The Frighteners (1996)
Directed by: Peter Jackson
Written by: Fran Walsh
Starring: Michael J. Fox, Trini Alvarado, Jeffrey Combs, Dee Wallace-Stone, Jake Busey, John Astin, Chi McBride, Jim Fyfe, Peter Dobson
In the same vein as Ghostbusters or Beetlejuice, being a quirky sort of ghost movie crossed with a comedy. About a man who can see ghosts and uses them to stage phony exorcisms. And then there's this really nasty Grim Reaper thing that goes around killing people and writing numbers on their heads, all of which has to do with a mass killing that happened in the crazy house several decades back.
So, there's a lot of stuff going on. However, Jackson is pretty good at handling a lot of plots and subplots, and it isn't boring or confusing.
Mind you, it doesn't always work. Ghost movies rarely do, of course. It's really hard to handle life, death, undeath and the afterlife without bringing religion and other unwanted spiritual whatnot into it. Also, there have to be rules with all of that stuff, and those are sometimes tricky to establish/follow/explain et cetera. You have to maintain reasonably ambiguous without going overboard. The film manages this for the most part, however.
Plus it had enough special effects, killing and quirky characters to keep me amused. It also reminded me a lot of a Tim Burton movie, like I mentioned before (which probably has a lot to do with the Danny Elfman score). It does have a lot of Peter Jackson stuff in it, though. The Grim Reaper looked like it could've been the tenth Nazgul, for example. The Reaper was CGI and the Nazgul weren't, which makes a pretty big differance.
The effects in this movie were pretty good, considering it was made 11 years ago, but there were an awful lot of them, and they can't really hold a banana to Lord of the Rings or King Kong.
It had a good cast, too, which is important. A lot of the dialogue could've sounded really, really lame. And Jim Fyfe! I wanted to see this specifically because of him (after watching the Dark Shadows Revival). Well, okay, I do love me some Peter Jackson movies.
Overall, it was very entertaining and funny, as long as you don't think too hard, which I generally don't, so it's all good. I recommend (obviously) for fans of Burtons' stuff. I really do.