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Originally posted 1-19-13 by myself on Examiner.com

‘Frighteners’ is the 1996 film directed by Peter Jackson. Screenwriters were Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh. Starring Michael J. Fox, John Astin, Dee Wallace Stone, Jeffrey Combs, R. Lee Ermey, Jake Busey, Trini Alvarado and Peter Dobson.

Former architect Frank Bannister (Michael J. Fox) has been scamming people for years. He developed psychic abilities after witnessing his wife’s death. Due to the car accident he caused. He sees dead people. He teams up with a trio of ghosts. The Judge (John Austin), Cyrus (Chi McBride) and Stuart (Jim Fyfe) haunt houses. He offers then citizens his ghost busting services.

Bannister isn’t living the high life. He’s never forgiven himself. He’s blocked out what happened after the crash. Other than the ghosts his only other friend is Sheriff Walt Perry (Troy Evans). One of his cons is Ray and Lucy Lynskey (Peter Dobson and Trini Alvarado).

Bannister is disturbed to see a ghostly number on Ray’s forehead. No-one else can. Bannister puts it out of his mind. But everything changes after a job for Mrs. Bradley (Julianna McCarthy). While at her home he sees the Grim Reaper. Then the suddenly deceased Ray finds him. Something crushed his heart during a workout.

Bannister tries to give closure to Lucy. Bannister runs into another person with a ghostly number on their forehead. The Grim Reaper appears to kill them. Bannister witnesses the entire event then flees the scene. This makes everyone think he’s the killer.

Sheriff Perry calls in an occult expert. FBI Special Agent Milton Dammers (Jeffrey Combs). Dammers believe Bannister is a serial killer. His wife was found with a number carved into her forehead. Bannister’s box cutter has never been found.

Lucy also has ties to Mrs. Bradley. She’s making house calls for her and her daughter Patricia (Dee Wallace Stone). Patricia has been under house arrest since a teenager. Her lover at that time was Johnny Charles Bartlett (Jake Busey). Bartlett went a killing spree to beat a tally held by a Russian. Bradley kept score by carving numbers on the deceased’s foreheads.

Bartlett came back from the dead. He’s been killing people disguised as the Grim Reaper. Lucy and Bannister come up with a last ditch effort. She’ll induce a near death experience. He has only a set amount of time before she revives him. Bannister hopes to kill Bartlett while in a ghost state. The battle ends with Bartlett and Bradley in hell. Lucy and Bannister begin a relationship.

The good: The entire cast. Everyone was perfect in their roles. Equally parts screamingly funny and chilling. Jake Busey and Dee Wallace Stone give inspired performances as the demented lovers. John Astin is a treat as ghost The Judge. Everyone’s favorite onscreen caustic gunny R. Lee Ermey plays ghost Sgt. Hiles.

The bad: The motive behind the killing spree.

The ugly: The bad press it got.