2018 31 Days of Scary Movies – October 11 – The Frighteners

Today’s film is in the #Ghosts category and introduces our 11th category #SerialKillers


Today is October 11th

Today’s film is 1996’s The Frighteners

Peter Jackson may be best known for the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films but he has solid horror chops and The Frighteners is just one of two Peter Jackson films this year.

Trailers often do a poor job of representing a film and The Frighteners is a good example. Its trailer makes it look a little more light-hearted than it is, and combined with Michael J Fox’s reputation for films no scarier than Teen Wolf, I was in for a pleasant surprise with the darkness of The Frighteners. I’m still surprised it isn’t PG-13.

The score by Danny Elfman sets the tone nicely for the film even if it isn’t his most memorable score.

The effects in The Frighteners are seriously impressive for 1996 and its Wikipedia article claims (without citation) that it required ‘more digital effects shots than almost any movie made until that time’. I remember being very impressed by the effects when I first saw it on VHS – but that was more than 20 years ago and had the benefit of VHS and CRT quality making the effects blend well with the live action. Surprisingly, much of it stands up to HD viewing in 2018 with the exception of its most ambitious effect of the monster pushing thru walls etc. which does show its age a bit but won’t distract at all from those scenes.

Thankfully, The Frighteners isn’t just an effects film. A strong story and solid acting make this a high note as Fox’s last leading role in a feature film.

Despite the R rating I’d say if your kid is too old to be scared by something like Hocus Pocus but probably isn’t ready for Texas Chainsaw, or even Nightmare on Elm St., then The Frighteners might be a happy medium.

There is also a director’s cut which I haven’t seen. Have you seen both? If so I’d love to hear what the difference is and which you prefer.


MPAA Rating: R


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Blu-ray (contains both theatrical and director’s cut)

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