Frighteners: The Directors Cut

March 1st, 2006 DVD Reviews, Film, Filmink

Just like Jerry Lewis is said to be the prophet of home video (correctly predicting as far back as the 1970s it’d become big business to rent movies to people on magnetic videotape), Peter Jackson unwittingly became a similar fortune teller on the rise of the DVD.

Taking personal charge of all the extras that would arrive on this triple disc set 10 years later, Jackson produced them all for the original Laserdisc edition, making (quite humourous) reference more than once to ‘this Laserdisc you’re watching now’.

After a brief intro by Jackson explaining the origins of the bonus material, you’re straight into over three hours of featurettes on every conceivable aspect of production, design, computer graphics, casting, scriptwriting and storyboards.

Jackson is the consummate movie fan director. His love of the medium and sharing its secrets is infectious throughout both the featurettes and the commentary (recorded, as he informs us, in his Wellington lounge room).

Released on the back of another Jackson movie (a little film about a gorilla you might have heard of), The Frighteners disc set is astonishing simply because so much extra material exists for a movie that predates the DVD age by several years.

It’s especially fascinating when Jackson and his Weta crew walk you through the CGI process that was in it’s nascent stages back then — among everything else Lord of the Rings did for Jackson, it saved him having to sell the 30 odd computers he’d bought to render the graphics for The Frighteners.

The commentary is no less insightful and entertaining, Jackson remembering plenty of interesting facts about the film that would ultimately become his proving ground as an action adventure director capable of everything from drama and comedy to miniatures and CGI.

The effects have dated and the movie is a slightly better idea than it is an end product. Slapped with an R rating in the US (the death knell of any blockbuster), it failed on initial release but — especially with its directorial pedigree — was always destined for a massive cult following on DVD. And deservedly so.

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