Frighteners [1996/I]

One movie lover's nightmare is another's raucous joyride, and this special effects-laden horror comedy is bound to split both camps right down the middle. (Or, as Leonard Maltin's Movie & Video Guide puts it, "definitely not for all tastes but a wild time for those who get into it.") Michael J. Fox plays a psychic investigator who can actually see ghosts, and lives with a trio of undead spirits who scare people to promote Fox's ghost-busting business. In a town infamous for serial killings, a new series of deaths prompts Fox to induce his own out-of-body experience so he can battle death in a spirit-plagued netherworld where evil reigns supreme--or something like that. So much happens in this chaotic film that you might feel like you're watching several movies at once--a slasher pic, a supernatural thriller, and a black comedy all rolled into a nonstop showcase for grisly makeup and a dozen varieties of special effects. It's an odd but wildly inventive film from New Zealand director Peter Jackson, who earned critical acclaim for his previous film Heavenly Creatures and would later create the ingenious pseudo-documentary Forgotten Silver. --Jeff Shannon

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