Exclusive: The Frighteners Remake In The Works

By Michileen Martin | Published

michael j fox

One of Michael J. Fox’s most under-appreciated gems is getting another shot. Our trusted and proven sources tell us that Universal Pictures is moving forward with a remake of 1996’s The Frighteners. Along with starring Fox, the original film was directed by Peter Jackson, five years before The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring made the filmmaker a household name.

We’ve exclusively learned Universal Pictures is remaking the 1996 Michael J. Fox led comedy horror The Frighteners.

Our sources say the premise of the remake will stay relatively faithful to the original, with the hero being a psychic investigator with the ability to communicate with spirits who must solve a series of supernatural murders.

The Original

Michael J. Fox starred in the original The Frighteners as Frank, who is something of a con man. Years earlier, Frank’s wife dies and somehow the trauma he endures results in a new ability to see and communicate with ghosts. The former architect becomes a paranormal investigator who hires out his services to haunting victims.

the frighteners
Michael J. Fox and Chi McBride in The Frighteners (1996)

Of course, the only reason his clients are being haunted is because Frank is the one who sends the ghosts and tells them to haunt those who can afford to pay him. But after his latest scam, he discovers a series of murders being perpetrated by an actual ghost. More ominous still, the victims’ corpses have ghostly numbers on their foreheads only Frank and other ghosts can see, just like his wife displayed when she died.

Some of Michael J. Fox’s more well known co-stars in The Frighteners included Dee Wallace (Cujo), John Astin (The Addams Family), Jake Busey (Contact), Jeffrey Combs (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), and R. Lee Emery (Full Metal Jacket). Melanie Lynskey, who had starred in Jackson’s earlier film Heavenly Creatures — and who has since become much more well known stateside for her roles in The Last of Us and Yellowjackets — has a cameo as a deputy.

Why The Frighteners?

Michael J. Fox in The Frighteners (1996)

Universal’s move to reboot The Frighteners may seem strange considering that while the original met with some critical acclaim, it was a financial flop. However, it tracks with what Steven Spielberg taught Universal Pictures all the way back in 1975 with Jaws: horror movies cost relatively little to make, and have the potential for huge returns. It’s a lesson the studio continues to relearn with recent examples like M3GAN, Knock at the Cabin, Jordan Peele’s Nope, and — for better or worse — Cocaine Bear.

It’s also possible a remake of The Frighteners would — with inflation considered — be less expensive to make today than it was in the ’90s. The digital special effects of the original feature signified some of the earliest work of Jackson’s Weta Digital, who would become world famous after the release of the Lord of the Rings films. With the technological advances of the last couple of decades, similar effects might not be quite as costly in the 21st century.

Once we know more about The Frighteners remake, we’ll make sure you know.