Check out our look at four of the latest releases from kickass home video distributor, Vinegar Syndrome. On today's list is '90s horror comedy Jack Frost, '70s gonzo action blasterpiece Death Machines, grimy slasher Don't Answer the Phone, and early '70s look behind the green door Blue Money.
Vinegar Syndrome ventures out of their ‘70s-‘80s comfort zone with their Blu-ray release of 1997’s killer snowman horror-comedy, Jack Frost. Directed by Michael Cooney, the film was a staple of the late VHS era home video market but was just too damned silly to make any kind of lasting impression until now. If anything, the film has survived largely due to a few comically absurd kills and the presence of ‘90s It Girl, Shannon Elizabeth, immediately before she became a household name following her appearance American Pie. Upon reappraisal, however, the film has aged pretty well – though I know many will disagree – and earns a place among the more memorable DTV horrors of the late ‘90s largely because it doesn’t take itself too seriously.
When a prisoner transport truck carrying notorious serial killer Jack Frost (Scott MacDonald) crashes with a truck carrying experimental genetic material on a snowy road in the small town of Snowmonton, an unlikely series of events leads to the death and resurrection of Frost who is a bit sore about having been removed from the outside world by Sheriff Sam Tiler. Frost comes back to life after his DNA bonds with the snow on the ground and turns him into a human snowman with a bad attitude and some special skills that leave cops baffled when he restarts his killing spree. Tiler and his family start to notice the pattern and realize that Frost is closing in on them. The sudden spike in bizarre, unsolved murders brings the feds to Snowmonton and the race is on to stop Frost, if only they can figure out how.
I remember overlooking the film on rental store shelves when I was a teenager because, frankly, it looked really stupid. Here’s the rub though, it really is quite stupid, but it’s also a lot of fun, something that my seventeen year old self might not have been able to realize. Cooney’s script is willfully daft, and the performers in the film all appear to be in on the joke, which makes the film work in ways it should not. I had a lot of fun with this X-mas obsessed slasher that packs a surprising amount of blood and guts into its short run time.
Vinegar Syndrome never half-asses anything, and their Blu-ray of Jack Frost is the definitive edition that literally no one was asking for, but we are better off for having it anyway. The image quality is shockingly good, especially considering the fact that the film was shot for almost nothing. The audio is also solid, but the low budget means that it’s pretty unimpressive in a general sense.
VS stacks the disc with enough bonus material to make fans very, very happy. There is an audio commentary and intro with director Cooney, who is happy to discuss the evolution of the project and some failed plans to make a bigger splash than they did when big names like Renny Harlin backed out. We also get interviews from lead actor MacDonald and DP Dean Lent who share plenty of fun stories about the production of the film.
Vinegar Syndrome have become industry leading experts in giving little known and underappreciated films home video releases that often outstrip their cultural significance. Jack Frost’s excellent disc definitely fits into that category. Highly recommended.