Many favorites, as well as a small handful of films that I don't care for... in no particular order (1960-2014).
No Rest for the Wicked.
After a car accident in which his wife, Debra, was killed and he was injured, Frank Bannister develops psychic abilities allowing him to see, hear, and communicate with ghosts.
Time has mostly been kind to Michael J Fox's last big cinematic role, which was also the film that sent Peter Jackson off into Mordor for over a decade. Chaos reigns in this dark-comedy ghost story, Jackson determined to inject as much frantic energy as possible, compensating for a thin story with multiple sub-plots crawling back from the dead.
MJF no longer looks like the eternally young guy who made a bright career off the back of his boyish looks. Age and his struggle win Parkinsons are no doubt the cause of that and although he gives it his best shot he feels like a misfit for the role. As the straight forward fall guy he does just fine, the…
Peter Jackson's The Frighteners was a comedy/horror film that truly fitted that definition. With equals parts of both, neither too gratuitous, this was a welcome return to form for Michael J Fox after a few years of iffy roles.
Fox plays a former architect, who, following the death of his wife, can see ghosts and apparitions. Passing himself off as a psychic investigator, he uses these friends to drum up business in his local area,and is little more than a conman. Things change however when he witnesses a hooded specter who kills people and carves numbers into their foreheads. Implicated after several people he'd had run-ins with end up dead, the hunt is on to stop this mysterious entity before…
Give it up, Frank! Death ain't no way to make a living!
Peter Jackson's first Hollywood film and last to be based on original material going on 16 years now, is often overlooked and under-appreciated. Jackson went on to make some sort of fantasy films based on some books or something... it seems their mild success overshadows much of everything Jackson did previously.
It would also end up being Michael J. Fox's last onscreen leading role in a feature film. It ends up being a great seldom seen role for Fox as his character, Frank Bannister, is hardly a good samaritan but also not a complete undesirable. While he doesn't want to hurt anyone, he…
Peter Jackson's 1996 horror/comedy has aged very well. It's like Ghostbusters filtered through Jackson's idiosyncratic sensibility, its story of a paranormal investigator (Michael J. Fox) who uses his real psychic abilities and friendship with three ghosts (Chi McBride, Jim Fyfe and John Astin) to hustle unsuspecting clients grounded by Jackson's gift for finding humor in his and our anxieties about the gross realities of death. The movie is likeably over-the-top and features some of the most inventive, playful use of CGI to this day. Fox is very likeable in his last leading role, and Jeffrey Combs knocks it out of the ballpark as a very strange FBI agent. It's a very entertaining ride that, honestly, makes me wish Jackson's next movie was a Drag Me To Hell-style return to his roots rather than three bloated adaptations of one children's book.
Part 2 of Hoop-tober!
Peter Jackson is easily on my shortlist of favorite directors, and the more I delve into his pre-Lord of the Rings work, the more impressed i am at his resume of creating wonderfully zany mash-ups of horror, comedy and drama that still entertain for years to come.
The Frighteners tells the story of Frank Bannister (Michael J. Fox), a small-time psychic detective conning his neighbors by being in cahoots with the local spooks. Things start going bad when the Grim Reaper starts showing up and killing people for real, leaving Frank to uncover the dark secrets of the past while maybe having an out-of-body experience or two!
Jackson is always so great at blending the silly…
Continuing the trend of his early work, Peter Jackson doesn't pretend for a second that The Frighteners is meant to be taken seriously. It's more outrageous 90s silliness than it is scary or funny.
Elfman's score gives it a Beetlejuice vibe and the erratic cinematography, complimented by a lot of deliberate overacting, ensures you stay engaged and time flies by. Jackson could have perhaps shaved off a few minutes here and there as it feels like it should really be a one and a half hour film.
The Frighteners doesn't offer anything that Ghostbusters didn't, apart from Jeffrey Combs' standout performance, but it's fairly entertaining by cheesy horror standards.
Like all the other Peter Jackson movies I've seen, you could cut at least 20 minutes of subplot out of The Frighteners. The tone never seems quite right; it's not particularly funny, but it's never very scary either.
But the effects! The film's effects are ambitious, but 1996's state-of-the-art just isn't enough. There are a couple shots, especially toward the end, where the movie's insistent compositing reminds me most of something out of Tim & Eric. Which isn't a totally fair criterion to judge the movie against, granted, but you can't deny it when so much of the film's impact hinges on its effects-work.
It's something I think about a lot when I'm watching stuff from the late '90s. There's ingenuity that goes into digital effects work, but it's a more abstract kind, more iterative. A lot of the serious craftsmanship is off-screen -- and when we can't see the craftsmanship, we can't contextualize the outcome.
Saw this in a double feature with Kingpin when it was in cinemas. Has improved a little with age, but that could be the Jeffrey Combs factor ( didn't know who he was when I first saw it)
Even thought it's directed by Peter Jackson, it has more than a little of the Robert Zemeckis feel to it. Much of that is Michael J. Fox himself, but some of the comedic tone and even the enthusiastic use of CGI has that Zemeckis touch.
A really fun ride that seemed to have billed itself as a “spooky” comedy, but turns out to be surprisingly dark, and dips into real horror here and there.
Interesting to see Zemeckis follow up some of the ideas here with his What Lies Beneath a few years later, playing the horror elements straight.
This was super enjoyable, and the premise was fantastic. It's also a pretty good balance between horror and comedy; the CGI can be a little cheesy looking at times, but the movie is good enough to just turn a blind eye to the cheesiness.
Okay, I finally gave in and got the blu-ray. I've been watching my laserdisc of this year after year and swore they'd pull it from my cold, dead hands. Why did I become so attached to those big boxes of big shiny platters? Anyway, it's good to see this again without having to jump up and flip the discs. Pretty much as perfect a Halloween fun movie as there ever was. And now I get to watch all 3 hours and 45 minutes of the making - again - without moving from my lay-z-boy.
Perfect example of a director having a blast making a movie and it translating perfectly on screen. It was the biggest budget Peter Jackson had for a movie at the time and he used every dollar perfectly. I just wish he'd return to making movies like this.
This horror comedy drops the ball. Only one thing saves the movie and it is the awesomeness of Michael J. Fox that makes it worth watching. Other than that, it'll just leave you wanting to watch Ghostbusters instead.
Peter Jackson is a great director with an incredible sense of how to (at least in his pre-LOTR films) balance the cartoonish and the honest. Honesty doesn't necessarily mean a character telling another character they're forgiven, or having an emotional heart to heart (it certainly does not here). In Jackson's case it can simply be playing up the physicality of a situation, be it the manic expression on someone's face or the inherent realness of the fake blood spewing from someone's neck. Not even a grabby post-Forrest Gump Robert Zemeckis can take Jackson's frenetic joie de vivre from him.
However, Zemeckis *can* shove him into the constraints of a Hollywood films which Jackson is almost immediately stifled by. I craved…
Boy, that CG. It never was good but now, it's even worse.
In many ways, this movie just sadly shows the direction Peter Jackson would eventually take post (and sometimes, during) LOTR. Too long, over-reliance on CG, "wacky" gags taking prescedent over story-telling and/or characters.
It's not a bad movie and it's got plenty of wild, fun parts, but it's dragged down by a lot of dross.
- Under the Skin
- Tropical Malady
- Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
- Inland Empire
- Night of the Living Dead
- Night of the Living Dead
- Dawn of the Dead
- Dawn of the Dead
- Day of the Dead
Horror movies are by far my favorite, so I've decided to make a list with all of them I remember…
- The Witches
- The Gate
- The Monster Squad
- Ghostbusters II
With Halloween fast approaching what better time to show your kids or young relatives some scary yet fun movies. Obviously…