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Film / The Frighteners

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"Death ain't no way to make a livin'!"
The Judge

The Frighteners is a 1996 horror/comedy film from Peter Jackson, who would go on to direct The Lord of the Rings, King Kong, and The Hobbit Film Trilogy.

Michael J. Fox is Frank Bannister, a "freelance exorcist" who's not quite as phony as he appears. Having gained the ability to see and talk to the dead after a tragic car accident, Frank sends his three ghostly accomplices—white n' nerdy Stuart (Jim Fyfe), black swinger Cyrus (Chi McBride), and cowboy corpse The Judge (John Astinnote )—to wreak paranormal havoc in the homes of wealthy clients-to-be. These people call Frank, he shows up to perform an "exorcism," then takes off with the cash. He's the world's greatest con man... until dozens of perfectly healthy people in his hometown of Fairwater, California start dropping dead from cardiac arrest—the very same people who suddenly acquired numbers carved into their foreheads that only Frank can see.

Soon after one of these victims, Ray Lynskey (Peter Dobson), becomes a ghost and pleads Frank to help him find his way toward the light, Frank and his undead buddies discover the cause of the phenomenon: A malicious spirit in the form of The Grim Reaper (Sinister Scythe included) has gone on a mad killing spree, literally squeezing the life from his victims' hearts. And not only that, it appears he has the ability to even kill ghosts by forcing them to move on to the next world. Frank and Dr. Lucy Lynskey (Trini Alvarado), Ray's widow, hatch a radical plan to put an end to the murders, but along the way, they must deal with Milton Dammers (Jeffrey Combs), a maniacal FBI agent (basically a cross between Mulder and Hitler) who believes that Frank is psychically killing the murder victims, and will go to Hell and back to see him brought to justice.

This film provides examples of:

  • Abandoned Hospital: The finale is set inside a hospital, which is the site of Bartlett and Patricia's original rampage.
  • Adam Westing: R. Lee Ermey as Sgt. Hiles.
  • Adrenaline Makeover: Lucy goes from frumpy woman in an unhappy marriage to hot widow after her husband's death.
  • Agent Mulder: Dammers is the only law enforcement agent who accepts that there is something supernatural going on, but is somehow convinced that Frank is using his powers to kill people by stopping their hearts and then summons an image of The Grim Reaper to absolve himself of guilt.
  • The Alleged Car: Frank's "pus-yellow" Volvo 544.
  • Anti-Magic: After Dammers provokes Frank with his belief that he's the man who killed all of the Reaper's victims, especially his wife, he notices that Frank is starting to shake with what may be anguish or rage, and instantly believes that Frank is trying to use his Psychic Powers to try to kill him, to which he responds by tearing open his shirt to demonstrate he has a lead vest underneath (which he says will supposedly block the attack) and then continues to antagonize Frank. Whether a lead breastplate would actually work or not is never explained.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Mrs. Waterhouse, the rich lady who is Frank's second attempted on-screen con. Despite having witnessed, firsthand and not ten minutes before, things flying through the air (including her children) with no explanation, she immediately disbelieves the moment she sees a newspaper headline calling Frank a fraud.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: "Killing" a ghost simply forces them to move on to the next life.
  • Ashes to Crashes: Dammers dumps out Bartlett's ashes on purpose to get Frank's goat, not realizing he just let the Big Bad out to play.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Ray is a temperamental fitness nut who doesn't appreciate his wife and never bothers to hide how much he dislikes Frank. He even lost all of Lucy's savings ($16,000) on a bad investment. At his funeral, the preacher seems to be straining to say good things about him. This is slightly subverted when, after his death at the hands of the Big Bad, he at least tries to protect his wife from said Big Bad. Of course, it doesn't end very well...
    • Magda Rees-Jones, the editor-in-chief of the Fairwater Gazette who seems to have it out for Frank. If she hadn't been so eager to believe the absolute worst of him (and to get shrill and aggressive about it), she might have survived. Well, at least a little longer. Her desire to be a bitch is such that, even as she realizes she's dead and is ascending to the next plane, all she wants to do is scream at him.
      Magda: [to Frank, as she's pulled into the light] Is this how you get your kicks? Bannister, did it feel good killing me? Bannister, did it feel good killing your wife? You're a MUUUUURRRRDDDEEEERRRRRREEEERRR!!!!
    • Hiles, the loud and aggressive drill sergeant and de facto ruler of the local cemetery, has it out for Frank in much the same way as Magda does. Then he gets killed by The Grim Reaper.
  • Ax-Crazy: Dammers, Patricia, and Bartlett.
  • Back from the Dead: Frank, twice throughout the film.
  • Bedsheet Ghost: Played with. The Big Bad possesses and animates pretty much every other kind of "sheet" (wallpaper, carpet, the canvas of a painting) in the manner of this trope, but never an actual bedsheet.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: There's The Grim Reaper (later revealed to be Johnny Bartlett) and his Dragon, Patricia, and Agent Dammers, who don't really work alongside each other but equally play a frustrating part in Frank and Lucy's lives.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: Dammers has these.
  • Body-Count Competition: Barlett's motive, one he feels about so strongly that he came back from the dead to continue it.
  • Body Horror: Happens to ghosts the longer they stay on the physical plane. Ray had only been dead a day or so before his skin started to decay. The Judge has been a ghost so long, his ghostly body is literally falling apart and he's gone slightly insane; it's generally Played for Laughs.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Patricia uses her shotgun to blow Dammers' head off.
  • Brick Joke: Cyrus complains about not being able to get new clothes or a cigar. In Heaven, he's seen with a cigar and a new suit.
  • By the Eyes of the Blind: People who suffer a tremendous psychological shock can see things that other people can't. Frank starts to see ghosts after getting in a car crash with his wife and seeing her getting her forehead carved up by Patricia, while Lucy starts to see ghosts after seeing Frank getting killed by Patricia at the climax.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Frank's utility knife.
    • The shotgun in the intro of the film is later used by Patricia to attempt to kill Frank and Lucy.
  • Covered in Scars: As if we didn't needed any more evidence that Dammers has been driven completely nuts by the torture he's received from multiple cult infiltrations, he rips open his shirt in one scene to showcase lots of branding scars, knife scars, and mystic sigil tattoos scattered all over his torso.
  • Creator Cameo: In one scene, Frank bumps into a random hoodlum played by Peter Jackson.
  • Creepy Doll: Played for Laughs during the Lynskey house haunting.
  • Creepy Orderly: Johnny Bartlett decides to start his murder spree in the hospital where he works, and decides to make the doctor trying to order him around his first victim. Being played by Jake Busey adds several layers to the creepiness.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Frank gained the ability to communicate with the dead after a tragic accident that killed his wife and exploited it for profit as a "freelance exorcist."
  • Cute and Psycho: Patricia in the final act. And the flashback that appears in it shows that she's been this for a long time.
  • Damsel in Distress: Lucy, with the exceptional moment when she pretends to run from Frank to distract Dammers and sprays him with a fire extinguisher while he's about to shoot Frank.
  • Deader than Dead: The "Grim Reaper" can kill people down to their souls, though all this does is force them to move on.
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype: Milton Dammers is a deconstruction of the Agent Mulder, in that his decision to pursue any and all "odd" cases the FBI tosses at him (mostly to get him out of their hair, it's implied) ended with him being driven pretty much insane, scarred, and unable to determine what is actually useful when it comes to analyzing the details of a supernatural case (notice that when he tells Lucy about what happened to Frank's wife, he gets caught up on numerology after telling how many blades Frank bought, for example), hence his assumption that Frank is a killer psychic. The real Mulder would have at least pretended to believe Frank's story of a killer ghost if that would lead to Bluffing the Murderer or arresting him harmlessly, but Milton actually keeps deliberately trying to piss Frank off.
  • Disco Dan: Cyrus, who died during The '70s and is dressed appropriately.
  • Disney Death: Frank, who manages to be brought back in time before his death becomes permanent. Both times.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Dammers wears his hair in a very suspicious style.
  • Dragged Off to Hell: Patricia and Bartlett go on the "express bus to Hell" in the end.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Hiles, as played by R. Lee Ermey.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Frank, when he tries to save Magda Rees-Jones from becoming the ghostly reaper's next victim, which only makes him look crazy to the editor who already hated him for his reputation as a fraud.
    • He does drive pretty badly every time he's in his car. He takes his eyes off the road to paw at his business cards and nearly hits a funeral procession, and when he chases the Grim Reaper, he drives so badly that even the Judge (who is already dead) looks freaked out. And of course, he had a fight with his wife while driving that ended with a crash and him getting Psychic Powers (although it was Bartlett and Patty who killed his wife).
  • Escaped from Hell: The Grim Reaper is revealed to be serial killer Johnny Bartlett who managed to escape Hell so he could set his record of having the highest body count.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Frank Bannister's very first scene is walking into someone's funeral and advertising his business.
    • Milton Dammers' first scene showcases most of his eccentricities (difficulties around women, mostly), as well as his staunch belief that Frank is a murderer.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Johnny Bartlett and Patricia, surprisingly. Johnny even goes to save her when her soul is pulled out of her body by Frank near the end. Doesn't make either of them any less twisted or insane, though.
  • Evil Laugh: When Frank reveals Johnny as the Grim Reaper, the latter gives out a sinister laugh.
  • Evil Matriarch: Subverted. At first, it seems like Old Lady Bradley is an insane woman who abuses Patricia and it's later discovered that she has Frank's pocket knife in her closet. However, it turns out that she was merely trying to stop her daughter from participating in any more killings but had been unsuccessful in stopping Bartlett. It's also revealed that Patricia had actually stolen Frank's knife and had merely planted it in her mother's closet.
  • Evil Slinks: The Grim Reaper, even once revealed to be Johnny, is humanoid most of the time, but can go all gooey and seep through cracks and crevasses.
  • Exploited Immunity: An accidental example near the end. Frank (as a ghost) pulls Patricia into the afterlife with him, causing Bartlett to chase them. It turns out that it's "not his time" and he's sent back (and would have had a place in Heaven anyway), but the two serial killers are immediately dragged off to Hell.
  • Expy:
    • Bartlett and Patricia of Charles Starkweather and Carli Ann Fugate. A clear case of Expy Coexistence since Bartlett mentions Starkweather several times and seems the most proud of beating his bodycount.
    • Less directly, Magda can be seen as a variation of J. Jonah Jameson, considering that she condemns Frank's actions even before he starts trying to be a better person.
  • Flatline Plotline: Frank enlists Lucy in entering the ghost world with the aid of drugs and cryogenics to stop his heart.
  • Fluffy Cloud Heaven: Heaven is portrayed this way in the final act.
  • Foreshadowing: The hospital massacre mentioned in the first part of the film brings up that Johnny Bartlett counted the victims he and Patricia killed.
    • Patricia's mother also delivers this chilling line that hints at Patricia being her boyfriend's direct accomplice instead of just a suspect as she pretended to be.
      "They said she was an accessory after the fact, but I know the truth. It was cold. Blooded. Murder."
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • The cereal that Frank is eating when discussing Stuart and Cyrus' grievances is, appropriately enough, Boo-Berry.
    • You briefly get a glimpse at the Grim Reaper's face when he charges through Frank's car. Attentive viewers will also notice that the eyes resemble the true identity of the Reaper: Johnny Bartlett.
  • For the Evulz: While real-life serial killers of the kind mentioned in the film (Bundy, Chikatilo, Starkweather) are driven by unnatural needs to exert power over people through death (and worse), Johnny Bartlett primarily... just wants to break the body count record of other serial killers.
    • Or at least, that's his justification for how he exerts his power over others.
  • Genre Savvy: As someone who has been part of many supernaturally-themed investigations and read a lot of lore, Dammers instantly figures out that the ash urn Frank is running around with at the climax contains the mortal remains of Johnny Bartlett and that Frank believes they must be taken to holy ground to exorcise the ghost. Subverted immediately after when Dammers opens the urn and spills the ashes (letting Johnny out again) because he wants to piss off (and kill) Frank.
    Dammers: [deadpan, after he does it] Oops.
  • Ghostly Goals: Of the omnicidal kind.
  • Go into the Light: When Frank meets up with his wife in Heaven, he intends on staying, but is told it's not his time and sent back.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Frank, at first. He's not particularly friendly towards the ghosts he works with and isn't above driving into the middle of a funeral procession just to get to his next call. He gets better towards the end.
  • The Grim Reaper: The ghostly murderer who is actually Serial Killer Johnny Bartlett, implied to be abusing his newfound powers in the role for the sole pleasure of killing people and scoring a bigger body count.
  • Guns Akimbo: Frank, in his ghostly form, wields two M-60s to fight the Grim Reaper with (which had previously belonged to a ghostly R. Lee Ermey).
  • The Gunslinger: The Judge hails from the Old West and wields a pair of six-shooters.
  • Hammerspace: Dammers is shown seemingly pulling various guns and a rubber round tube out of his coat.
  • Happily Ever After: Frank and Lucy get together in the end. But holy hell, do they have to work for it.
  • Healthy in Heaven: Cyrus and Stu both appear healthy and happy after their ghostly forms are "killed" and they're finally sent up to Heaven.
  • Heroic BSoD: Frank goes through a major example of this halfway through the movie, to the point where he momentarily stops believing in his abilities (which makes them stop working). In his Backstory, it's revealed he went through this after Debra died, with the end result of gaining his abilities in the first place.
  • "Hey, You!" Haymaker: Frank says "Hey, asshole," when the ghostly reaper corners Lucy and is about to kill her, before he uses Hiles's machine guns to open fire on it.
  • His Story Repeats Itself: The death of Frank's wife and Magda Rees-Jones happen in the same stretch of lonely road, after Frank crashes a car that they are both in, at the hands of the Reaper.
  • Holy Backlight: The tunnel to Heaven looks like a very bright light.
  • Hospital Hottie: Lucy is a fairly attractive doctor.
  • Incongruously-Dressed Zombie: Some of the ghosts' outfits qualify as unusual, even discounting their date of origin.
  • Inspector Javert: Dammers, who after deciding that Frank is the guilty party on very shaky reasoning, even given he's accepted a supernatural cause behind the deaths, becomes fixated with killing — not arresting, killing — Frank to punish him for the deaths. It ultimately gets him killed when he ends up stumbling into Patricia's sights and she blows his head off with her shotgun.
  • Insult Backfire: Frank and Dammers when the latter releases Johnny's ashes.
    Frank: You are such an asshole.
    Dammers: Yes, I am. I'm an asshole... [pulls out his Uzi] ...with an Uzi. [shoots Frank]
  • I See Dead People: Frank, and when all is said and done, Lucy has gained this ability as well.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: At the end of the film, Debra tells Frank to be happy when he gets back into his body after sending Johnny to Hell.
  • Jacob Marley Apparel: Lampshaded and lamented by Cyrus, who is stuck in horrible clothes he wouldn't be caught dead in. But after being killed by The Grim Reaper and going to Heaven, he gets some nifty new threads.
  • Jerk Jock: Ray Lynskey is very big into physical training and exercise, but is also shown to be self-absorbed, arrogant, pushy in his relationship with his wife, and all around kind of a Jerkass.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Ray tells Lucy to steer clear of the Bradleys because they give him the creeps. His intuition was right on the money on thus one.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Ray might be a vain, chauvinistic, and obnoxious boor, but it's shown several times that he does actually care about Lucy, even if he does likely care about himself more.
    • Frank himself, given that he's a con man and he bullies the ghosts who help him out with his business. The Director's Cut makes him out to be more of a jerk, a notable example being that he drives into the middle of a funeral procession so he can get to his next house call quicker. The Judge even calls him out on it.
  • Karmic Death:
    • Dammers, who had been hounding Frank throughout the film, gets his head blown off by Patricia. The best part of it is his ghost instantly appears, head sticking out of the stump of the corpse's neck with a very surprised expression on his face.
    • Bartlett and Patricia meet a gruesome "end" when they take the express bus to Hell.
  • Knight Templar: Dammers, especially towards Frank.
  • Lamprey Mouth: The "express bus to Hell" that engulfs Bartlett and Patricia manifests as a gigantic worm with hundreds of lamprey-mouthed tendrils in its gullet.
  • Large Ham: Most of the cast gets their moment to shine. Dammers probably takes the cake, however.
  • Limited Wardrobe: From the half point of the film onwards, Lucy wears only one outfit, the pink shirt. It eventually became a running joke throughout the film such, that on the last day of her schedule, the crew presented Trini Alvarado a Barbie doll with the Lucy-dressed outfit as a gift.
  • Meaningful Echo: When Lucy asks Frank how he can see ghosts, he tells her about the car accident he was in and says, "They say that sometimes when you have a traumatic experience like that, it can alter your perception". Lucy says the same thing to Frank at the end of the film after she mentions how pissed the ghost of Dammers looks, making him realize she now can see ghosts, too.
  • Misplaced Retribution: Both Magda Rees-Jones and Dammers seem to believe that Frank outright murdered his wife (rather than her dying in a car accident that was admittedly his fault as most believe), and have appointed themselves to punish him for it. They're not wrong that she was murdered, but their misidentification of the murderer gets them both killed.
  • Monster Protection Racket: How Frank makes a living as a con artist with the help of his three ghost buddies.
  • Mood Whiplash: To so great an extent that it comes off like two movies spliced together. There's a clear point in the movie where the whole thing shifts to a darker tone, but rolls with it into pitch-black humor.
  • Multitasked Conversation: Frank is the only one who can see ghosts, so this happens regularly.
  • Mundane Utility: Frank uses his power to make a living as a con man.
  • Near-Death Clairvoyance: Frank got his powers from a nearly lethal car accident. [[spoiler:In the film's epilogue, Lucy reveals that what she went through helping stop Johnny and Patrician has given her the same ability.
  • Nerds Are Sexy: Apparently in Heaven, Stuart's a regular Chick Magnet.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: Johnny Bartlett's ghost is a darker blue than the other ghosts in the film.
  • Not Quite Dead: Frank's plan to confront the ghostly Reaper involves deliberate flat-lining in order to fight as a ghost. With Lucy's help he's thankfully able to revive before it becomes permanent. Then, at the film's end, he is strangled to death by Patricia, which he uses to finally defeat the two mad killers, but is revived, presumably with the aid of quick medical attention from Lucy.
  • Not-So-Phony Psychic: Frank uses his very real abilities to perform fake exorcisms.
  • Obstructive Zealot: Dammers will stop at nothing to antagonize Frank at every step of the way.
  • Occult Detective: Dammers and, to a lesser extent, Frank himself.
  • Off with His Head!: Patricia kills Dammers this way. With a shotgun, no less.
  • Only Sane Man: Frank, who unfortunately has the poor luck of being unable to prove it to clear himself of the murders.
  • Orifice Invasion: The gullet-tendrils of the "express bus to Hell" worm their way in and out of Johnny's eyes and mouth.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: These ghosts are about as traditional as they get. They're the spirits of dead people that, either deliberately or accidentally, didn't pass on to the afterlife but instead remain behind on Earth. They can manipulate the physical world to an extent, but are invisible and inaudiable to anyone other than children and the psychic, and can be intangible to just about everyone.
  • Outlaw Couple: Johnny Bartlett and Patricia Bradley were a young man and a teen girl who went on a killing spree in Fairweather Sanitorium in 1964 that claimed the lives of twelve people, for no reason other than the thrill of the killing. Whilst Johnny was executed on the electric chair, Patricia was spared that fate due to a combination of her age, gender, and the lack of evidence as to if she had actively participated in the killings. The film's climax reveals Patricia was completely in on everything, and that when she was released from jail into her mother's care several years before the events of the film, she used Ouija Boards and Johnny's ashes to summon his spirit from Hell so he could resume killing. The two are shown to be equally insane and also strongly in love, to the point Johnny voluntarily follow's Frank into the passageway to the afterlife to try and rescue Patricia's soul. Which results in the psycho couple both being sent to Hell.
  • Peek-a-Bogeyman: Stuart, Cyrus, and The Judge.
  • Plato Is a Moron: Bartlett's only reason to become a mass murderer in life and in death (other than because he can) is so he can boast of having the greatest body count ever to the other serial killers in Hell. His last words before being executed were even: "I got me 12 [kills], sir, one more than [Charles] Starkweather!"
  • Plot Hole: The first scene of the film where Patricia is being harmed by a ghost clashes a little with what we see later on regarding her relationship with them: She and the ghost work with, and love, each other. The Director's Cut of the film explains this by revealing that Bartlett and Patricia would play role-play games like this shortly before making love.
  • Police Are Useless: Against ghosts. Much to Sheriff Perry's exasperation, this leads to them needing Dammers, the no-less-useless-but-completely-unhinged liaison from the FBI, to step in.
  • Poltergeist: All ghosts can, to some extent, affect their surroundings if they put some effort into it. Johnny Bartlett as The Grim Reaper is powerful enough to stop the hearts of his victims, though after a good thrashing by Frank, he loses this power and has to rely on Patricia.
  • Psychic Powers: Frank gains them as a result of his tragic accident, though Dammers seems convinced that Frank also has the ability to stop people's hearts with his mind.
  • Psycho for Hire: Dammers once worked as a undercover agent. The Director's Cut delves a little more into this.
  • Psychological Projection: Dammers claims that Frank's efforts are all based around his own pathetic need for self-gratification. Dammers' mental issues and Wrong Genre Savvy leave him incapable of acknowledging that Frank is genuinely trying to stop a killer ghost, as opposed to Dammers' belief that Frank is a killer psychic.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: After shooting The Grim Reaper, Frank grabs its face and yells "Who... are... you?!" as he slaps it repeatedly against a gravestone in order to expose the Reaper as Johnny Bartlett.
  • Punny Name: Milton Dammers, as in John Milton, of Paradise Lost fame. As well as Jeffrey Dahmer.
  • Rabid Cop: Milton starts to rile Frank's goat from the very first second he starts to interrogate him for no damn good reason, tries to shoot him when he's escaping the police station, and chases after him with an Uzi at the climax.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Sheriff Perry. Though obviously befuddled by dealing with a Serial Killer he can't fight, he knows Frank knows his stuff, often allows Frank to do what he must, and is highly resistant to Dammers's attempts to pile everything on him.
  • Resurrected Murderer: The Grim Reaper that is killing people turns out to be the ghost of an executed serial killer named Johnny Bartlett. His equally deranged girlfriend used Ouija Boards to summon him back from Hell, and now he's continuing his quest to become the most prolific murderer in history.
  • The Reveal:
    • The Grim Reaper is the ghost of legendary serial killer Johnny Bartlett.
    • The souls of good people can still go to Heaven even if they're "killed" by Bartlett.
    • Patricia really did have a part in the murders. She's Bartlett's right hand.
  • Riddle for the Ages: How did Bartlett get hold of the Reaper's scythe? Notably, he seems to lose his cloak and unique powers when Frank takes it away, implying that the scythe truly belonged to the real deal.
  • Scare Chord: This is heard often in Danny Elfman's score.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Happens temporarily to the Big Bad, then it gets undone by Dammers.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Patricia gorily knifes her own mother to death when she becomes a liability.
  • Shout-Out: Twisted In-Universe example: Bartlett compares his own body count to those of a few Real Life serial killers and mass murderers.
  • Sinister Scythe: To match The Grim Reaper getup.
  • Those Two Guys: Cyrus and Stuart.
  • Trauma-Induced Amnesia: After his wife's death, Frank was found wandering around in the woods with no memory of what happened.
  • Unscrupulous Hero: Frank starts off this way, being a con artist who stages house hauntings and is a bit of a prick to the ghosts he works with. But he starts to get better once he learns of the killings and undergoes a Heroic BSoD.
  • Wham Line: When Frank sees the Reaper's shot-off face transform into that of Johnny Bartlett again, he says, "Johnny Bartlett. I thought guys like you got fried in hell."
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: In what might be one of the most distracting cases of this trope, The Judge totally vanishes from the film after the museum scene, as if he never existed. We see Cyrus and Stuart in the afterlife, but we never see The Judge or Rusty the Dog after his intro. They had scenes later in the cemetery, and the end originally featured the Judge's upper body riding Rusty and heading west into the sunset, but they were deleted. Strangely, it is even absent in the Director's Cut for reasons that make little sense.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: In the Director's Cut, The Judge gives Frank one of these after Frank cuts into a funeral procession.
    The Judge: I thought you had some character, son! Right now, you're not showing me a whole lot!
  • Who Are You?: Frank says the trope name verbatim to the Grim Reaper, who turns out to be Johnny Bartlett.
  • Who You Gonna Call?: Frank Bannister, "freelance exorcist"!
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Agent Milton Dammers. Because of all the trauma he's received with his investigations in "supernatural" cases, he thinks he's an Occult Detective who's tracked down a serial-killing psychic, not realizing that he's actually stumbled into a battle between a Not-So-Phony Psychic and a serial-killing ghost. His inability to stretch his mind that one extra inch results in him getting his head blown off by Patricia.
  • Wormsign: The walls and floor of Patricia's house buckle and distort as the Big Bad ghost chases her along the hallways. Presumably, it's a lover's spat.
  • Your Head A-Splode: When Dammers gets shot, his head is blown off instantly.
  • Your Soul Is Mine!: In a rare heroic example, temporarily ghostly Frank yanks Patricia's spirit out of her body to stop her from killing Lucy. Patricia's body dies instantly, and Frank uses her struggling spirit to bait Johnny into the afterlife gateway that opens up to receive her.


Video Example(s):


Patricia and Bartlett

Patricia and Bartlett go on the "express bus to Hell" in the end.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / DraggedOffToHell

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