Jack Frost (1997)

DECEMBER 9, 2012


I hate making hack jokes, but I couldn't resist taking the world's 11 millionth shot at Jack Frost the Michael Keaton movie when I tweeted that I was watching Jack Frost the killer snowman movie (that actually came first!), because that movie was supposed to be all heartwarming and fun but was inadvertently creepier than this actual horror movie. And this is actually funnier, and since it came out first I think the Michael Keaton one really should just sort of apologize to this one. But it got a sequel and Keaton got White Noise, so I guess it won in the end.

Anyway, this was better than I expected, mainly because so many of the actors were playing it straight, which is the right thing to do. I was expecting this Troma-level nonsense where everyone is really broad and garish and trying to outdo one another in the zany department, but most of them act as they would in any regular slasher movie, saving the overt silliness for Jack himself. As any good post Freddy sequel slasher is wont to do, Jack has an endless series of puns and catchphrases that he delivers before/during/after every kill, and most of them are awful ("I got a point to make!" he yells as he stabs a guy with icicles), but the sheer number of them just adds to the fun in a strange way. And I laughed at a couple, so it's all good.

I was also surprised/impressed that they actually came up with a horror-logical explanation for why a serial killer (one who was already named Jack Frost - which is probably the stupidest thing in the movie) had become a snowman. Seems this science lab was working on a chemical that could revive the human body in the event of a nuclear holocaust or something that would make the world unlivable, where it would reanimate once the coast was clear (sort of like the idea that folks get frozen until there's a cure for their cancer), and that chemical is what bonded with Frost's human body when his truck collided with the one carrying the chemical. Sure, it's nonsense, but I figured it would just be some voodoo curse bullshit or whatever, so I like that they were at least putting some effort into the idea.

Oh and Shannon Elizabeth gets raped with his carrot nose. I believe that has to be mentioned in any post about this movie, or else some anonymous jackass will immediately comment "Dude! How did you not mention the carrot rape?!", because their life is only validated when they read someone say something on the internet that they also noticed when watching that particular movie. These people are worthless, but then again so is the scene, which is played for laughs but otherwise sticks out like a sore thumb, because even with the puns and Elizabeth's usual awful acting it's not very funny. Luckily-ish, if you're 12 you might not even understand what's happening - it's nudity-free and he kills her in the process, so it could come off like he was just slamming her against a wall to kill her.

More bothersome was the clunky editing and camerawork, which often suggested that director Michael Cooney was afraid to try things like cutaways and closeups. There's a big escape scene where 5-6 of the heroes have to crawl through a window to get away from an advancing Jack, and the bulk of the scene plays out in one shot, with the camera sort of floating around back and forth to get all of the action. Not only does it kill the tension (as does Cooney's character sequencing - for some reason he lets the only guaranteed safe person be the last one out the window, leaving nothing for Jack to possibly do), but it draws more attention to the production's cheap feeling, something it certainly didn't need any more of by this point.

It's also got too many endings, with 2-3 failed attempts to kill Jack followed by the definitive one (antifreeze, which the dad discovers after his son says he put some in his oatmeal so he wouldn't get cold - possibly the weirdest "surprise way the hero finds out how to stop the monster" ever), and even that doesn't work since there's a Jack Frost 2. In fact the pacing of the movie as a whole is a bit weird, with a lot of stop and go and too much of the hero cop looking around at a murder scene and people telling us what might have happened when we already know how it did, but the multiple "We got him!" *two minutes later* "Oh shit, he's back!" scenarios were a bummer. It doesn't help that with each "death" the budget for Jack's costume (which almost never looks like snow) is taxed even further - much like the similarly minded (and superior) Thankskilling, the production should have put more of its funds toward its central villain. It's nice to see a few familiar actors in there, but I'd trade them all for complete no-names if it meant Jack looked a bit better.

But I'm probably the first/only person that's ever watched this movie sober/straight, and thus I'm probably the only one who's ever noticed. So ignore me - even sober I can recognize that the movie is more amusing than it needed to be, and thus it counts as a minor success. Also, a bully is beheaded by a sled, a combination of elements that makes me suspect someone was a Silent Night Deadly Night fan, which makes them all cool in my book.

What say you?


  1. Haha, I loved this one back in the day for some weird reason.

    Best line in a movie filled with clunky "gags"? When the police are investigating the bully's beheading and accusing the little boy of doing it the cop says something like, "But he was two feet taller than him!" a lady in the background goes, "Not anymore..."

    God that killed me. Yeah, I'm easy.

  2. what "sticks out like a sore thumb" to me was that harsh dig at your imagined reader!

    1. I once had a guy complaining that I didn't mention Bruce Campbell's 8 second role in a movie. There are people who seem to think reviews are checklists of every single notable thing in a movie. I don't care for them.


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