THE FRIGHTENERS (15)
D: Peter Jackson
Universal/Wingnut (Peter Jackson & Jamie Selkirk)
New Zealand/USA 🇳🇿 🇺🇸 1996
W: Peter Jackson & Fran Walsh
DP: Alan Bolinger & John Blick
Ed: Jamie Selkirk
Mus: Danny Elfman
PD: Grant Major
Michael J. Fox (Frank Bannister), Trini Alvorado (Dr. Lucy Lynskey), Peter Dobson (Ray Lynskey), John Astin (The Judge), Jeffrey Combs (Milton Dammers), Dee Wallace Stone (Patricia Ann Bradley), Jake Busey (Johnny Bartlett)
Peter Jackson's supernatural comedy stars Michael J. Fox as a bogus paranormal investigator. While he has the ability to see ghosts (following a near death experience), he's in cahoots with them so he can ripoff the neighbours in his small picket-fence town. However, when an ethereal grim reaper starts to take lives, he becomes the only suspect and tries to unravel the mystery with his ghostly buddies and a recently widowed physician.
It's a step up for writer/director Peter Jackson from his early movies Bad Taste & Braindead, but it's all very silly with some comical special effects and variable performances, Michael J. Fox and Trini Alvorado are fine, but Jake Busey and Dee Wallace are outrageously cartoonish. The worst performance of the movie, however, belongs to Jeffrey Coombs as an irritating psychiatrist/government agent.
A little too scary for kids, a little too childish for adults. Entertaining enough, but it's no Beetlejuice.