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Jack Frost 2

Last Christmas I gave you my heart, by which I mean I finally watched JACK FROST and wrote about it. This year, I wouldn’t say I was in tears, but JACK FROST 2: REVENGE OF THE MUTANT KILLER SNOWMAN wasn’t as special.

I mean… they tried. Writer/director Michael Cooney returned in the year 2000 (three years after the original) with another scrappy low budget bag of silliness. This one does not have a fancy Vinegar Syndrome special edition, because it was shot in shiny ugly digital video, so what would be the point? There are a couple obvious stock footage shots and I thought “Oh, that’s what a real movie looks like.” On his commentary track (respect for including that), Cooney says he hopes people don’t notice that the stock footage looks different. Whoops.

Not that we watch a JACK FROST picture for the cinematography. The real problem in my opinion is that Cooney abandoned the #1 thing the first film had going for it: that it acted like it was serious. In this one, unfortunately, he keeps going for straight up jokes, setup and punchline and everything. So, for example, I’m happy when the hero’s wife Anne (Eileen Seeley, Martha Wayne in BATMAN FOREVER) does a big monologue theorizing that genetic bonding has given the killer snowman her husband’s banana allergy. But I’m unhappy when, a beat later, her friend Marla (Marsha Clark, “Judge Karen Fitzpatrick,” Days of Our Lives) laughs hysterically at the idea. We know it’s ridiculous. The characters shouldn’t.

But I think Cooney really hated the idea of dumbasses thinking he wasn’t in on the joke. At the very beginning of the commentary he says that some people didn’t understand the first one was supposed to be funny so he “wanted to make sure that everybody knew that it was all right to laugh at the movie.”

So, R.I.P. the JACK FROST series. But part 2 does have some moments, mostly later on.

I guess I was always so captivated by the little guy that I never noticed Jack’s sunglasses and lei.

Sam Tiler (Christopher Allport, SAVAGE WEEKEND), the sheriff of the small town of Snowmonton, is still traumatized by that time he had to stop a serial killer whose consciousness had been transferred into a snowman. Of course, most people don’t believe it even happened. When he recounts the story to his psychiatrist (Ian Abercrombie, FIREWALKER, ARMY OF DARKNESS, THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK, WILD WILD WEST, GARFIELD A TAIL OF TWO KITTIES), the rest of the staff listen in on a speaker phone and giggle (in my opinion unethical). I like that Sam wears his full uniform to his appointment, for some reason.

He’s paranoid that Jack will return for Christmas, so Anne drags him on a tropical vacation with Marla and her husband Joe (Chip Heller, DEAD HEAT) to get his mind off things. Little do they know that the FBI has dug up Jack’s antifreezed remains for testing and accidentally resurrected him when a janitor (Brett Boydstun, returning as “Idiot”) spilled coffee into the tank. You know – the same as if a dead Jason gets hit by lightning, obviously a liquid Jack Frost mixing with coffee means he would come back to life. It’s science.

Still voiced by Scott MacDonald (FIRE IN THE SKY), the mischievous poor-man’s-Chucky spends most of the movie as a liquid or off-camera presence, making it easy for him to travel across the ocean. I take it as a reference to JAWS: THE REVENGE that he has a psychic link with Sam and follows him to the (unspecified?) island.

They go to a resort that is mainly just a small Tiki-ish bar and a path through some woods. It’s run by wacky Colonel Hickering (Ray Cooney), who wears a safari hat and talks nostalgically about his British colonialist days. There’s a bartender named Bobby (Tai Bennett, JOHN DIES AT THE END) who has maybe a Jamaican accent and wears a t-shirt with a design that looks vaguely Caribbean but says “Australia.” There’s also a dude named “Captain Fun” (Sean Patrick Murphy, “Shuttle Co-Pilot,” AVATAR) who gets in Sam’s face about being too grumpy and tries to pressure him to do activities. He seems like he watched ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES and thought Peter MacNicol was playing it too subtle.

And there are a bunch of sex/murder object women around. One of them Jack kills gorily by turning into an ice anvil and dropping on her head. He also gets breathlessly excited to turn into an ice cube that a bikini model uses to perk up her nipples during a photo shoot – then she swallows him in an iced coffee and her head explodes (?). When remains start showing up the Colonel denies anything is wrong but his eye-patch wearing head of security (David Allen Brooks, SCREAM FOR HELP, MANHUNTER) reveals himself as a plastic-surgeried Agent Manners from part 1. He moved to an island to escape killer snowman trauma and now that Jack is back he teams with Sam to stop him.

I assumed the reason for the new setting was to avoid the hassle of shooting in snow and/or fake snow. That forced me to wonder if they regretted that decision when it meant faking a tropical island in a place with woods and no water using some bamboo poles and signs made out of poster board. But about halfway through Jack makes it snow, which lasts through the end of the movie. So really they weren’t taking shortcuts – they were being ambitious. I would also give Cooney credit for some planned camera moves and transitions that seem like he really was trying to make it cool, despite the cheap look.

Once the snow comes it gets more fun, partly because they actually show the snowman puppet occasionally, and partly because he’s doing ridiculous shit like throwing a snowball that somehow tears off a guy’s arm and causes a firehose blast of blood into a woman’s face. Unfortunately, many of the kills – often involving projectile icicles – are done with extremely rudimentary digital FX that, to me, ruin the joke. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because if it looks like a real horror movie, but the idea of it is silly, then it can be funny. This doesn’t look like a real movie at all. A commercial for a local used car lot, at best. It’s ironic because, as I talked about in the review for part 1, the idea was originally inspired by the CG in THE ABYSS, and was almost made as a $30 million Renny Harlin movie.

I did laugh when the crappy FX were done with actual solid objects, though. Sam and friends try a clever gambit to get Jack into a swimming pool filled with industrial coolant, but it doesn’t work this time, but he pukes up a snowball that later turns out to be a snow egg that hatches a snowbaby. I like that this happens in a kitchen with metal carts so it can play kind of like the facecrawler attack in the lab in ALIENS. And it’s quickly followed by this ridiculous take on a “stumbling into the monster’s nest” type scene:

Meanwhile the others keep trying to kill the snowbaby in a blender and a waffle iron and shit. Since it’s the no budget animation I didn’t dig it. But the cheapass GREMLINS scenes of crude puppets on strings hanging out at the bar did amuse me. Like, it’s kind of funny that one of them has an icicle mohawk.

There is one scene that I think achieves the high level of straight-faced absurdity I demand in a killer snowman movie. One of the snowbabies is bloodied, and Jack picks it up and nurtures it, but it dies in his hands. And it’s played very serious, as if it’s supposed to be sad.

See? Was that so hard? That’s what this movie should be.

I like when they throw in an idea that is arguably even kind of cool. Like there’s a part where Anne is inside Jack’s body and she just sees walls made of snow and icicles start poking in at her like an iron maiden. I also thought it was an homage to the opening nightmare scene of DAY OF THE DEAD, although the screengrab I made looks more like THE SHINING.

A more traditionally jokey part that did get me is when Marsha and her husband are cleaning up the bloodbath at the bar (not sure why this is their responsibility) and using tongs to dispose of a severed arm in a trash bag, and Marsha notices on the dead person’s watch that it’s after midnight and therefore their anniversary.

Also I thought it was funny when Sam shot an arrow with a banana attached to it. Because Jack is allergic to bananas. I heard Bong Joon-ho got the idea for PARASITE from JACK FROST 2.

During the credits there’s a hacky joke with badly dubbed Japanese actors seeing a giant Jack Frost (you get it? Like Godzilla? The movies are dubbed?). Apparently this sets up the part 3 Cooney wanted to make. In Cooney told Justin Beahm in an unpublished Fangoria interview, “It was going to be set in the city, and Jackzilla, this giant snowman, attacks a skyscraper, enveloping it and killing people by coming in through the vents and all of that.”

Actually, that sounds kind of good.

I’ll say this about JACK FROST 2: it has a lenticular cover of an animated snowball monster projecting from Jack Frost’s mouth. No, the movie doesn’t live up to that, but isn’t that true of all lenticular covers? Without movies that need an extra push, would there be any subject matter for artists who work in the medium of lenticulation?

Merry Christmas everybody. Or happy Wednesday.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 24th, 2019 at 7:26 am and is filed under Comedy/Laffs, Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

16 Responses to “Jack Frost 2”

  1. Well, I’ve heard people talk about how terrible this was. I don’t think it was as bad as people stated. I think the problem is a couple of reasons. The first problem is that at 90 minutes it’s way too long. The other problem is that it looks like a mid 90s Disney sitcom. Everything looks so cheap. The thing that makes it not terrible, however, is that it’s directed really well. There are some funny ideas. I mean, I don’t know if I’d recommend the movie but it wasn’t the worst thing in the world.

  2. Merry christmas, Vern and the gang!

  3. Thanks, Vern, that’s a nice review, but it’s gonna be RARE EXPORTS for all the family here tonight.

    Merry Christmas everybody!

  4. I wish I could claim to be watching a cool offbeat Christmas classic tonight but in all honesty, I am watching IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE for the first time (I have seen the last 30 minutes or so many times over the years due to my dad’s philosophy on this movie and the NBA- it’s not worth tuning in til the last half hour), and after that, A MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL, which my family has watched on Christmas Eve since I was little. Merry Christmas to all!

  5. Vern, I think Rare Exports has been recommended to you many times over the years. You should watch it, I think you are almost guaranteed to enjoy it. Unique, smart, ambitious, visually captivating Santa Claus monster movie with an extreme amount of graphic male nudity. So it’s right up your alley.

    Helander’s 2nd movie, Big Game, is also very good, for many of the same reasons (excluding male nudity). It’s basically an Amblin family movie from the 80’s, about the American President (Played by Samuel L. Jackson in one of his rare REAL roles nowadays), who is hunted in the arctic wilderness by rich big game hunters. How can you not watch a film with a premise like that?

  6. I went with SANTA’S SLAY for my Christmas Eve movie. Never one of my favorites but it is aging well. They actually did wirework on a real buffalo for the flying scenes. You’d never see that kind of elbow grease put into a schlocky horror movie nowadays.

  7. Holden, I don’t know if it’s just me, but the site’s search engine was a complete mess for me for YEARS. It works nowadays, thought. So I always thought that Vern didn’t review Rare Exports, but now reading it, I actually remember having read it before.

    He should do Big Game then, which I think is also clever, original and really cool. And it’s certainly tonally much more consistent film, which seemed like Vern’s biggest problem with Rare Exports.

  8. Yeah, I liked BIG GAME a lot more than RARE EXPORTS, which started out really strong but switched gears at the end in a way that did not satisfy.

  9. I didn’t watch any christmas movies this year at all, except for that new GRINCH movie (which isn’t bad or offensive, just really mediocre, although I like their tweaks and additions to the story). Don’t know why. However as it is a lose christmas tradition in my house we watched a Disney classic, in this case THE ADVENTURES OF ICHABOD AND MR TOAD and I still stand by my opinion that the SLEEPY HOLLOW segment is one of the greatest things Disney has ever produced. A damn funny story about three assholes, that ends in an extremely exciting finale. What’s not to like? Well, maybe the bland character design outside of Ichabod and the headless horseman, but I can live with it.

  10. Happy merry everybody!

    I never saw this one. Now I feel like i don’t have to.

    Think the House of Winchester is gonna try Klaus, or that one where Jack Burton is Santa Claus.

    Thanks again Vern for another year of great reviews.

  11. Respect for the Wham! reference and the poignant musing on things lenticular. They just don’t make lenticular shit like they used to. Sad!

  12. Well, we actually ended up watching a movie by a different Finnish director: DIE HARD 2. Not particularly cool or offbeat, but Christmassy, in its way, and its just great to see Bruce and Harlin giving it everything. The supporting cast too are great, and William Sadler in particular gives a performnce that everyone would still talk about if it didn’t sit in the shadow of Rickman’s Hans.

    I’d argue that BIG GAME acknowledges its debt to DIE HARD 2 big time. I’ve said before, it is quite possibly Jackson’s sweetest movie. The scene where they find the freezer breaks my heart. And Vern, it also has Ray Stevenson.

  13. Unfortunately there aren’t really any other Finnish genre films to recommend. Finnish filmmakers typically end up either with something terrible, or something seriously half-baked when they try to do genre fare. The first Iron Sky is semi-interesting, I guess, but the sequel is completely terrible, and not in a fun way.

    It’s only dramas, comedies and an occasional WW2 movie here.

    In fact I think it would be interesting to hear recommendations for Outlawvern type movies from countries that we know very little of. Eastern Europe? Mediterranean countries? Scandinavia? Etc.

    It’s about 15 years old now, but from Sweden, “Kopps” is a very good and inventive action-comedy with a sweet heart. They intended to make an American remake for a long time, with Sandler attached to lead, when he was still in his prime.

  14. Oh yeah, I remember KOPS being a lot of fun. One scene even became a popular gif back in the days.

  15. The supporting cast too are great, and William Sadler in particular gives a performnce that everyone would still talk about if it didn’t sit in the shadow of Rickman’s Hans.

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