Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Jack Frost (1996)

Director: Michael Cooney
Notable Cast: Scott MacDonald, Christopher Allport, Stephen Mendel, Shannon Elizabeth

With my work schedule being as hectic as it has been my focus for my holiday horror this year has had to be very particular, as in watching only films I haven't seen before. Which brings the question for this review, why the hell haven't I seen "Jack Frost" prior to this year? The cover art has a special slot in my memory as a kid looking through the video store rental shelves, but the film itself has escaped my viewing pleasure until this year. Despite the significantly low budget and the ridiculousness of its concept, "Jack Frost" is a guilty pleasure film that is sure to gear itself only to those of the "cult" taste. Never would I call it a 'good' film, not in any traditional sense of the word, but its obvious tongue in cheek mannerisms and outrageous ideas certainly sell it for those looking for a humorous horror holiday flick.

After capturing a horrendous serial killer Jack Frost (MacDonald), a small town sheriff (Allport) tries to return to his normal duties as a father, husband, and heartfelt law enforcer. When the killer seeming returns from the dead as a mutant shape shifting snowman hellbent on revenge, this sheriff and two shifty government agents will have to rely on their wits and instincts to stay one step ahead of the killer snowman...and somehow find a way to kill him in the process.

"There's snow way home, boys."
The killer Santa horror flick has become a sub-genre of its own in recent times, but rarely does one come across a 'mutant killer snowman serial killer' flick. Well, that's exactly what "Jack Frost" is and on many levels the film makers knew just how stupid the concept was even for a direct to video home release in the late 90s. They must have known because they do their best to make it as ridiculous as possible with a significant style that says "wink, wink, nudge, nudge" to the audience to make sure they are in on the joke. What this does is it creates a film that is by no means any good, but is incredibly fun to watch and entertaining as hell. Oh yes, it's cheesy. Oh yes, it's stupid. Oh yes, it's a blast.

I wonder why this wasn't nominated for any awards for special effects?
On its basic levels, "Jack Frost" is pretty inconsistent. His powers as a mutant snow man waver in and out as the film goes on (at one point he can shoot sharp icicles...which would have made his job much easier had he used it for more than one scene) and even the style of the film can be shaky at best. The acting is predictably low end, sans the killer snowman and his amazingly bad one liners that pop out nonstop, and the special effects can be sketchy even for a late 90s straight to home video release. The film rarely makes sense and the leaps of logic it has to perform to make things interesting or fast paced can be astoundingly silly. Just like I said, "Jack Frost" is simply not a good film.

That being said, its so damn out there that I was on the floor laughing through most of its run time. The film makers really focus on being as silly as they can with the script and more often than not it kept me entertained and chuckling. They were even willing to throw in a few "exploitation" moments into the film, most notably a rape sequence with Shannon Elizabeth that's both hilarious and oddly disturbing, to cater to that audience that is going to be fans either way. The kills are delightfully asinine and the plot gets to be borderline insane by the end as they repeatedly try to kill our monstrous snowman. "Jack Frost" knows how to have fun and it does it with charm.

If anything, this is the scene that will live in infamy long after we've forgotten about "Jack Frost."
If you are one of those people who is intrigued by the idea of a 'mutant killer snowman serial killer' flick, than there is a very good chance that on some level "Jack Frost" is going to be just what you are looking for. It's silly, very low budget, and often very cliche in how it progresses, but the amount of fun that I had while watching it made up for a good portion of the problems it has a traditional film. It's truly a B-grade horror film that earns its cult status with pure charm and absurdity.

Written By Matt Reifschneider

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