Dir. Michael Cooney (1997)
A serial killer’s genes are mutated after the van carrying him to his execution crashes into a genetic research company truck, transforming him into a killer snowman who seeks revenge on those who sentenced him to die.
WARNING: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
There are two ways to do a holiday horror movie: you have to go either super serious or you have to be patently ridiculous. Clearly, writer/director Michael Cooney chose the latter route, creating one of the more unique and hilarious entries in the Christmas horror comedy genre. Jack Frost (Scott MacDonald) is a serial killer who was caught after mixing his victims into pies. Showcasing 90’s Hollywood’s complete lack of understanding of genetics or science in general, Frost finds himself transformed into a killer snowman when the truck carrying him to his execution crashes into another truck carrying “genetic acid.” Thankfully, Cooney also showcases his complete understanding of B-horror, crafting a parody of the ridiculous 80’s slashers while maintaining a genuinely funny and clever throwback movie that puts the “snow” in “Man, I hope this snowman isn’t actually a genetically modified serial killer.”
The acting is outstanding, each role being performed as intentionally campy as possible to flesh out the 80’s B-movie vibes, especially those of MacDonald’s Frost and Christopher Allport’s Sam, the town sheriff who is on the receiving end of Frost’s ire. Shannon Elizabeth appears in her first film role (and she is delightfully terrible) as the gorgeous teen who falls victim to Frost’s incredibly problematic snowxual assault. The direction is perfect, creating a properly paced film that provides all the beats necessary to maintain your interest throughout. Cooney leans into the humor of the concept as a whole, never failing to make punny jokes any time they’ll fit or to kill the townsfolk of Snomonton (the actual name of the town) in ridiculous ways. This is one of those movies that you have to be “in on the joke” to enjoy, but if you can appreciate it for what it is, there aren’t very many campy holiday classics that compare.
One great thing about Jack Frost is that it lays the Christmas on exceptionally thick, every scene focusing on snowmen, sledding, Christmas lights, etc. Whereas some “Christmas” horror movies are clearly taking place at the right time of year, with snow on the ground and the windows fogged up, a lot of them only tangentially talk about the holiday itself unless there’s a killer Santa running around. This one makes no bones about the yuletide festivities, creating some amazing Christmas-themed murder scenes that are memorable yet tame enough to be fun for all ages. If you can stomach the horrible puns and the relatively juvenile sense of humor, Jack Frost is a film that easily fits into a Christmas viewing rotation and is fun enough that you’ll enjoy it every time you watch. It is, quite possibly, the best serial-killer-who-used-to-be-human-but-now-is-a-snowman movie ever made.
It’s an absolutely stupid movie, with as many logical leaps and faux-scientific gobbledygook as your local Facebook group. All in all, though, it works, and it does so tremendously well. It’s not scary in the least, so it’s a perfect introduction for kids into more adult-themed horror movies. The ability to pair this one with Gremlins into a kiddie holiday-themed double feature cannot be overstated: while it doesn’t quite have the charm and it’s certainly not as much of an all-time classic as Dante’s holiday masterpiece, it’s hilarious and well worth a watch. Check it out.
Who this movie is for: Horror comedy lovers, Cheesy horror fans,
Bottom line: Funny, retro, and with some charmingly terrible-on-purpose performances, Jack Frost is the punny 90’s slasher comedy that you never knew you needed in your life. If you’re like me and caught this one back when you were a teenager, it’s definitely worth another look because it holds up exceedingly well. Cooney delivers a holiday classic along the lines of Uncle Sam with more than a tinge of Arachnophobia, though it’s funnier (and bloodier) than both. Some truly great death scenes and some of the funniest one-liners since Freddy Krueger. Definitely recommend, give it a watch for free on Tubi this holiday season.