Deadly Movies Reviews | ‘Jack Frost’ (1996).
Here’s a movie that’s truly a rare thing; a cheapo, gimmicky, seasonal, modern horror film that that truly manages to be a fun and entertaining watch. Horror suits seasons and gimmicks well, the 80’s showed us that. There is a certain charm and cheeky have-a-go attitude that made holiday movies from the 80’s so entertaining, such qualities often painted over the cracks of low budgets, poor acting, and awful dialogue. These qualities have long since departed the genre post 1990, mainly because such films were plain and simply a product of their time. Jack Frost manages to take you back there, it’s almost as if the film had been shelved for 10 years.
The reason horror suits gimmicks so well is that it doesn’t really have any boundaries or sensibilities to adhere to, and here you have one of the daftest premises (yet brilliant in it’s childish simplicity) of all, a killer snowman. Jack Frost is a serial killer who, following a chemical spill, is broken down by, absorbed into, and reconfigured as.., snow. The now snowman Jack makes his way to the small town home of the sheriff that captured him to enact all manner of increasingly hilarious festive kills. Here’s what makes Jack Frost a winner.., its sense of humour. That being its sense of humour in both script and its own stupidity which is credit to director Michael Cooney. The actors play it for laughs but not in an obnoxious way. For a sensibility comparison think Tremors (1990).
The budget restrictions are easy to spot; keep an eye out for the Sheriff’s house of which we only ever see the kitchen (presumably because the other rooms were used to depict different houses), the prison transfer truck that is clearly a re-painted postal van, some very furry looking fake snow, Jack’s ever changing snowman appearance (sometimes solid, sometimes material, sometimes plasticky) and an exploding police station that’s hilariously only seen in the reflection of the Sheriff’s eyes (now that’s ingenious cost cutting). But what’s great here is the obvious embracing of the low budget rather than trying to achieve too much with too little.
It’s fair to say I never thought I’d see a snowman behead a teenager, drive a squad car, have carrot sex with Shannon Elizabeth, and refer to itself as a Picasso. It becomes clear within 20 minutes that the film is enjoying its own absurdities as much as you are, its only the few moments where it attempts to get serious that let it down. It’s in fact so entertaining that you don’t really notice how surreally stupid the entire film is. The plot at one point hinges on the sheriff’s son’s oatmeal, which for no reason whatsoever has antifreeze as an ingredient! But hey why not, I’ve already bought that the snowman can drive by this point. If you enjoy horror gimmicks I can’t really think of anything more successfully suitable.