Jack Frost, the less creepy one that doesn't have Michael Keaton in it, is a film that holds a very special place in my heart, believe it or not. I remember always being in awe of the lenticular VHS box art whenever I'd head up to my local Blockbuster as a kid, and I'm pretty sure not a video store visit went by where I didn't pick the box up, and move it around to watch ole Jack's transformation from harmless looking snowman to icicle toothed monster. Ah, the joys of the video store. But my fondness for the film isn't only about the awesome box art. Oh no. Watching this film is actually the earliest memory I have of being aware that a movie was really bad, but loving it anyway, which I guess makes Jack Frost the very first 'best worst movie' that I ever experienced, at least as far as I can remember. Who knows, it may even be the movie that ushered me into a life long love of terrible movies. Yea, let's go with that.
I remember watching it with my dad, and picking out all of the flaws and goofs in it, and really enjoying making fun of the movie while watching it, which again is the earliest memory I have of ever really doing that. Suffice to say, when you're a 10 year old kid, and you know that a bad movie is bad, that's when you know it's really bad!
And Jack Frost is pretty damn bad, in the most glorious of ways. But here's the thing. Watching it nowadays, it's pretty clear to me that writer/director Michael Cooney (who went on to write Identity!) set out to make an awesomely bad movie, and boy did he ever succeed. Paired up with some spiked egg nog and a friend or two who has as much of an appreciation for shit movies as yourself, it simply doesn't get much more awesomely bad than Jack Frost. In fact, I'd go so far as to call it a masterpiece of bad movie-dom, the absolute best worst movie of the holiday season. Here are just a handful of reasons why I love it!
THE OPENING CREDITS SEQUENCE
Jack Frost kicks off in spectacular fashion, with a voice over narration that plays across the opening cast and crew credits, names which are all painted onto Christmas ornaments. In the narration, a creepy as can be uncle, who sounds a bit like Malcolm McDowell, is telling his young niece (obviously voiced by an adult) a scary story about Jack Frost, which serves as our introduction to the character. The uncle's story ends with Jack's arrest, and nicely segues right into the film, where he's being transferred to the electric chair. Of course, things go incredibly wrong en route, and ole Jack ends up getting turned into the self proclaimed "world's most pissed off snow cone." The opening narration is perhaps the best bit of writing and acting in the entire film, a twisted little Christmas poem that gets ya right in the spirit of the movie. Let's hear it for irresponsible uncles!
THE SPECTACULAR DNA FUSION ANIMATION
As a way of showing us that Jack Frost is being fused with the snow after getting genetic acid spilled on him, thus turning him into a human/snowman hybrid, we are treated to one of the greatest special effects in the history of film, a crude animation that I think is supposed to be showing us Jack's human DNA becoming one with the snow. Gotta love '90s CGI!
THE OATS SAVE THE DAY!
In what is an incredibly bizarre plot point that seems to mean nothing until the end of the film, the sheriff's son makes his dad a disgusting looking cookie dough mixture, that they for whatever reason refer to later on as "oats". OK then. The sheriff is grossed out by the concoction, but when he tries to throw it out, he hears his son's voice in his head, and the disembodied voice guilt trips him into saving it. Later on in the film, the sheriff smacks Jack Frost over the head with the oats, which melts half of his face away into a gooey and bloody mess. This is when we find out that the sheriff's son put anti-freeze in the oats, thinking that it would keep his dad warm out there in the cold. Get it? Anti-freeze? Mhm. Not sure if that's cute or the first sign that the kid is going to end up becoming the next serial killer of Snowmonton. Yea, the film takes place in the fictional town of Snowmonton. It's the Snowman capital of the world, in case you were wondering.
Needless to say, whenever I watch Jack Frost, I make my own cookie dough/marshmallow slop, which I feast on as I watch the movie. OK, so I've never done that, but I think I'm gonna try it sometime. Hold the anti-freeze, please.
Jack Frost is essentially Freddy Krueger, encased in a shit ton of snow, and he's got a never-ending assault of one liners to prove it. My favorite? A character asks, "Who's there", and Jack answers, "Well, it aint fuckin' Frosty!!" No, it most certainly isn't. Though the dude who voiced Frosty in the original Rankin Bass cartoon did end up starring in Microwave Massacre, as a killer who cooks and eats whores, if that counts for anything.
Jack Frost has got some pretty awesome kill scenes in it, and the effects throughout are surprisingly pretty good. In my second favorite kill scene in the movie (second only to the one listed below!), Jack first strangles an old woman with a string of Christmas lights, smashes a glass ornament into her mouth, and then proceeds to repeatedly bash her head into a box filled with other ornaments. Flexing his artistic muscle, Jack then makes the old dead woman a part of her own tree, tethering her to it with garland and then shoving the star into the top of her head. It's a bittersweet death, considering the old woman had earlier in the film expressed her lifelong dream; being the star on top of a Christmas tree. Good old Jack, making Christmas dreams come true!
Other awesome kills? A teen bully gets decapitated by a sled and an old man is forced to deep throat a wooden axe handle ... without protection!!
For the longest time I thought Adrienne Barbeau was in Jack Frost. It wasn't until recently that I realized it's not exactly Adrienne, but rather a bootleg Barbeau, played by an actress named Marsha Clark. I still choose to pretend it's the real deal, and I encourage you to do the same.
Before Shannon Elizabeth became a sex symbol in American Pie, she was raped by a snowman in Jack Frost, in her second only film role. If that's not paying your dues in Hollywood, then I have no idea what is!
In one of the greatest scenes in horror history, Elizabeth is taking a bath, getting herself cleaned up for her boyfriend, and re-wetting the hair she just spent the previous scene drying. Since Frost is of course able to melt and then re-form at will, he melts under the bathroom door and then slithers his watery self into the bathtub, re-freezing once inside. From there, he proceeds to rape Shannon Elizabeth to death, bashing her up against the bathroom walls, with the implication that he is using his carrot nose to penetrate her nether regions. Yep, Shannon Elizabeth lost her cinematic virginity to a carrot. Afterwards, he has himself a smoke, and remarks that it "looks like Christmas came a little early this year," poking fun at his quick sexual performance, and driving home the point that he did in fact just rape a young woman.
I mean come on, if you don't immediately love any movie that provides a snowman rape, then I'm not sure I want to know you. Puts a huge smile on my face when I think of all the kids who were treated to such formative pleasures, when their parents accidentally picked up the wrong Jack Frost at the video store!
In the climax of the film, after discovering the secret ingredient in the sheriff's son's oats, and its ability to save the day, Snowmonton's hardware store owner fills his truck bed with all the anti-freeze he's got in his shop, which the sheriff and Jack Frost use as a surrogate wrestling ring, wherein they engage in an epic battle to the death. Since Jack Frost pretty well melts down to mush as soon as he hits the anti-freeze, the majority of the battle consists of the sheriff wrestling around with a giant flat piece of white foam. So it's no Hogan/Warrior from Wrestlemania 6, but it's probably the best anti-freeze death match in the history of celluloid. Probably. So yea. I love Jack Frost, for these and many other reasons. Dare I say, I can't help but feel that it's even a bit of an underrated movie, unfairly seen by many as simply a bad movie made by a bad filmmaker, rather than appreciated for what it really is; a film that is supposed to be fun, because of the fact that it's so intentionally bad. So rather than shitting on Michael Cooney for being a talentless filmmaker, I instead prefer to praise him for birthing unto the world such a brilliantly awful bad movie masterpiece. I can't imagine a holiday season going by without having Jack Frost in my life, and I thank you for sparing me that sadness and emptiness, Mr. Cooney.
- John Squires
( John runs "Freddy in Space" one of my favorite Facebook & Blog Pages on the Interwebs. Over the last couple of years I gotten to know him on a personal level, along with his Wife Jen they are two of the nicest people around!)