Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman (2000)

Author: Brett Gallman
Submitted by: Brett Gallman   Date : 2012-12-05 04:30

Written and Directed by: Michael Cooney

Starring: Christopher Allport, Eileen Seeley and Chip Heller

Reviewed by: Brett Gallman

ďOh, come on, Sam, we don't even know if it's Jack Frost."
"No, Marla, it's probably some other walking, talking snowman that everybody's talking about."

The best gag (relatively speaking, this isnít saying much) in Jack Frost 2 comes during the credits, where director Michael Cooney couldnít help but tack on a little tease for the kaiju-inspired direction a third film might take. Unfortunately, you have to sit all the way through a film that sounds just as bad as its subtitle suggests to get to this part. And depending on your threshold for celluloid-induced pain, youíll either be relieved or disappointed to know that this first sequel to Jack Frost is so lukewarm that it melted the franchise down, seemingly permanently. I have little doubt that Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman has gone on to earn a reputation as a seminal post-millennial cheese-fest, but this one is mostly just plain old bad, so maybe we didn't need to see Jack Frost 3: Jackzilla after all.

Picking up a year after the title character laid waste to Snowmantown, Sam Tiller (Christopher Allport) is still in therapy due to the encounter. Now turned into a laughingstock (despite the fact that the entire town could have corroborated his story), his therapist suggests taking a tropical vacation for the holidays. Meanwhile, some shady government officials think itíd be a good idea to dig up Jack Frost, which ends poorly when heís revived by a cup of coffee (we canít all be resurrected by flaming dog piss, kids). Still stinging from his death via antifreeze in the first movie, Jack decides to follow Sam and stir up some trouble in paradise.

Sometimes, a joke is still pretty good the second time around, but when your joke is ďhey, foul-mouthed killer snowman, haha!,Ē then youíre already pushing your luck the first time around by stretching it into a whole movie. By part two, the returns would have been diminished right off the bat unless thereís an ace up somebodyís sleeve somewhere. Cooney doesnít really have one, so he basically tells the same old story in a different setting and with less quality--which is really saying something because, while I liked Jack Frost about as much as I can possibly like a movie about a killer snowman, great filmmaking it ainít. Part two makes it look like high art in comparison, though, since the actingís just as atrocious (though I did get a kick out of David Allen Brooksís attempt to channel John Heardís performance from Cutterís Way), and it often looks like a soap opera with its cheap sets and shoddy photography. Plus, as someone who has to often endure temperate Christmas weather, I can say with certainty that nobody wants to see a sunny Christmas, so the move to the tropics from the perpetually snowbound Snowmantown doesnít quite work out, either. The whole vibe is just off.

Even Jack, who held the first movie together like crazy glue, isnít as fun here. Most of his dialogue is genuinely groan-inducing and will send your eyes crashing up against your skull, while his carnage is more of a mixed bag. Some of it is aided by CGI that was probably dated by the time this hit video shelves in the year 2000, but at least most of the actual gore is practical. If thereís anything about Jack Frost 2 thatís borderline impressive, it might be this; I daresay some of it is pretty ambitious and inspired: a girl gets crushed to death, while anotherís skinny dipping session gets frosty in a hurry. Still, the sparse budget reveals itself at every turn; hell, Jack himself is barely visible for the first half of the movie, and his carrot nose stands in his place at one point. Iím not sure if this was some sort of intentional technique to keep him hidden, but the static models that stand in for him early on are quite pitiful.

The lack of budget really does undermine whatever ambition the film has; even though its one story twist (Jackís now impervious to antifreeze) is telegraphed by virtue of occurring with thirty minutes left (though itíll feel like twice as much), Jack Frost 2 takes a nutty, Critters-inspired turn when Jack spits out a bunch of bastard spawn. Without the Chiodos brothers' masterful effects work and genuine wit, however, it only earns that comparison by virtue of featuring little, round, razor-toothed ankle-biters; in this case, the cast essentially does battle with a bunch of Styrofoam balls for about fifteen minutes, and Cooney tries to pile absurdity on top of absurdities, but itís just an exhausting display of juvenile humor that only pays off in one or two genuine laughs (Jackís improvised wedding vows for a couple celebrating their anniversary is pretty great). The approach itself is to be expected, of course, but itís played far too broadly and stupidly for my taste.

Itís often said that there can be too much of a good thing, and it goes without saying that the same is true of bad things. Jack Frost 2 thoroughly reinforces this, especially since it feels like Cooney might have been gunning for outright shittiness here. Thereís little shame to be found here, from Jackís extreme close-up with a bikini modelís nipple to the shoddy effects that often bring him to life, so if this was a prescient attempt at ďso bad itís goodĒ filmmaking, Cooney was on to something. Iím not convinced heís even successful as that attempt since Iíd believe in an actual killer snowman before Iíd call this ďgood.Ē Even considering this a mildly enjoyable diversion would be a pretty big stretch. At any rate, everyone might as well pour out a little holiday brew for Cooney since he actually did pull it off once, which is one more time than anyone could have ever expected. Unlike its predecessor, Jack Frost 2 is still easy to track down on DVD since itís shown up on a few different releases. The Phase 4 DVD is barely passable; the first scene is inexplicably in scope format, and the rest of the transfer is riddled with digital video artifacts that only make a cheap film look even cheaper (consider that this was shot on high-def video back in the year 2000). Likewise, the soundtrack is just okay, with much of the soundstage being front-heavy; bonus materials are relatively abundant, though, as thereís a commentary with Cooney, an interview with the director, a behind-the-scenes feature, a trailer, and a music video. Still, if you absolutely must see one homicidal snowman movie, make the extra effort to track down the original; meanwhile, the sequel might make a slightly better stocking stuffer than a bunch of socks. Maybe. Rent it!

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