Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A GOOD YEAR: Ridley Scott Lightens Up


Today is Ridley Scott's 74th birthday. In his 34-year-long film career, he has been elevated to the status of living legend. And why not? He's the man behind such classics as Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma and Louise, Gladiator and Black Hawk Down. But I think that there's one of his films that is underrated among most. Why? It is Ridley Scott's *only* out-and-out comedy, A Good Year.

Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott have had a long and industrious relationship as actor/director. Starting with Gladiator, Crowe became an international superstar with his famous line, "My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius. Commander of the Armies of the North. General of the Felix Legions. Loyal servant to the true Emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife – and I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next". After A Good Year, Crowe and Scott made three films together in a row: American Gangster, Body of Lies and Robin Hood (with only American Gangster being the clear box office success). In fact, Scott's next film, the eagerly-awaited Prometheus (his first in 3D), will be his first film without Crowe in 5 years. Crowe has also worked alongside notable director Ron Howard in A Beautiful Mind and Cinderella Man. Crowe's newest film, Man of Steel, features him taking up the mantel of Superman's father Jor-El (previously played by Marlon Brando). But going back to A Good Year...

Young Max Skinner (Freddie Highmore) grew up during the summers living with his Uncle Henry (Albert Finney) and his vineyard in Southern France. Henry teaches the boy how to treasure the finer things in life, especially fine wine. As he gets older Max (Russell Crowe) has forgotten the lessons his uncle taught him and has become a greedy stock trader, mistreats his staff and Gemma (Archie Panjabi), his personal assistant. One night, Max comes home to find that Henry has passed away and left him his lavish estate and vineyards. Planning to make a quick turnaround on the property, Max heads down to Provence to take a look around. After falling into the dilapidated swimming pool, Max meets Fanny Chanel (Marion Cotillard), a local woman he falls in love with. The more time he spends at his Uncle Henry's home, the more the past starts catching up with him. As the lessons his Uncle Henry taught him return, Max is shown a life more peaceful than he ever imagined.

In some ways, the film plays out as a European romantic comedy version of A Christmas Carol (but smarter than Ghosts of Girlfriends Past). I applaud Ridley Scott for wanting to play in a genre he hadn't before (as Martin Scorsese just did with Hugo). But the audience just didn't show up. In America, the film only made $7 million - $40 million less than Scott's previous film, Kingdom of Heaven. Even so, I quite enjoy this film for being a turn of pace for Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott.

NOTE: Happy Birthday, Ridley Scott! Thanks for reading - Zack

Thursday, November 24, 2011

THE MUPPETS: They're Back

In 1955, Mississippi native Jim Henson took a green coat his mother had thrown out and two halves of a ping-pong ball and created a character that soon millions around the world would fall in love with. The character was Kermit the Frog and his message of believing in one's self to achieving the impossible was adopted by countless fans young and old. One of those fans was actor Jason Segel, a lifelong admirer of The Muppets. Teaming with Walt Disney Pictures, he set out to bring new life to the characters he adored and wrote, produced and starred in The Muppets.

But the Muppets had a long road to get back to the big screen. After “The Muppet Show”, The Muppet Movie, The Muppets Take Manhattan and The Great Muppet Caper, Jim Henson wanted to branch out into new directions (Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal) without solely being connected to the Muppets. In 1989, he decided he was going to give his company to The Walt Disney Company for near $150 million. This would allow him to go into darker material without leaving behind the Muppets. He completed two projects for Disney - a TV special “The Muppets at Walt Disney World” and the Disney World/Disneyland attraction “Muppet*Vision 3D”. Sadly in 1990, Jim Henson died of pneumonia. The world was shocked at this sudden death. At his memorial service (per his wishes), no one would wear black and the congregation would hold foam butterflies connected to puppeteer's rods.

As he had not signed an actual contract that signed away the characters, Disney could not take hold of the Muppets but distributed the two following Muppet films, The Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island. Columbia Pictures took the next film Muppets from Space, the first completely original Muppet film since Muppet Caper, and delivered the Muppets' first bomb (mostly because it came out the same summer as Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, Wild Wild West and Runaway Bride). Frank Oz said, “[Muppets from Space was not] up to what it should have been. [It was] not what we wanted it to be.” After laying dormant for 5 years, The Walt Disney Company and the Jim Henson Company reached a mutual agreement and bought control of The Muppet Studio. Two TV specials were made - “If's A Very Merry Muppet Christmas” and “The Muppets' Wizard of Oz” (featuring a notable appearance by director Quentin Tarantino).

Disney had tried to get a new feature Muppet film off the ground by going straight to Frank Oz. They had found an unused script that Jim Henson had approved called “The Cheapest Muppet Movie Ever Made!” where Gonzo makes a new Muppet movie but blows the entire budget on the opening credits. Oz did take the offer under consideration, but parted ways when he and Disney had disagreements over the budget - Disney wanted $12 million to do the film, Oz wanted $24-$50 million ( he reportedly quipped, “Do you know how much money it takes to make things look cheap?”). After the release of his last film, Death at a Funeral, Oz dropped out of public view; however, recent reports have said he has moved onto the stage, directing plays. In 2008, Muppet fans Jason Segel Nicholas Stoller pitched an idea for a new Muppet film to Walt Disney Pictures. Segel had made no secret of his love for the Muppets in Stoller's film Forgetting Sarah Marshall - singing a melancholy version of “The Muppet Show Theme Song”. They opted to write their own script rather than use the “Cheapest” idea. After having script meetings with Pixar Animation Studios, the film started production in late 2010.

The Muppets begins with the story of Walter (Peter Linz), a young boy doesn't seem to fit in with everyone else. Always getting hurt because of his small stature, Walter always sensed he was different until he happens to catch a rerun of “The Muppet Show” on TV. He instantly becomes infatuated with meeting his heroes, the Muppets, because of their similar looking appearance. He lives in Smalltown, USA, with his brother Gary (Jason Segel) who is dating a girl named Mary (Amy Adams). Gary decides that he is going to take Mary to Los Angeles for their 10th dating anniversary. Knowing that Walter would love to meet the Muppets, Gary invites him as well, though this secretly doesn't please Mary because she wanted Gary all to herself. Nevertheless, the trio leaves Smalltown, USA in a jaunty (and insanely catchy) musical number called “Life's A Happy Song”.

Arriving in Los Angeles, Gary, Mary and Walter discover that the Muppet Studios has been mostly abandoned and shut down. Walter sneaks into Kermit's old office and overhears a plot by evil oil tycoon Tex Richman (played diabolically by Chris Cooper) to destroy the Muppet Theater because of the oil that is underneath it. The only way the Muppets can save their theater is if they can raise $10 million considered to theaters in two days. Walter, Gary and Mary set out to find Kermit and put things right. They find him alone at his house with only his ‘80s robot servant (named ‘80s Robot) for company. A melancholy Kermit admits that he and the Muppets had gone their separate ways and there seems to be no hope of saving the Muppets had gone their separate ways and there seems to be no hope of saving the Theater until Walter makes an impassioned speech convincing Kermit that if the Muppets returned, the world would appreciate them again. Together, the gang goes out to find the rest of the Muppets for a televised Muppet telethon - Fozzie has reluctantly joined a Muppet “tribute” band, Gonzo had become a rich plumbing mogul, Sam the Eagle has become a talking head pundit on a FOX News-lite network and Miss Piggy, a Vogue editor in Paris. With time running against them, the Muppets band together to refurbish their old theater, find a celebrity host and remind the world of what used to be and could be again.

When I walked out of this film, I was conflicted. A rarity for me. I knew this film was gonna be good. I knew it. 90% critical ratings are not given to Rotten Tomatoes every day (certainly not on three different films released in the same time period; the others include Arthur Christmas and Hugo). But there were A LOT of things in The Muppets that raised my ire. The first was the Toy Story 3-esque opening montage of Walter's early life (which hurt all the more because a “Toy Story Toon” had just finished playing). For some reason in the first act of the film, Walter becomes less of a character and more of a punching bag for Jason Segel's character. Walter is hurt, thrown, slammed and abused in countless ways often directly due to Gary. Not that he's meaning to, of course, but it just makes him look bad. Speaking of Jason Segel, I think he actually wrote himself into the backseat of this film (practically literally). If he's not with Mary or Walter, he's really given nothing to do. Now, this is somewhat practical for this film because it *is* a Muppet movie, but he ought to give himself more stuff to do than just sing and dance. It just makes his character seem bland and boring, when you know Jason Segel is actually a funny guy.

Two of my favorite Muppet characters are Statler and Waldorf, those hecklers you love to hate. They are consistently crotchety, pessimistic and senile - which makes them hysterical. Which is why I was saddened to see they were given SO LITTLE to do in the film. They only appear in like 4 scenes (and steal each one). In fact, this film has a terrible habit of introducing Muppet characters and then pushing them to the background of the background. For instance, Rowlf, at the end of the “‘80s montage” comments that he just showed up and nobody got to see his backstory which is nothing more than Kermit waking him from his sleep in a hammock and asking if he wants to rejoin the Muppets. That's funny. But then Rowlf doesn't appear or have any lines for the rest of the movie (albeit a brief appearance in the credits). The same goes for a lot of the Muppet characters and that's not good. Granted, I know the main characters are more important but there is no sense in introducing well-known characters and then giving them nothing to do.

I like Amy Adams as an actress. I can't wait to see her play Lois Lane in 2013's Man of Steel. But in this film, she's not great. Her character of Mary is a bit conflicting. The movie would like you to believe that she's completely lost without Gary and that through their adventure, she gains modern-day women's lib independence. She just has everything set up in her mind and if it doesn't go that way, it's instantly Gary's fault. She has a completely unnecessary musical number in the film called “Me Party” that intersects with Miss Piggy and is about “girl power; I don't need no man to make me happy”-type stuff. It does not advance their characters or their story and just ends up making then look bad and selfish. She also seemed ambivalent to the plight of the Muppets. When she reminds Gary that he promised to take her to dinner, this is the middle of Gary helping the Muppets rebuild their theater. Can she not tell that Gary is trying to help the Muppets in their time of need? It's not like she's helpless and can't do anything; she teaches children how to fix cars. It just seemed as though the film is trying to portray her in two different lights and it doesn't work.

The cameos also don't work as much as they ought to. When “The Cheapest Muppet Movie” was announced, several celebrities were rumored to be connected with the film such as Billy Crystal, Barbara Eden, Lady Gaga, Ed Helms, Sean Penn, French Stewart, Eric Stonestreet, Rachel Ray, George Clooney (attending the premiere of Michael Clayton 2), Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn (reprising their roles from Swingers) and Christian Bale (as Batman). I don't know about you but I would pay money to see Christian Bale's Batman and Gonzo in a scene together. That would be comedy gold. But the cameos here don't quite measure up. For example, Alan Arkin plays the Muppet Studios tour guide that only appears on camera for exactly 60 seconds. He's dull. He's boring. Alan Arkin is a great actor, he doesn't have to play dull and boring. Now, had the character been played by Ben Stein, that would have been more acceptable. Being dull and boring is his shtick. That's what makes him funny. Sarah Silverman is also given a cameo that could've just as easily been given to another actress. Nevertheless, it's always good to see Mickey Rooney in a film.

Song used: “The Rainbow Connection” by The Muppets

This is not to say I didn't enjoy the film. Indeed, as I pointed out earlier, the film is completely centered around the Muppets and Jason Segel makes no attempt to overshadow them. In fact, without Segel, this movie would not have been made at all. He and Stoller have written a screenplay that allows the Muppets to be themselves and try to find their place in this world that seemingly had abandoned them. Rather than be a reboot of the Muppets, it plays more like a long-awaited sequel to The Muppet Movie. It's precisely what they needed. Chris Cooper stands out as the villain, not only a no-good jerk but also very dark for a kids' film. At one point in the movie, he just out-and-out says, “You're dead, Muppets. And I'm here to bury you.” I was astonished. Wow. I will be very angry if “Life's A Happy Song” does not get nominated for Best Original Song because that is one peppy song. Speaking of songs, I literally got goosebumps when I heard “Rainbow Connection”. It was as simple as it was at the beginning of Muppet Movie, but had a new sense of poignancy. The shot-for-shot recreation of “The Muppet Show Theme Song” also made me smile. I may get a lot of flak for the somewhat overblown negativity that I listed, but I sincerely assure you that I had a wonderful time watching The Muppets and would easily recommend it to anyone - long-time Muppet fan or newbie. I think Jim Henson would be proud.

“So, that dumb geek decided to give us the last laugh.” “‘Last laugh’? Don't you mean the first?” “OHHH-HO-HO-HO-HO-HO-HO-HO-HO-HO-HO-HO!”

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

SPACECAMP: Huntsville, We Have A Problem


In the news recently, NASA has announced that they are reopening positions for astronauts. There had been some discussion as to whether or not manned space missions were economically feasible. It seemed that unmanned missions would be safer and more cost effective. But by removing humans from the equation, the space program seemed like a thing of the past until earlier last week. Children today need to grow up believing that they too can be astronauts. Who cares if they don't get to be? It won't hurt them to dream. Movies like Star Wars and Star Trek inspire young ones to want to go out and explores those galaxies far, far away and the final frontiers. All it takes are dreams. This is the message of SpaceCamp.

SpaceCamp stars Kate Capshaw (Willie Scott from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Steven Spielberg’s wife) as a wannabe astronaut who gets stuck training teenagers at the famous Huntsville, Alabama facility. Among them is the arrogant yet somewhat likable jerk Kevin Donaldson (Tate Donovan of “Glee”, “Gossip Girl”, Nancy Drew and The Pacifier; most famous as the voice of Disney’s Hercules), the ambitious Kathryn Fairly (Lea Thompson, hot off the hit Back to the Future and soon to be “not hit” Howard the Duck), the geeky Rudy Tyler (Larry Scott of Revenge of the Nerds), the vapid Tish Ambrosé (Kelly Preston of The Last Song, Old Dogs, Sky High, Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat and John Travolta’s wife) and of course, the Star Wars-loving kid who just can’t relate (I know the feeling) Max Graham (Leaf Phoenix, who later grew up to become Oscar-nominated prankster of the world Joaquin Phoenix).

So that we know the players, we can go on with the story. All the teenagers cannot work together as a team and quickly become the laughingstock of SpaceCamp. Max ends up meeting a sentient robot named JINX (voiced by master voice artist Frank Welker). JINX is NASA’s “$27 million handyman” but has the unusual problem of taking humans’ orders too literally. JINX overhears a tearful Max desperately wishing he was in space after an argument with Kevin ends up shattering everything he loves about Star Wars. While the group is exploring a not-flight-ready Space Shuttle just before an engine test, JINX hijacks a computer and causes an engine malfunction that forces Launch Control to ignite the rocket boosters in order to avoid a crash – sending the trainees into space. Now out of orbit and options, they must work together to get back home.

While most people would think a movie called SpaceCamp would be an extended commercial for the actual SpaceCamp, it really isn't. Yes, there are training montages going around the facility and its uses. But at the actual SpaceCamp itself (where I have been many times), there is no mention of the film whatsoever. Strange, right? Well, the biggest bruise that SpaceCamp ever got was 1986 - the same year that the real-life Challenger tragedy occurred. Americans simply did not want to watch a film about a Shuttle mission gone haywire. SpaceCamp had suffered a case of "Too Soon?". However, another film released the same year, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (which ironically, had a similar premise of "The adventure of their lives will be getting back home") paid tribute to the fallen astronaut heroes by beginning their film with this message:

SpaceCamp is for the kids that couldn't go to SpaceCamp. It fell out of popularity, mostly because it also has fallen out of availability. This is why I think it ought to be re-released on DVD/Blu-Ray on this occasion of astronauts returning to space so that kids of all ages can once again reach for the stars.

Movie Talk on Sunday - Time Travel Films

Hello. My name is Zack Parks and I am a movie geek. ("Hello, Zack!") All my life, I seemed to have been at the wrong place at the wrong time. For example, in my high school in West Tennessee, I was tormented relentlessly because of my love of Star Wars. People were like, "Star Wars is lame, ya pussy!" Thankfully, college is a world of difference. But if you are unaware, I am not alone. Thanks to Twitter, I have been able to get connected with film fans all across this great land of America and abroad. It helps to talk with people who are just as intelligent (if not more so) about the cinematic subjects I hold so dear. And now, you can too with Movie Talk on Sunday (#MTOS)!

What is Movie Talk on Sunday (#MTOS)? At 20:00 GMT (3:00 EST) every Sunday on Twitter, movie fanatics join together on Twitter to rap about about different genres of film. A different blogger hosts each week and posts questions for discussion. There are 10 questions, with one posted every 10 minutes.
All you have to do is go to Twitter on Sunday at your designated time and search #MTOS. Make sure all your tweets have that hashtag as well so others can find you and join in on the conversation. Also, be sure to number your answers with A1, A2, etc.

This Sunday, I will be bringing time travel (a subject I am dearly familiar with) to the table of #MTOS.

1. What is your favorite time travel movie?
2. What is your favorite genre associated with time travel?
3. What is your favorite method of time travel in movies?
4. What film character(s) would you time travel with?
5. What is your favorite era of time travel?
6. What cinematic future do you prefer - dark and Orwellian or bright and happy?
7. Name some time travel movies that just don't interest you?
8. If time traveling, what one snack would you carry with you? (fun question)
9. If you could time travel and stop one movie from being made, which one?
10. If you had a time machine, where/when would you go?

So, be sure to hop into your DeLorean, step into your TARDIS, sit back and relax in your H.G. Wells time chairs and follow me through time for #MTOS!!

P.S. Follow these Twitter film fans, if you aren't:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

THE AVIATOR: A Sky Without Limits


The Aviator, from director Martin Scorsese, is a thrilling and intriguing portrayal of one of the richest men in the world, Howard Hughes. Scorsese masterfully recreates the more positive eras of Hughes' life from the 1920s to the 1940s. Leonardo DiCaprio brings Hughes to life as a true American visionary driven by genius, and later enveloped by madness.

The film presents Hughes as a man of many talents besides being an aviator - film producer, airline owner and bachelor. He balanced multiple relationships with Hollywood starlets like the vivacious Katherine Hepburn (Cate Blanchett) and the temperamental Ava Gardner (Kate Beckinsale). However, he most dearly loved aviation. Flying gave him complete control of the world around him. He gave the world a new adventure every time he flew around the globe, every time he invented a new plane, broke world speed records and won the hearts of Americans everywhere by doing what was considered impossible - flying the largest plane ever built, the Hercules. When called to testify to Congress after being accused of being a war profiteer, Hughes publicly defended himself and Hughes exposed the corruption of a Senator under bribes from one of Hughes' enemies. Through his life, he also suffered from a disturbing case of undiagnosed obsessive-compulsive disorder; making him hallucinate over minor details like touching doorknobs, clean water and germs. A man with genius like Hughes can be rendered helpless by the inability to touch a doorknob and walk out of a room.

Director Scorsese is at his best in this film, replicating the early 20th century in minute ways including using period music, era-correct costumes, even decolorizing the film so it would match films that were made at around the same time. He took care to make sure that audiences were as swept up by Hughes’ aviation adventures as the world was in 1935 when he broke the speed record for planes in the H-1 Racer. The music by Howard Shore is also an integral part of the film. It is heroic and triumphant when Hughes takes the Hercules into the air and it is dark and moody when Hughes is locked in the screening room. Other films like A Beautiful Mind portray mental illness as something that can be overcome. Hughes was not able to control his mental disorder and eventually succumbed to it.

I believe that The Aviator is a fascinating film because it is a character study. It is not just a story about a man who liked to fly airplanes. It is a story about a man who stopped at nothing and would not let the limitations of his time slow him down. He was an innovator, giving the world modern air travel. One does not have to be a pilot, or an engineer, or a filmmaker, or a millionaire to understand that this film tells to story of a man whose genius was balanced by a dark enigma that eventually consumed him. The film is important to me because of its message of perseverance through times of crisis. The adult Hughes’ first two lines in the film are, “Don’t tell me I can’t do it. Don’t tell me it can’t be done.” Later, when Hughes is told that he can’t get any more cameras for Hell’s Angels, he tells his press agent Johnny Meyer, “What I have isn’t enough, John, not for how I see it.”

Howard Hughes was one of the world’s greatest enigmatic figures. Together, DiCaprio and Scorsese showcase Hughes as a man who loved the sky and was willing to fight for it.

NOTE: This was a review I had written last year in Introduction to Film at the University of Memphis. It got an A. Happy Birthday, Martin Scorsese! Thanks for reading - Zack

Tuesday, November 8, 2011



In one decade, Peter Jackson has gone from a little known New Zealand director of gory, scary (but with a dark twisted sense of humor) films to one of the living legends of modern filmmaking alongside Steven Spielberg. Of course, everyone knows him from his beloved Lord of the Rings films which have become Oscar-winning epics. In between those films and his ongoing Hobbit two-parter project he's directed two films -- King Kong and The Lovely Bones -- and produced another, the upcoming The Adventures of Tintin. However, there is one of his previous films that I don't think gets the fandom it deserves. That is The Frighteners.

On the surface, I can see how the one-sentence concept would sound like a rip-off of Ghostbusters: a man, specializing in professional paranormal investigations and eliminations, goes around ridding ghosts out of people's houses but gets caught up in a case that puts him way over his head. However, this film has enough new and interesting ideas that it can easily differentiate itself from its more popular American cousin. For example, all the ghosts in The Frighteners are human or human-like rather than gruesome creatures as in Ghostbusters. All the technological whizbangery that Dan Aykroyd loves to write so much for Dr. Ray Stantz to use is nowhere to be found in The Frighteners.

The movie is centered around Frank Bannister (Michael J. Fox, in his final live-action feature film performance) as a shady guy who runs a ghost-removal/psychic-communication business. The locals in this small, American town hate him vehemently, mostly because he goes around funerals and hands out business cards. However, a local doctor named Lucy Lynsky (Trini Alvarado) starts to believe him when unseen ghosts infest her house. Calling him in a panic, Frank arrives and using what looks like a toaster eradicates the invisible ghosts. However, her sports-nut husband, Ray, (Peter Dobson) thinks he is nothing but a con artist and demands he leave his house. Before leaving, Frank spots what looks like a number 13 carved into his forehead. As Frank arrives home, it is clear that Ray is somewhat correct. The ghosts that haunted the Lynsky house actually work for Frank (who, after a car accident, can see and hear ghosts), scaring people in the houses so they call him up and he can charge an exuberant fee. The three friendly ghosts that live with him are '50s nerd Stuart (Jim Fyfe), '70s pimp Cyrus (Chi McBride) and an Old West gunslinger known only as the Judge (John Astin; famous for playing "Gomez Addams" in "The Addams Family", his son Sean was cast by Jackson as Sam in The Lord of the Rings).

However, Frank and the town of Fairweather are about to be haunted by a not-so-friendly ghost. The next morning, Frank discovers that Ray is now a ghost. Ray tells him that the last thing he remembers was feeling his heart being crushed. Because he was the last person to see Ray alive, the local sheriff (Troy Evans) targets Frank as the prime suspect. Later, at a group "seance" with Lucy and Ray, Frank stumbles upon the true murderer, a ghost that takes on the appearance of the Grim Reaper (called in the movie "The Soul Collector"). The Collector has been killing people with the intent of pinning the crimes on him. Frank has to team up with Stuart, Cyrus and the Judge, keep Lucy safe, face not only his tragic past but Fairweather's, and -- most importantly -- stay alive.

"'Go ahead. Make my day.'"

This was Michael J. Fox's final live-action feature film starring role; he has since moved to guest-starring on TV dramas and animated films (including one of my all-time favorite Disney films, Atlantis: The Lost Empire). What better film to end his feature film career on (thank God it wasn't The Secret of My Success)? Not to mention, it was Peter Jackson's first film to get a wide American audience. Unfortunately it was released the same weekend as the opening of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, but the film was picked up on VHS/DVD. It also introduced the world to WETA Digital, the New Zealand effects company that rivals Industrial Light and Magic for imagination domination. The effects that began in The Frighteners led to use in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, King Kong, The Lovely Bones, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and the upcoming The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn. Fox was joined by his Back to the Future director Robert Zemeckis (credited as executive producer), who brought his own special effects team (after they had made a similar film Death Becomes Her) to help with WETA.

"Doc? Doc, is that you?"

All in all, The Frighteners is a scary yet silly film. Michael J. Fox stepped out of the box to play in a genre he hadn't before: horror. It wasn't given much notice at the time of its theatrical release, but like its ghoulish inhabitants, it came back from the dead as an example of the genius of Peter Jackson.