When taking a break from writing 'Heavenly
Creatures' Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh went to buy some milk, on the way they talked
about a new movie involving ghosts, when HC was completed they got to work on the script
which eventually became 'The Frighteners', the script soon landed on the desk of one
Robert Zemeckis who was on the look out for a new 'Tales From the Crypt' movie but felt
that this script could be a great full length feature.
In 1996 work commenced on the movie, almost immediately
after Peters completion of 'Forgotten Silver'. The movie had the largest budget that Peter
had to play with and with over 500 special effects shots (the largest is any movie so far)
he had to expand his special effect capabilities from 3 computers to... well a lot, even
poaching an old hand from 'Industrial Light & Magic'. However the movie wasn't very
successful at the box office. The film was released on the same day as the opening
ceremony of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, and this most likely had an impact on the
sale of film tickets.
Being Peter's first Hollywood production, and
also the increase in budget allowed the director to make use more big names. Michael J.
Fox stars as Frank Bannister. Also, it' is the first movie of Peters that Peter Dasent
didn't write the music for, Zemeckis employed Danny Elfman (The Simpsons, Batman,
Mars Attacks, etc.) instead.
'The Frighteners' is the fifth film in which Peter Jackson
plays a part, (being famed for his cameo appearances!). Look out for the biker that Frank
bumps into after stepping out of the newspaper office.
In the sleepy little town of Fairwater the population is
decreasing, the doctors are baffled, and fears of a mysterious heart condition are rife.
Enter Frank Bannister a 'qualified' psychic who gets his ghostly friends to
haunt people so he can 'exorcise' them. Pretty soon the authorities begin to suspect
Franks involvement in the deaths but only Frank knows the truth, he sees a figure in a
black cape who reaches into peoples chests and squeezes the life from them. Throughout
this film Frank dies, gets resurrected, dies again and comes back to life again (Even
Jesus couldn't pull that one off), and establishes a connection between the 'Death figure'
and a serial killer who was sent to the electric chair over 40 years ago.