|Directed by||Peter Jackson|
|Edited by||Jamie Selkirk|
|Music by||Danny Elfman|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$29.3 million|
The Frighteners is a 1996 supernatural comedy horror film directed by Peter Jackson and co-written with Fran Walsh. The film stars Michael J. Fox, Trini Alvarado, Peter Dobson, John Astin, Dee Wallace Stone, Jeffrey Combs, R. Lee Ermey and Jake Busey. The Frighteners tells the story of Frank Bannister (Fox), an architect who practices necromancy, developing psychic abilities allowing him to see, hear, and communicate with ghosts after his wife's murder. He initially uses his new abilities to befriend ghosts, whom he sends to haunt people so that he can charge them handsome fees for "exorcising" the ghosts. However, the spirit of a mass murderer appears able to attack the living and the dead, posing as the ghost of the Grim Reaper, prompting Frank to investigate the supernatural presence.
Jackson and Walsh conceived the idea for The Frighteners during the script-writing phase of Heavenly Creatures . Executive producer Robert Zemeckis hired the duo to write the script, with the original intention of Zemeckis directing The Frighteners as a spin-off film of the television series, Tales from the Crypt . With Jackson and Walsh's first draft submitted in January 1994, Zemeckis believed the film would be better off directed by Jackson, produced by Zemeckis and funded/distributed by Universal Studios. The visual effects were created by Jackson's Weta Digital, which had only been in existence for three years. This, plus the fact that The Frighteners required more digital effects shots than almost any movie made until that time, resulted in the eighteen-month period for effects work by Weta Digital being largely stressed.
Despite a rushed post-production schedule, Universal was so impressed with Jackson's rough cut on The Frighteners, the studio moved the theatrical release date up by three months. The film was not a box office success, but received generally positive reviews from critics.
In 1990, architect Frank Bannister's wife, Debra, dies in a car accident. He abandons his profession and his unfinished "dream house" sits incomplete. Following the accident, Frank gained the power to see ghosts and befriends three: 1970s street gangster Cyrus, 1950s nerd Stuart, and The Judge, a gunslinger from the Old West. The ghosts haunt houses so Frank can then "exorcise" them for a fee. Most locals consider him a con man.
Soon after Frank cons local health nut Ray Lynskey and his wife Lucy, a physician, Ray dies of a heart attack. Frank discovers there is an entity, appearing as the Grim Reaper, killing people, first marking numbers on their foreheads that only Frank sees. Debra had a similar number when she was found.
Frank's ability to foretell the murders puts him under suspicion with the police and FBI agent Milton Dammers, who is convinced Frank is responsible. Frank is arrested for killing newspaper editor Magda Rees-Jones, who had attacked him in the press. It was actually the Grim Reaper who killed Rees-Jones, despite Frank's attempts to prevent it.
Lucy investigates the murders and becomes a target of the Grim Reaper. She is attacked while visiting Frank in jail; but they escape with the help of Cyrus and Stuart, who are both dissolved in the process. Frank wants to commit suicide to stop the Grim Reaper. Lucy helps Frank have a near-death experience by putting him into hypothermia and using barbiturates to stop his heart. Dammers abducts Lucy, revealing that he had been a victim of Charles Manson and his "Family" in 1969.
In his ghostly form, Frank confronts the Grim Reaper and discovers that he is the ghost of Johnny Bartlett, a psychiatric hospital orderly who killed twelve people in 1964, before being captured, convicted and executed. Newspaper reports reveal that his greatest desire was to become the most prolific serial killer ever, showing pride at killing more than contemporaries like Charles Starkweather. Patricia Bradley, then a teenager, was accused as his accomplice, although she escaped the death penalty due to her underage status. Lucy resuscitates Frank and they visit Patricia. Unknown to them, Patricia is still in love with Bartlett and on friendly, homicidal terms with Bartlett's ghost, and eventually kills her own mother, who had been trying to monitor her daughter's behavior. Lucy and Frank trap Bartlett's spirit in his urn, which Patricia has kept. The pair make for the chapel of the now-abandoned psychiatric hospital hoping to send Bartlett's ghost to Hell.
Patricia and Dammers chase them through the ruins. Dammers throws the ashes away, releasing Bartlett's ghost again before Patricia kills Dammers. Bartlett's ghost and Patricia hunt down Frank and Lucy. Frank realizes that Bartlett's ghost, with Patricia's help, was responsible for his wife's death and the number on her brow, and that he is still trying to add to his body count (and infamy) even after his death.
Out of bullets, Patricia strangles Frank to death, but Frank in spirit form rips Patricia's spirit from her body, forcing Bartlett to follow them. Bartlett grabs Patricia's ghost, while Frank makes it to Heaven, where he is reunited with Cyrus and Stuart, along with his wife Debra. Bartlett and Patricia's spirits claim they will now go back to claim more lives, but the portal to Heaven quickly changes to a demonic-looking appearance and they are both dragged to Hell by a giant worm-like creature. Frank learns it is not yet his time and is sent back to his body as Debra's spirit tells him to "be happy."
Frank and Lucy fall in love. Lucy is now able to see ghosts as well. Frank later begins demolishing the unfinished dream house and building a life with Lucy while the morose-looking ghost of Dammers is riding around in the Sheriff Walt Perry's car. The sheriff, who is also Frank's friend, approaches him and reveals that the police discovered a huge collection of Ouija Boards in Patricia’s room. This causes Frank to realize how Johnny managed to come back to the world of the living as Patricia used the Ouija Board to bring him back from hell. Frank and Lucy then enjoy their picnic.
In addition, Peter Jackson cameos as a man with piercings, his son Billy is a baby in a bouncer, Melanie Lynskey cameos as the deputy who is briefly seen standing next to Lucy Lynskey, Byron McCrawerly plays Victim #38 and Angela Bloomfield plays Frank's deceased wife, Debra.
Peter Jackson and co-writer Fran Walsh conceived the idea for The Frighteners in 1992, during the script-writing phase of Heavenly Creatures .Together, they wrote a three-page film treatment and sent it to their talent agent in Hollywood. Robert Zemeckis viewed their treatment with the intention of directing The Frighteners as a spin-off film of the television series, Tales from the Crypt (which he helped produce). Zemeckis hired Jackson and Walsh to turn their treatment into a full-length screenplay in January 1993. The husband and wife duo completed their first draft for The Frighteners in early-January 1994. Zemeckis was so impressed with their script, he decided The Frighteners would work better directed by Jackson, executive produced by Zemeckis and funded/distributed by Universal Pictures. Universal green-lighted the film to commence pre-production on a $26 million budget in April 1994. The studio also granted Jackson and Zemeckis total artistic control and the right of final cut privilege.
Jackson decided to film The Frighteners entirely in New Zealand.Zemeckis and Universal agreed on the condition that Jackson made New Zealand look similar to the Midwestern United States. Principal photography began on May 14, 1995 and lasted until November 16, which is one of the longest shooting schedules ever approved by Universal Pictures. Six weeks into the shoot, cinematographer Alun Bollinger had a serious car accident. His replacement, John Blick, later alternated duties with Bollinger for much of the rest of the shoot. Location shooting primarily included Wellington and three weeks spent in Lyttelton. Interior scenes were compiled at Camperdown Studios in Miramar.
Jackson's Weta Digital created the visual effects, which included computer-generated imagery, as well as scale models (which were necessary to make Lyttelton look American),prosthetic makeup and practical effects with help from Weta Workshop. Visual effects supervisor Richard Taylor explained that effects work on The Frighteners was complex due to Weta's inexperience with computer technology in the mid-1990s. Prior to this film, Weta worked largely with physical effects. With so many ghosts among its main cast, The Frighteners required more digital effects shots than almost any movie made up till that time. For a special effects company that had been in existence less than three years, the eighteen-month period for completing The Frighteners was largely stressful. Some shots were handled by a small New Zealand company called Pixel Perfect, many of whose employees would eventually join Weta Digital. Rick Baker was hired to design the prosthetic makeup for The Judge, portrayed by John Astin (the detachable jawbone was later added digitally). However, Baker was not able to apply Astin's five hours of makeup due to his commitment on The Nutty Professor . Makeup artist Brian Penikas (Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ) fulfilled Baker's duties.
The extended shooting schedule owed much to the fact that scenes where ghosts and human characters interacted had to be filmed twice; once with human characters acting on set, and then with the ghost characters acting against a blue screen. The two elements would later be digitally composited into one shot with the use of split screen photography. Such sequences required precise timing from the cast as they traded dialogue with characters who were merely blank air.The hardest challenge for the digital animators at Weta was creating the Grim Reaper, which went through many transformations before finding physical form. "We set out with the intention of doing the Reaper as a rod puppet, maybe shooting it in a water tank," Jackson commented. "We even thought of filming someone, dressed in costume, at different camera speeds." Test footage was shot with puppets and a man in a Reaper suit, but in the end, it was decided that using computer animation would be the easiest task. Another entirely computerized character called "the Gatekeeper", a winged cherub who helps guard the cemetery, was deleted from the final cut.
With digital effects work running behind schedule, Zemeckis convinced Wes Takahashi, an animation supervisor from visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic, to help work on The Frighteners."The shots Zemeckis showed me were pretty remarkable," Takahashi reflected, "but there were still about 400 shots to do, and everyone was kind of worried." Takahashi was quickly drafted as a visual effects supervisor, and began looking at the schedule, trying to work out whether The Frighteners could be finished in time. "There was no way we'd make the deadline. I figured out a concerted plan involving Jackson and Zemeckis to convince Universal it was worthy of asking for more money." The executives at Universal proposed splitting some of the shots to visual effects companies in the United States, but Jackson, for whom the film was a chance to show New Zealand filmmaking could stand alongside Hollywood, convinced Universal otherwise. Instead, The Frighteners received an accelerated release date, four months earlier than planned, and an additional $6 million in financing, with fifteen digital animators and computer workstations (some were borrowed from Universal and other effects companies in the US).
|Soundtrack album by|
|Released||July 19, 1996|
|Danny Elfman chronology|
The film score was written and composed by Danny Elfman. It was released in 1996 on cassette and compact disc by Universal Records.The closing credits play a cover of Blue Öyster Cult's "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" performed by New Zealand alternative rock band The Mutton Birds. The Mutton Birds version of the song had been previously released as a B-side to their single "She's Been Talking" released in 1996. It plays also "Superstar", written by Bonnie Bramlett + Leon Russell and performed by Sonic Youth.
Critical reception was average; Jason Ankeny of album database AllMusic described the soundtrack as "imaginative" giving it three stars out of five.This was a lower rating on the site than Elfman's other scores of the era, such as Mission: Impossible , Mars Attacks! and Flubber . The soundtrack review website Filmtracks referred to the album as "lacking much cohesion or singular creativity".
The intended release date was October 1996, but after Universal studio executives viewed a rough cut of The Frighteners, they were impressed enough to move the release date to their "summer blockbuster slot" on July 19, 1996.In addition, Universal offered the filmmaker the opportunity to make King Kong , which was not released until 2005. Jackson often disputed the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA)'s decision on the film's rating. Aware that he was meant to be delivering Universal a PG-13 rated film, Jackson tried his best to omit graphic violence as much as possible, but the MPAA still believed The Frighteners deserved an R rating.
The Frighteners was released in the United States in 1,675 theaters, and opened at #5, earning $5,565,495 during its opening weekend, averaging $3,335 per theater. The film eventually grossed a worldwide total of $29,359,216. ' release, Jackson commented he was disappointed by Universal's ubiquitous marketing campaign, including a poster which "didn't tell you anything about the picture", which he believed was the primary reason the film was not a financial success. Additionally, the film opened on the same day the Atlanta Summer Olympics began; when Jackson realized this and told the studio, they answered "'We don't think so; our research indicates that's not the case...' And I just thought how the hell do they know? There had only ever been three Olympic Games held in the United States in one hundred years!" Jackson acknowledged The Frighteners' tone made it hard to pigeon-hole and sell, and his experience on the film made him understand the importance of marketing.The Frighteners ended up being a box office disappointment, mostly due to competition from Independence Day ; in interviews conducted years after The Frighteners
As of August 8,2021 [update] , 66% of the 41 reviewers selected by review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a positive review, and the average score is 6.2/10. The website's critical consensus states, "Boasting top-notch special effects and exuberant direction from Peter Jackson, The Frighteners is visually striking but tonally uneven." Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B-" on an A+ to F scale.
Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times stated "Director Peter Jackson, at home with all kinds of excess in New Zealand, keeps everything spinning nicely, not even losing a step when the mood turns increasingly disturbing."Janet Maslin from The New York Times enjoyed The Frighteners, but "walked out the theater with mixed emotions," she commented that "Peter Jackson deserves more enthusiasm for expert, imaginative effects than for his live actors anyhow. These lively touches would leave The Frighteners looking more like a more frantic Beetlejuice if Jackson's film weren't so wearyingly overcrowded. The Frighteners is not immune to overkill, even though most of its characters are already dead." Jeff Vice of the Deseret News praised the acting in the film, with the performances of Fox and Alvarado in particular, but said that there were also "bits that push the taste barrier too far and which grind things to a screeching halt", and that if "Jackson had used the restraint he showed in Heavenly Creatures, the movie could have "been the best of its kind". Critic Christopher Null praised the film, as he described it as a mixture between Ghostbusters and Twin Peaks . Michael Drucker of IGN said that although the film wouldn't make Jackson's top five of movies, it "is a harmless and fun dark comedy that you'll enjoy casually watching from time to time". The Frighteners received mixed reviews from critics from Jackson's native country, New Zealand.
Conversely, Todd McCarthy of Variety thought that the film should have remained an episode of Tales from the Crypt. ' Roger Ebert gave the film one star out of four, and felt that Jackson was more interested in prosthetic makeup designs, computer animation, and special effects than writing a cohesive storyline. Ebert and critic Gene Siskel gave it a "two thumbs down" rating on their TV show At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert . Chicago Reader critic Jonathan Rosenbaum, described the film's special effects as "ugly, aggressive" and "proliferating", saying that "trying to keep interested in [the special effects] was like trying to remain interested in a loudmouth shouting in [his] ear". Edward Guthmann of the San Francisco Chronicle stated that "instead of moving the horror genre in new directions, The Frighteners simply falls apart from its barrage of visual effects and the overmixed onslaught of Danny Elfman's music score". The Austin Chronicle 's Joey O'Brien, said that although the screenplay was "practically loaded with wild ideas, knowingly campy dialogue and offbeat characterizations", it "switched gears" too fast and too frequently that "the audience is left struggling to catch up as [The Frighteners] twists and turns its way unmercifully towards a literally out-of-this-world finale".Critic James Berardinelli believed that although The Frighteners wasn't "a bad film", it was "a disappointment, following Jackson's powerful, true-life matricide tale, Heavenly Creatures ", and because of that "The Frighteners fell short of expectations by being just one of many in the long line of 1996 summer movies." Chicago Sun-Times
At the 23rd Saturn Awards, the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films honored Jackson with nominations for Best Director and Best Writing, the latter he shared with wife Fran Walsh. The Frighteners also was nominated for Best Horror Film, and for its Special Effects, Make-up (Rick Baker) and Music (Danny Elfman). Michael J. Fox and Jeffrey Combs were also nominated for their work.
The Frighteners was first released on DVD in August 1998, but included no special features.
To coincide with the release of Jackson's King Kong ,Universal Studios Home Entertainment issued a double-sided director's cut DVD of the film in November 2005, which featured a version of The Frighteners that was 12 minutes longer. The other side includes a documentary prepared by Jackson and WingNut Films originally for the Laserdisc release. The theatrical and director's cut were also made available in HD DVD in 2007 and Blu-ray in 2011.
New Zealand cinema can refer to films made by New Zealand-based production companies in New Zealand. However, it may also refer to films made about New Zealand by filmmakers from other countries. Due to the comparatively small size of its film industry, New Zealand produces many films that are co-financed by overseas companies.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a 1988 American live-action/animated comedy mystery film directed by Robert Zemeckis, produced by Frank Marshall and Robert Watts, and written by Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman. Loosely based on the 1981 novel Who Censored Roger Rabbit? by Gary K. Wolf, the film stars Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Charles Fleischer, Stubby Kaye, and Joanna Cassidy. Set in a 1947 version of Hollywood where cartoon characters and people co-exist, the film follows Eddie Valiant, a private investigator who must exonerate Roger Rabbit, a toon who has been accused of murdering a wealthy businessman.
Heavenly Creatures is a 1994 New Zealand biographical psychological drama film directed by Peter Jackson, from a screenplay he co-wrote with his partner, Fran Walsh, and starring Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey in their feature film debuts, with supporting roles by Sarah Peirse, Diana Kent, Clive Merrison, and Simon O'Connor. Based on the notorious 1954 Parker–Hulme murder case in Christchurch, New Zealand, the film focuses on the relationship between two teenage girls—Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme—which culminates in the murder of Parker's mother. The events of the film span the period from their meeting in 1952 to the murder in 1954.
Weta Digital is a digital visual effects company based in Wellington, New Zealand. It was founded by Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor, and Jamie Selkirk in 1993 to produce the digital special effects for Heavenly Creatures. Weta Digital has won several Academy Awards and BAFTAs.
Wētā Workshop is a special effects and prop company based in Miramar, New Zealand, producing effects for television and film. The company is named after the New Zealand wētā, one of the world's largest insects, which is featured in the logo.
Robert Lee Zemeckis is an American film director, film producer, and screenwriter who is frequently credited as an innovator in visual effects. He first came to public attention in the 1980s as the director of Romancing the Stone (1984) and the science-fiction comedy Back to the Future film trilogy, as well as the live-action/animated comedy Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988). In the 1990s, he directed Death Becomes Her and then diversified into more dramatic fare, including 1994's Forrest Gump, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Director; the film itself won Best Picture. The films he has directed have ranged across a wide variety of genres, for both adults and families.
Ronald Lee Ermey was an American actor and Marine drill instructor. He achieved fame for his role as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in the 1987 film Full Metal Jacket, which earned him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Ermey was also a United States Marine Corps staff sergeant and an honorary gunnery sergeant.
Contact is a 1997 American science fiction drama film directed by Robert Zemeckis, based on the 1985 novel by Carl Sagan. Sagan and his wife Ann Druyan wrote the story outline for the film. It stars Jodie Foster as Dr. Eleanor "Ellie" Arroway, a SETI scientist who finds evidence of extraterrestrial life and is chosen to make first contact. The film also stars Matthew McConaughey, James Woods, Tom Skerritt, William Fichtner, John Hurt, Angela Bassett, Rob Lowe, Jake Busey and David Morse. The film features the Very Large Array in New Mexico, the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, the Mir space station, and the Space Coast surrounding Cape Canaveral.
King Kong is a 2005 epic adventure fantasy monster film co-written, produced, and directed by Peter Jackson. It's the 8th entry in the King Kong franchise. A second remake of the 1933 film of the same title, the film stars Andy Serkis, Naomi Watts, Jack Black, and Adrien Brody. Set in 1933, it follows the story of an ambitious filmmaker who coerces his cast and hired ship crew to travel to the mysterious Skull Island. There, they encounter prehistoric creatures living on the island as well as a legendary giant gorilla known as Kong, whom they capture and take to New York City. Filming for King Kong took place in New Zealand from September 2004 to March 2005. The project's budget climbed from an initial $150 million to a then-record-breaking $207 million.
Stanley Winston was an American television and film special make-up effects creator, best known for his work in the Terminator series, the first three Jurassic Park films, Aliens, the first two Predator films, Inspector Gadget, Iron Man, and Edward Scissorhands. He won four Academy Awards for his work.
Melanie Jayne Lynskey is a New Zealand actress. She is known for playing quirky, soft-spoken but headstrong characters, and works predominantly in independent films. Her accolades include a New Zealand Film Award, a Hollywood Film Award and a Sundance Special Jury Award, as well as Critics' Choice Award, Gotham Award, and Golden Nymph Award nominations.
ImageMovers (IM), originally known as South Side Amusement Company until 1997, is an American production company which creates Animation, Mo-Cap, & Live Action Television & Films. The company is known for producing such films as Cast Away (2000), What Lies Beneath (2000), The Polar Express (2004), and Monster House (2006). From 2007 to 2011, The Walt Disney Company and ImageMovers founded a joint venture animation facility known as ImageMovers Digital which produced two performance captured animated films: A Christmas Carol (2009) and Mars Needs Moms (2011) for Walt Disney Pictures.
Christian Rivers is a New Zealand storyboard artist, visual effects supervisor, special effects technician, and director. He first met Peter Jackson as a 17-year-old, and storyboarded all of Jackson's films since Braindead. He made his directing debut in the film adaptation of Mortal Engines, and planning a remake of The Dam Busters, both produced by Peter Jackson.
Nothing Real L.L.C, a company founded in October 1996 by Allen Edwards and Arnaud Hervas, developed high-end digital effects software for the feature film, broadcast and interactive gaming industries.
The production of The Lord of the Rings film series under Peter Jackson's direction was an enormous challenge, starting in 1997 and ending in 2004. Many earlier attempts had failed; most that had reached the screen were animations, and many filmmakers and producers had considered how to achieve the task and then set it aside. The series as realized consists of three epic fantasy adventure films based on J. R. R. Tolkien's eponymous novel. They were produced by New Line Cinema, assisted by WingNut Films; the cinema versions appeared between 2001 and 2003, and the extended edition for home video in 2004. Development began in August 1997. The three films were shot simultaneously, entirely in Jackson's native New Zealand, from October 1999 until December 2000, with pick-up shots from 2001 to 2004.
A Christmas Carol is a 2009 American computer-animated Christmas musical film written and directed by Robert Zemeckis. It is a film adaptation of Charles Dickens 1843 story of the same name and stars Jim Carrey, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Bob Hoskins, Robin Wright Penn, and Cary Elwes. The film was produced through the process of motion capture, a technique used in Zemeckis' previous films The Polar Express and Beowulf. It is Disney's third adaptation of the classic story, following Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983) and The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992), and only one of two films produced by ImageMovers Digital.
Sir Peter Robert Jackson is a New Zealand film director, screenwriter, and film producer. He is best known as the director, writer, and producer of the Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001–03) and the Hobbit trilogy (2012–14), both of which are adapted from the novels of the same name by J. R. R. Tolkien. Other notable films include the critically lauded drama Heavenly Creatures (1994), the horror comedy The Frighteners (1996), the epic monster remake film King Kong (2005), and the World War I documentary film They Shall Not Grow Old (2018). He is the third-highest-grossing film director of all-time, his films having made over $6.5 billion worldwide.
Stephen Rosenbaum is an American visual effects artist and supervisor, and has worked for more than 25 years on numerous movie and commercial productions, including six that have won Academy Awards. He received two Academy Awards and two BAFTA Awards for his contributions on Forrest Gump and Avatar, and has played an integral role on such pioneering films as Jurassic Park, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, The Abyss, X2: X-Men United, Death Becomes Her, Contact and The Perfect Storm.
Kyle Balda is an American animator and film director, best known for co-directing the animated films The Lorax (2012), with Chris Renaud, and Minions (2015), with Pierre Coffin. He has also worked as animator on several films, including Jumanji, Toy Story 2, and Despicable Me. He has worked for Pixar for years and is now with Illumination Entertainment.
Wes Ford Takahashi is an American visual effects animator and animation supervisor who has worked for motion picture visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic. He is known for his special effects work on numerous films; his efforts include animating the time travel sequences for all three films in the Back to the Future trilogy, as well as animating the "boy on the moon" in the DreamWorks logo. He is the former head of ILM's animation department.
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