Blue on Black: The Frighteners (1996)

It was recently brought to my attention that my boyfriend had never seen The Frighteners. How had he missed this? How had I missed him missing this? This needed to be rectified immediately! Not that I needed an excuse to re-watch this Peter Jackson classic, but here was a perfect one and I wasn’t going to let it pass me by. So the other night we picked up some ice cream, threw the film on, and settled in for 110 minutes of spooky fun. Scene after scene, one-liner after one-liner, I fell in love with this movie all over again.


Frank Bannister (Michael J. Fox) is a recent widower who was in the car crash that cost his wife Debra (Angela Bloomfield) her life. Due to his near-death experience in the accident, Frank now has the ability to see and hear ghosts. Frank forfeits architecture to pursue ghosthunting with the help of three spirits he has befriended – Cyrus (Chi McBride), Stuart (Jim Fyfe) and the Judge (John Astin). The ghosts cause a preplanned raucous, Frank “removes” them from the client’s home, Frank gets paid. Using the dead to make a living… Nice.


Things change for Frank and his team when something sinister seems to be haunting their town, and Frank starts noticing numbers on people’s foreheads shortly before they die. Becoming a suspect in the mysterious deaths, Frank, with the help of ex-client and current love interest, Lucy Lynskey (Trini Alvarado), must find a way to clear his name and rid the town of this evil presence.


The Frighteners is a ghost story within a ghost story, and as the mysteries unravel, and the subject matter shifts from hilarious to grotesque (mentally moreso than visually), it’s captivating. The mystery combined with that horror/comedy combination that Peter Jackson does (or did) so well makes this film 100% worth watching. Who/What is the Grim Reaper? What’s with that sketchy chick and her weirdo mom? And what is the deal with that exceptionally creepy dude who bears a striking resemblance to a certain German dictator? All is revealed in the suspense-filled and completely satisfactory climax.


When I asked my boyfriend what he thought of the movie, his response was the usual, “It was good,” which he almost always says about “my” movies even when he hates them (God bless him), so it’s hard to know for sure how he felt about it. Either way, it’s true: It was good. And it will be just as good the next time I watch it.

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