MVD Rewind Collection: Jack Frost (1997) - Reviewed

Images courtesy of MVD Rewind Collection

Years before penning James Mangold’s star studded 2003 mystery horror thriller film Identity which went on to gross around $90 million at the box office, screenwriter Michael Cooney made his writing and directorial debut with the regional straight-to-video horror slasher/dark comedy Jack Frost.  

The film debut of American Pie actress Shannon Elizabeth and the first leading role for Fire in the Sky character actor Scott MacDonald, the shoestring budgeted A-Pix Entertainment videotape horror flick came and went on Blockbuster Video shelves for awhile before being souped up by Vinegar Syndrome in 2016 via a 2K digital restoration of the 35mm vault elements before being again picked back up by MVD Rewind Collection, giving the lean mean cheapie a new shot at life and a chance to be seen as one of the better Christmas horror comedies of the late 1990s. 

Cross-country serial killer Jack Frost (Scott MacDonald) in the midst of being transferred across state lines for execution after being arrested by sheriff Sam Tiler (Christopher Allport) escapes his shackles and kills the guard but not before crashing into a genetic research vehicle spilling toxic chemicals on Jack, causing him to melt into the snow.  

Though Jack seems dead, Sam remains haunted by screams of vengeance by the killer and soon people in the neighborhood start mysteriously dying in violent ways including but not limited to a local bully being decapitated by a snow sled.  All the while Sam’s son Ryan (Zack Eginton) insists a snowman did it and soon the body counts continue to rise over what appears to be not only Jack Frost transformed into a shape-shifting ice creature, but the being seemingly cannot be killed ala The Blob or the T-1000 from Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

A firmly tongue-planted-in-cheek regional direct-to-video Christmas horror goof with some inspired science-fiction horror leanings running through it with callouts to The Blob with hints of Silent Night, Deadly Night or Gremlins with its scary renditions of beloved Christmas tunes, Jack Frost is an inventive little holiday gorefest featuring bright and cheery cinematography by Dean Lent interspersed with old-fashioned gothic horror blue-red lighting.  

The soundtrack by Chris Anderson and Carl Schurtz isn’t anything special to write home about except when it does the dark and brooding version of Silent Night or the Twelve Days of Christmas.  Acting wise, the regional cast does a pretty good job and it is easy to see why Shannon Elizabeth was cast in American Pie having a shower scene that has to be seen to be believed.  Scott MacDonald has a lot of fun channeling Brad Dourif’s Chucky from Child’s Play while Christopher Allport’s no stranger to the horror scene having starred prominently in Dead & Buried.

Silly and fun, a good beer-and-pizza flick and kind of a spiritual sequel to specifically Chuck Russell’s 1988 remake of The Blob, Michael Cooney’s Jack Frost while coming into a sea of other titles housing the same name and while being the sort of thing you used to pass by on videostore shelves before picking up, laughing at and moving on is nevertheless a delightful little cult horror gem.  

A distinct product of its day when the patina of straight-to-video films began changing considerably into the early 2000s, Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman came around a few years later reuniting the same cast and crew though the passing of actor Christopher Allport in 2008 sadly nixed plans for a third film.  Yes ostensibly it is the kind of thing you would throw on during a so-called “bad movie night” but after actually looking at it, the film is clearly made with a deep love for the genre with more than a few shoutouts to the holiday horrors which paved the way for the killer snowman to do some Christmas slaying.

--Andrew Kotwicki