Jack Frost – Review
After an accident that left murderer Jack Frost dead in genetic material the vengeful killer returns as a murderous snowman to exact his revenge on the man who sent him to be executed
It’s December the 12th. That means we are almost half way through our Awful Advent 25 Days of Christmas Horror feature. Today we are taking a look at the horror cult classic Jack Frost from the late 90s. Having seen this at least a few times. I can honestly say it is one of the worst movies I have ever watched. Featuring Michael Keaton coming back from the dead as a massive, horribly designed, animatronic snowman. He brutally assaults a bunch of kids using rocks hidden in snow balls. Scares a snowplow driver to death and relentlessly harasses his grieving son…… Wait, wrong movie. That’s the one from 98, this movie preceded it by a year.
Anyways, this is an equally bad movie about a man resurrected as a snowman. This one, however, is much lower budget and has its tongue firmly planted in its cheek. Jack Frost has become something of a cult classic in recent years. Notorious for its terrible special effects, crap acting and low budget. It is enjoyed by many every year as something of a Christmas tradition. I, personally, am struggling to see the appeal. Still, let’s take a look.
We’ve been on a bit of an end of the year run of themed features. We had K-O-Ween 31 Days of Halloween in October. We had a Fall Themed Horror movie month for November, Now It’s December and that can mean only one thing. It’s Awful Advent. We are reviewing a new horror for each of the days leading up to Christmas. That’s not all, we will also review a bonus movie for Christmas day itself. 25 horror movies to make your December just that little more frighteningly festive… Or should that be festively frightening? I am not sure, whatever.. It’s going to be scary.
The catch? All of the movies must be set around or feature Christmas. Movies based on a specific Christmas theme are even better. Christmas and horror have always gone hand in hand. There are tons of movies to look at and I expect you can probably predict a few right now. With that being said. Check back every day of December for something new.
Low Budget Christmas Horror
Jack Frost follows the story of local town sheriff Sam and his fight against a possessed snowman. Sam, years before, arrested a serial killer called Jack Frost. Swearing revenge on the sheriff, Sam has lived in fear ever since. Frost was due to be executed but an accident on the way to ol’ sparky led him to escape. While being confronted by an officer there was an explosion. The explosion sprayed an experimental liquid on Frost. It melted him but also caused the killer to fuse with the snow.
Frost is now free and with a funky new snowman get up. He can melt himself and reform allowing access to almost anywhere that water can go. He can’t be harmed and is just as murderous as ever. Naturally he wants to find Sam to enact revenge. While he looks for him. Jack takes down whoever crosses his path. Pipe smoking and wise cracking all the way.
A Cult Classic
So this movie is rather popular and considered a cult classic. The reasons given are the silliness, terrible effects, kill scenes and wise cracks. Now, if you are a fan of this movie you are going to hate my opinion of it. I am a huge fan of camp horror that is so bad it is good. When it comes to this, however, I really don’t rate Jack Frost at all. I will explain why below. I simply didn’t enjoy it and found the campiness to be forced.
Still, attempting to appreciate this movie for the reasons other people do. It is absolutely farcical as all camp horror should be. It starts with a guy, director Michael Cooney, telling the story of Jack Frost to a child. The child happens to be an adult with their voice pitched up. You know straight away the type of film you are in for. We see the killer Jack Frost sprayed with an experimental liquid. He melts before fusing with the snow. The reveal of the absolutely awful rubber snowman costume comes shorty after.
Jack goes on his hunt for the sheriff and dispatches of a few civilians on the way. The kills are fairly creative. One particularly fun example involves a Christmas tree and fairy lights. Jack makes plenty of wise cracks, some of which elicit a chuckle. Jack also manages to get his carrot away in one scene. Apparently this is the result of some restructuring that had to be done in editing. Jack was supposed to be simply smashing his victim’s head against a wall. However, due to how much it looked like he was screwing her. They had to change it.
So Why Do People Love It?
Generally speaking, people love Jack Frost for its cheesiness, the bad acting, and how terrible the effects are. It probably makes for a fun drinking movie and is, maybe, even better if you have some easily pleased friends. I mean, enjoying bad horror isn’t an original concept. This tends to be the blueprint for all “so bad they are good” movies. As far as these types of films go, Jack Frost is pretty standard.
Acting and Cinematography is… Okay
Acting here is delivered pretty straight faced for the most part. Sam, played by the late Christopher Allport, gets most of the screen time. Allport plays the role with a keen sense of the kind of film being made. Well aware of the silly nature of the production. He is mostly serious but always ready to ham it up. Co stars are similarly cognisant of the non-serious nature of the film and play to type. This was Shannon Elizabeth’s first role. I applaud her for being enthusiastic enough to share a sex scene with a large rubber snowman. Masturbating on screen in American Pie must have seemed like a breeze compared to this.
Cinematography is, honestly, okay for a low budget movie. It is about what you would expect for a late 90’s straight to video film. Set design is okay. A warm December put paid to the idea of real snow. The film makers had to bring in foam and cotton wool. To be honest, it works better given the type of movie this is. If you are going to make a deliberately crap movie. May as well fully commit to it.
Effects are bloody awful but, again, this is deliberate. The producers of Jack Frost knew exactly what they were doing. I think if you offered them a realistic looking snowman and a competent effects team they would have told you to sit and spin. This is a movie very much made for fans of so bad it’s good horror.
Movies So Bad They Are Good
I will preface the following by saying this. Believe me, I am acutely aware of certain movies being so bad they are good. I grew up with shit like Rabid Grannies and Ghoulies. This is something I have always been into. I adore movies like this and go out of my to watch them. For those of you who aren’t up on these types of films. They exist in every genre. The Room is a brilliant example. My fiancee and I watched it with a friend just a couple of weeks ago. We laughed our asses off and had a genuinely good time. I really get the appeal of it. I just don’t feel as though Jack Frost fits that bill.
As mentioned above, this movie has become a real cult classic. To be painfully honest, I have no clue why. I was amped to watch this film. After reading reviews I thought this would be right up my street. I knew I was in for some pain already the night I watched it. I’m a New Orleans Saints fan and 2022 has been a rough year. They were playing that night and I had time to squeeze in one movie before kick off. I decided to go for something I thought would put be in a good mood. I knew for a fact the Saints would try to put me in a bad one. We got in bed, turned on the Christmas tree. My fiancée brought in some mince pies with clotted cream and some hot chocolate. I was so ready for a movie like this.
I’m probably Gonna Piss People Off
By the time Jack Frost was done I felt tired, bored and hugely disappointed. Sure, it is bad. In fact, it is very bad. The thing is, however, it is acutely aware of how bad it is. It knows it sucks and there isn’t a single scene delivered without tongue in cheek. Movies that are so bad they are good are rarely this self aware. Tommy Wiseau genuinely believed he was making a great movie with The Room. He had no idea that it was bad. He certainly had no idea he was making the worst movie ever. The makers of Jack Frost definitely knew what they were doing.
If anything, I would say they were deliberately aiming for a cult following. Dialogue is so ridiculous and camera shots so poor that it has to be on purpose. The rubber model of Jack Frost is terrible. One second of seeing that on set would be enough to know exactly the type of film you are making. This film is a joke and it is very aware of that fact. The difference is, people who buy into it and make it a cult classic are the punchline. This isn’t Leprechaun. This isn’t Jason X. It is a movie that aimed for this exact type of reception and got it.
So Bad It’s Bad
My particular issue with the cult following for this film is that it is just bad. It isn’t so bad it’s good. Jack Frost isn’t unintentionally funny. It is just not a very good movie. I never once felt as though I was watching something that wanted to be decent. At least with movies like Jason X you can tell that there was an intention to make a good movie. That’s what makes bad films good. Jack Frost feels more like a money laundering project. It is incredibly low effort and designed to be silly and farcical. It is almost too self aware to be watchable.
Jack Frost is boring and an absolute chore to get through. It is cheap looking but not to the point where you really notice. Lines are delivered deadpan in a manner that is almost accompanied by a wink to the audience. Jack’s kill scenes are deliberately ridiculous. Wise cracks are uttered desperately hoping to stick in people’s heads for their silliness. All the while the plot drags on with only a few kills and a few boring false endings.
A Baffling Following
People are rolling up onto user review sites giving this movie 8s, 9s, and 10s. They seem to believe they are in on the joke. They get it, they appreciate the winks to the audience. Haters must be idiots for not realising that this film is supposed to be silly. Apparently people who dislike it just don’t get it.
Listen, I grew up with two video rental stores in my town. The only decent horror stuff they had were major releases. The rest was absolutely terrible, so bad they are good, movies. My horror sword was forged in the flames of laugh a minute, dog shit, b-movies. For a long time, VHS tapes with terribly drawn covers were all I knew. I love this type of thing. As much as some people think it is. As much as it wants to be. For me, Jack Frost ain’t it!
It is boring, slow paced, a chore to get through and painfully self aware. Jack Frost knows what it is. It was never trying to be good. It is a joke and that is all it was ever intended to be. The problem with that is that the joke isn’t funny. There are so many hilarious, awful, horror movies out there. Jack Frost is somewhere near the bottom of that list. I am not shitting on people for enjoying it. Personally, I wanted so badly to love it. I was hoping for The Room of comedy horror movies. I was hugely disappointed. If you love it and think it is so bad it is good, then I am happy for you. I just think it is so bad it is bad.
Is it a Knockout?
Jack Frost is a comedy horror movie that has become something of a cult classic. Featuring a serial killer being transformed into a murderous snowman. The kills, wise cracks and violence come thick and fast. Loved by many and considered to be "so bad it is good". I have to admit I don't get it.
As a big fan of awful horror movies. I went into this movie excited and looking forward to plenty of laughs. Despite this, I didn't enjoy it at all. Jack Frost feels far too self aware and deliberate to fit the bill. It knows what it is and goes to tremendous efforts to target itself to fans of these types of movies. For me, it is just a slow moving, boring horror that lacks in laughs. It feels like a chore to get through and has few of the elements that I love about awful horror movies. Some may love it and that is awesome. For me, however, it just left me bored and disappointed.