One of the best things about the horror genre is its sense of community; whether its on the Internet or at conventions, horror tends to bring people together, even if it’s to watch a person get slaughtered in increasingly horrific ways. The other good thing about horror is that it’s one of the most subjective forms of cinema, with incredibly varied styles – meaning anyone can like a film, even if it’s not “good” by conventional standards.
To foster this sense of community, my good friend Michael Tatlock – from From the Mind of Tatlock– and I have come together to form a Horror Roundtable, where we both cover a recently released film in shorter review form, alternating the posts on both of our sites. Here, we offer up our own opinions, allowing the reader two different views on one film. In future, we hope to incorporate more of the best writers from the horror blogosphere in these roundtables – if you’d like to join, please leave a comment here, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks, and enjoy.
Vinegar Syndrome’s release of the 1997 horror comedy film Jack Frost released on December 13. Here’s a roundup of what both sites had to say.
I’ve waited so damn long to see the cheesy killer snowman flick known as Jack Frost and I should have known it wasn’t going to live up to the expectations I built up over the years. I should have just watched the Michael Keaton version instead.
Vinegar Syndrome has released Jack Frost on Blu-ray in a pretty nice package, with a couple neat special features, but the film itself is pretty terrible. It’s got plenty of bad acting, lame attempts at humor and the end result is a film that will garner some fans of schlocky crap, but no amount of Shannon Elizabeth booty will entice me to give Jack Frost a glowing review.
Jack Frost started off fun enough, with a couple funny kill scenes, but as the jokes continue to miss the mark and the ultra low budget look and feel of the film start to wear on you, the runtime drags on and I’m waiting for the end to come around. I understand why there are fans of this cheeseball flick, but I’m sadly not one of them.
Nevertheless, if I was a big fan, the Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray would definitely be the version to buy. It comes with a DVD and Blu-ray disc. The video transfer is awesome looking, with both a solid 5.1 and 2.0 audio options. The special features, as I mentioned before, are enjoyable. None of them are overly long, but fun nonetheless.
There will plenty of fans out there that won’t agree with what I have to say, but that is the fun of opinions. They are neither right nor wrong. If you’re of fan of Jack Frost, buy it. If not, cool.
Writer/director Michael Cooney’s 1997 direct-to-video horror film Jack Frost has gained something of a cult film in the years since its release; it spawned an unlikely sequel, birthed a cult star in Scott MacDonald, and now it has gotten a nice collector’s edition Blu-Ray release thanks to Vinegar Syndrome. All of this fanfare is somewhat inexplicable – the film’s neither good nor memorable – but it certainly has led to a great Blu-Ray to keep on collectors’ shelves, if only to dust off once a year during Christmastime.
Cooney’s horror comedy suffers from the same kinds of issues that plagued mid-to-late-’90s DTV horror: a lack of good writing (see also: Uncle Sam, Thankskilling). There’s a semblance of a solid idea in Jack Frost, about a serial killer literally named Jack Frost (MacDonald) who happens to run into a truck full of genetics-mutating serum that turns him into a pile of killer snow, but ultimately Cooney fails to deliver much. Most viewers are probably more than happy to go along with the over-the-top setup, and in fact Jack Frost‘s best moments come at the beginning of the film when Cooney’s just beginning to set the tone – outlandish small-town life thanks to Sam’s (Christopher Allport) interactions with people setting up for the holiday town bash, hammy acting from MacDonald – but the longer Jack Frost runs, the worse it gets.
There’s just not that much story for Cooney to focus on, which leads to a lot of random diversion from the plot – mostly involving Shannon Elizabeth as Jill, who shows a little skin which is unfortunately much too tasteful for this kind of film. Cooney’s nearly unstoppable snowman also leads to a ridiculous finale even for Jack Frost‘s standards, wherein Sam – realizing that his son’s homemade oatmeal actually contains enough antifreeze to poison a grizzly bear – comes up with an idea to contain Jack Frost in a bunch of plastic bottles filled with antifreeze.
Perhaps Jack Frost‘s only attraction is its unpolished mediocrity, and a couple inventive kills. But for most viewers, Cooney’s film will fade from thought during the end credits; it’s not a film one can dwell on, and it leaves very few lasting memories besides Shannon Elizabeth’s thong and its cheerful Christmas decorations.
However, Vinegar Syndrome has given Jack Frost the royal treatment on this Blu-Ray, with reversible cover artwork from Chris Garofalo (the Vinegar Syndrome exclusive featuring lenticular artwork reminiscent of the film’s initial VHS release), a two-disc set including both DVD and Blu-Ray with artwork on both discs, and a new 2k scan of the film from 35 mm vault elements in 1.85:1 aspect ratio.
The image itself looks great, with some healthy grain presence and a fairly dark contrast. There are a couple of rougher scenes that increase grain size and reduce picture quality, but these are most likely damaged – Vinegar Syndrome has done a nice restoration of a film that is probably not deserving of it. Audio is in 5.1 surround or stereo, both of which sound very good.
Extras on this release are slim, but Vinegar Syndrome provides two new interviews; one with MacDonald, who talks about his improvisation for Jack Frost’s dialogue and his cult status, and one with Director of Photograpy Dean Lent talking about the shooting of the film. These come out to about 25 minutes of bonus interviews. There’s also a short introduction by Cooney, as well as audio commentary for the film. While no one will find Jack Frost loaded with special features, this release is more than enough for the film – a treatment any lingering fans of Jack Frost will appreciate.
Both The Moon is a Dead World and From the Mind of Tatlock enjoyed Vinegar Syndrome‘s work on Jack Frost even if the film itself isn’t the best, so we’re calling this a Get It! – but with some caveats, depending on how much of a fan you are of the film.