Reed Alexander's Horror Review of 'The Frighteners' (1996)
Over the top horror comedy
This movie is proof that Peter Jackson isn't a total hack. A hack couldn't produce something this clever. And yes that means I like this film and I think you should watch it. General PG-13 Audiences will love this movie.
First of all, let's talk about the atmosphere and setting. It's something Tim Burton would be proud of. I've even heard people mistake this for a Burton film, so the fact that Jackson can capture an atmosphere that's so specific is impressive to say the least. This could easily be compared to Betelgeuse (1988) in terms of horror comedy and the fact that it was comparable to a classic should tell you something about it. Now, The Frighteners is a classic in its own right.
Second, the acting was actually pretty good. Yeah it's hammy as fuck but it's supposed to be. It's a comedy, we're not supposed to take this seriously. And man, nobody hammed it up better than Jeffrey Combs. Combs is a legend in his own right but he really stole the show here. He went all the way in on Agent Dammers. The fucking guy was so tweaky, you have to imagine the kind of energy he put into the role. And it's not like the other actors were slouches, Combs just outdid them all, including the Fox himself.
And the plot is actually pretty smart. This didn't have to be a horror comedy. You could remake this movie as a serious horror and I bet it would work just fine. I mean, the concept of Death himself being a mass murderer is pretty cool and honestly, comedy is not the first thing that comes to mind when I think of it. This had to take some serious imagination. It very much reminds me of what White Wolf's Wraith The Oblivion felt like when roleplaying as a kid. That takes a pretty strong imagination to interpret the physics of being a ghost.
So, I think this movie is a classic and that means required viewing. Not just a must-see, but every Horror Head should see this movie at least once.
So the depth of the plot is what really makes this movie go the extra mile, even though it is a little forced. So the 'creeping death' is actually a mass murderer that has come back from the grave to kill again. And, this is the same mass killer that is responsible for killing the wife of Fox's character which is the tragedy that gives him the gift to see the dead. As much as that's totally 'Deus Ex Mass Murderer ' it makes for a compelling story. This movie could have been gritty. There's a lot to bight into there. And Peter Jackson was also co-writer of the film, so the fact that he helped write this shit as well as directed it tells you all you need to know about his capacity. I know things like Meet The Febles (1989) and Bad Taste (1987) don't speak much of the man, but you've got to start somewhere. and eventually this was the guy that gave us The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Credit where credit is due. Peter Jackson is actually a pretty smart writer/director.
And you know what? The Frighteners isn't the only horror classic Jackson is known for. He's also known for the most primo splatterpunk movie of all time Dead Alive (Braindead) (1992). Sure, it's more of a cult classic, and decidedly still horror comedy, but it's also required viewing for Horror Heads. So this isn't the only time Jackson has set himself among horror giants with his work.
But seriously, this movie was an instant classic. If you're a Horror Head you have to give it at least one go. If you're not, I still think it's a must-see for PG-13 audiences. I can't imagine why anyone wouldn't be entertained by this movie.
About the Creator
I'm the foulmouthed horror movie critic. I post new reviews every Sunday, so stay tuned =D
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