enough jokes to satisfy the comedy fans, enough scares to satisfy the horror fans, and a little gore to keep the hardcore gorehounds quiet). All the actors--particularly Jeffrey Combs, playing an FBI agent who reacts much more realistically to the supernatural than Fox Mulder does--look like they're having a lot of fun.

Judge: Give it up, Frank! Death ain't no way to make a living!


Now that Peter Jackson is riding high on the popularity wave with his gorgeous adaption of the Lord of the Rings, it's perhaps a good idea to node some of his earlier works. In 1996, he directed, produced and co-wrote the film The Frighteners, a horror-comedy starring Michael J. Fox (in his best big screen effort since the Back to the Future series). Not meant to be taken seriously, the movie is full of amusing scenes and events, and shows off some of the talent that enabled Jackson to successfully adapt the Lord of the Rings later on...

The special effects such as the creeping walls and the villain are very nice and help the film really come to life, generating a believable visual experience.


Frank Bannister:
I gotta have an out-of-body-experience, and I gotta have it RIGHT NOW!

Fox plays Frank Barrister, a former architect, who quit after the mysterious death of his wife, and now works a private detective in spiritual/psychic affairs. He makes a living by exorcizing houses his ghostly friends haunted at his request. But when people in the town start mysteriously dying, and only he is able to see a ghostly number on the heads of the next victims, he becomes engaged in a deeper mystery.

While investigating, he is aided by a friendly doctor (Trini Alverado), whose house he exorcised just before her jock-husband died, and hindered by crazed FBI Special Agent Dammers (Jeffrey Combs), who is weirder than Fox Mulder and Agent Cooper combined, and believes it is Bannister who is behind the deaths...

But the truth is stranger than everything Bannister imagined, and it looks like there is only one way to stop the evil ghost behind the killings, and that is to die himself.

Sergeant Hiles: What in the hell are you doing in my graveyard?
You have been told to stay away! Sound off like you've got a pair!
Frank Bannister: Yeah, well, it's a public place, Hiles.
Sergeant Hiles: I do not like you! You cannot bring your spooks here without my permission! Disappear, scumbag!

The movie also features a memorable "appearance" of R. Lee Ermey, who once again revisits his parade role of a drill instructor in this movie, but this time with a larger twist towards the comedic than in other films he appeared in. He appears only in two short scenes, but they are amongst the funniest in the film.

Frank Bannister: Catch you later, Hiles.
Sergeant Hiles: Hey - my tour of duty runs another 85 years! There's a piece of dirt up here with your name on it, Bannister! I'm waitin' for you, you little maggot!

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