Jack Frost (1997)

Director: Michael Cooney
Writers: Jeremy Paige (story), Michael Cooney (written by)
Stars: Scott MacDonald, Christopher Allport, Stephen Mendel


British Playwright Michael Cooney brings us a crazy and silly tale of a convicted serial killer gone wrong when he mutates into a snowman with a thirst for blood. Now, if you have been paying close attention you will have noticed the ‘comedy’ category that this is in. Top marks for those who spotted that. Seriously folks, in all honesty, the people who give this low reviews just do not get proper horror-comedy, especially on a low budget. I mean, what were they thinking this masterpiece would be about? Maybe thought they were picking the (excellent) Michael Keaton version and somehow missed the front cover art? I dunno, this is a film about a killer snowman! What were their expectations?

Cooney has only directed three films (the sequel to this film included) and to my mind that is a real shame. He does have a certain flare for the ridiculous which works in this kind of setting. For those who are not aware, he also wrote Identity which starred John Cusack and Ray Liotta. The man has some talent and personally I would love to see him behind the camera more. For a vehicle that was supposedly going to Renny Harlin’s, I’m really happy it fell back into Cooney’s lap as he brings just about the right blend of gore, craziness and comedy to make this all work. and work it does. I love this film. No it’s not a great film by any stretch of the imagination, far from it in fact, but it is a well put together film that delivers perfectly for it’s intended audience.

So to our snow fun-filled story. Serial killer Jack Frost (MacDonald, Star Trek: Enterprise) is in the back of a police van on his way to be executed. By rather unpredictable twists of fate he happened to be caught by a local and rather insipid and bumbling Sheriff Sam (Allport) who is celebrated locally for being the man to put him behind bars. Fate though it seems is not without a sense of humour, as the vehicle carrying Jack to his end is involved in an accident with a chemical truck. You can guess what happens next I assume? Yup, ole Jack is melted right there on the side of the road and for whatever strange reason (do these kind of films need reason?) his DNA mixes with the snow. Cue a great voice-over from Jack as he realises he isn’t actually chemical mush.

While the local towns holiday festivities are starting, Jack soon realises he has some new funky moves in his serial killing repertoire and vows to hunt down Sam and anyone who may stand in his way. And this is where the real fun of the film begins. I’m not too sure if Cooney is one real twisted individual or perhaps like me saw one too many B-Movie classics as a kid but the ways in which Jack goes about dispatching the local residents with his wise-cracking one-liners is beyond brilliant. One could even say genius but please stop me if you feel I’m going too far. This is without a doubt a B-Movie and does not pretend to be anything else or anything it isn’t. Witty and at times has an incredibly dodgy script, some slightly wooden acting, cheesy music thrown in also for some fun and some of the funniest lines you’ll hear this side of New Years Eve.

For the budget the effects are passable but at times they do look downright bad. Some of this was forced upon the crew during filming so fake snow had to be used (which subsequently melted itself so other avenues were explored) and the snowman suit is a work of pure low budget mastery. Sure it looks bad in places but it fits right in with the ‘don’t take us seriously’ ethos the whole film oozes. Let’s face it, a top notch amazing snowman suit and its effects would have just looked out of place. Jack morphs himself into various places during the film, growing icicle teeth and somehow managing to drive the deputy’s cruiser too! His smile is infectious though as it gives him a kind of cute, yet hugely disturbing and creepy appearance at times. You can’t help smile as Jack grins with that weird snowman smile while dispatching yet another town local.

Allport, Mendel (doing his best man in black agent routine) and F. William Parker are all luminaries of television and experienced enough. They all know their roles and I’m sure all had great fun making this feature. I’d love to see the outtakes reel one day so must get around to getting this on blu-ray. Shannon Elizabeth also has a minor role (her first) and is satisfyingly dispatched in a most interesting way, complete with wise-cracking one-liner from a delighted Jack (and we’re still wondering where that missing carrot went). The rest of the cast do their jobs well enough that no one really stands out as being awkward. Chip Heller (The Bold and the Beautiful) is a particular delight as an even more bumbling deputy than his sheriff.

Everything else is about what one would expect from a film made ten years earlier at the end of the golden age of horror films. Everything screams cheap and cheese. And it’s utterly brilliant, a real throwback to a time where these kind of films were churned out by the dozen. Jack Frost knocks the pants off most of those other features though. Inventive, twisted, cheesy (lots of cheese) funny and just downright silly. A film that knows its limitations and uses those limitations to its full advantage. Wonderful B-movie madness here with a wise-cracking killer polystyrene snowman. What more do you good folks want? Go and watch it now and remember, don’t eat yellow snow!

 

The Sage’s Rating:
Four Stars

Posted in Comedy, Fantasy, Horror and tagged , , , , , .

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