Gore: Okay amount
Body count: Somewhere around 17 - I lost count
Review after the jump.
The Frighteners is writer/director Peter Jackson's third foray into the world of comedy/horror. This time around he gets to work with a budget of Hollywood proportions, as opposed to his regular indie/next-to-nothing budgets. With the bigger budget, comes a cut on the whackiness and horror - making this movie delve more into comedy terrority.
"This is heavy."
The plot goes like this: Michael J Fox suffered a traumatic experience and gained a sixth-sense ability to be able to see/communicate with ghosts. He runs a "ghostbusting" business, in which he has three of his ghost pals go into people's houses and cause a big ruckus, leaving behind his business card. People then call up Fox and he "cleans up" their house. In the midst of this, strange deaths are happening around the town - heart attack in nature, but it's actually the grim reaper killing people.
While the movie does have a lot of light-hearted comedy in it (some of which is genuinely funny, not just corny) it also manages to delve into some dark realms with innocent people being blown away by a madman with a shotgun [played by Jake Busey].
Scream queen, Dee Wallace Stone.
Interestingly enough, Lord Of The Rings never would have happened if it weren't for this film being made. Jackson said that he had to purchase 36 computers in order to do all of the CGI work on The Frighteners. As production was coming to a wrap, he was trying to figure out what he was going to do with 36 computers - so he began envisioning something that could have an epic amount of CGI. This is when he realized he should just adopt LotR.
Speaking of the CGI: it's extremely outdated on many parts - especially every single encounter with the grim reaper. This can be a bit distracting, but it's not a deal breaker. All of the other ghosts look pretty good. Also, the gore was lackluster compared to Jackson's previous efforts (and quite a bit of it being CG), but there's still a decent amount.
"I thought this was the set for House II..."
I bet you were waiting for me to get into what actors I like that were in this film. Besides Michael J Fox, we also get the legendary horror actress, Dee Wallace Stone (Cujo, The Hills Have Eyes, Popcorn). Michael J Fox's villain of the human form is played by also legendary Jeffrey Combs (Castle Freak, Re-Animator, From Beyond). We also get a pretty memorable, and funny, cameo by R Lee Ermy essentially reprising his role in Full Metal Jacket.
I think everything (besides the CGI) still holds up since the first time I saw it, in theaters. Even though it had a fairly decent theatrical run, for some reason most horror fans I mention this movie to inform me that they've never seen it. Usually because they thought it looked too hokey. It can be, but it's definitely not all around corny.
Recommended to anyone who is a fan of horror/comedy or wants to realize how often they'll notice Michael J Fox say the word 'shit'. Highly recommended to people who need lighter, almost Hollywoodized, horror flicks. Not recommended for someone looking for another Bad Taste or Braindead/Dead Alive.
This would get a higher rating if the CGI didn't bite compared to today's standards.
Added note: The director's cut release has a great-looking picture and amazing 5.1 audio, for those interested in PQ/AQ.