October Horrorshow: Jack Frost (1997)

If a film has a decent poster, or even a passable poster, I will include it in a review. Hell, I’ve even gone lower than that, including many posters in reviews that are part of the orange/blue curse that has been infecting film worldwide for decades. How about when a poster is downright deceptive? Yes, if I think it’s cool. But, when a poster is deceptive, and what’s shown is worse than what it’s covering up for in the actual movie? No thanks. I don’t deal in that kind of propaganda. So, no film poster in this review.

From 1997, Jack Frost is not the shitty flick featuring Michael Keaton dying and being resurrected as a snowman. I will definitely be adding that flick to the Shitty Movie Sundays Watchability Index at some future date, just not today. Today’s Jack Frost premiered straight-to-video a year before, and this Jack Frost is also about a man who dies and is resurrected as a snowman, only he’s not so nice.

Jack Frost the character, played by Scott MacDonald, is no family man. He’s a vicious serial killer being transported to his execution — on Christmas Eve, no less. But, he’s being driven to his death during a snowstorm, and the prisoner transport collides with a tanker truck. The tanker was carrying a cargo of ‘genetic research,’ and its contents spill all over Jack Frost, killing him and dissolving his corpse into the snow. But, director and screenwriter Michael Cooney didn’t make viewers wait long for more plot. Frost rises from the snow right away, reborn in the form of a 7-foot tall snowman.

Frost begins to terrorize the town of Snowmonton, where the crash occurred, leaving a string of corpses. Snowmonton is also the town where Frost was captured way back when, and Frost has always vowed revenge on local cop Sam Tiler (Christopher Allport) and his family; wife Anne (Eileen Seeley), and son Ryan (Zack Eginton). Now it’s up to Sam and the townsfolk to come to grips with the idea that a supernatural snowman is murdering people. On top of all this, the whole flick is played tongue-in-cheek. That’s a good thing, as there is no way to take this material seriously. But the premise is ruined by poor execution.

If one were expecting the competence shown by, say, the makers of Killer Klowns from Outer Space, one will be disappointed. The ideas and the effort are there, but the people involved just couldn’t bring this film home. Unlike Klowns, this flick is very much a straight-to-video dog.

For one thing, while the film takes place in a small mountain town around Christmas, this film was very obviously not filmed in the winter. It’s painfully obvious. If I thought a reader could stand more adverbs about how obviously out of season this film was shot, I would add more. Little to no effort was made to make location shots look wintry. The standout scene of ersatz winter features Darren Campbell and Shannon Elizabeth chatting at the snowman-building ahead of that year’s winter festival. The sun is blazing, the sky is blue, the ground is clear of all snow, no one has visible breath, and the snowman looks like it was made of asbestos. I have to give the cast credit for working on this film. They must have been baking in their winter gear.

Anyway. Plot!

The stuff in the tanker that spilled all over Jack Frost turns out to be part of a secret government experiment to create…it doesn’t matter. It’s just a remarkable coincidence that this substance happened to come together with a ruthless serial killer. Blame Cooney for penning such schlock.

The secret agent in charge of the project, Agent Manners (Stephen Mendel), arrives in town to give Tiler an assist in ridding his community of the frozen menace.

Again, this sounds like it would be good stuff if handled by a different production. But Allport is only 35% of the Sheriff Longmire this film needs, and Mendel can barely get through his lines. That’s a general theme throughout from the cast.

Then there is the snowman Jack Frost. This gets back to my issue with the poster. It shows a skull-like snow creature with huge fangs. That is not what Jack Frost looks like in the film. Rather, he looks like a regular snowman, with coal eyes, carrot nose, and plaid scarf, only made out of Styrofoam. The design of the snowman costume is spot on for the type of humor this flick was chasing, but the production, again, wasn’t up to the idea. The texture of the snow really does evoke coffee cups, and the face doesn’t move all that well. It, and the boxy and underdressed interior sets, look to be the result of a miniscule budget. Still, this flick is supposed to be absurd, and the snowman costume fits in with that. What’s on the poster primes a potential viewer for a very different movie.

Finally, there is the dialogue. Jack Frost speaks in nothing but inane quips. After one triumphant moment he screams out, “Made in America!” And I have no idea why. I’m not asking for reasoned manifestos from a shitty movie’s maniacal killers, but Frost’s lines are just a collection of random garbage that doesn’t bother to follow what’s on screen.

More resources and better talent would have worked wonders with this Jack Frost. It’s a solid idea that was let down by the execution. A sneering snowman that murders every person he meets is fodder for black humor of the highest order, but it was beyond those involved. As such, it tumbles down the Index, landing at #176, between Riddick (yuck!), and Zombeavers. This is the type of shitty movie that seems like it’s worth a look, then after it’s over one realizes that it was not.

Genres and stuff:
Tags , , , , , , ,
Some of those responsible:
, , , , , , , , , ,