Directed by Michael Cooney
F. William Parker
Violent serial killer Jack Frost (MacDonald) is being transported to the electric chair on a snowy night when the prison truck collides with a tanker containing indeterminate “genetic material”. The driver is killed and it looks like Frost will get away – until is sprayed with the genetic material, which seems to dissolve him. In Snowmonton, Sheriff Tiller (Allport) is anxious for Frost to be executed. He was the one who originally arrested the killer and the man has repeatedly threatened the lives of Tiller and his family. Strange, violent murders beginning happening around the small town, reminiscent of Frost’s crimes, and it quickly becomes obvious that a malevolent snowman is perpetrator.
Jack Frost is in keeping with the grand tradition of cheesy holiday-themed horror movies, such as Santa’s Slay and Silent Night, Deadly Night. This flick starts out insane, which is always a good sign for a B-movie. A seemingly-sociopathic uncle tells his neice (who has a super creepy high-pitched voice) a graphically violent bedtime story after the child asks for a “happy scary” tale. We only hear their voices as the camera pans around a Christmas tree decorated with ornaments bearing the film’s opening credits.
The setting of the movie is a small, rural town called Snowmonton – the closest the writers could get to actually calling it Snowmantown, which I’m almost sure was the original name. The film was clearly not filmed during winter, as it uses the worst looking fake snow I’ve ever seen. We’re talking worse than cornflakes painted white! There is a hilarious animated scene of snow fusing with human cells, in addition to the laughably bad monster. Clearly a cloth puppet/costume, the “evil” snowman looks cute and friendly, other than a pair of pointy twig eyebrows. Don’t let the cover art fool you, the snowman in the film doesn’t even come close to approaching that level of scariness. It’s mostly shot from behind, with MacDonald’s lines done in ADR (automated dialogue replacement), but when Jack IS shown talking, the mouth doesn’t open and it is operated like a hand puppet. The snowman also changes size depending on the scene, which I wasn’t entirely sure was on purpose.
There are some really choice moments, including a kid who uses a snowman puppet to correctly build a snowman’s face. (Really?!) The score includes several somber Muzak versions of popular Christmas carols, which would be right at home in the elevator at Disney’s Haunted Mansion. The common horror tropes are all there – the cops are all but useless (they try to shoot at melted water) and there’s an obligatory teenage “getting ready to have sex” scene that ends in over-the-top murders.
Jack Frost is played by Scott MacDonald, who, in his human form, is basically a low-rent Bruce Campbell. He even breaks the fourth wall and throws out quippy catch phrases á la Ash. As snowman Jack Frost, he adopts more of a Chucky-vibe, with a raspy snarl and plenty of snow and ice themed puns. MacDonald is an experienced character actor, frequently cast in the many incarnations of “Star Trek”, and usually plays an antagonist or villain, so he seems at home in the serial killer role. Shannon Elizabeth (American Pie) has a small role, but otherwise the cast is pretty forgettable.
It’s obvious that the filmmakers were having fun making a campy horror flick and don’t take themselves too seriously. That’s part of Jack Frost‘s charm and makes it infinitely more watchable than most bad horror films. It’s easy to see why it’s now considered a cult classic. There’s some definite Evil Dead references and it reminded me a bit of the Christmas episodes of “Tales From the Crypt”. If you’re a B-movie fan, it’s worth the watch, especially around the holidays.