Jingle Bell Schlock: ‘Jack Frost’ (1997)

The holidays are a crazy time. They are often filled with joy and stress in equal measure, so it’s no surprise that Christmas films run the genre gamut. I love the Christmas classics as much as anyone else. How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Home Alone, It’s A Wonderful Life, etc. All see annual play in our home.

I also love to shake my viewings up, however. For every “proper” Christmas classic that I watch, one a bit more improper is also given a spin. Christmas horror? Love it. Christmas action? Hell yes. Christmas sci-fi? You bet. The more violent the better. After all, you’ve got to release your holiday stress somehow!

So with all of that in mind, it’s time to take a non-traditional Christmas cinematic journey this month and I’m beginning with none other than Jack Frost. No, I’m not talking about the 1998 family-friendly one where Michael Keaton gets turned into a snowman. I’m talking about the one that arrived a year earlier where a brutal serial killer gets turned into a sentient snowman. Big difference, although let’s be honest, Keaton would have made a great murderous snowman as well.

This particular Jack Frost sees a smalltown sheriff (Christopher Allport) attempting to defend his mountaintop community for a snowman that is brutally killing every person that he can get his frosty hands on. Backing him up are sketchy government agents Manners (Stephen Mendel) and Stone (Rob LaBelle), who many know more about what’s going on than they care to reveal. The film also contains the feature debut of Shannon Elizabeth as one of the town’s horny teens.

Having the killer in your supernatural slasher be a malevolent snowman is a great concept, one that the filmmakers wisely all the way lean into. Icecicles, shovels, antifreeze, carrots, and more are all put to brutal use throughout. There are also some fun kills involving sleds, ornaments, and Christmas lights for good measure. Atmosphere-wise, the film embraces its holiday trappings and has a very kitschy feel, from the fake snow that blankets almost every frame to the decorations that adorn the town and its homes. It very much feels like a Christmas movie.

As for the tone? This is a cheeky low-budgeted horror comedy and the cast and crew know exactly what kind of film they are making. It may get pretty bloody at times, but tongues are planted firmly in cheek, without plenty of sight gags and goofy one-liners sprinkled around from start to finish. Everyone is committed to the gag, which only serves to make the film even more charming.

One choice standout sequence for me the opening escape where the titular Jack Frost is melted after his prison transport collides with a vehicle containing an experimental liquid, bringing about the snowy change. Another is the prolonged “Let’s have sex!” strip sequence coming later in the film that involves both man and woman having to removed three or four full layers of clothing before they can get to it. Both moments are pretty hilarious, albeit in different ways.

Something else of interest is The X-Files connections that I noticed this time around. This stems from the fact that I’m currently revisiting that show for the Discovering The X-Files podcast. This film’s lead, Christopher Allport, was the featured guest in a first season episode titled “Lazarus“, where he also played a member of law enforcement. In addition to that, supporting actor Rob LaBelle also had a featured role in the first season episode “Ghost in the Machine“. It was fun recognizing both this time around as I revisited Jack Frost again. More tangent is the fact that co-star Stephen Mendel appeared in the alien abduction film Fire in the Sky, which itself shares quite a few X-Files connections. Random trivia, I know, but all of it made me smile.

Is Jack Frost a holiday classic? No. Nor is it a top-tier Christmas horror offering for me. That said, I kind of love of regardless. It’s scrappy and fun, with a very homemade feel to it that offers up a lot of charm. If you’re looking for something different to watch this holiday season in terms of Christmas horror, you should consider giving it a look. It’s a big ole slice o’ goofy entertainment.

Jack Frost is an original horror comedy. It was by Michael Cooney, from a screenplay by Michael Cooney and Jeremy Paige. The film was produced by Jeremy Paige and Vicki Slotnick. It stars Christopher Allport, Scott MacDonald, Stephen Mendel, F. William Parker, Eileen Seeley, Rob LaBelle, Zach Eginton, Shannon Elizabeth, Darren O. Campbell, Marsha Clark, Chip Heller, and Brian Leckner.

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