An entertaining transitional work for Jackson, combining both his early style of 'over-the-top' horror comedy (along with leftover plot elements from the masterpiece Heavenly Creatures) & the burgeoning emphasis on CGI spectacle that would carry through to his subsequent Tolkien adaptations. Even in this specific context the film feels like something of a misfit, but it's nonetheless a work bursting with imagination.
This one was certainly a lot scarier when I was a kid, though Jake Busey never lost his effectiveness as the mass murderer-turned-angel-of-death. This is still a great deal of fun and has great effects for its time (some of which aren't even dated).
I was actually impressed by The Frighteners. Jackson's direction (namely with the archive newsreel of the mass murder at the beginning) and Michael J. Fox's performance were the highlights. Jeffrey Combs was hysterical and the story was actually good. Some effects aside, The Frighteners doesn't feel like the dated piece of 90s shit I was expecting when I started watching it. Great stuff...
A genre-mixing roller-coaster ride of a film that dares to be both ridiculous and violently serious. Michael J. Fox in top form channel a little of his Marty Fly personality here and The Soul Reaper is a visual twin to Peter Jackson's Ring Wraiths in "Lord of the Rings". Jeffrey Coombs steal the film as an outrageous weird, manic Nazi F.B.I. agent but the ghost sidekicks seem pointless for the film.
When you have this level of talent behind a film and your saving grace ends up being a ham-bone performance from Jeffrey Combs, you're in trouble. (To be fair though, it's a glorious ham-bone performance.)
Released only a year after Casper, The Frighteners' does the haunted house and ghost concept exactly how you'd expect from Bad Taste's Peter Jackson. It's darkly comedic and goofy, with all-round great performances from Combs, Fox, Dobson, etc. I feel the one thing that hurts The Frighteners most is in it's overuse of now incredibly antiquated CGI. Otherwise, you're in for a ride with this one. Well worth watching.