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The Frighteners: An underrated classic

The true culprit
The true culprit
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Years before the ever successful Lord of the Rings trilogy Peter Jackson gives us the hidden gem of The Frighteners: a film definitely worthy of recognition. Jackson's effective use of special effects, flashback sequences, and subplots along with his unique character arraignment of ghosts, demons, and tormented humans makes The Frighteners a hidden treasure worthy of watching. You can't help but appreciate its fresh and witty approach to the horror genre and it's a pleasure to see a master of film at work before his success truly skyrocketed.


The Frighteners stars Michael J. Fox and a supporting casts of unknowns in one of his best but least known and most underappreciated roles. Fox plays the lazy and somewhat depressed character of ex-architect Frank Banister who after loosing his wife in a horrible accident has acquired the ability to see and communicate with ghosts. Bitter with life he uses this ability with the help of three ghosts in order to make a profitable business for himself. However, after a mass murderer escapes from Hell due to the help of his long time accomplice and girlfriend Patricia Ann Bradley (Dee Wallace-Stone), Frank realizes he is the only one capable of stopping this tirade due to his paranormal abilities. After a run of mysterious deaths around the city, where Bannister somehow always seems to be nearby, he inconveniently becomes suspect #1 of the killings he himself is trying to prevent. The only one with the ability to see the true culprit behind the killings, Frank takes the law into his own hands with the help of his friend Lucy (a recent widow, and new love interest of Frank) and his ghost friends.


OK, so obviously a one paragraph plot summary doesn't do the film justice but the last thing needed is a spoiler. After about ten minutes into the movie you'll be hooked... guaranteed.


Few horror films that make an attempt at comedy appear to be successful without coming off as "so bad it's good" or just "stupid but funny", but The Frighteners is a definite exception to that rule. This can be largely credited to the character of Milton Dammers (Jefferey Combs) who plays a jittery over eccentric Special FBI Agent with 20 years experience in "paranormal psychology". It might even be safe to say that he steals Fox's thunder, but you go ahead and decide for yourself.


It's astonishing that this movie isn't wider known, but sometimes certain things just don't get the recognition they deserve... so a little here now is better than none, right? Never having seen this movie before it's safe to say that you won't know what’s going on in it until it's almost over. But hopefully you'll be hooked the entire time watching it like most of us were.


The Frighteners is a hidden gem, watch it! Really, you will not be disappointed.

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