The Frighteners

1996 R 1h 50m DVD

The Frighteners

1996 R 1h 50m DVD
  • Overview
  • Details
Blending humor and horror, director Peter Jackson's outlandish tale centers on shady psychic detective Frank Bannister (Michael J. Fox), who uses his ability to communicate with the dead to boost his business. But when a sinister spirit is unleashed and members of the community are mysteriously killed, the P.I. -- with the help of a comely widow (Trini Alvarado) -- must use his powers to get to the bottom of the supernatural slayings.
Michael J. Fox, Trini Alvarado, Peter Dobson, John Astin, Jeffrey Combs, Dee Wallace, Jake Busey, Chi McBride, Jim Fyfe, Troy Evans
Peter Jackson
Widescreen Anamorphic 2.35:1
English SDH, Spanish (Neutral)
French: Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround, English: Dolby Digital 5.1
R - Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. Contains some adult material. Parents are urged to learn more about the film before taking their young children with them.
age 16+
Common Sense rating Pause for kids 16 & under
age 16+

Common Sense Note

Parents need to know that this horror-comedy includes over-the-top violence, with glowing ghosts (some in various stages of decomposition) dismembered, squished, slashed, mashed, and shot. Abundant gunfire includes a Columbine-style massacre, with multiple fatalities. One shotgun blast blows up a head off. Nightmarish visuals include zombie-like rotting-corpse ghosts and mummies and one closeup of a recently dead, worm-eaten face. Don't-try-this-at-home stuff ranges from reckless driving to drug-induced comas and falls from high places. Swearing is pretty constant. Off-color jokes refer obscurely to sex and hemorrhoids (not at the same time, at least).

Sexual Content

Double-entendres spoken by the ghosts, most particularly the rotting old Judge, who also goes through the motions of sex with a mummy.


Cartoonish/CGI-ish violence, as ghosts are dismembered, sliced, flattened, shot to pieces, sometimes twisted and mashed into oozing goo. Demonic elements assail and torture two characters. Many guns and pistols are brandished; flashbacks detail a bullet-riddled massacre in a hospital. One shotgun blast that takes a character's head off. People killed by induced heart attacks. Characters fall, get threatened with knives, and are beaten or strangled. Reckless driving stunts.


"Ass," the s-word and its variations, "bastard," "bitch," "a-hole," "hell," "pissed-off," God's name in vain.

Social Behavior

Sort of lost in all the mayhem is Frank learning to put the past behind him and move beyond the tragedy in his life to a new relationship (it may be completely unintentional that the happiest couple onscreen are a couple of serial killers).


Not applicable

Drugs / Tobacco / Alcohol

One ghost smokes cigars (well, he's dead already); drinking in a fancy-restaurant setting.

  • Age appropriate
  • Not an issue
  • Depends on your child and your family
  • Parents strongly cautioned
  • Not appropriate for kids of the age

This information for parents is provided by Common Sense Media, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving kids' media lives.

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