Thursday, December 24, 2015

#DoubleFeature - Jack Frost (1997)/Jack Frost (1998)

Let's watch Jack Frost! You know, that film about a father that dies and gets turned into a snowman and takes this opportunity to reconnect with his family.

What? You prefer to watch Jack Frost instead? You know, that film about a killer that dies and gets turned into a snowman and takes this opportunity to go on a killing spree.

Oh, wait...

Paired together unintentionally, these two films probably messed up a few kids when parents got them mixed up while picking up a video for rental.

One is a fairly standard family-friendly comedy film about the magic of Christmas. You know. "For kids"!

As for the other.. well, I wouldn't exactly recommend if for any children.

Mistakes were probably made at the time. And how different could they take two stories about talking snowmen?

One sees a musician father played by Michael Keaton brought back to life as a snowman.

The other sees a serial killer turned into a killer snowman!

Movie: Jack Frost, also known as Jack Frost (1997) or just Jack Frost (horror film)
Directed by Michael Cooney
Release date 1997
Genre Horror comedy/Slasher/B-movie film
Country USA

Directed by Michael Cooney, and written by himself and his producing partner Jeremy Paige, this first Jack Frost film is a 1997 horror comedy film distributed by A-Pix Entertainment.

It's a very small low-budget film that probably only got any kind of attention thanks to the release of the second film below about a year later.

It's your fairly standard Child's Play ripoff with a talking over-the-top reanimated killer. Only swap the children's toy for a snowman.

That's it!

Our story takes place in the fictional town of Snowmonton, the snowman-town capital of the world! It's the week before Christmas. 

This dangerous serial killer Jack Frost (Scott MacDonald) was arrested by this small town cop Sheriff Sam Tiler (Christopher Allport). But during his transfer for his state execution, a truck filled with weird scientific genetic material (???) crashes into the vehicle and Jack tries to make a run for it. But an accident happens and Jack melts with the chemical product. He fuses with the snow... and he's left for dead...

But Jack didn't die. He became.. something more! A killer snowman, back to take his revenge on the cop who caught him in the first place!

Sheriff Tiler was trying to put his memories to rest. You see he's still haunted by Jack's last threats. They find a first body in the snow. The man was murdered, it's no accident!

The Sheriff's son Ryan witness an "accident". This snowman causes the death of the local bully. The parents accuse Ryan, but Ryan says it was the snowman! There's these two bumbling FBI Agents sent to Snowmonton, Agent Manners and Stone. They put the entire town under a strict curfew while they investigate the situation. 

Jack Frost is back! 

Next Jack sets after the kid's sister and her boyfriend. Their parents. Anyway who comes to face with him, realy.

The Sheriff learns about the whole genetic research facility's accident with Jack. How this new type of acid mutated him into a killersnowman. The main characters band together and use blowdryers to push Jack into a furnace... but like any good slasher villain, Jack returns for one final act! By a complete random coincidence - kind of like what turned a guy named Jack Frost into a killer snowman in the beginning of the film - the Sheriff notices the "food" his son prepared for him in the morning can hurt Jack. Ryan put some good ol' antifreeze inside, you know, so his dad wouldn't get cold. They use a truck full of antifreeze in one last final stand - and it works! Or, did it? Dun dun duuuuun!!

Jack Frost is a pretty good hilarious bad movie! And I'm not even kidding here! This is a really fun popcorn flick!

The cast is mostly comprised of unknowns as you'd imagine, but there's some surprises in there. Christopher Allport plays our main character and he's like probably the only "actor" taking any of this seriously, he's joined by Stephen Mendel, F. William Parker, Rob LaBelle, Eileen Seeley. The standout as most will recognize her from other bigger teen movie production is the actress that plays the bully's sister, a young Shannon Elizabeth. She's mostly infamously known for the, errr, "rape scene" which is probably the cheesiest kill in the history of slasher films.

For a town called Snowmonton, you would expect them to actually film on location where there's some actual snow. But, no. All the snow is fake in this film! What we get instead is the more hilarious use of styrofoam I've ever seen. There's no attempt to make anything realistic whatsoever.

Both our crazy killer pre-snowman human form and his later cheesy cartoon costume really makes this film fun to watch. His acting is always hilarious and over-the-top. His really convenient accidental transformation even get an hilarious cartoon-animation the way you would expect in some Spider-man-inspired superhero film, only a lot lower budget. Jack has a ton of hilariously bad one liners. They were probably trying to have something like Freddy or Chucky's taunts, only without none of the same talent.

The snowman carrot rape is both completely tasteless and obligatory for this kind of low-grade B-movie. 

The FBI agents are only here to provide some kind of story explanation for all this, but they're as stupid as possible. All our heroes finally join force at the end for a few badass scenes.

And as always, radiations are the explanation for everything. or whatever. Magically turning a serial killer into a magical shape-shifting snowman on a murderous rampage. And only antifreeze can stop, because, of course! They finally bury him for good at the end.. or did they? 

The film is honestly kind of well made for such a low-budget production. They try to set he mood surprisingly well in the beginning. But once our slasher villain actual shows up it all gets kind of cheesy, but what did you expect? It was a pretty goofy premise to begin with, it could only be campy! But the first half setting things up is actually pretty decent. It's a fairly enjoyable if silly slasher B-movie.

It's a fun stupid film, it's supposed to be sort of "bad". While some other similar low-budget movies turn out surprisingly good and effective despite really stupid premises (see Killer Klowns for example), this is just a bad movie. That is really entertaining. It was never intended to be much. It's not a serious film, it isn't meant to be taken seriously. It's about a killer snowman, and that's it. It's a silly premise. And it's a fun goofy attempt to do so, worthy of the title "Jack Frost".

As far as horror film music go, the music composed by Chris Anderson and Carl Schurtz is pretty forgettable. They had to decent composers on this film and nothing really stands out...

Overall: Jack Frost is an hilarious very underrated flick! It's pretty silly fun B-movie with a really dumb premise. And it's just hilariously bad!

While the film received immensely bad reception from critics at the time, I think it's a fun little slasher horror comedy film. In fact I find it all kinds of hilarious! It's really cheesy, with really bad special effects, bad acting, bad dialogues and a bad plot.. but it's just too fun! As far as B-movies go, I've seen plenty worse ways to spend your time and at least Jack Frost is genuinely fun for a stupid movie. I really recommend you Check It Out if you're a fan of the genre or just looking for something "different" to look on Christmas' Eve.

I sincerely hope nobody, kids and parents alike, mistook this film for the Michael Keaton film below back then. It's clearly NOT intended for children.

Believe it or not, Jack Frost would receive a sequel 3 years later. Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman. There's even been talks about a modern remake nowadays - which was supposed to be released next year. For once I'm honestly all for it, granted if they don't take themselves too seriously.

I give it:
2 / 3 Necronomicons!

Movie: also titled Jack Frost, better known as Jack Frost (1998) or Jack Frost (family film)
Directed by Troy Miller
Release date 1998
Genre Christmas Comedy/Fantasy/Family film
Country USA

How about that? Another Jack Frost film following a similar premise released a mere year after the previous one?

Did anyone try to watch this film expecting to see a sequel to the horror film? That would be weird.. Expecting to see any kills but instead getting Michael Keaton singing cheesy Christmas songs...?

This other Jack Fros was directed by Troy Miller, a man famous for his work in the comedy genre. He has worked a lot on standup comedy specials, but I can't say he has a lot of good work to his own credit (it's also the guy who directed the infamous prequel Dumb and Dumberer in 2003!). 

The film was made for Warner Bros. Pictures as 1998's next big Christmas comedy film, a very lucrative time of the year if you can get as many people as possible in front of the big silver screen.

In fact that's probably why they got not one but four different writers including Steve Bloom, Jonathan Roberts, Jeff Cesario and even Daredevil and Ghost Rider director Mark Steven Johnson as well on the story!

This Jack Frost is about a dad that never kept his promises and died in a car accident... but he gets a second chance when he is brought back to life as a snowman and gets one last occasion to make things right...

This second Jack Frost film is the story... of another man also named Jack Frost (Michael Keaton). How about that? You just knew a guy named Jack Frost also had to turn into a snowman at some point after his death too.

This Jack Frost is the lead singer of a rock band named The Jack Frost Band (how original!). When Jack is not on tour, he goes back to his hometown in this other fictional town, Medford, Colorado. Jack is just about to break big, they're almost going to sign a record deal. 

Jack gets back home around Christmas to celebrate with his little family. His son Charlie is a fairly smart kid. Charlie gets by town bullies and even protects the other smaller nerdier kids who all look up to him. But Charlie is not that strong really, at heart he's just a little kid who immensively misses his father he rarely gets to see. This Christmas' Eve Charlie and his father get to build a big massive snowman together in the garden. Jack offers Charlie this supposedly magical harmonica he got the day the kid was born.  

The next day not only does Jack miss his son's hockey game but also has to ditch his wife and kid to play a gig where the music producer will be. He cancels this mountain trip he had planned for them. But mid-way through the route he finally simply decides to go back home... But that's when tragedy strikes and Jack has an accident!

A year has now passed. Charlie is now a pretty depressive 12 years old since his father died. One night Charlie decides to make another snowman in the memory of his lost father. He plays Jack's "magic harmonica" before throwing it away... which resurrects Jack into the snowman! Jack is back to life! As a snowman!?!

After the shock, Jack decides to finally catch up with his son's life and he even gets to fulfill a few broken promises (but he somehow seems only concerned with his son and doesn't even have a thought for his own wife despite being portrayed by the lovely Kelly Preston). Jack reconnects with Charlie... until winter slowly comes to an ends and the snowman starts to melt...

While I sort of enjoyed the film, you gotta admit it's a really contrived cliché family film, with all that ensues. From the overall cheesy nature of the plot to the forced morals at the end. Featuring a way-to-good-to-be-true good son who protects every kid from the big mean bullies, even converting the main bully kid to the "good side" and having our main kid hero even win a big sports game along the way.

The film stars Michael Keaton as this version's Jack Frost, along Kelly Preston, Joseph Cross, Mark Addy and Henry Rollins. We even get a surprise guest appearance of comedian Paul F. Tompkins in a small role and for some reason three of the four children of Frank Zappa (!?!). Keaton is always fun to watch in a comedy due to his always fun energy and performance, but he didn't really perform inside the Jack Frost snowman suits, other performers brought our snowman to life.

While this other Jack Frost film is also pretty fun on its own, the film has some well made well-animated spectacular puppetry (and awful CGi effects as well), the main character her is really the kid, Charlie. And Charlie is kind of boring and bland, he's just here to be a generic heroic kid. With no real attributes.

Although like the other film above, this Jack Frost also has some really bad lines. (Really? "Better a snow dad than no dad"??) 

Jack Frost is a pretty cheesy holiday comedy film. It's bad, but for a completely different reason than the above horror film. If the 1997 Jack Frost was bad for its really bad special effects and production values, this 1998 one has really great effects and a big budget. Yet it came up looking like a straight-to-video comedy film. They try following all the bulletpoints and having "emotions" and all, but due to this hilariously bad premise it just ends up completely absurd. Michael Keaton does a great job making this random generic musician-dad protagonist likeable. But once the magical snowman shows up the film just gets ridiculous. Before that point it's a completely different film and it's in fact really good. But the snowman just make things over-the-top and cheesy.

At least the horror film tried tying things to this crazy scientific experiment gone wrong, here we get a snowboarder snowman because... magic!

I did like the way they didn't end the film with your usual happy ending, though. That managed to surprise. It's refreshing to see a movie like this not end up bringing the dad back to life. Once the magic "wears off" he just goes back to "the afterlife".

I gotta say the highlight in this film really was the music. The score was okay, it was by Trevor Rabin. But the film also contains a lot of really good music from both Jack Frost's fictional band and various real popular bands. Mostly some great rockin' blues songs. (But also some terrible cheesy 2000s music, so it all balances out really...)

Overall: While not as entertaining as the 1997 film this 1998 Jack Frost is a decent film.

The snowman looked pretty impressive in the few scenes he wasn't CGi. I mean, he was made by the Jim Henson Company afterall - and it shows!

But as far as Christmas/family films go there's so much better out there. If you want to check out a really good family film/Christmas movie? How about checking any of the countless classics such as the original Home Alone instead? Jack Frost is a fairly standard bland generic Christmas movie about the magic of Christmas. It starts as a pretty competent film ,which really surprised me at first. But then it ends up with a ton of goofy action scenes, generic lessons to teach the kids about sticking for others, what being a good father really is about and some really dumb jokes and lines. The soundtrack was the only really redeeming quality of the entire film, featuring some kickass blues music. 

In more ways than one, the horror Jack Frost had a lot more ambitions and it was the more entertaining film as bad as it was. It's kinda strange I somehow found the snowman Keaton to be a lot more frightening than the horror one...

I give it:
1.5 / 3 Films!

And that is it for today's DoubleFeature!

Both Jack Frosts were released around the same time and they even have a fairly similar premise. But they couldn't be any more different.

Together they make for a weirldy satisfying double feature, granted they're two completely different films that have absolutely nothing to do with one another.

And yet, watched back to back they certainly make for a fun random Christmas movie night!

That's all for this time's DoubleFeature!

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