Jack Frost (1996) A-Pix Entertainment/Horror-Comedy RT: 89 minutes Rated R (language, graphic violence, rape, nudity, sexual content) Director: Michael Cooney Screenplay: Michael Cooney and Jeremy Paige Music: Chris Anderson and Carl Schurtz Cinematography: Dean Lent Release date: January 1, 1997 (US) Starring: Christopher Allport, Scott McDonald, Stephen Mendel, F. William Parker, Eileen Seeley, Rob LaBelle, Marsha Clark, Shannon Elizabeth, Zack Eginton, Jack Lindine, Kelly Jean Peters, Chip Heller, Brian Leckner, Darren O. Campbell, Paul Keith, Charles C. Stevenson, Nathan Hague.
Parents, PLEASE don’t confuse this Jack Frost with the same-titled 1998 family movie starring Michael Keaton as a father who comes back to life as a snowman. I’m afraid that this is a horse of a different color and will surely replace the visions of sugar plums in children’s heads with horrific nightmares. This version of Jack Frost also features a walking, talking snowman what he’s spreading sure isn’t Christmas joy. The snowman in question is actually the physical manifestation of a brutal serial killer who died in a car accident but managed to come back to life thanks to the miracle of governmental genetic research. I’ll explain more about that in a moment. I first saw Jack Frost on cable TV in the late 90s, but it mustn’t have made much of an impression on me since I didn’t recall too much about it as I sat down to rewatch it this past weekend. I pressed play expecting the worst, but I ended up enjoying it thoroughly. This movie is a freaking riot! I haven’t laughed this hard at a so-called horror movie since Leprechaun (1993). The two movies actually have a lot in common- they’re both holiday-themed, both depict a symbolic figure (representative of their respective holidays) as a wise-cracking homicidal maniac and both movies feature a now-popular actress at the beginning of her career.
Jennifer Aniston (Friends) appeared in Leprechaun; Shannon Elizabeth (the American Pie movies) has a supporting role in Jack Frost. I realize that I’m putting my credibility on the line by admitting that I like this movie, one that has all the makings of a bona fide stinker- terrible special effects, subpar acting, goofy dialogue and one of the silliest plots EVER! Guess what? That’s precisely why this movie works! The audience should know what to expect upon hearing the words “killer snowman”. Here’s a hint, it ain’t Meet Me in St. Louis!
As the movie begins, a state vehicle is transferring serial killer Jack Frost (McDonald, Water for Elephants) to his execution through a severe blizzard. Thanks to hazardous road conditions, the vehicle collides with a tanker truck full of an unknown acid. Jack survives the crash, but gets doused with the acid which melts his skin and seemingly kills him. What actually happens is that his genetic material fuses with the snow and causes him to come back to life as a giant mutant snowman. This happens right outside the small town of Snowmonton (get it?), the same town where Jack was apprehended by Sheriff Sam Tiler (Allport, Dead & Buried) after a five-year murder spree that claimed the lives of 38 victims. The sheriff is still haunted by the threats of vengeance made by Jack towards his family and the whole town after his sentencing. Well, it looks as though Jack is going to make good on those threats. He starts by snapping the neck of an old man sitting in a rocking chair and it just goes downhill from there. The first murder attracts the attention of Agent Manners (Mendel) who’s obviously more interested in covering something up than solving the case. Naturally, he keeps Tiler in the dark about what’s really going on and has him try to keep the townspeople under control and out of his way. Meanwhile, Jack claims several more victims before the sheriff finally understands what’s going on in his jurisdiction. Then it’s a matter of stopping the seemingly unstoppable killer snowman. You would think that something like this would be easy (just thaw him out, yes?), but you’d be dead wrong. Jack can melt and refreeze at will. Remember, the water molecules are genetically altered! I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence with a straight face. Hell, I can’t believe I’m writing this whole review with a straight face!
Okay, Jack Frost is incredibly goofy! I’m 99.5% certain that we’re not supposed to take it seriously, but you never really know what’s going through the minds of some of these filmmakers. It’s quite possible that director Cooney set out to make a serious horror flick and things changed along the way. Over the years, Jack Frost has developed a cult following and it’s easy to see why. No matter how you slice it, it’s a whole lot of frozen baloney. It’s a bad movie! I LOVE IT! Well, maybe love is too strong a term; I like it enough to award it three stars. If nothing else, everybody involved has a lot of chutzpah. You’d have to in order to pull off something like this. Now for the most important things, it has a good-sized body count (12 by my count) and a decent amount of splatter. The murders are certainly creative. The highlights include the following: a boy gets decapitated by a sled, a woman gets crucified on a Christmas tree, a man gets an axe handle shoved down his throat, Jack Frost shoots an icicle projectile through a boy’s eye, people get stabbed with icicles, one guy dies by way of “frostbite” (JF has icicle fangs!) and a young girl gets screwed to death by Jack (yet another handy use for a carrot!). The acting in Jack Frost is really bad, but I get the feeling that nobody involved with the movie ever considered delivering an Oscar-worthy performance at any time. The dialogue is hilariously bad; I haven’t heard this many puns about snow and ice since Batman & Robin (that one actually came later, but never mind). Jack gets off groan-worthy one-liners like answering “Well, it ain’t f—king Frosty!” when a scared soon-to-be victim asks “What the hell are you?” At one point, Jack refers to himself as the “world’s most pissed-off snow cone!” Okay, just one more groaner, Jack quips, “Is it cold in here or is it just me?” (wahh wahh wahh!). One of the best bad lines (the kind only heard in schlock movies like this) has to be when Sheriff Tiler says, “Look, I just saw something that doesn’t belong in this world and it’s out there killing my friends. Now, tell me what it is!” As for the killer snowman, he makes anything by Ray Harryhausen look much more realistic by comparison. The effects clearly illustrate the movie’s lack of a budget. It’s cool though, low budget flicks tend to be more fun than most movies with $100 million+ budgets. Jack Frost is a whole lot of good unclean holiday fun. It’s absolutely made to be watched with a boisterous crowd at a midnight screening. It definitely merits an annual viewing around the holidays. Snow kidding, it’s a true holiday guilty pleasure! Sorry, I couldn’t resist! Heh heh heh!