Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Pretty Much Peter Jackson’s Beetlejuice, or Thoughts on The Frighteners

With a goth-twinkly circus soundtrack by Danny Elfman that immediately adds a Tim Burton vibe, Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners (1996) is a modern ghost story and rom-com where the ghosts can interact in our world and actually threaten living people.  Written by Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson, The Frighteners is sadly Michael J. Fox’s last movie, who dominated the screen with his undeniable charisma and easy physical acting style that made him very likeable to audiences.  He plays Frank Bannister, Psychic Investigator, a con artist who ironically can actually see ghosts, three years before The Sixth Sense (1999).
Frank and his three ghost friends; Chi McBride as Cyrus, the disco ghost, Jim Fyfe, who you may remember (probably not) as Willie Loomis from the 1991 Dark Shadows (the first remake) as Stuart, the 50’s nerdy ghost, and John Astin, the original Gomez Addams as The Judge, the cowboy ghost fake haunting so Frank can swoop in and save the day, for a price.  It’s interesting because the fake hauntings are technically real hauntings, with shaky and distracting 90’s CGI ghost effects mixed effectively with practical effects.
The movie is set in Fairwater, a generic east coast seaside town, with an American cast with American accents, but it’s obviously Wellington.  With Dee Wallace from The Howling (1981) as Patricia Ann Bradley, and Jake Busey (Gary’s son, and if you want to know the exact moment Gary Busey went nuts, look no further than his portrayal of Joshua in Lethal Weapon (1987) as John Charles Bartlett, a serial killer ghost.  Also look out for Trini Alvarado as Dr. Linskey and the consistently wonderful Jeffrey Combs as Special Agent Milton Dammers, a twitchy FBI agent who’s onto Frank.
The Frighteners is a kinder, more mature Braindead (1992), but with the same quirky Walsh/Jackson sense of humor and darkness.  It’s not as gory as their zombie opera, but it’s what The Haunted Mansion (2003) should have been.  Watch out for the Peter Jackson cameo as a drunk punk rocker with a septum pierce who calls Michael J. Fox an asshole.

my first novel?  thanks for asking:)  it’s a the first book in a 4-volume supernatural martial arts series chock full of killer kung-fu witches, haunted carnivals, punk rock assassins, and a 24-hour diner with the best pie in town…
read for free on kindle unlimited or buy the paperback, available at fine bookstores everywhere (amazon).