Director: Peter Jackson

Starring: Michael J. Fox, Trini Alvarado, John Astin

An exorcist for hire employs ghosts to help drum up business, but hasn't counted on Death visiting town...

Peter Jackson’s most accessible movie (before he started making blockbusters that grossed hundreds of millions of dollars) also seems to be generally under-appreciated, and even seems to have alienated those acolytes who had championed the director after revelling in his gore-fests Bad Taste and Brain Dead. The Frighteners, about an unlucky guy who uses a group of low-rent ghosts to maintain a faltering business offering exorcism services, is a beautifully crafted horror film, and is often genuinely funny, too.

Michael J. Fox is terrific in what sadly might be his last major film role, and there’s decent support from Trini Alvarado and Jake Busey. There are also cameo appearances from three character actors who are practically genre icons: Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator), John Astin (The Addams Family) and Dee Wallace Stone (The Howling). Whilst the film is never terribly scary, there’s a fair amount of gore and some excellent special effects (including prosthetic make-up work by Rick Baker).

The disc’s only extra is a trailer, which is a crushing disappointment, since the feature-packed Signature Collection Director’s Cut US laserdisc contained an expanded version of the film (adding about thirteen minutes of new material, which would probably have bumped the film’s rating up from a “15” to a “18” rating), a commentary track, and hours and hours of “Making of…” material. The Region 2 DVD presents the film in widescreen (2.35:1) ratio, but, unlike the R1 version, isn’t 16:9 enhanced. The powerful 5.1 sound energises Danny Elfman’s thundering score, and the film has a terrific sound mix. The UK version has been very slightly cut by the BBFC, to tone down a scene where a character is shot in the head.


October 2005 update: this edition will be replaced by a three-disc Special Edition version on December the 26th. This new set will feature many (if not all) of the features from the laserdisc box set, and will include the Director's Cut of the film. It will also be the first time that the film will have been made available uncut on home video in the UK.











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