In 1997, Moonstone Entertainment released the horror film Jack Frost, straight to VHS. This horror comedy follows the story of an escaped serial killer who underwent a horrific mutation that turned him into a killer snowman. Michael Cooney directed the flick, the same Michael Cooney who would later write the screenplay for the mystery thriller Identity.
With a whopping 6% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s safe to say that this film was not a critical darling. Despite this, twenty-five years later, I never forgot this film and its impact on my childhood.
Days of the TV Guide
Let’s rewind to the time when finding out what was on television came from looking inside the pages of the TV Guide or tuning in to the dreaded TV Guide channel where every title would slowly scroll by. God help anyone who briefly looked away for the moment the thing they were looking for appeared on the screen, or else they had to sit and rewatch the entire scroll again.
Back in those days especially, it was possible to tune into a channel without knowing what was already on it. It’s a thought that is obvious to everyone who lived through it and is wholly unthinkable to anyone who didn’t live in the times before streaming, digital cable, or even Google existed.
I’d be lying if I said I could remember exactly which of these circumstances was to blame for the story I’m about to tell, though I suppose those details don’t so much matter. The point is how easily something like this could occur then.
90’s Gateway Horror and Hate for Gore
To properly put this story into context, it is essential to know a little about me. Horror has been in my heart for as long as I can remember, with gateway horror films such as Edward Scissorhands, Little Monsters, Beetlejuice, and Casper being childhood favorites I watched on repeat.
Moreover, it wasn’t uncommon to find me transfixed by a children’s horror book like Bruce Coville’s Book of Nightmares, Vivian Vande Velde’s Never Trust a Deadman, Alvin Schwartz’s In a Dark, Dark Room (which contains the infamous “Girl with the Green Ribbon”). Despite all of this, little Tiffany could not handle gore.
Oh my, how times have changed.
But back then, the slightest hint of blood left me terrified. To give one critical example, I distinctly remember the carnival ride scene from Child’s Play 3 that left 6-year-old me running and crying from the room.
Now that the stage is appropriately set, to the main act.
Jack Frost the Killer Snowman
The movie was well underway when I changed the television to the channel airing the horror-comedy Jack Frost. A boy was standing outside before a snowman; clearly, this must be the little boy standing with his father in the beloved family film. I wasn’t immediately put off by the different appearance of the snowman. I had seen the family film starring Michael Keaton only once or twice before, and sure he looked different, but I attributed that to not having an accurate mental depiction of the film.
Then murder happened, and I realized my mistake far too late.
If you aren’t familiar with the family film of the same name, then you aren’t familiar with the scene where the father, in his snowman form, helps his son fend off bullies who are chasing the father-son duo on sleds.
As fate would have it, the day I tuned to the channel with the snowman Jack Frost emblazoned on the screen, a child was tending to a snowman, and a troop of bullies descended on the scene with sleds in hand. I anxiously awaited the cheer-inducing father-son moment that was undoubtedly imminent.
Picture my surprise when one of the bullies was immediately beheaded, via a sled, with his blood quickly soaking the snow beneath him.
In hindsight, the blood was minimal, especially compared to the vivid detail in all modern-day slashers. But to the girl who had to close her eyes at the end of Ferngully because the smoke monster Hexxus had black roots erupting from his oily skeletal form, it was more than enough to make a lasting impact.
I never forgot the mistake I made. Every year that the Nestea snowman appeared in TV commercials, I was reminded of my accidental brush with horror since, in my mind, the two snowmen were interchangeable.
Even as I grew into the horror-loving, desensitized, “give me all the gore” gal that I am today, that silly childhood experience always held me back from revisiting the film in its entirety. As a teenager, when I browsed the aisles of Blockbuster for whichever film promised to scare me most (Vampire Clan, May, and Cabin Fever were my Blockbuster go-to’s of those days), I still went out of my way to avoid that sinister snowman.
Revisiting Monsters from Childhood
It is only now, at the age of thirty, for this article (and to give you, dear horror fan, an honest conclusion to the 20+ year nightmare) that I have finally decided to face the monster that lurked in little me’s subconscious during every snowstorm throughout childhood.
Like many people who grow up to finally look their childhood fear in the face, I am happy to declare a giant “LOL” to Jack Frost.
The story is intriguing though it seems to exist as only a vehicle for holiday and other snow-related kill scenes. The kill scenes tend to imply much of the gore and depravity rather than show it. Additionally, silly one-liners from the killer snowman, or as he refers to himself: “The world’s most pissed off snow cone,” make up a large portion of the dialogue. The most unsettling part of the entire film comes from the introduction, as a sinister uncle tells the history of the killer, Jack Frost, to his niece, despite her pleas for him to stop. Something about those voices gives me the ick and shivers.
Aside from the intro, the moral of the story is that monsters are often less terrifying in the light. Though I can’t help but wonder if my same account will be experienced by the upcoming generation as they search for the Disney hit, they find themselves watching a clip from the horror film Frozen (2010) instead.
If ski slopes get canceled in the next thirty years, I think we know what is to blame.
Experience the snowman for yourself, and stream Jack Frost on Tubi today. Take care that you’ve selected the right one, or you may find yourself sitting through the family flick instead.
HELLO DOLLY!: Ranking All the Dolls in the Chucky Franchise
And hello to all you horror heads as well!
I’m still bounding with energy from that wicked Chucky Season 2 finale (recap here), I need somewhere to put it. We’ll be waiting a hot minute until Don Mancini brings out the next gem in the series. With my brain hollowed out and replaced with killer doll knowledge, why don’t we occupy ourselves with some rankings?
I’ve taken it upon myself to rank every iteration of the dolls in the Chucky series, for better or worse, on a set of highly scientific and measured criteria that make me objectively right.
This is for sure not just opinion and speculation.
And one more thing. Childs Play (2019) Chucky is not any Chucky we recognize in this house. Lars Klevberg and Orion Pictures shouldn’t have shown that to me, but they did, and I’m not going to show that to you. It’s terrible. The one and only disqualification. Disqualified.
Would-Be Chucky Army (Chucky Seasons 1 & 2)
A moment of silence for the many copy-pasted dolls that lost their life to Andy Barclay’s self-sacrificing truck crash, and the ones lost to The Colonel’s interior decorating aspirations.
Bloated Chucky (Curse of Chucky)
I wish there were more to say, but outside of the introduction of Nica, this movie and this design committed the greatest sin of all: being boring. This version of Chucky is just very puffy, like allergic reaction mid hangover kind of puffy. I know he’s supposed to be…fleshy & intimidating, I guess? But it’s just not doing it for me. That’s basically it.
Belle Doll Disguise Chucky (Chucky Season 2)
This one shouldn’t even be on the list since he only had about 10 seconds of actual screen time, but I’ll let it slide because it was a pretty hilarious reveal.
Chucky Trio (Cult of Chucky)
Don’t let their placement fool you, I love these and all the other dolls above them. But it’s cutthroat here on the listicle circuit.
It’s such a fun departure for the series to let Brad Douriff go nuts in a recording booth and do a one-man play between three separate Chuckys who are coordinating to possess his estranged daughter like it’s the weirdest soap opera ever put to film. The movie is a head trip, and just when you think it’s winding down into a predictable lull by the third act, the Chucky throuple reminds you that Don Mancini is no hack. The power of three, in combination with their distinct styles, weapons, gruesome kills, and drastic improvements on the Curse doll makes them stand out above the rest.
TIE: Buff Chucky & The Colonel (Chucky Season 2)
Chucky is at his best comedically when he’s taking himself seriously, but the script isn’t. And with the floodgates opened by the war of the dolls in Season 2 of Chucky, we got two new Chucky variants that are ridiculous, and infinitely more entertaining than they should be.
If you had told me back in Season 1 that we would get a Chucky who is doing anabolics and squatting 300 on the rack every day, I would have laughed in your face; I would have laughed harder if you told me that he would freak me out. And what can be said of The Colonel? It’s Kurtz from Apocalypse Now, and just like Kurtz, he grows creepier the longer you look at exactly where he’s standing and how he got there.
GG (Seed of Chucky, Chucky Season 2)
Oh, GG. What a sweet genderfluid monarch you are, too good for your own good. While Lachlan Watson’s performance as both halves of the spiritually entwined twins Glen and Glenda was one of the best parts of Season 2, this is a battle of the dolls.
Formerly stylized by fans as Glen/da, now going by the more neutral GG, this doll has a unique design reflecting the evolution of the nonbinary character and their identity struggle. I like that some elements of both parents got carried over to their child, and who can forget Billy Boyd’s iconic voice performance? Still, their screen time is relatively low compared to most other dolls, and we don’t see them in much action. They’re more about the talking than the killing and stalking, you know?
Grandaddy Chucky (Child’s Play)
Before you start flaming me on Twitter in front of everyone, take a moment to calm down and remember how good this movie is. This ranking can’t take that away! It’s a low spot, I know, but I still think he looks fantastic!
Honestly, he would go to the number one spot if his facial animatronics were as good as they were in any of the other films, but right now, he gets to stay where he is for 1. his icon status, and 2. his sheer durability. My god, does this doll get jacked up. Burned, shot, stabbed, exploded, decapitated, I seriously don’t think he reaches this level of superhuman (superdoll?) durability in any of the other movies. Who would have thought this was the true power of Voodoo for Dummies?
Tiffany (Bride of Chucky, Seed of Chucky, Chucky Seasons 1 & 2)
Okay, my Jennifer Tilly bias is showing here. Look, what can I say? I’m a man of simple tastes, I see a Tilly, I love a Tilly, and the design team making Tiff embody all the energy and character of her actress aesthetically makes me love this tiny plastic Tilly!
She might be David Kirschner and Kevin Yagher’s magnum opus in character design just for how strong her contrast is against the newer, grungier Scarface Chucky introduced in the same film. The Belle doll-turned-Blondie fan communicates all of Tiffany’s melodrama and loudness perfectly. It’s a bold but perfect partner in crime design, and with her perennial iconic style, we must stan.
“This Is the Best of The Movies” Chucky (Child’s Play 2)
Honestly, I find it so hard to pick between this design and 3’s. On the one hand, Child’s Play 2 Chucky is menacing and was the first truly upgraded Chucky, giving his motion and facial expressions a lot more credence in a film that is frankly better in all measures. Every doll owes its evolution to this one’s leap in advancement.
The doll and its kills outshine the original and do exactly what you want from a sequel. Getting a cue from Puppet Master’s Blade with that knife prosthetic in the factory finale and just becoming increasingly menacing over the runtime, he also shades his particular brand of evil with the barest hint of that humor and some very funny dry one-liners (“How’s it hanging Phil?”). He is a cut above most Chuckys.
Extra Chunky Salsa Death Chucky (Child’s Play 3)
But this Chucky? This Chucky was the blueprint for the silliness that would eventually become a hallmark of this series, and all the variants we would eventually see.
This was when Chucky entered his quip era and cemented himself as a goofy ass villain. His scheming and cartoony expressions in this movie make him such a lovable goober. He’s not that scary, but he is on the same level as 2 when it comes to physicality. For me, he has the goofiest and most satisfying death of any doll in the series with that face slice into industrial fan combo. This version of Chucky being so great makes up for 3 being one of the weakest entries in the series and carries the entire film on its back.
Scarface Chucky (Bride of Chucky, Seed of Chucky)
Rude f**king doll indeed. Bride of Chucky is far from a perfect film, but it has a perfect Chucky in my eyes. Does it have that late 90s edge that dates it like the rest of that movie? Yes! Does it look like Tiffany gave up on the sutures halfway through? Also, yes! Is it also the most enduring and recognizable Chucky design, not just to horror fans but pretty much everyone on earth, even when he’s been reduced to 3/4ths of a head? A million times yes!
It’s so textured and battle-damaged, which is appropriate since it keeps things fresh for the fourth entry in the series. Also, I would have paid triple the price of admission to see another movie about Andy carrying around Chucky’s decapitated, messed-up talking head.
Hackensack Chucky, AKA, Good Chucky, AKA, Prime Chucky (Chucky Season 1 & 2)
He’s the worst…but also the best.
Spanning several functionally identical plain jane bodies, this most joyously evil era of Chucky doesn’t have any aesthetic modifications like the counterparts at the #2, #7, and #9 rankings (beyond improvements in animatronics and seamless integration). But over 16 episodes, these dolls still showed you exactly how evil a plain old Chucky can be.
Though awful in Season 1, this era’s most notable lowest low is during his stint as “Good Chucky” in Season 2. The Hackensack Gang and a good chunk of the audience were duped into thinking that the kid’s attempts at brainwashing Charles Lee Ray had worked; for our naivete, we were awarded one of the most harrowing character deaths in the entire franchise.
Pouncing back on Jakes insecurities tenfold, attacking Lexy’s addictive nature, and exploiting Nadine’s goodhearted nature, killing off two fan favorites within a matter of a few episodes, I truly think this was the first time I wouldn’t say I liked a version of Chucky after everything. This is why Prime Chucky’s fate felt so much more satisfying, being rewarded for his duplicity by taking his own holly jolly chainsaw to the face, courtesy of Lexy. What a Christmas present!
AFTER DOLL IS SAID AND DONE…
Disagree with any of the rankings? We’d love to hear from you on Twitter, so hit us up there and stay tuned for more articles, more Chucky mayhem to come and more Horror Press.
Slappy Was the Blueprint: How the Dummy from Goosebumps Became A Horror Icon
The Scholastic Book Fair was a religious holiday for me growing up. It was the moment middle schoolers felt like they had real agency to make their own decisions with money, and the only time it was actually cool to want to read (the coolest of the cool kids only bought erasers and stickers to trade among each other). Entering the loud gym where the sale was housed always felt like a rush—and when it was finally your turn, you felt like royalty.
Colorful chapter books lined the metal bookshelves like a candy store, and I had five dollars in my tiny pockets to burn. There was so much to choose from in the early 2000s—A Series of Unfortunate Events was a smash hit, Bunnicula was the underground niche pick, and you could never go wrong with the creepy Animorphs series. But for me, the second I saw the oozing font and dead-eyed dummy staring back at me on the cover, I knew I had to have Night of the Living Dummy topping the massive Goosebumps display. I handed the nice cashier five dollars (who also asked, “Are you sure?” when she noticed my selection), took a sparkly bookmark on my way out, and proudly ventured home. I was on top of the world, only to be quickly dragged down once I began reading about the doll’s evil antics later that night. Slappy would haunt my nightmares for weeks—to the point where I hid the book in my basement and locked the door behind me.
One of the quintessential faces of the Goosebumps series, Slappy the Dummy first debuted in 1993 and immediately skyrocketed to fame. R. L. Stine would write nine different Goosebumps books centering the character and created an entirely separate Slappy series called Goosebumps SlappyWorld. Slappy was the main antagonist of the 2015 live-action movie starring Jack Black as well as its 2018 sequel, got made into actual ventriloquist dolls (perfect to add to your Chucky, Tiffany, and Annabelle collections), and became a Young Adult horror icon.
Like the killer dolls listed above, Slappy would come alive in a very similar way. If one mutters the phrase Karru Marri Odonna Loma Molonu Karrano, which translates to you and I are one now, it’s all over. Slappy will then do everything in his power to make you his servant, framing you for his crimes and pushing you away from the people you love and care about. Sound familiar?
But Stine’s influences for the undead dummy are somewhat surprising. You’d think the main one was Chucky, arguably the most famous killer doll first appearing in 1988, but Stine hasn’t cited the little menace.
The main inspirations for Slappy were the 1883 classic book The Adventures of Pinocchio and the 1978 psychological horror film Magic starring Anthony Hopkins. (In the Goosebumps TV series, Slappy would even don a voice that sounds the same as Fats, the dummy from Magic originally voiced by Hopkins. And as a Buffy the Vampire Slayer mega-fan, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Sid, the cursed puppet who looks eerily similar to Slappy, from season one.) There’s a callback to Chucky’s famous “Wanny play?” catchphrase in the Goosebumps TV show, which feels more like an easter egg than an influence. Regardless of where the idea for Slappy came from, Stine successfully created a horror figure for kids that would allow them to explore further into the horror genre—I would know, I was one of them. If it weren’t for Slappy or the Goosebumps franchise, would I have been comfortable seeking out more mature, intense horror flicks to discover Ghostface, Michael, or Freddy? Probably not—we all had to start somewhere.
We don’t all decide to turn on the TV and begin with Puppet Master, Child’s Play, or Dead Silence. Some of us start small and end up locking our books in the cold, dusty basement out of extreme fear (and throw their American Girl doll down there for good measure. Their eyes literally open and close). We build resilience like we do anything else—muscle, relationships, knowledge. And sometimes it takes a well-dressed dapper dummy to illustrate that.
The next book fair came around, and I ignored the Goosebumps table during my initial walkthrough. My eyes kept darting to the green and purple setup, too curious to look away. Was Slappy’s second book there? Did I actually want to know what was going to happen to him next?
I reluctantly walked over and picked up Night of the Living Dummy II. The cover was somehow scarier than the first, deceivingly pink with Slappy’s same dead eyes. I smiled, handed the same nice cashier my five-dollar bill feeling overly victorious, and rushed home to do my math homework so I could hide under the covers and finish Slappy’s latest adventure all in one night.