Not to be confused with the 1979 Rankin/Bass TV movie or 1998 Michael Keaton feature of the same name, JACK FROST is a fairly recent (1996) Yuletide slasher flick. As befits most nineties horror movies, the gore is somewhat restrained and there’s no nudity, but the film nevertheless features some imaginatively conceived murders, courtesy of the title character: a killer snowman!
With its wisecracking (“Is it cold in here or is it just me?”) undead “hero” and open-ended finale, writer-director Michael Cooney was clearly trying for a horror franchise along the lines of the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET flicks, and Cooney did indeed return with JACK FROST 2 in 2000, a vastly inferior film. Like the first JACK FROST, it went straight to video and (mercifully) attracted little attention. There may be more JACK FROST flicks on the horizon, but I doubt it.
FYI, two of JACK FROST’S principals have gone on to bigger and better things: writer-director Michael Cooney penned the screenplay for 2003’s high profiler IDENTITY and co-star Shannon Elizabeth later appeared in AMERICAN PIE and SCARY MOVIE.
Jack Frost, a sociopathic mass murderer, is being escorted to death row one snowy night by police officers. Jack nearly escapes, managing to kill one of his arresting officers, but is himself killed in a collision with a toxic waste truck. This genetically mutates Jack into an evil snowman who promptly embarks on a killing spree, offing the residents of a small snowbound town at Christmas time in a variety of interesting ways: a runaway sled decapitation, strangulation via a Christmas tree light string, bathwater turned to freezing snow, an icicle stabbing, etc. Eventually the townspeople, led by Sam, the sheriff who originally caught Jack Frost and whom he most wants to kill, manage to herd JF into a ballroom where they turn their hairdryers on him. !!!SPOILER ALERT!!! Jack somehow manages to spring back to life and cause more mayhem before the sheriff herds him into a furnace; there Jack is melted down into a fish tank, where he’ll supposedly remain…but, as the final shot suggests, not for long!
This film is pretty much total nonsense, a fact that doesn’t seem lost on director Michael Cooney. He’s peppered the movie with lame gags that all but overwhelm the “scary” elements; even the end credits are littered with one-liners (topped off by the parting credit “All Credit Cards Provided by the Director”). Equally annoying is the generic synthesizer score, which only adds to the overall cheapness of the enterprise.
The puppetry and animation utilized in Jack Frost’s facial and body movements are surprisingly effective, but (as I mentioned earlier) the muted gore and total lack of nudity, even in the Shannon Elizabeth bathtub scene, are obnoxious liabilities…though all-too typical of horror movies in the nineties. JACK FROST is a mildly entertaining time-waster for those in the mood for some subversive holiday viewing, but not worth going out of one’s way to see.
Director: Michael Cooney
Producers: Jeremy Paige, Vicki Slotnick
Screenplay: Michael Cooney
Cinematography: Dean Lent
Editor: Terry Kelley
Cast: Chris Allport, Stephen Mendel, F. William Parker, Eileen Seeley, Rob LaBelle, Zack Eginton, Scott MacDonald, Shannon Elizabeth, Jack Lindine, Kelly Jean Peters, Marsha Clark, Chip Heller, Brian Leckner, Darren O. Campbell, Paul Keith