Vinegar Syndrome’s Jack Frost Blu-ray Release
Vinegar Syndrome's unexpected Blu-ray release is one of the physical media highlights of 2016.
Published on December 13, 2016 | Filed under Review
Jack Frost

Thanks to Scream, the late 90s were rife with renewed interest in slasher films. From box office draws like I Know What You Did Last Summer and Urban Legend to DTV fare like Kolobos and The Clown At Midnight; it became a cinema wasteland of young bodies being rendered into pulp by faceless and (sometimes) nameless killers much like the decade that preceded it. Fortunately, just as with the 80s, not every filmmaker was interested in doing the same old thing as everyone else and attempted to defy or at least veer from formula in favor of something more unique. The 80s gave us creative slasher titles like Child’s Play, A Nightmare On Elm Street and The Outing. The 90s got Jack Frost.

The directorial debut of Michael Cooney (who also supplied the screenplay), Jack Frost is schlock slasher cinema at its most earnest. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who grew up in the late 90s that won’t recall the VHS art of Cooney’s film, featuring a lenticular design turning the titular snowman from good to evil, a gimmick that would carry over to the tape release of its sequel Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman and would graciously be recreated by Vinegar Syndrome and artist Chris Garofolo for the first run of this Blu-ray release. And those of us that grew up then were all too familiar with the perils of a great gimmick, with a fun tape package guaranteeing an experience it just couldn’t fulfill – Bleeders, anyone? – but Jack Frost‘s fun didn’t stop with its packaging.

Jack Frost

Building off of Child’s Play‘s idea of a killer being transferred to another entity, Jack Frost‘s mutant snowman is really a violent criminal turned into snow by the wonders of science! It honestly makes little sense, but does it need to? Jack ends up with powers that allow him to go from liquid to (sort of) solid, getting him in and out of tight spaces similar to the T-1000, which can also form icicles for, you know, icing folks. Jack Frost is always convicted in what it delivers, never feeling like a cheap (though obviously low budget) cash grab or opportunist move. This is clearly a labor of love for those involved, from the charmingly physical opening credits, to the plentiful practical effects and game cast – Jack Frost has aged gracefully and some of the film’s more sinister death scenes/one-liners could likely still shock unknowing viewers. “Looks like Christmas came a little early this year!”

Vinegar Syndrome have brought Jack Frost to Blu-ray in a rather unexpected move for the company. This is a title that most had either forgotten about or just never expected to see get an HD release and for VS to step in and give it the type of care they’re known for is a cause for celebration for fans and should help it reach a brand new audience as well. As expected, the results are outstanding with Jack Frost looking better than it ever has on home video. First, we have it in its intended aspect ratio of 1.85, which is a huge step up. The transfer is in 2K from “35mm vault elements” which have clearly been well preserved. The most immediate thing to note here is how much these colors pop. Jack Frost mostly takes place at night, but there are a lot of seasonably appropriate Christmas colors throughout including lights and bright reds and greens. The whites also look great, which is naturally essential here. I can’t imagine this ever looking better. Audio comes in DTS HD MA 5.1 and 2.0 options. Both tracks are solid, but the purist in me sides with the 2.0 which carries all of the music, dialogue and effects well and with zero noticeable issues. Top notch presentation again from VS.

Jack Frost

The supplemental package starts with a commentary by Cooney joined by Elijah Drenner. This is a fun, informative track with Cooney game to share all aspects of the production and Drenner keeping the conversation moving. He touches on the effects, the casting, DTV horror and even some aspirations to make the film in a bigger budget version (which I’m sure plenty are happy didn’t happen). It’s a great track and fans will welcome it. Cooney also appears for an intro which can be played along with the film, it’s brief and doesn’t include any spoilers. Actor Scott MacDonald joins for a 16 minute interview titled “Happy Scary” where he talks about the demands of the role and his career outside of Jack Frost. Next we have DP Dean Lent for 6 minutes in an interview titled “Shooting Frost” where he talks about starting his career and troubles he had with shooting the film.

Vinegar Syndrome’s unexpected Blu-ray release for Jack Frost is one of the physical media highlights of a great 2016 (for home video, at least). The film holds up better than you’d expect and should garner even more of a cult following than it already has thanks to this release. This is the best it has ever looked on home video and the supplements package is great. Highly Recommended.

Justin LaLiberty holds degrees in film preservation from the L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation and film studies from Keene State College. He is the Creative Manager at Alamo Drafthouse Yonkers and is an itinerant projectionist, ready to run reels if you've got 'em.
Justin LaLiberty