Nathan Rabin on The Frighteners (1996), CGI and Giving a Warped Filmmaking Mind a Chance

The opening sequence from Peter Jackson's The Frighteners (1996) serves as a jumping-off point for a great Jan. 4th, 2012 piece in the AV Club by Nathan Rabin.

Writing about The Frighteners serves as an opportunity for Nathan Rabin to explore the gamble taken by Robert Zemeckis on the then young smart-ass filmmaker, Peter Jackson.

"Zemeckis and Jackson are both creative progeny of Mad magazine, Looney Tunes, and the Marx Brothers, unabashed creative anarchists who delight in running amok and controlled chaos. They similarly share an enthusiasm for new technology that borders on mania. They’re not the kind of patient souls to wait until a technology has been perfected, or even refined, before diving into the deep end with it. They’re leap-before-you-look types. "

While The Frighteners is an "engagingly flawed film," Nathan Rabin uses it to recount the missteps that were part of the early days of CGI (that "dazzling, game-changing, and extraordinarily powerful tool") and to examine how punk filmmaking kids - like Peter Jackson and before him Robert Zemeckis - were once given a chance "to use all of [the] tricks and play with all of [the] toys" by risk-taking established filmmakers - who (against the odds?) recognized a kindred spirit.

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