Saturday, December 29, 2012

Jack Frost (1997) Review

Jack Frost 1997 poster
Director: Michael Cooney
Stars: Christopher Allport, Shannon Elizabeth, Scott MacDonald
Genre: B-movie, Comedy, Horror

No, I'm not talking about the 1998 Christmas comedy starring Michael Keaton and Kelly Preston that was also called Jack Frost. I'm talking about the horror comedy about a killer snowman that came out the year prior and was called Jack Frost.

The film is about a small mountain town which becomes terrorized by a killer man turned killer snowman (by means of some chemical exposure or something...). Anyway, the town must try and stop the killer snowman before he kills everybody.

Looking at the poster and reading the synopsis, it's impossible not to see this as a B-movie slasher. And it is. That's exactly what it is; a B-movie slasher that will make you laugh more than it will scare you and is probably self-aware of itself in doing so. It's over-the-top and outrageous and nothing has much logic to it. The kind of movie you watch because it's so-bad-it's-good. But that's the thing...Jack Frost isn't so bad. It's a pretty decently made film that goes beyond its camp to make it an enjoyable film. 

Like Twin Peaks and Fargo before it, Jack Frost manages to capture that small mountain town coziness. I just love that atmosphere and anyone who has watched Twin Peaks or Fargo knows exactly what I'm talking about. I dunno, maybe it's an easy atmosphere to capture, but Jack Frost does it nearly as well as all the others. And I like that. So, contrary to what you may expect from a film of this nature, Jack Frost has a great atmosphere.

The cinematographer and directing is also very well done. There's some great camera angles and camera positioning. Like the scene with the frozen guy in the rocking chair. That scene was incredibly well shot. And there's a few other scenes like that too. So with it's good atmosphere and camera work, the film actually becomes very visually pleasing. 

Jack Frost 1997 axe

Some of the dialogue is extremely well written also. Don't get me wrong, there's still that cheesy, embarrassing  cliched, and whatever other adjective may fit, dialogue that pretty much sucks. But not all of it's bad. I will return to the rocking chair scene as an example. For the entire scene the chair is rocking back and forth as the police officers talk (it is indeed the rocking that makes the scene so visually pleasing) and then right at the end of the scene one cop says to the other "Get your damn foot off the chair." So as much bad dialogue as there is, there's nearly an equal amount of good. 

The slasher antagonist (the snowman aka Jack Frost) unfortunately is pretty dull. I can't say any of the characters are terribly good, but Jack Frost is one that should have been. You know how in B-movie slasher comedies they try to make the slasher funny, quotable, and somewhat of a mascot? Yeah, well sometimes that works well (see ThanksKilling). In Jack Frost, it doesn't work. Not only is the snowman incredibly fake and cheesy looking (which can be forgiven given the film's nature) but he's also not funny at all. He feels dull and forced. Which is unfortunate.

Jack Frost 1997 snowman bathtub rape

In fact, I'd say the first half of the film is heaps better than the second. I honestly think that Jack Frost is a well made film but an awfully made B-movie slasher (even more-so than B-movie slashers tend to be). Once the slasher shows up the film went down hill for me. But the set-up and the first half is pretty damn good. I wish that instead of taking the cheesy horror route the director and writer tried to make a more serious well-crafted film, and I think they definitely had the skill to do it.

Jack frost 1997

Unfortunately, what we're left with is a B-movie slasher that has its moments but does the B-movie slasher parts awfully and all the other parts pretty well. It's still worth the watch and is pretty enjoyable (especially the first half). I'd watch this again. There's also a sequel, Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman.

3/5 stars

Purchase Jack Frost on Amazon: DVD - VHS

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