Before this year's mammoth "King Kong" remake, Peter Jackson was best known for his relatively small Kiwi pics like "Heavenly Creatures." "The Frighteners," his first Hollywood foray, was less auspicious. This director's cut is 14 minutes longer than the theatrical version and, while meaty, cries out for an update.
Before climbing the Empire State Building with this year’s mammoth “King Kong” remake, or conjuring up “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, Peter Jackson was best known for his relatively small Kiwi pics like “Heavenly Creatures” and “Brain Dead.” “The Frighteners,” his first Hollywood foray, was less auspicious. This director’s cut — basically a repackaging of the 1997 laserdisc release — is 14 minutes longer than the theatrical version and, while meaty, cries out for an update.It’s especially disconcerting to hear Jackson talk, in a sharp but dated commentary, about Universal sidelining “Kong,” his planned next project, due to concerns it would be too similar to Sony’s “Godzilla” and Disney’s “Mighty Joe Young” redo. He also admits that dealing with a “big-budget” film like “The Frighteners” took getting used to, and says one day he’d like try a big sci-fi/fantasy film with a lot of CGI effects. Gee, do you think that will work out for him? As explained by a newly thin Jackson in his video introduction, the extras were created when it was still a relative novelty to have running audio commentary and lengthy behind-the-scenes footage. The helmer-scribe put together a nearly four-hour “making-of” that explores every facet of the pic’s production in extreme detail and serves as a precursor to the epic “Rings” boxed sets. Deleted material, outtakes, audition reels and the like are all crammed into the well-paced docu. Given that care, why not lavish more attention on the pic’s DVD debut? A more recent, post-”Kong” commentary would have been an excellent companion to the now vintage track.