Sunday, December 13, 2015

Sequels Set on a Christmas Anniversary and Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman (2000)

“Jack was nimble.  Jack was quick.
Jack gouged eyeballs with candlesticks.
He smashed in skulls with sticks and stones.
He used iron bars to break their bones.”

Two years ago, when I was going through the Christmas movies that I should watch for the Sunday “Bad” Movies, the movie Jack Frost was suggested to me.  This wasn’t the Michael Keaton movie about a father coming back as a snowman to help his son through adolescence.  Oh no.  The movie that was suggested to me was a 1997 horror movie about a serial killer who dies and comes back as a snowman.  He causes violence and death throughout a small town, and the sheriff tries to put a stop to the mayhem.

The serial killer snowman returned in 2000 for a murder filled sequel set exactly one year after the first movie.  Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman takes the action to a tropical island in the pacific where Sam Tiler (Christopher Allport) is attending the wedding of his deputy, Joe Foster (Chip Heller).  Mysterious deaths start happening on the island and Sam immediately cries snowman.  His wife, Anne (Eileen Seeley) doesn’t believe him.  Eventually, they discover that Jack Frost has come to the island and started killing people.  With the death toll rising, the group must once again find a way to defeat the mutant killer snowman.

What struck me while I was watching Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman was the fact that it took place a year after the first movie.  It isn’t the only Christmas set film that has taken the liberty of moving forward one year and having a similar series of events occur on the anniversary.  Nuh-uh.  There are two other movies that come to mind immediately when I think about Christmas movies pulling this one year later trick.  Jack Frost 2 does it.  Home Alone 2 does it.  And Die Hard 2 does it.

There are a couple reasons I can think of to use the anniversary of the events as the setting of the sequel.  The main reason is that the first movie was set on Christmas, and in many cases with movies set on Christmas, they are Christmas movies.  Jack Frost is a Christmas movie, so setting Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman on Christmas keeps the franchise as a Christmas franchise.  The whole concept of a movie franchise is to find the aspects that worked and got viewers invested in the first movie, and use those aspects to keep the viewers invested.  If Christmas is part of what got a movie an audience, they will sure try to use Christmas to keep the audience interested in the sequel.

The other main reason I can see for setting a sequel on the anniversary of the events in the original movie is that it will mean something to the characters.  Whether it is a planned attack that is significant because it is the anniversary, or it is simply a date used to ruffle the feathers of the main character and make the movie have more excitement, the date can change the characters in ways that make a movie more captivating.  Take Home Alone, for example.  In the first movie, the family forgets Kevin McAllister at home when they fly to Paris for the Christmas holidays.  In the sequel, Kevin gets on the wrong plane and ends up in New York City.  The one year anniversary of Kevin being left home alone doesn’t really change him so much, or the two thieves that are trying to attack him.  The character that this Christmas setting has an effect on is Kevin’s mom.  For the duration of the first movie, she was trying to find her way home to make sure Kevin was okay.  She fought through storms and an ocean to get back to her son in her Chicago home.  The second movie makes it worse.  Kevin’s mom feels even more pain knowing that they lost him a second year in a row.  But what piles on the trouble is that he is now lost in a city that he doesn’t know.  It is an unfamiliar place, and the largest city in North America.  The desperation is clear in Catherine O’Hara’s performance as she searches the city streets for her son.  Finally, she realizes that since it is once again Christmas, he has likely gone to the most Christmassy place in the city.  Anyway, Christmas has a large influence over the movie.  Family, travel, and he Christmas spirit.

Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman takes more advantage of the Christmas anniversary setting than Home Alone does.  If only in the anniversary part of that description.  Sam Tiler has been traumatized by the events that unfolded on Christmas in the first movie.  He has post-traumatic stress disorder from fighting against Jack Frost.  The return of Jack Frost on the one year anniversary of the Christmas murders only makes Sam’s mind snap.  All he can talk about is Jack Frost and the antifreeze that stopped him the year before.  He doesn’t have any stability due to the timing and the fact that the same things are happening again.  It changes his character from heroic to one of the weakest members of the group of survivors.  That makes a big difference.

For these reasons, sequels to Christmas movies like to keep Christmas for the setting.  It keeps the franchise in a familiar spot by keeping the Christmas feel from the previous or first installment.  It could have some repercussions on the characters and locations involved.  Multiple movies have used these reasons to their advantage when setting sequels on the Christmas following that of the previous movie or movies.  Jack Frost was not the first and it won’t be the last franchise to do this.  It’s just something that happens every once in a while.
Something else that happens is notes at the end of these posts:

  • Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman was suggested by @LastFilmSeen, who previously suggested Santa, Jr.
  • I mentioned Jack Frost in this post since this movie was the sequel.
  • Director Michael Cooney returned from Jack Frost to direct the sequel.
  • Actors from Jack Frost who returned in the sequel were Christopher Allport, Brett Boydstun, Kurt Bryant, Marsha Clark, Scott McDonald, and Eileen Seeley.
  • Chip Heller also appeared in the two Jack Frost movies.  He was also in Baby Geniuses.
  • Ian Abercrombie made his third Sunday “Bad” Movies appearance in Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman.  He was previously in The Ice Pirates and Sextette.
  • Jennifer Lyons and Paul Hansen Kim were in Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman.  They were in the Sunday “Bad” Movies in the two Dorm Daze movies.
  • Finally, Doug Jones appeared in Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman.  He was also in Warriors of Virtue.
  • What are your thoughts on movies that take place exactly a year later?  What are your thoughts on Christmas movies that do that?  What did you think of Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman?  Was it better or worse than the first?  There is a comments section below to discuss this stuff.
  • The comments section is also a good way to suggest a movie for a future installment of the Sunday “Bad” Movies.  You could post a suggestion there or tell me on Twitter.
  • Next week, I will double feature the two Jingle All the Way movies.  The first one isn’t all that bad, and actually very relevant in the commercialized Black Friday culture we live in.  The second one replaces Arnold Schwarzenegger with Larry the Cable Guy.  I love the first and haven’t seen the sequel.  We’ll see how things end up going.  See you next week.

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