Holiday Film Review: Jack Frost (dir by Michael Cooney)


Tis the season for killing!

One snowy December night, a prison transport drives through the town of Snowmonton.  The prisoner (Scott McDonald) being transported is a serial killer who murdered 38 people over the course of his crime spree.  In fact, he was arrested right in the town of Snowmonton and, since he’s now due to be executed, you can bet that he holds a grudge.  And get this …. the killer’s name is Jack Frost!  I mean, what a weird series of coincidences, no?

What do you think the chances are that the prison transport is going to crash into a genetic research truck?  And what do you think the chances are that Jack Frost is going to get splashed by a lot of chemicals that lead to him merging with the snow?  I mean, I guess it only makes sense that he would turn into a murderous snowman who goes on a rampage in Snowmonton and who stalks everyone that he holds responsible for his capture.

Actually, it doesn’t make any sense at all but so what?  The fact that this 1997 film still has a small cult following is a testament to the fact that sometimes, people don’t want movies that make sense.  Sometimes, they just want a movie about a trash-talking snowman who can shoot icicles.  Jack Frost is also known for being the film debut of actress Shannon Elizabeth who falls victim to the snowman in a scene that is both horrifying and incredibly silly-looking.  Though Jack may have taken on the form of a snowman, he’s actually a liquid.  (Don’t ask.)  So, as Shannon Elizabeth’s character learns, it’s smart to be careful about taking a bath when Jack Frost is dripping around.

(In Thirteen Ghosts, Shannon Elizabeth was attacked by a ghost while looking at a bathroom sink. In Jack Frost, she’s attacked by a snowman while taking a bath. There definitely seems to be a pattern here.)

It’s up to Sheriff Tiller (Christopher Allport) and FBI Agent Manners (Stephen Mendel) to figure out how to defeat the killer snowman.  It won’t be easy.  Manners thinks that the solution to everything is just to fire a gun or set off an explosive.  Sheriff Tiller and his staff likes aerosol cans.  But Jack Frost turns out to be a lot smarter than the average snowman.  He’s also a lot meaner than Frosty.

Jack Frost was apparently shot over the course of the week and screenwriter Michael Cooney only agreed to direct because no one else was willing to do it.  The budget was low and it shows in every scene of the film.  Fortunately, this is one of those cases where the budget was so low that the cheapness of it all eventually becomes rather charming.  You can’t help but respect the fact that, despite having no money, the filmmakers still managed to make a movie.  Jack Frost is smart enough not to take itself seriously.  Instead of wasting the viewer’s time with pointless drama, the film focuses on the snowman making angry expressions and shouting out morbid one-liners.  That’s really the only way to go when you’re making a movie about a killer snowman and the filmmakers deserve some credit for knowing exactly what type of movie they were making.  Jack Frost may not be a good film but it’s definitely an amusing one.

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