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The Frighteners

A little transition between early Peter Jackson and his Hollywood days (although in between Braindead and this, he also made the excellent Heavenly Creatures, and the very clever film hoax Forgotten Silver), The Frighteners is often a little bit overlooked.  That’s a shame because it’s a hell of a lot of fun, and a good place to start with Jackson’s horror stuff if you’re not quite ready for the gore levels of the early days.  Michael J. Fox is always a plus in any film, but the show is effortlessly stolen here by Jeffrey Combs, as FBI Agent Danvers.  He’s so delightfully unhinged, he’s like what Dale Cooper would be like after the events of Twin Peaks.  Or maybe a murderous Fox Mulder?  (His actual backstory in-film is truly deranged).  Either way, as fun as the rest of this movie is (especially a cameo from R. Lee Ermey, effectively playing the ghost of his character from Full Metal Jacket), it’s when Combs is around that things really take off!

You know, there have been suggestions that Jackson might direct a Doctor Who episode.  That might be pretty cool, but rather than like Lord of the Rings, he should direct it more like one of these titles, bring that low budget energy back.

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Bad Taste

This week, I’m going to do a couple of director retrospectives, based on some big releases this year.  To start, since The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is out on Friday, here’s Peter Jackson’s big break.  This thing was shot by him and his friends on various weekends over the course of four years, with home-made effects, an ever-changing storyline, and a soundtrack that got lost and had to be entirely redubbbed in.  Despite all this, it’s impressive how slick parts of it are, and already Jackson can be seen doing a lot of bold camerawork and very bold ideas.  Also you can see Jackson act in a pair of roles; he’s the hairy alien seen early in this trailer eating a brain with a spoon, and he’s the “hero” Derek, who actually looks a lot like what if Harry Potter was traumatised by his time at Hogwarts and moved to New Zealand.  To get an idea of the sort of humour at work here, Derek early on gets a crack in the back of his head, and is constantly having to hold his brains in.  Yeah, this is that kind of movie, where this sort of thing can just happen, and keep in mind; this guy did Lord of the Rings!