First a little fear…
Jack Frost (1997); Directed by Michael Cooney
“Jack was nimble; Jack was quick.
Jack gouged eyes with candle sticks,
Smashed in skulls with sticks and stones,
Used iron bars to crush their bones,
So he could hide his kills in tiny places,
And he wouldn’t have to see their faces.
He’d stick knives in their faces and cut out their tummies,
And stomp on their heads ’til their brains got all runny.”
Such is the story told to a little girl at the beginning of Jack Frost as she asks her Uncle Henry to tell her a “happy, scary story”. Now, I’m not sure how good of an idea it is to tell a little girl such a story on Christmas Eve as she is heading off to bed, but if I were looking for good ideas, I would be looking elsewhere for sure! Jack Frost is an absolute symphony of bad ideas, executed poorly and with little regard or recognition of its own failings. In short, Jack Frost is F*#CKING AWESOME.
There are cheesy films and there are bad films. There are low budget films and poorly made films. But there can be as much magic in a perfect storm of terribly cheesy, poorly made, low budget horror as there was magic in that ol’ silk hat they found and shoved on Frosty’s head. Jack Frost has that magic aplenty! This is a terrible, horrible, awesome movie, and I can’t recommend it enough for any cheesy horror fan’s holiday viewing.
Jack Frost is a serial killer with an unfortunate name, and that story told at the beginning is his tale. Tonight, however, his story is to come to a close. Frost is to be executed for his crimes at midnight tonight and is currently being transported to his date with destiny…but it turns out that this is an appointment he is destined to miss. During a heck of a snowstorm and almost total white-out conditions, the prison truck transporting Frost is in a freak accident with the only other vehicle on the road that night: a genetics research van with some sort of “acidic solution” contained within. Just when it looks like Frost is going to get away from the accident, the solution is released and he is melted away into nothing, right there in the snow.
Or is he? In a genetic bonding special effect that is animated so terribly that I could maybe see it on a Ren & Stimpy cartoon, we see that Frost’s DNA is merged with the snow around him. Actually, we don’t see that…all we see are a bunch of weird shapes and snowflakes and such; but it is certainly implied. And so we have the basis for our movie. Jack Frost is now made of snow and can take the form of a snowman as he returns to the town of the Sheriff who arrested him to exact revenge on the unsuspecting populace.
No when I tell you that he “takes the form of a snowman”, I mean that the art department literally made three large circles of shaped foam core and stuck some fake coal and a way-too-huge-to-be-real carrot for a nose. Add on some twig eyebrows so he can look angry and you get nearly the full effect of this “living snow man”. The only thing missing are the arms, which are molded to his side in wide shots and are clearly someone wearing baggy white felt sleeves with a mitt on the end when we need to see him manipulate objects on screen. All of this is for when Jack is stationary, because there is also a waist-up half-snowman suit used for when he is moving around. You know this because of the times you see the bottom of the suit and the actor’s legs who is wearing it! I am so not shitting you.
Now, all this sounds pretty terrible so far, but what I am leaving out is that by this point Jack Frost has already delivered some truly groan inspiring one-liners and we have seen some seriously awesome gore as his fleshy body melts into the snow. And in these two things we know why we are going to watch the entire rest of this movie, pausing only long enough to get the beer flowing…because this is an almost integral step in the enjoyment of Jack Frost. This entire film is rife with one liners the likes of which you could only dream of “that one guy you know” saying when he thinks that he is funny. I mean, these are baaaaaad…and oh so good. When Jack Frost transforms from a pile of snow into a snowman? “Made in America!” When he gets finished sexually assaulting Shannon Elizabeth (American Pie) in her first film role? “Christmas came early this year!” And yes, you read that last couple sentences correctly. The terrible one liners are worth watching this film even if for no other reason. You cannot imagine that any film outside of a parody flick, regardless of budget, would make the decisions of dialog that Jack Frost commits to wholeheartedly.
And the gore…oh, yes the gore! Whether it is a frozen old man with a snapped neck, a guy getting an axe shoved down his throat handle first all the way to the axe-head, a lady who actually gets “decorated to death” with ornaments and Christmas lights, or any of the other over-the-top and insanely entertaining kills; one thing is certain. The gore effects in Jack Frost will satiate the appetites of any splatter junkie; especially one raised on the 1980’s brand of slasher mayhem. And, of course, these are made all-the-better with a ridiculously poorly designed, murderous snowman spouting the worst one-liners you may have ever heard continuously throughout.
There is nothing here that makes much sense…let’s get that out of the way officially if you haven’t picked up on that by now. No one questions when a snowman appears in places there wasn’t one moments before. The town goes into full vigilante justice mode after only one person is found dead…like mobs in the streets with guns mode, without knowing who or what they might be looking for if anything. The feds are called in to help, but keep the Sheriff from doing anything because some scientist has figured out using a glow stick that there is a shape shifting serial killer and that is some awesome stuff to research. And hell, no one seems to notice that all the snow in town is made from rolls of white felt, rolls of fabric store batting or foam blocks; including the piles of cotton or something that is thrown into about one tree per shot. This is hilariously addressed during the end credits when there is a sarcastic “Special Thanks to Act of Nature: No Snow” credit.
I really can’t explain how much fun I had watching Jack Frost, this meritless pile of terrible filmmaking. This movie is now one of my favorite horror-comedies; not for any of the comedic reasons they attempted, but simply because of the spectacular dedication to knowing what level of film they were making and going full bore. For those who care about such things (and I certainly DO NOT), the critic score on Rotten Tomatoes is 7%. I think at least 3-4% of that is critic pity points. But they have it all wrong! You cannot go into Jack Frost hoping for a good horror flick or you will face certain disappointment. But go into Jack Frost expecting one of the silliest, most irreverent, low-reaching turds of the late 90s (and it feels like it was made 10 years prior!) and you will almost certainly be entertained at the least. Have a weird sense of humor and off-beat film appreciation like myself and you will find yourself a new yearly Holiday tradition!
…then a little beer!
New Belgium Brewing Snow Day Winter Ale (6.2% ABV) – Fort Collins, Co
It isn’t all that often that you can expect a truly hop-forward brew from “the big guys”. For so long, appeasing the masses meant offered a beer that was non-offensive to any specific palate. But palates are evolving and the tastes of the consumer are becoming more refined and/or adventurous the more the craft beer market grows, and with it exposure and availability. New Belgium was ahead of this curve by a long shot with their Snow Day Winter Ale seasonal release. Back in 2011, Snow Day replaced their former winter seasonal Two Below; an improvement on the former by most accounting. For this one the hops came forward and the color got waaaaaay darker.
But wait a minute? What was that about “the big guys”? New Belgium Brewing, currently in its 25th year of production, is the fourth largest craft brewery and the eighth biggest brewery of any type in the United States. These guys pump out a lot of beer, to the tune of nearly a million barrels annually, and a lot of those beers are pushing the boundaries of what you will find on tap at the nearest sports bar or served up on your flight across country. Black lagers, tangerine IPAs, Belgian-style Dubbel and Tripels are all amongst their year-round assortment. This is the sort of tap-list you would want at your local micro or growler stop, and should be commended.
Snow Day is a wonderful addition to their seasonal release line, and a great “winter” beer. This one isn’t full of Holiday spices or a boozed up winter warmer…nor is it just a “black IPA” as I have seen it referred to. Snow Day pours nearly black…a dark ebony color like your favorite cola. The thick head is off-white to khaki and reminiscent of meringue. Your first kick in the nose is of earthy and herbal hops; a slight mis-lead in what is coming when you taste. Underneath lies the aroma of roasted coffee and dark chocolates.
The flavor is hop forward. Pine, citrus and lightly floral flavors betray what you pulled from the aroma in the best of ways. The brighter hop profile is the perfect compliment to roast malt, burnt caramel and a tinge of coffee. The overall experience is slightly acidic and finishes semi-dry leaving you craving the next drink. Honestly, I was upset at myself for only bringing home one of these for my movie watching and beer tasting experience! I wanted more and knew it from the first pull off my glass.
I have often seen this seasonal referred to as a Black IPA, but truthfully it drinks more like a brown ale with an intense hop profile. Getting its color from the midnight wheat malt, it is easy to pass this off as just another hoppy dark beer, but there is quite a bit more complexity to it than that. Regardless, Winter Ale sums the whole thing up nicely as this beer certainly worked for me during a cold Holiday evening with snow on the ground. The easy availability of New Belgium’s beers in 45 States means this is a brew you can easily track down for those long winter nights and enjoy with family and friends between bottles of barrel-aged stouts and spiced Belgian quads.