REVIEW: THE FRIGHTENERS

CAST

Michael J. Fox (Back to The Future)
Tina Alvarado (American Playhouse)
Peter Dobson (Modern Girls)
John Astin (The Addams Family)
Dee Wallace (E.T.)
Jeffrey Combs (Fortress)
Jake Busey (Fast Sofa)
R. Lee Ermey (Apocalypse Now)
Chi McBride (Human Target)
Elizabeth Hawthorne (Cleopatra 2525)
Melanie Lynskey (Two and a Half Men)
John Sumner (District 9)
Jim McLarty (Evil Dead)
Anthony Ray Parker (The Matrix)
John Leigh (Power Rangers Operation Overdrive)

In 1990, architect Frank Bannister’s (Michael J. Fox) wife, Debra, dies in a car accident. He abandons his profession, and his unfinished “dream house” sits incomplete. Following the accident, Frank gained the power to see ghosts and befriends three: 1970s street gangster Cyrus (Chi McBride), 1950s nerd Stuart (Jim Fyfe), and The Judge (John Astin), a gunslinger from the Old West. The ghosts haunt houses so Frank can then “exorcise” them for a fee. Most locals consider him a con man.

Soon after Frank cons local health nut Ray Lynskey (Peter Dobson) and his wife Lucy (Trini Alvarado), a physician, Ray dies of a heart attack. Frank discovers there is an entity, appearing as the Grim Reaper, killing people, first marking numbers on their foreheads that only Frank sees. Debra had a similar number when she was found.

Frank’s ability to foretell the murders puts him under suspicion with the police and FBI agent Milton Dammers (Jeffrey Combs), who is convinced Frank is responsible. Frank is arrested for killing newspaper editor Magda Rees-Jones (Elizabeth Hawthorne), who had attacked him in the press.
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Lucy investigates the murders and becomes a target of the Grim Reaper. She is attacked while visiting Frank in jail; but they escape with the help of Cyrus and Stuart, who are both dissolved in the process. Frank wants to commit suicide to stop the Grim Reaper. Lucy helps Frank have a near-death experience by putting him into hypothermia and using barbiturates to stop his heart. Dammers abducts Lucy, revealing that he had been a victim of Charles Manson and his “Family” in 1969.
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In his ghostly form, Frank confronts the Grim Reaper and discovers that he is the ghost of Johnny Bartlett (Jake Busey), a psychiatric hospital orderly who killed twelve people 32 years earlier, before being captured, convicted, and executed. Newspaper reports reveal that his greatest desire was to become the most prolific serial killer ever, showing pride at killing more than contemporaries like Charles Starkweather. Patricia Bradley (Dee Wallace-Stone), then a teenager, was accused as his accomplice, although she escaped the death penalty due to her underage status. Lucy resuscitates Frank and they visit Patricia. Unknown to them, Patricia is still in love with Bartlett and on friendly, homicidal terms with Bartlett’s ghost, and eventually kills her own mother, who had been trying to monitor her daughter’s behavior. Lucy and Frank trap Bartlett’s spirit in his urn, which Patricia has kept. The pair make for the chapel of the now-abandoned psychiatric hospital hoping to send Bartlett’s ghost to Hell.
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Patricia and Dammers chase them through the ruins. Dammers throws the ashes away, releasing Bartlett’s ghost again before Patricia kills him. Bartlett’s ghost and Patricia hunt down Frank and Lucy. Frank realizes that Bartlett’s ghost, with Patricia’s help, was responsible for his wife’s death and the number on her brow, and that he is still trying to add to his body count (and infamy) even after his death.
Image result for the frightenersOut of bullets, Patricia strangles Frank to death, but Frank in spirit form rips Patricia’s spirit from her body, forcing Bartlett to follow them. Bartlett grabs Patricia’s ghost, while Frank makes it to Heaven, where he is reunited with Cyrus and Stuart along with his wife Debra. Bartlett and Patricia’s spirits claim they will now go back to claim more lives, but the portal to Heaven quickly changes to a demonic looking appearance, and they are both dragged to Hell by a giant worm-like creature. Frank learns it is not yet his time and is sent back to his body, as Debra’s spirit tells him to “be happy.”
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Frank and Lucy fall in love. Lucy is now able to see ghosts as well. Frank later begins demolishing the unfinished dream house and building a life with Lucy while the morose-looking ghost of Dammers is riding around in the sheriff’s car. Frank and Lucy then enjoy their picnic.Image result for the frightenersFrighteners might not make you believe in ghosts, but it will make you laugh, shiver, and maybe even shed a tear or two. Wildly funny, weird, gross, and sometimes really peculiar, this is Jackson’s splatter-gore at its best.

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REVIEW: MARS ATTACKS

CAST
Jack Nicholson (Batman)
Glenn CLose (Hoodwinked)
Annette Bening (American Beauty)
Pierce Brosnan (The World’s End)
Danny Devito (Batman Returns)
Martin Short (Frankenweenie)
Sarah Jessica Parker (Sex in The City)
Michael J. Fox (Back To The Future)
Rod Steiger (Doctor Zhivago)
Tom Jones (Pleasure Cove)
Lukas Haas (Inception)
Natalie Portman (Thor)
Jim Brown (Any Given SUnday)
Lisa Marie (Ed Wood)
Sylvia Sidney (Beetlejuice)
Paul Winfield (The Termiantor)
Pam Grier (Jackie Brown)
Jack BLack (Goosebumps)
Christina Applegate (Anchorman)
Willie Garson (Stargate – SG.1)
In Kentucky, a family watches a herd of cattle running past their home, on fire. A spaceship explodes before it returns to Mars, and hundreds of other Martian ships leave Mars and head towards Earth. President James Dale along with his aides addresses the United States concerning the historic event. People around the country follow the story. The President’s science aides set up a first contact meeting with the Martians in Pahrump, Nevada as President Dale watches the development on TV with his wife Marsha and his daughter Taffy.
Using a universal translator, the Ambassador of the Martians announces that they intend to colonize the Earth. To prevent this intention from causing panic, the translator is reprogrammed to say that the Martians “come in peace”. When a hippie releases a dove as a symbol of peace, the Ambassador shoots it, then he and the other Martians slaughter a large number of people at the event including General Casey, news reporter Jason Stone, and Billy-Glenn Norris before capturing chat show host Nathalie Lake and her pet Chihuahua Poppy whose heads they transpose.
Thinking that the Martians assumed that the dove was a symbol of war, President Dale tells Professor Donald Kessler to negotiations with the Martians, whose ambassador is invited to address the United States Congress. At this meeting, the Martians massacre most of Congress. Donald begs the Martian Ambassador to stop, but is rendered unconscious and taken aboard their ship where he is later shown with his body parts dismembered and his disembodied head remaining animated. General Decker tries to convince President Dale to retaliate with nuclear warfare, but he refuses.
The Martians invade Earth, starting with Washington, D.C. The White House is attacked by the aliens, and the Secret Service tries to rush the President and the First Lady to the bunker while Taffy is separated from them during the chaos. Byron’s sons who were on a tour get separated from their group during the rush to escape, grab the weapons of some Martians killed by the Secret Service, and start fighting back. Marsha is crushed to death by the Nancy Reagan chandelier; the President, however, escapes. After the U.S. government unsuccessfully attempts a nuclear attack on the mother ship, the Martians exact revenge by defacing world landmarks for amusement. As the Martians ravage Las Vegas, with Art Land being one of their victims, Byron Williams, a casino employee and former world champion boxer, leads a small group of survivors consisting of Barbara Land, Tom Jones, a waitress named Cindy, and a gambler to an airfield in the hopes of flying a small jet to safety. They barely make it, losing the gambler in the process, but they discover a large group of Martians stationed there. Byron creates a diversion by challenging them to a fistfight. While he succeeds in killing the Ambassador, he is outnumbered and overwhelmed, but Tom, Barbara, and Cindy escape.
Billy-Glenn’s brother Richie discovers that the Martians’ heads explode when they hear Slim Whitman’s “Indian Love Call.” He and his grandmother Florence drive around town, using the song to kill Martians. The military thereafter broadcast the song around the globe, killing most of the Martians and their leader and causing the few remaining survivors to either flee from Earth or surrender. Nathalie and Donald kiss while drowning when the Martian spaceship crashes into the ocean. In the aftermath, Richie and Florence are awarded the Medal of Honor by Taffy, with her being the only surviving member of the government. Byron, who survived his Martian brawl, arrives in D.C. to reunite with his former wife and their two sons as the Martians’ bodies are being cleaned up. Barbara, Cindy, and Tom Jones emerge from a cave with some animals to see a crashed Martian ship in the adjacent Lake Tahoe.
film that wouldn’t have worked under the auspices of a director other than Tim Burton, ‘Mars Attacks’ is a wonderful entertaining sci-fi movie that is still as much fun today as it was upon release.