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Jack Frost (1997)

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Score: 4/10

Genre: Horror Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 29 min.

Release Date: November 18th, 1997 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Michael Cooney Actors: Scott MacDonald, Christopher Allport, Stephen Mendel, Eileen Seeley, Rob LaBelle, Shannon Elizabeth

A

terribly phony-sounding narrator tells his terribly phony daughter a rhyming Christmas story, involving the merciless, bloodthirsty slaughtering of innocent young children. He describes in detail the 11-state massacre by the vicious, homicidal maniac Jack Frost (Scott MacDonald), who was finally apprehended by a backwater sheriff and sentenced to death. While riding in a state executional transfer vehicle that crosses the Snomonton County line (where Jack was caught and tried), his escort collides with a genetic research materials truck transporting a particularly acidic solution. It splatters onto the escaping convict, causing his flesh to melt into the snow.

The hero sheriff, Sam Tiler (Christopher Allport), still has nightmares about the showdown and capture of Frost, and his ensuing threats, despite the successful guilty sentence and subsequent imprisonment. But his fears become a reality during the annual Snowman Festival, as the townsfolk scurry about setting up decorations and sculpting risqué designs for the cutthroat snowman-building competition. Sam’s desk clerk Marla (Marsha Clark) informs him that Abraham “Old Man” Harper was found murdered at his house, frozen and with his head snapped backward with alarming force. Sam immediately suspects Jack Frost, even though he’s been assured that the prisoner died in the wreck. Meanwhile, Tiler’s young son Ryan (Zack Eginton) works on a snowman he found in his front lawn, before getting harassed by some teens who want to use the area for sledding. In a moment of uncommonly satisfying revenge, the snowman comes to life and decapitates little Billy, one of the bullying instigators.

Clearly, Jack Frost’s body underwent some sort of unexplainable mutation that allowed him to take the shape of a snowman. And now he’s intent on making Sam and his loved ones suffer. The movie is absolutely ludicrous, but it’s mirthfully entirely aware. Every bit of comedy is intentional and it’s not overwhelmingly stagnant – primarily because watching an awkwardly bumbling snowman play havoc on unsuspecting victims is utterly comical. An axe is jammed down a man’s throat, twinkling lights are used for strangulation, and icicles launched like spears. Some of the deaths are strangely violent, though “Jack Frost” is undeniably most notable for an eroticized rape scene – with actress Shannon Elizabeth in the tub, a migrating carrot nose, and a lascivious snowman.

The editing is goofy, the music is contradictorily jovial, and the dialogue is subpar, delivered quite pathetically by a cast of hopelessly mediocre actors. However, the various notions that are taken seriously by FBI Agent Manners (Stephen Mendel) and his team represent humor that definitely has potential. The medical examiner sincerely explains a crime scene, describing the soft, mitten-like object that was used to hold down Harper’s body; forensic scientist Stone (Rob LaBelle) examines a water footprint; a deputy isn’t concerned about a snowman holding a stop sign in the middle of the road; and hand-to-hand combat with a hairdryer and an antifreeze baptism prove to be the best defense.

Too bad the one-liner jokes spouted by Frost are so nonsensical. Special effects company Total Fabrication handled Frost’s puppetry, and it’s a highlight, despite being incredibly hokey. Snowman expressions, restricted movements, and alternations between a cloth-like costume, inflatable parts, actual snow, and ice, garner laughs – which outshine the silliness of time-wasting conversations (as well as the rapid increase of bad jokes conceived by self-aware screenwriters) that stall the seconds between deaths.

– Mike Massie

 



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