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The Frighteners (1996)

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After a tragic car accident that kills his wife, a man discovers he can communicate with the dead to con people. However, when a demonic spirit appears, he may be the only one who can stop it from killing the living and the dead.


Peter Jackson
4,142 ( 737)
1 win & 10 nominations. See more awards »



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Director: Peter Jackson
Stars: Danny Mulheron, Donna Akersten, Stuart Devenie


Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael J. Fox ... Frank Bannister
Trini Alvarado ... Dr. Lucy Lynskey
Peter Dobson ... Ray Lynskey
John Astin ... The Judge
Jeffrey Combs ... Milton Dammers
Dee Wallace ... Patricia Ann Bradley (as Dee Wallace-Stone)
Jake Busey ... Johnny Bartlett
Chi McBride ... Cyrus
Jim Fyfe ... Stuart, Bannister's Ghostly Assistant
Troy Evans ... Sheriff Walt Perry
Julianna McCarthy Julianna McCarthy ... Old Lady Bradley
R. Lee Ermey ... Sgt. Hiles
Elizabeth Hawthorne ... Magda Rees-Jones
Angela Bloomfield ... Debra Bannister
Desmond Kelly Desmond Kelly ... Harry Sinclair


After a car accident in which his wife, Debra, was killed and he was injured, Frank Bannister develops psychic abilities allowing him to see, hear, and communicate with ghosts. After losing his wife, he then gave up his job as an architect, letting his unfinished "dream house" sit incomplete for years, and put these skills to use by befriending a few ghosts and getting them to haunt houses in the area to drum up work for his ghostbusting business; Then Frank proceeds to "exorcise" the houses for a fee. But when he discovers that an entity resembling the Grim Reaper is killing people, marking numbers on their forehead beforehand, Frank tries to help the people whom the Reaper is after! Written by Anthony Pereyra <hypersonic91@yahoo.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Dead yet? See more »


Comedy | Fantasy | Horror

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for terror/violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »


Official Sites:

Official Facebook


New Zealand | USA



Release Date:

19 July 1996 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Robert Zemeckis Presents: The Frighteners See more »

Filming Locations:

Oklahoma, USA See more »


Box Office


$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,565,000, 21 July 1996, Wide Release

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

DTS | DTS-Stereo



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Michael J. Fox performed many of his own stunts in the film. Ironically, he broke his foot by a simple fall while filming in the forest at night. Peter Jackson said Fox's injury was actually a blessing in disguise, because it allowed him to work on the script some more, and edit some of the film's scenes, while Fox recovered for a week. See more »


When Frank is in the freezer just before he "dies" he is shown from above and has on shoes. After Dammers takes Lucy and Frank's spirit leaves his body the same downward shot has him with no shoes visible. See more »


Cyrus: Ah, the old express bus to Hell. No lines, no waiting!
See more »

Alternate Versions

The Theatrical Trailer features some cut scenes. They include a scene in which Frank is visited in Jail by Stuart and Cyrus, they inform Frank that the police are going to try and pin the murders on him. Another scene takes place in Frank's house right after they scam Ray and Lucy, in which Stuart tells Cyrus that Frank takes them totally for granted and that they are his business partners. There is also a snipet of Frank jumping out from behind a giant rock looking terrified. See more »


Referenced in Nostalgia Critic: Monkeybone (2017) See more »


Written by Bonnie Bramlett, Leon Russell
Performed by Sonic Youth
Courtesy of DCG Records
By Arrangement with MCA Special Markets and Products
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Far more fantasy than horror but still enjoyable
3 September 2013 | by kannibalcorpsegrinderSee all my reviews

Accused of murder, a small-town psychic charlatan learns that his skills in dealing with the deceased are put to the test for real when the murder spree continues despite everything he can do to stop it and must keep the spirit from harming his friends.

This here turned out to be quite an infuriating and quite troubling if somewhat interesting effort. Most of this is due to the fact that the film is far more of a fantasy effort that a straight-forward horror effort which is strange considering the subject matter at hand. This is mainly found in the finale at the hospital about the subject being sent into a heavenly arena and all the different after-effects on the body being adjusted to life back on Earth, all this just makes for a rather confusing time being that the main purpose is to stop the rampage of the ghostly figure throughout the town that only he can see and believe, so the sudden influx of mystical elements that this does at the very end makes for a confusing time. As well, the fact that these scenes force the film along far longer than it really should as the lengthy running time here really kills this one in that last section, not only with the sudden influx of fantasy but the mindless need to pay off far more plot- threads than it needed. Overall, this really could've used a few minutes shaved off here by deciding to abandon a few of these plots. That said, there's a lot to like here especially the scenes of the hooded ghostly menace in action, most notably the kinetic sequence in the holding cell where the good ghosts go fight the hooded ghost and take the fight between the walls and they good barreling through the different sections of the room as the humans watch and wait for them to appear and disappear, as well as a couple stellar attacks on a moving car that look absolutely amazing, an ambush in a graveyard and finally the hospital confrontation that makes for a lot of fun, so as an action film and horror film it definitely works wonders. As well, the CGI used is actually well-done and doesn't look cheap or fake at all, and gives the ghosts a fluidity that actually comes off nicely and makes up for some of the other flaws.

Rated R: Graphic Violence and Graphic Language.

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