Michael J. Fox
The film boasts a strong cast, most noticeably Michael J. Fox, who does a good job playing against type. His Frank Bannister is an embittered and manipulative fraud, but he’s still got that likable Marty McFly quality to him. Jake Busey is equally convincing as a whacked out psychotic (not too shocking considering he’s the spawn of Gary Busey). Chi McBride, John Astin and child friendly R. Lee Ermy make for some entertaining ghosts. And look for horror favorite Jeffery Combs, the Re-Animator himself, stealing every scene he’s in.
However, the main selling point of THE FRIGHTENERS is the groovy special effects work, especially with the Reaper and other ghouls. For being a decade old, most of the CGI still looks pretty impressive, thanks to the geniuses at WETA. While translucent spirits aren’t anything new (darn you Patrick Swayze for setting the bar so high!), the brilliance lies in how Jackson and crew cleverly utilize the effects. The ghosts constantly interact with the live actors so often and seamlessly in such clever ways that you won’t think “green screen” for a single second. In THE FRIGHTENERS, it’s easy to see the attention to detail and imaginative storytelling that would garner Jackson praise (and multiple Oscars) for the LOTR trilogy.
Commentary by Peter Jackson: It’s always a pleasure to hear Peter Jackson talk about film. He’s got a childlike energy and passion for movies that make his commentaries entertaining and informative. It had been a few years since I’d seen THE FRIGHTENERS and luckily Jackson points out exactly what's new in this director’s cut.
[Geek Note: While praising the creative and realistic benefits of CGI, Sir Peter mentions wanting to make another balls-to-the-wall zombie splatter film…to which I say “Bring it on, Mr. Jackson!”]
Storyboards (45:33): Nearly an hour of animated storyboards with intro and commentary by the director. Most of the storyboards are for scenes that they never got to film, either for lack of time or moolah, so this is a nice way to see Jackson’s creative side unrestrained.
Side A is capped off by the film’s Theatrical Trailer.
Making of THE FRIGHTENERS (3:43:21): The pièce de résistance of this DVD is this nearly four hour long documentary that covers every aspect of THE FRIGHTENERS you can imagine. Seriously, try and think of anything related to this movie that you want to know about and I guarantee you its covered (at length) here, including:
- Countless interviews with cast and crew
- Deleted scenes (including The Gatekeeper—an enormously obese, foul mouthed robot baby)
- Bloopers (the best being Michael J. Fox repeatedly calling John Astin’s Judge character “Doc”)
- In-depth looks at the effects, both digital and practical, for nearly every sequence in the movie
- Character and actor vignettes
- Makeup tests
- Script Development
- Rehearsal footage
- Real life ghost stories from Jackson and the actors
- Ginormous assloads more…