The Michael J. Fox Supernatural Horror On Streaming That’s Become A Cult Classic

By TeeJay Small | Published

Michael J. Fox in The Frighteners

Michael J. Fox has cemented himself as a genre-bending multi-generational icon who has performed in such massive film and television franchises as Back To The Future, Stuart Little, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and dozens of others. One of the esteemed performer’s most underrated films, 1996’s The Frighteners, has become something of a cult classic in recent years, garnering a great deal of fanfare from viewers in the streaming era. The Frighteners is currently available to stream on Peacock.

The Michael J. Fox horror film The Frighteners is streaming on Peacock, and it was directed by the legendary Peter Jackson.

The Frighteners was written and directed by legendary filmmaker Peter Jackson, just five years before the director would go on to helm the first installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The screenplay for the horror comedy originally began as a spinoff script from the hit television program Tales From The Crypt, with executive producer Robert Zemeckis signed on to direct. Zemeckis also has a long and storied career, which saw him helming some of the most iconic films of the late 20th century, including Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Forrest Gump, Contact, Castaway, and, of course, the entire Back To The Future trilogy which catapulted Michael J. Fox’s career as a leading man.

The Frighteners

Zemeckis opted to allow Peter Jackson to direct The Frighteners after reading his initial draft, staying attached as an executive producer after securing the distribution rights to the film from Universal Studios. Zemeckis also sought out visual effects artists at Weta Digital to craft the film’s VFX, making The Frighteners one of the first films the massive VFX team has ever worked on. Weta Digital would later go on to create the VFX for the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, as well as dozens of MCU and DCU films.

In addition to the other massive talent behind the scenes on The Frighteners, the music for the film was composed by legendary artist Danny Elfman, who is known for his work on hundreds of film and television soundtracks.

Though The Frighteners was disappointing at the box office, the film received stellar reviews from critics and audiences alike, resulting in the film becoming a cult classic to this day.

Elfman is credited for composing music for the hit adult animation series The Simpsons, listed on IMDb for the show’s decades-long 749-episode run and counting. Elfman also composed music for a number of Tim Burton-produced films, including Beetlejuice, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Corpse Bride, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and many others.

The Frighteners stars Michael J. Fox alongside Trini Alvarado, Peter Dobson, John Astin, Jeffrey Combs, Dee Wallace, Chi McBride, and Jake Busey. The film was entirely shot in New Zealand at the request of Peter Jackson, though sets and creative visual filmmaking were employed to make the entire film appear as though it takes place in the Midwestern United States.

While filming, Michael J. Fox reportedly became so miserable being away from his family that he decided never to take another role this far from home. The Frighteners was his final live-action leading performance in a feature film.

The Frighteners

The Frighteners centers on Michael J. Fox’s Frank Bannister, a former architect turned ghost hunter who abandons his dream house project after his wife tragically dies in a car accident.

Through his trauma, Frank gains the supernatural ability to see ghosts, whom he befriends in order to scam people with an exorcism process in which the ghosts willingly participate. However, as he continues to con locals of his small Midwestern town, Bannister soon comes to realize that the vengeful spirit of a serial killer has been scaring people into heart attacks, posing as the Grim Reaper.

The Frighteners is Michael J. Fox’s last leading role in a feature film.

Due to his ability to communicate with spirits, Frank becomes the main suspect in an FBI investigation tracing the deaths, with members of the local press publishing hit pieces publicly maligning his alleged role. The Frighteners then utilizes a horror fantasy concept that sees Frank inducing hypothermia in order to slow his heart rate enough to briefly join the spirit realm. As a ghost, Frank confronts the Grim Reaper, learning his true identity and his nefarious scheme.

Though The Frighteners was disappointing at the box office, the film received stellar reviews from critics and audiences alike, resulting in the film becoming a cult classic to this day. If you haven’t had a chance to catch the iconic horror-comedy yet, be sure to stream it now. The Frighteners is available to stream now on Peacock.