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I'm not like fucking Scrooge or anything but Christmas and I have never quite clicked. I always dug the days off from school as a kid, gift exchanges are always good and sometimes there was food. Otherwise, the whole motif feels really forced. I mean, the canons mythology is weak at best and full of hollow threats. The “Coca-ColaSanta Claus has got to be the most vanilla deity ever, falling between guidance counselor and cop. The whole story-line is all over the place and the overall message to it all is muddled from its history of appropriation. As if in tribute- the majority of family Christmas movies are just terrible. Cookie cutter characters in a blender of fake feels and an image is universally portrayed of snow filled magic as if no matter where you are in the world a winter wonderland is going to manifest just in time for the festivities. I have lived a lot of places, and a majority of those places had never seen snow. The poor folks in the areas that do get snow, know it's not so much a driving force for family love sometimes, as it is a deadly hazard. This year is going to be different though. I will relate to the holiday spirit one way or another. I must resist the transformation into a wrapped DVD distributing humbug. It shouldn't be too big a deal right? Corny, terrible and overdone movies are my bread and butter. That's my shit, so at least there's common ground there. I just need to add some snow and shit. That's where Jack Frost (1997) comes in.
During the opening credits, along with the almost routine tunes, we have a story being told to a child by an uncle that clearly needed to be spoken to about what is appropriate for a child. We don't learn much about them because, as far as I know, they only exist in the intro as bodiless voices. After that moment which is most likely the scariest part of the movie, we are taken to a police transport vehicle as it makes its way through the snow. The prisoner, a cartoon villain named Jack (Scott MacDonald), is a prolific killer who after a long seemingly unstoppable rain of killing was apprehended by a small town police sheriff, Sam Tiler (Christopher Allport). As movie luck would have it, the prison transport would hit a snowstorm just as it was passing through Sam’s jurisdiction and eventually wrecks into a vehicle containing an experimental substance. Jack goes to escape after the disaster but engages in a struggle with one of the guards, which leads to his being covered in special science goo. Logically this means his DNA combines with the snow to create some kind of sassy snow monster. With his new form as a living snowman and the endless list of ice-based super abilities that comes with it, Jack takes to killing the residents of the sheriff's mostly podunk town. It’s up to the Sheriff to end Jack’s reign of death and bad jokes for good. Unfortunately, he must first deal with small-town politics and two less than helpful representatives from the chemicals manufacturer.
The goofy mood of film mixes with the generally competent editing and lighting to make up what feels like a demented but authentic mid-budget, holiday family film. Outside of the blood and scene of implied snowman rape, there is only the kind of simple but complete characters and concepts that you would find in a straight to video kids flick or early 2000s Disney Channel original. No one thinks you are picking up the killer snowman movie for its serious aspects and the filmmakers use this as a tool to make it entertaining. Of course, every joke falls flat, some almost timed to fail, but the light mood and silly logic do a great job of parodying the Christmas film genre as a whole, even if that wasn't fully on purpose. It's a mess of seasonal references and stolen elements, with a jolly mean spirit. At times the Charles Band movie holographic VHS cover promised shines through but has none of the patented rougher edges, nor does it share the same pitfalls. Editing, lighting, and camerawork are made-for-TV grade or above, at some points even employing some creative lighting effects. The snowman FX work, something tells me we are lucky in ‘97 practical effects were still standard for the most part. Offscreen kills make up about 50% but plenty of creative setups and blood squirts, no nudity but there are some awkward snowman shower hugs. Its cheesy juvenile garbage but it's fun cheesy juvenile garbage.
A tongue in cheek film can be made or broken by its actors. Comedy isn't everyone's game and it's even harder to play it straight. Christopher Allport is a great choice as the determined but somewhat dopey sheriff. He is great in serious roles and succeeds in doing what other legendary former bit-part players have done with the straight man part. I’ll always remember him for his part in an X-Files episode but its shame he doesn't get enough love for Sheriff Sam Tiler. For the title character, we have mostly just the voice of Scott MacDonald in a well picked emotive role, who I mostly recognize from tv roles. His murderous villain is a big part of the fun the film holds and matches the cartoon flavor. There is some other faces you may recognize as suspects from Law and Order or such, as well as Shannon Elizabeth in her first acting role.
At its level of cheese and quality, it's less a horror film with Christmas as a setting than a Christmas film with a misplaced killer snowman. Turns outs that's exactly what I need to get me in spirit. It's special cases like this that help us yule-challenged interact with the outside world during this hellish month when we are out of toothpaste because we are too afraid to go to Walmart.
1h 29min | 1997
 Director: Michael Cooney
Writers: Jeremy Paige (story), Michael Cooney (story) 


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