Long before The Snowman attempted to terrorize moviegoers this past October, there was another icy killer to be reckoned with. His name is Jack Frost, and this year marks the twentieth anniversary of the movie that shares the same name as the titular killer snowman. Jack Frost is a horror comedy that features a serial killer who is accidentally changed into a snowman and then continues his murderous rampage in the fictional town of Snowmonton. Yes, Snowmonton. Think Wes Craven’s Shocker or Tom Holland’s Child’s Play, but instead of Horace Pinker’s body hopping from one host to another or Charles Lee Ray’s soul residing inside of a Good Guy Doll, the essence of the killer named Jack Frost is stuck inside a snowman.
As notorious serial killer Jack Frost (Scott MacDonald) is being driven to his execution, the truck carrying the murderer encounters a bizarre accident that transforms him into a mutant snowman. Sheriff Sam Tiler (Christopher Allport), who caught the psychopath originally, has remained concerned about his return, and it seems that his fears were well-founded. Before long, bodies pile up, all killed in gruesome wintry ways. Can the sheriff stop Frost’s icy reign of terror?
Jack Frost was directed by Michael Cooney and stars B-movie and creature feature veterans Scott MacDonald (Fire in the Sky), Christopher Allport (Dead & Buried and Invaders From Mars), Stephen Mendel (Stepfather 3 and Scanners: The Showdown), Eileen Seely (Creature) and featured Shannon Elizabeth (Thirteen Ghosts) in her first movie role. Jack Frost was written by Michael Cooney and Jeremy Paige, with Jeremy Paige and Vicki Slotnick serving as producers. The film was released on VHS via the now defunct A-Pix Entertainment on November 18th, 1997 with an awesome lenticular cover image that changed from “chillin'” to “killin'” depending on what angle you held it at.
Jack Frost is known for its cheesy special effects and numerous ridiculous kills. Personally, I like the scenes where the protagonists fight back against Jack. SPOILER ALERT There is one scene with hairdryers and another, the finale, that finds the snowman in a truck bed full of antifreeze. END SPOILER ALERT As you can imagine, with the crazy concept, it didn’t take long for the movie to develop a cult following, and it is now on many fans’ must watch Christmas horror movie list year after year.
Upon its initial release, Jack Frost was widely bashed by critics. It currently has a 7% on Rotten Tomatoes.
For example, take this quote from Premier Magazine’s Aaron Hillis:
The only thing melting was my poor mind.
Not surprisingly, critics just didn’t seem to buy the silly premise, but, interestingly enough, the following year saw the release of another movie titled Jack Frost that had a similar concept of a man being transformed into a snowman. This one though was a far cry from the Michael Cooney directed horror movie of the same name. 1998’s Jack Frost is a family comedy that stars Michael Keaton and Kelly Preston. It tells the story of a man who dies in a car accident and comes back to life as a snowman. Like it’s distant horror cousin, this cinematic version of a living snowman also received negative reviews from critics.
But the bad reviews didn’t stop the killer snowman flick from having a healthy life among horror movie fanatics throughout the late 1990s. I, for one, can vividly remember renting it from the local video store and watching it at home. No doubt due to its cult following among horror fans, it didn’t take long for the killer snowman Jack Frost to get a sequel. Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman (how can you not like title like that?) was released to home video and DVD on November 21, 2000, once again by A-Pix Entertainment. In fact, it was one of the distributors final releases. This time around, most of the main cast returned, and Jack Frost 2 moved the action to a tropical island. Yes, a killer snowman movie set on a tropical island. How does that work?
Well, here you go:
Sam (Christopher Allport) is traumatized by his experience the previous Christmas, battling Jack Frost (Matt Falletta), a murderous snowman possessed by a serial killer. His wife, Anne (Eileen Seeley), thinks a trip to the tropics will get his mind off the snow, so they pack their bags and head to a resort on an island in the Pacific. Meanwhile, the FBI accidentally resurrects Jack’s remains during an experiment. Jack heads to the island, covers it in snow and embarks on another rampage.
After writing and directing two Jack Frost movies, director Michael Cooney went on to write, produce, and direct other projects. It is most notable for horror fans that he wrote the screenplay for 2003’s impressive motel set slasher Identity, starring Amanda Peet (The X-Files: I Want to Believe), John Cusack (1408), Ray Liotta (Hannibal), and Rebecca DeMornay (The Hand That Rocks the Cradle).
Now, even after two decades, interest in Jack Frost seems to be stronger than ever. After many years of being out of print on both VHS and DVD, Jack Frost was finally released to BluRay in 2016 via Vinegar Syndrome and featured a 2K restoration, a list of special features, and a limited edition lenticular artwork cover that is a throwback to the original VHS.
Plans for a third Jack Frost were derailed after the death of star Christopher Allport in 2008, but in an interview with Justin Beahm, director Michael Cooney stated that he hasn’t ruled out plans for a third movie just yet, and he hinted that the story would involve a giant Jack Frost, aka Jackzilla. You can read the full interview here. And, by the way, this article and interview by Justin Beahm is a MUST read for fans of b-horror movies.
I’m biased. I love these kinds of movies. Have you seen Jack Frost? Do you make it a point to include it in your yearly Christmas horror movie schedule alongside other classics such as Black Christmas, Gremlins, and Silent Night Deadly Night? Let us know in the comments below.