October has arrived: jack-o-lanterns, cosplayers- I mean trick or treaters, and scary movies run rampant throughout the month of Halloween. To celebrate this month, I'm going to start a series of articles reviewing some of my favorite horror/horror themed movies. This series is going to begin with the movie from the year of my birth (1996) known as the Frighteners.
This is quite the sleeper hit, it may not have been a bomb nor was it praised but those that saw it, loved it but it faded into obscurity which absolutely baffles me because not only is this one of the best October films but it is one of the best movies ever made in my opinion.
There are a lot of things that I do not wish to spoil so I will sum the movie's plot as this:
Michael J. Fox plays Frank Bannister, a psychic who can speak and see dead spirits. Using this ability, he and his ghost friends pretend to haunt people and he comes along to "exorcise" the spirits from their homes. However when constant deaths keep springing up in his town, it's time for him to stop playing the con man and be a hero.
If that doesn't interest you enough, I don't know what will. Not only is the concept brilliant but the execution is top notch thanks to the talent of director Peter Jackson (who has a funny cameo if you watch the director's cut).
You have a great cast as well such as lead Michael J. Fox who gives the best performance of his career in my opinion as Bannister. He's a bit of a jerk but underneath all of that is a good man. The other frighteners themselves like Cyrus (Chi McBride), Stuart (Jim Fyfe), and Judge (John Astin) are mostly played more comedic relief but unlike other movies, this movie does a great job of balancing comedy, supernatural thriller, and horror. There are other supporting cast members who do their job greatly to the story but I won't really talk about due to spoilers except for one.
Jeffery Combs as Agent Miller...oh boy where do I start with this guy? We all know this man is infamous for his strange, funny, yet intriguing overacting. From movies like From Beyond and Re-Animator, this guy does nothing but create smiles. The Frighteners was the first movie I saw him in and as a kid, I thought he was just weird but as I've grown older and watched his other films, I've grown to love everything he's in including his role as Miller in the Frighteners. I even liked him in Fox's Gotham despite his...disturbing demise. Well once again, his hammy acting doesn't take away from the movie and just to keep from spoilers: the Uzi scene. I quote it all the time.
Like I said the movie balances the genres well and when it needs to be scary or dramatic, it's handled very well with a great villainous figure. An original portrayal of ghost lore that I still can't think of any others like it. Watch the movie just for that alone, the lore is very cool. The CGI while dated in some sections is still pretty impressive for the time especially with the ghosts since they constantly walk through the actors and walls.
It is a very well filmed movie, you could tell that Peter Jackson was very inspired by Sam Raimi and Tim Burton. Funny because the composer Danny Elfman who works with both of them also does the score for Frighteners. It's Danny Elfman and his creepy yet quirky music as usual and it fits perfectly for the film.
Overall, I say if you have not checked out this underrated gem I highly recommend you do and maybe you can join the cult following of fans like myself trying to get more viewings for this movie. I love it and I give the film a High Platinum. Have you seen the Frighteners? Did you like it? Tell me your thoughts on the comments below!