Jack Frost (1997)

I’ve actually wanted to see this movie for years but I never got around to it. Now, with the internet, seeing such things takes just a few keystrokes and is amazingly easy. I don’t know what it is about setting horror movies at Christmas or other snowy times. Maybe, like killer clowns, the people who make horror movies want to juxtapose things meant to delight us with things meant to terrify us. I ran to the window many a time during winter to see snow piling down, joy building in my heart. I listened to WBAL for the school closings (and later work closings) with intense anticipation. I was never a winter sports enthusiast but I always loved walking and playing in snow and ice as a kid. I still get a kick out walking along a snow-covered path and feeling the intense quiet a snowstorm seems to bring. So, I was excited to see this joy turned against me.

The movie follows a serial killer (named Jack Frost) who is caught by a small town sheriff (from the town of Snowmanton) based on a traffic stop. The killer is tried and sentenced to death which requires him to be transported at night in what appears to be a blizzard. The prison transport collides with a truck carrying genetic research also during a blizzard at night. Everything seems plausible so far. The two trucks collide and suddenly they got their murderer in the genetic goop and vice versa and now he’s a killer snowman. Yes, it’s that old chestnut. He proceeds to try to take revenge on the sheriff instead of the legal system that tried him or whatever. A hundred snow and ice puns ensue as people are slaughtered. The townsfolk seem alternately very scared and very apathetic about the whole thing.

Before college, I had very little experience with small towns. After college, my first job was right in the middle off a small town. In a small town, people are in each other’s business a lot. They can’t help it. In a situation where everybody pretty much knows everybody, you learn a lot about the few people you’re able to talk to. You grow uncomfortably close to these people. Also, it always feels like there’s very little to do in a small town which isn’t entirely true. There’s a multitude of bake sales, fairs, carnivals and other momentary distractions but it’s usually at least an hour drive to the closest movie theater and other such entertainment. It’s definitely a foreign world and one I never quite adapted to. This movie is rife with that claustrophobic feeling of being out in the middle of nowhere. Don’t worry, it doesn’t linger on this for long but it’s always in the background.

There’s no way anybody ever took this movie seriously and that includes the actors and crew. The thing kind of smells of Airplane-style parody as things are offbeat and very punny. It ends up being a little wackier than I expected which isn’t exactly a bad thing. The killer snowman was something that intrigued me as I expected the effect would be done with stop motion animation. What seemed like a no-brainer was too much money for a straight to video release apparently. Instead, most of the work is done with what looks like animatronics and voice overs. In fact, the killer snowman doesn’t appear all that much. He easily kills the dumbest characters that you could kill with a dull spork. One scene gets a little raunchy so this, in addition to a little gore, should discourage parents from letting their little kids watch this one.

My favorite part is that Jack Frost has a very set goal that he explains in the first ten minutes of the movie and it is repeated several times so we don’t forget it. He wants to kill the sheriff who caught him. However, he easily succumbs to the same psychopathic ADHD that plagues supernatural killers like Charles Lee Ray. Instead of pursuing his goal, he lets himself get distracted by easy targets and cracking jokes that waste time he could have been using to accomplish his goal. Of course, a horror movie needs victims so you can’t complain too much. In fact, I didn’t complain much and I would suggest if you’re in a jovial holiday spirit to check this one out. Make sure it’s the 1997 Jack Frost as the 1998 one is way too scary.

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2 Responses to “Jack Frost (1997)”

  1. Lise Mendel Says:

    The thing about winter themed horror movies is that they are intended as an antidote to Xmas overdose. That’s why you can always count on at least one horror movie to be released Christmas week (if not the day itself).

    Like

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