*Warning: Spoiler alert*
Sequels are tough. Sometimes no matter how hard creators try, they just cannot recreate what it was that made the original great.
Bad sequels have caused franchises to change direction, ended franchises entirely and even bankrupted production companies … Think “Prometheus” or “Exorcist II.”
A good sequel, though, can breathe life into a lifeless series, elaborate more on plotlines of beloved characters and even resurrect franchises that had died years ago. The original “Star Wars” movie was elevated from cult to mainstream by its two sequels and its prequels. Many people loved watching as young Harry Potter grew into the hero that saved the wizarding world. A sequel done well not only adds to the original, but learns from it as well.
That’s where we come to what I consider the best sequel to have blessed this earth: “Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman.” This 2000 film is the sequel to 1997’s “Jack Frost,” and from what I can tell, it does everything that a sequel should perfectly.
Before I talk about the sequel, I guess I should do a quick run-through of the original for context.
“Jack Frost” follows the murderous rampage of deranged serial killer Jack Frost after he transforms into a snowman as a result of a car accident involving a truck of chemicals while being transported to his execution site. All of that isn’t important because it only serves to explain why there is a killer snowman going around killing the residents of a small town.
If I had to compare it to any other film, I would say that this is a more adult “Gremlins.” It takes place in a small town around winter, and all of the horrifying things have a tinge of comedy to them. Jack doesn’t just kill people, he does it in silly ways and gives cheesy one-liners after every one of them.
What makes the original great is that the tone of the movie makes a big shift once the town starts hunting him down. It almost gives up any the horror aspect and goes full comedy. It had me in stitches at several points, like when Jack re-assembles himself after being blown up, but he is all misaligned. He then says, “I’m a Picasso,” which is followed by every single character tilting their heads slightly to the left — every single character — including people in the background. That kind of nonsensical comedy is what makes this movie stand out as one of my guilty-pleasure films.
So, what makes the sequel even better than this outlandish horror flick? Well, lets go through some of the things it does.
First of all, it expands the world of the original. The main family from the first film has taken a vacation to the Caribbean to take their mind off the traumatic events of the original. They introduce many new side characters that are all wacky in their own way while also expanding on the relationship between the main character and his wife.
Secondly is that they up the stakes from the first. In the first, Jack is just a singular being, and even though he has many powers, he really doesn’t pose that much of a threat without the element of surprise. Most of his kills happen before the town even knows there is a killer on the loose.
In the second, he has many new powers at his disposal, including the ability to not melt at normal tropical temperatures. What ups the ante the most is his new ability to create little demonic snow balls that behave very similarly to gremlins. This means that he can stand up against the whole resort with ease.
The biggest improvement that this film makes over the original is that it never even tries to take itself seriously. It removes the less-than-stellar tone from the first half of the original and instead takes the ridiculous tone from the second half and turns it up to 11. From the first death involving an ice anvil, this movie comes out the gate running with crazier kills and zanier characters. Everyone feels like a caricature of a stereotypical character, such as the serious and brooding “eyepatch guy” or “the old man in a safari hat.”
Heck, even the way they kill him is sillier. In the original, they take him down by blasting him with hair dryers, blowing him up, melting him in a furnace and finally dunking him into a truck bed of antifreeze. Funny enough, when I originally watched this movie with friends, we each guessed that one of these would be how he was taken out, and we were dying after every single one came true.
In the sequel, they explain that in the first movie, Jack had absorbed some of the DNA from the protagonist when he stabbed him. They end up killing Jack based on the protagonists allergy to bananas by spraying both the snowballs and Jack with blended bananas put inside of squirt guns. Every single one blows up only seconds after being sprayed leading to a montage of grown adults spraying bananas from squirt guns onto explosive snowballs. It left me breathless with how little sense any of it made.
At the end of the second, they hinted at plans for a third by having some Japanese fishermen get covered by a shadow, look up and then scream “Jackzilla.” I am so sad that that third film will never come to be, as its been almost 2 decades since Jack Frost 2” came out. I can only hope that one day these cult classics can get a remake with the same heart as the originals.
I rate movies from -10 to 10, with negative being so bad its good. The first movie gets a solid -8, while the sequel gets my highest award of -10. These movies show that heart and growth are important for any series, as well as listening to what the fans want.
This week I’d like to give a spotlight to copyright law, which allows works of art to be privately owned for 50 years after the death of the last creator for smaller works and 75 years for corporate works. For this long time limit we can thank the Disney corporation, who extends copyright length every time the copyright for Walt’s works gets close to becoming public domain.
2019 was the first year in 21 years that any works have fallen into public domain, including some works from H. P. Lovecraft. Mickey Mouse is set to be public domain in 2024, so we can be sure that Disney will be working hard to get that copyright term extended to protect their precious icon.
This was originally written for The University of Tennessee’s Daily Beacon and edited by Margot McClellan.