The Frighteners

a survey of summer movies that just didn’t catch on

It was July 19, 1996, and there were four new movies in theaters: the action movie with Laurence Fishburne, the genie movie with Shaquille O’Neal, the clone movie with Michael Keaton, and the ghost movie with Michael J. Fox. That last one did the best of the batch, but more people went to see previous releases INDEPENDENCE DAY, PHENOMENON, COURAGE UNDER FIRE and THE NUTTY PROFESSOR.

Not that surprising. Normal people didn’t know what the hell THE FRIGHTENERS was, or have any reason to give it much thought. Universal couldn’t make that big a deal about BACK TO THE FUTURE’s Marty McFly reuniting with Robert Zemeckis (as a producer) because it’s not that kind of movie. Whiz bang special effects movie, yeah, but rated-R, with some grossness and disturbing flashbacks to a realistic spree killing. Like the one we looked at last week, WOLF, there was no McDonalds tie-in (although the skeletal face imprint on the movie poster would’ve looked cool coming out of the side of those glass mugs!).

To some of us this was an event, though: a favorite cult director getting his chance to play Carnegie Hall. For me it was the home-made-on-the-weekends gore comedy BAD TASTE that made Peter Jackson legendary. I dubbed the VHS and watched it repeatedly. I wasn’t so into his puppet movie MEET THE FEEBLES, but DEAD ALIVE/BRAINDEAD was good, and then all the sudden he had a best original screenplay Oscar nomination for his classy true crime relationship drama, HEAVENLY CREATURES. His reward (and ours) was his first chance to do a horror movie with a real budget and his envelope-pushing FX house, Weta, on the 1s and 0s.

Fox plays Frank Bannister, con man ghostbuster who passes his business card out at funerals (inappropriate in my opinion) and stages phony hauntings that he’s then paid to fake-exorcise. The twist is that ghosts are real, and he really can see them, and two of them (Chi McBride and Jim Fyfe) are his accomplices who go in and do all the poltergeisting for him. Get him that money.

Then Frank starts seeing glowing numbers carved into the foreheads of people who subsequently have their hearts crushed by a grim reaper type figure. Frank gets mixed up in it, both as a ghost-seer eyewitness and a suspect who seems from the outside to be somehow responsible for the deaths.

Most of the ghost rules seem pretty clear. If dead people don’t go to the light they stick around as ghosts, mostly at the cemetery or near their ashes. They’re invisible to the living unless they move things or (as in the case of the Reaper) wrap themselves in a rug or something, but Frank started to see them after a near death experience.

The unusual part is that ghosts can be killed. The Reaper can scythe them, and they can even shoot each other. R. Lee Ermey reprises his FULL METAL JACKET/real life drill sergeant shtick as an ornery ghost who yells at and in one case fires a machine gun at Frank when he comes to the cemetery. I don’t know where ghost guns and bullets come from (would you have to have died with it in your hands?) but if your ghost gets killed, it seems you then go to Heaven or Hell. There’s not a second layer of ghosting, as far as we see.

One of the few people who believes Frank is Dr. Lucy Lynskey (Trini Alvarado, LITTLE WOMEN), because she’s open-minded and new in town. She connects all the different plot threads: Frank scammed her, she’s the widow of the first Reaper victim he sees, and she made a house call to Patricia Ann Bradley (Dee Wallace, E.T. – THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL), who she learns was the girlfriend of infamous spree killer Johnny Bartlett (Jake Busey, STRAIGHT TIME).

(In case you don’t notice that the last name Lynskey is a tribute to Heavenly Creature Melanie Lynskey, she has a cameo as a deputy. No sign of Kate Winslet, who had at that point been Oscar-nominated for SENSE AND SENSIBILITY.)

The funniest and most early-Peter-Jacksony character is FBI Special Agent Milton Dammers, played by Jeffrey Combs (RE-ANIMATOR, THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM). It’s great to see Combs going full weirdo in probly his most mainstream movie besides I STILL KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER. We hear Dammers is kinda fucked up from years of going undercover in cults. He’s clearly a loon from the beginning, but he keeps revealing new layers – not just figuratively, but literally too. He tears off his shirt to show the lead vest he thinks will protect him from heart-crushing. Under that his body is covered in ritual scarring (or, as he puts it, “is a roadmap of pain.”) And his butt is part of the road map, judging by the inflatable donut he puts on his car seat.

My favorite Dammers detail is that he has a fear of women yelling at him. The first time it happens he runs out of the room and pukes. The Sheriff (Troy Evans, THE LAWNMOWER MAN) looks at him with a combination of pity and embarrassment, like his drunk friend just pissed himself at a wedding. Sadly, Dammers is a character who is relevant to our times.

He kind of seems like he’s gonna be an occult expert. Instead he’s a militant skeptic who arrogantly fails to figure out what’s going on and just makes everything way more dangerous for everybody. Should definitely have been fired the fuck out of the FBI even though I respect that he doesn’t believe in ghosts.

Busey gets to go even more mega than Combs, and I think he is genuinely scary in the flashbacks. His face has that Son of Sam look of insanity, like his eyes are focused on something other than what’s in front of them. Zemeckis must’ve liked him because he used that same nutso quality in a small part as a terrorist in CONTACT.

I have always found Frank’s ghost buddies Cyrus and Stuart to be a little embarrassing. They really project “we’re the funny part of the movie” without actually being funny. It seems like we’re supposed to just be delighted as shit that Cyrus died in the ’70s and wears bellbottoms – to me he comes across as too much of a racial stereotype to be cool. Maybe it’s a New Zealand thing. The better ghost character is The Judge (John Astin), a ghost from the old west with great rotting jaw makeup designed by Rick Baker. He seems like a friendly old cowboy who’s falling apart and scared about the state of the ghost world, so it’s a triumphant underdog moment when he shows up at the museum and fires ghost bullets into the Reaper. It is less triumphant when he gets distracted by a sarcophagus, goes over and humps the mummy inside and then declares “I like it when they lie still like that!”

The FX are very complex because so many scenes have an actor or actors who are glowing transparent people shot separately but having conversations (or fights) with Frank. And it’s probly made harder by the hyperactive camera moves Jackson prefers. He’s always swooping around, and it’s fitting because it really feels like a rollercoaster ride through various FX sequences. I think there are two scenes sort of based on that moment in A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET when Freddy’s face comes out of the wall above Nancy’s bed. They did that with a sheet of latex, but THE FRIGHTENERS uses CG to have the Reaper stretching out of walls and floors, paintings and rugs, gliding across all surfaces like a shark fin through water. Also there’s a chase with the Reaper hopping from roof to roof, then onto Frank’s car, trying to pull him out.

And what about that scene where they’re at the restaurant watching the Ghost-52s and Frank pours a glass of water but then you see that the pitcher is actually a ghost and when the water finishes pouring out of his mouth he looks at the camera and goes “It’s a living.”

I might’ve imagined that part, I cannot recall, but there definitely is an exciting sequence where Frank decides he has to enter the ghost world to fight the Reaper. He’s gonna just shoot himself in the head until Lucy spontaneously comes up with a plan to freeze him so that his heart rate slows. (Even small town doctors know about this type of shit.) He floats around, chases the Reaper, manages to tear off his robe and face and knock him around but suddenly is jerked away when Lucy, across town, zaps his dead body with the defibrillator. It reminds me of going into the dream world to fight Freddy, or going into the Matrix, or Avatar-ing a N’avi body. And come to think of it I bet it directly inspired the cool ghost fight against Scott Adkins in DOCTOR STRANGE.

I read that JURASSIC PARK had 75 CG shots in it, and three years later THE FRIGHTENERS had 570. It was one of the most intensive digital effects movies made at the time, with Jackson’s fledgling company (with the aid of ILM vet Wes Takahashi, after getting behind schedule) pioneering new shit left and right. So I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that watching it now most of it looks very dated. The Reaper is animated very fast and the tentacles dragging them to hell don’t seem that much better than SPAWN anymore.

That’s okay, but I was surprised to find that I really don’t like this movie as much as I did 24 years ago. Re-reading Roger Ebert’s one-star review, which seemed insane to me at the time, I kinda get it now. It’s a very frantic movie, without solid enough characters to ground it.

At the time this kind of seemed like a reinvented Michael J. Fox. It was cool to see him in one last starring role in a movie where he’s not voicing a mouse. The closest he’d done to a horror movie before was TEEN WOLF, and we’d never seen him play a broken guy like this, a pathetic small time con man who fucked up his life, lives in a house with holes in the roof, shunned by most of the town, including many of the dead people.

And it’s kind of interesting the journey it asks you to take with him. At first you just know he’s this scam artist, but because he really does talk to ghosts it’s kind of a funny scam. Then we find out about his dead wife and it seems like he definitely caused the car accident and we can guess that he’s not really the one who carved ’13’ into her head with his box cutter, but we can see it through Lucy’s eyes and know that she should never, ever talk to this fucking guy after she hears about that, jesus christ what the hell is she doing. And on more than one occasion he fights and escapes from the police as if he is guilty. And when he’s trying to protect Magda (Power Rangers Dino Charge) from the Reaper he punches her in the face, carries her to his car, drives crazily and crashes in the same place where his wife died and then accidentally jumps on top of her. Most of this is innuendo, we know he’s innocent, but it’s a dark life this Frank Bannister is living, you know?

And, uh, I don’t really see it in Michael J. Fox. I don’t see a different side of him. I just see the same lovable guy pretending to be this fucked up guy. And I think he’s too pure. I don’t quite buy it.

Man, I saw this a bunch of times in the ’90s, but I have so many more questions now. What’s in it for Cyrus and Stuart to help Frank with his scams? Why does the Sheriff like and trust Frank so much when it seems like he murdered his wife and got away with it? Why does Frank seem to assume that the FBI agent chasing him is not armed, and why when he is does he have an uzi? Why does the ghost of Johnny Bartlett disguise himself as the grim reaper if he’s so obsessed with being a famous high body count killer? Why don’t other ghosts change themselves into scary forms? Is it weird that Frank’s reckless driving is treated as wacky eccentricity when he crashes into Ray’s fence, but then we find out that his whole life was ruined five years ago when he was being an asshole to his wife and caused a similar accident that got her killed? (Or did Johnny and Patricia somehow cause the crash? If so why isn’t that shown in the flashback? And if not why the hell are they there in the woods when the accident happens? And was she already dead when they carved the number in her head?)

It’s more of a mess than I was prepared to face at the time, but I don’t want to disparage it too much. It’s still a unique mix of tones and gimmicks, and Jackson’s excitement for digital era spookablastism is pretty infectious, even when it’s not working. There’s definitely alot of cleverness put into all the ghost gags, like when a certain character gets his head shot off and all the sudden he’s a gory headstump with a transparent ghost face.

Jackson and his partner Fran Walsh came up with the idea for THE FRIGHTENERS while they were writing HEAVENLY CREATURES. Zemeckis saw their treatment and hired them to write it in 1993, planning to direct it himself as a TALES FROM THE CRYPT movie – this was before DEMON KNIGHT. Then he decided Jackson should direct it. They left the Cryptkeeper out, but at least TALES theme composer Danny Elfman came along to do the score. It comes across as overbearing at times, but I like how its use of harpsichord adds a haunted house twist to his familiar sound.

Known for gloriously excessive gore in three of his four previous movies, Jackson deliberately played it down here because he was aiming for a PG-13. That’s one thing Ebert definitely got wrong – on his show he called it a “non-stop gorefest.” I always thought it was weird that Jackson didn’t expect an R, because the flashback to the hospital shooting rampage, especially with Johnny delightedly rattling off the body counts of real life killers who he’s surpassing, would seem to guarantee one, at least back then. Not to mention The Judge raping a dead body.

Anyway, they still made collector’s cards and a novelization.

You see that? It was an event. In fact, “THE MOST GHOULISH EVENT OF THE YEAR.”

THE FRIGHTENERS almost wasn’t a Summer Fling. According to Entertainment Weekly, it was scheduled to be released on Halloween until “Universal Studios brass finally screened footage” and were so impressed they moved it to “a prime summer slot” and signed up Jackson to remake KING KONG (which ended up happening seven years later than expected). Although this was a box office disappointment, being able to make it in New Zealand with his own company set the stage for Jackson to do the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy with all the advantages of those resources and the geographic isolation from Hollywood oversight. In that sense it could be the most important movie of this review series.

NOTE: There is a director’s cut that’s 12 minutes longer, but I chose to go back to the theatrical version for historical purposes.



This entry was posted on Monday, June 19th, 2017 at 12:03 pm and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

28 Responses to “The Frighteners”

  1. Man, I was so obsessed with that movie when it came out! I still like it a lot, although of course its troubled production history is VERY obvious.

    The 4 hour documentary on the DVD is very enlighting in that case. For example the fact that Universal was so confident in it, to move it from Halloween to several months earlier, fucked up the FX work. Many shots look that crappy, because they were literally unfinished! Also The Judge was supposed to come back later, now only a ghost torso, who rides on the ghost dog, that we see at one part. Too bad that this subplot wasn’t restored in the director’s cut (Which btw doesn’t really add anything relevant to the movie.)

    It’s also interesting that the movie got the R-rating mostly for one scene, where Dee Wallace shoots a door with a shotgun three times. They didn’t object any of the other stuff, but shooting a door three times, with the person on the other side being able to escape unharmed, pushed it into R-territory. At least Universal had Jackson’s back and allowed him to not just go with the R, but also let him shoot some more violent scenes. (The biggest addition was Jeffrey Combs’ death scene. In the original version, which was also used on the first European DVD release for some crappy reasons, he only gets shot in the chest.)

    Also the first cut of the movie ran over three hours and included a subplot about a wonderful silly looking cherub (a MEET THE FEEBLES-ish puppet) who guards the cemetery.

    In conclusion: I still like this movie a lot. It’s too bad we never got a “Hey, now I had the time and leverage to finish that damn thing like it was supposed to be. Love, Peter Jackson” cut, though.

  2. I too really loved this movie in the 90s only to become a little disappointed when I rewatched it in the 21st century. I think it’s still a fun movie, but it doesn’t quite work tonally. I get that Jackson is going for horror comedy, but as Vern points out, the comic relief ghosts aren’t all that funny. It’s actually a better movie after they [spoilers] are killed off. It makes sense to me that the film was originally supposed to be PG-13.

    I will give Jackson credit for providing the film with a great sense of momentum. The movie feels like it’s going faster and faster as it goes along. And I remember the finale being really well crafted. It really feels like a funhouse or rollercoaster or whatever metaphor you want to use.

  3. I have a feeling that a re-watch now would provide similar feelings. It’s funny because the director’s cut was something that I was looking forward to forever and I still haven’t watched it.

    I don’t have anything profound to say on this movie at the moment until I hear what others have to say.

    I do think I enjoy the horror/mystery aspects of the movie much more than the humor. It really isn’t that funny of a movie and the Judge character fucking the corpse can’t be funny to anybody other than Peter Jackson.

    Also, I love Michael J Fox and he is just a wonderful actor.

  4. Also, this would be a good time to sing the praises of Troy Evans. That guy is always a welcome edition to any movie.

  5. I feel Vern was too harsh on it. Yes it has tonal inconsistency, and yes the humor doesn’t work as well as was probably intended. Sure there are cliches, like the bell bottoms. The FX is a bit dated yes. Would be cool if Peter jackson came back to finish what he felt was rushed. But I liked the dreary complexity of the main character, the flashbacks and everything. That’s not normal in a horror film especially geared towards mass audiences. That’s why I thought MJ was such a great choice for it. He’s relatable and a nice guy like Tom Hanks so introducing a little darker complexity to him was refreshing.

    And I think the general premise of the film was very clever. It was also damn creepy in places. And kudos to the use of Dee Wallace here. She was frightening! Very underrated actress who I wish was in a lot more stuff.

  6. I loved this one when it came out and still like it, but I definitely had one viewing where I understood the criticisms. It can be a pretty grueling experience, but when I’m in the right mood, I really dig it. The comic relief is obviously unfortunate (it’s the only time I think Jackson’s penchant for slapstick hurts the overall work–even all the Rube Goldberg gags in THE HOBBIT were in service of action, not just smartassery) and gets less funny the further the special effects get from state of the art. But I still love the tonal switch, how it goes from this goofy comedy to a semi-hardcore horror movie about real human evil. I also appreciate that it was way ahead of the curve in understanding the talent and dynamicism that veteran horror and B-movie actors can bring to a movie. The 90s were about putting mainstream actors in genre fare, not the other way around. So it’s a pretty fun movie. I kind of feel like watching it right now.

  7. Another one here that fell in love with this movie when it came out. I’m also another one that still really enjoys it. It’s all over-the-map but it never comes across as empty spectacle or just visual noise. You can really feel how much fun they were having making this one (or at least coming up with digital gags). Despite not being his best work, it just may be my favorite of Jackson’s.
    -remember back-in-the-day when genre fans would have silly nerd fights about who is/was better, Raimi or Jackson? Those where the days.

    I’m mixed on the director’s cut (which Jackson straight up says is not his preferred cut), on one hand we get more Jeffrey Combs, which should make it better by default, on the other everything else added doesn’t really help the movie. Adding back in the part where he starts doubting whether he ever could see and talk to ghosts is a bit grating.

    Also, I will defend the honor of MEET THE FEEBLES. Been years and maybe it doesn’t hold up but I’ll pull an ’80s-GOONIES-fan and say that you’ll never take away my fond memories of ‘discovering’ it and loving it.

  8. I watched a good chuck of Meet the Feebles somewhat recently. It holds up and still really disgusting and it makes me want to take a shower whenever I think of it.

    Raimi vs Jackson. I have a controversial statement, Spiderman and Lord of the Rings were the worst thing to happen to Raimi and Jackson. I don’t think they could ever make the movie we fell in love with them for ever again. Though that Ash vs Evil Dead pilot showed Raimi could still do it if he wanted to.

  9. This film unfortunately came out in Australia the same year as the Port Arthur massacre, where Martin Bryant went on a gun rampage in Tasmania, killing 35 and wounding dozens more. The only good thing to come out of it was our PM declaring a gun amnesty, and our gun laws have been good ever since.

    It also didn’t help that Jake Busey looked eerily like Bryant.

  10. I probably haven’t watched this in 10 years, but I had the reverse experience. When I saw it in ’96, I thought it tried to do too much and didn’t do much of it well. When I revisited it I appreciated how experimental it was and paved the way for what Jackson did with LOTR and Kong. At least he was thinking of ways for the CGI to interact with the live-action, not just be painted in on top of them. Maybe it’s due for for another revisit.

    Some personal historical background. I became a projectionist the summer of 1996 but never worked with a print of The Frighteners. The theater I worked for had three locations in the area and this played at the least frequented spot. Even there, Fled got the bigger screen, so it was clearly not tracking well enough to even be put at the mall (I was at the newest 9 screen plex). I took my mom to see it because she liked MJF but she thought it was too scary. I think the only time I did her worse was I made her watch Saw on DVD because I wanted to know if she’d guess the twist ending. She didn’t, so I was right, but I never made her watch the sequels.

    Anyway, I want those trading cards now.

  11. I have an aunt that used to get upset that I used to bring horror movies with me whenever I slept over. She didn’t like her daughters watching them. When we were like 12 -13 and this came out we were all at the mall with her one day and decided to catch a movie.

    I talked them into seeing this one. At first she was mad that she got fooled into taking my cousins to a horror joint. Then Jeffrey Combs showed up and she thought it was the funniest thing ever. From then on she was less prudish about such things.

    Haven’t seen this one again since the laserdisc days (it had brilliant surround sound in that format BTW up there with ROBOCOP) but I’ll always cherish that memory.

  12. Mastor Troy - Google+

    Mastor Troy - Google+

    This is the video I meant to post.

  13. Fred brings up a good point. Even if the visual effects haven’t aged well and some didn’t even look that great for the time, they still pointed out the great potential of CGI, which had barely been tapped at the time, when put in the hands of a madcap visionary who doesn’t know the meaning of “That can’t be done.” We take this shit for granted now but a lot of the techniques on display here were being used for the first time. It wasn’t just “Here is a rubbery monster” or “Look at this one thing morphing into this other thing.”

  14. I loved this movie when it came out and rewatched recently and still love it. Most of the complaints Vern has are accurate they just don’t bother me that much. The last act where they are cross-cutting between the murders and the present is so well done.

    Outside of Heavenly Creatures, this might be my favorite Jackson movie.

  15. George Sanderson

    June 19th, 2017 at 11:00 pm

    I’m onboard with the opinion that Jackson has a tin ear for comedy and his jokes come across as really corny. Having said that, I can forgive most of the instances in this movie as the third act is so propulsive. That thing just goes.

  16. BTW, I really think that this is one of Elfman’s best scores. Not fully up there with BATMAN or BEETLEJUICE, but definitely in his top 10. It’s so much fun to listen to and really adds to the “fun, yet legitimately suspenseful” mood of the movie.

  17. “Normal people,” Vern? I like that.

  18. Ebert was ALWAYS getting facts wrong in his reviews. It’s the main reason I disliked him as a critic (the other being that he always hated movies I liked). I can understand the average moviegoer misremembering The Frighteners as a nonstop gorefest, but a professional movie critic who has to pay attention to movies for a living? There are so many factual errors in so many Ebert reviews that I found it infuriating. Rightly or wrongly, it created the impression for me that the guy was not really watching the films. And who the hell wants to listen to a movie critic who isn’t watching the movies he reviews? But this cult of personality has grown up around him over the years, especially since his passing, so what the fuck do I know. End of grumpy old man rant.

    Re: The Frighteners – I’m with Vern. I saw this in the theater and loved it. The grim reaper ghost was the coolest thing I had ever seen on a movie screen! And a few years ago it happened to be on when I was watching TV with my parents. “Oh hey, The Frighteners! This is a great movie!” I said, and made them watch some of it. It was much, much worse than I remembered. So we turned it off. Who knows, maybe now that I’m older I just don’t like non-stop gorefests.

  19. @Daniel Strange – I loved Siskel and Ebert growing up even though I didn’t agree with them quite often. I can’t explain why that is. Maybe because, in spite of that, their enjoyment of the movies they did love was infectious and I discovered so many movies because of them (Delicatessen is one that pops to mind). They were just fun to watch, even when they were being cantankerous old grumps. Like a real life Statler and Waldorf.

    I think I’m pretty much on the same wavelength as most everyone else. It’s a messy movie that I still have lots of affection for anyway. I will say the director’s cut does do a lot in giving the ghost pals some more character that was missing in the theatrical edition. My only real nitpick is that, ever since I saw it as a teen, I thought a movie called The Frighteners should’ve been a tad creepier.

    As @CJ Holden mentioned, on the bluray there’s footage of a deleted character called The Gatekeeper. I can’t decide if that character would’ve been too dopey or if it’s straight up nightmare fuel. It’s a bit of both. Either way, it’s worth a Google.

  20. I was going to say that I love THE FRIGHTENERS but now I’m realizing I haven’t seen it since 2008 and should maybe not be so quick to heap praise on it.

    But the two times I’ve seen it, once when it first came out on video when I was a kid and again on dvd in 2008 I did love it, but I need to rewatch it again in order to have a fresh opinion, I doubt I’d dislike it but it still wouldn’t be fair to judge a movie you haven’t seen in almost ten years.

    I know one thing though, Jeffrey Combs is hilarious in it.

  21. I remember having that choice at the multiplex, and my buddy and I opted for Fled. Upon renting Frighteners that next summer, I immediately regretted the decision.

    I still feel like Frighteners is good in a “Look what I can do with FX and a budget while still being me” way (and it is a lot better than the Tales From The Crypt movies, though Demon Knight has some great stuff). THe stuff that works far outweighs the stuff that doesn’t. But yeah, Fox is sort of miscast.

    Remember that part in Fled when they gotta fled, and they ran into RuPaul and stole her car? While Fishburne is touting what a huge fan he is? What the hell was going on with that?

  22. I saw Fled in the theater and I don’t remember that part. I’ll just assume that it was around the time when RuPaul was a big thing and I would totally see Laurence Fisburne being a big fan.

    Man, Fled sucks, btw. Just a whole bunch of unexciting action sequences.

  23. I read on the Blu-ray.com review for this that the original special edition laserdisc was selling on eBay for as high as 500 bucks. I’m very curious about the Blu itself now, I’ve had a bit of a soft spot for this one. Been a long time since seeing it though. The BACK TO THE FUTURE trilogy were my favorite movies as a kid, so seeing Fox in this role was a bit of a turn but I liked him in it.

  24. I watched this last night because it has been awhile since I’ve seen it and I wanted to see if I agreed with the consensus here that it didn’t hold up all that well. I expected to come back and say I thought it was just as good. I thought this because I didn’t see it back when it first came out. I saw it many years later – sometime in the middle of the LORD OF THE RINGSES – and I thought it was great then. But…ya’ll are right. It’s not as good. It’s not bad. It just shows its age and weaknesses. The FX are pretty lame. The plot holes are a little more obvious. I never thought the sidekick ghosts and their humor were all that funny, but I thought they at least added a little something. Now they’re pretty painful, especially the mummy humping incident. Another thing that made me cringe when viewed through the 2017 lens was how quick the deputies were to start shooting at Frank in the museum.

    One thing I will disagree with is that Fox was miscast. I thought he did a good job and liked seeing him in this kind of role. I mean, it’s not like he was trying to play a blue collar, rock and roll guy or anything. That would be ludicrous.

    I still had a good time watching it, even if it’s not the perfect little gem I thought I remembered it being.

  25. Oh, and another thing. It was weird to see Fox play the scene where he was being interrogated by Dammers because he was shaking all over. Dammers even asks him why he’s shaking. It was like a weird glimpse into the future that kind of made me cringe, but then made me feel bad for cringing, like I was uncomfortable with someone else’s disability which is none of my business to feel uncomfortable about and by doing so makes me an asshole. You know what I mean?

  26. Maggie – is “blue collar, rock and roll guy” a reference to LIGHT OF DAY? I think that describes him in that one!

  27. Vern, yes, I was referring to that one. I probably shouldn’t have made that joke because I haven’t seen the movie, but part of that was because of how laughable I thought it was that he was playing such a role.

  28. There is a brand new special edition coming out in Germany, with a Peter Jackson approved 4K UHD remaster of both theatrical version and director’s cut, but honestly, I can’t imagine that the higher picture quality will do the FX any favours, unless WETA redid the shots too, but I didn’t hear any announcement about it. Still considering buying it, even if it’s one of those “It only costs so much, because we have the same movie twice in it and you won’t be able to use two of the discs until you buy a brand new player and TV” editions.

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