So you may have heard that Disney has released a new movie called Frozen. And if you’ve heard of Frozen, you probably know about this little fucker:
Frozen got generally good reviews, but this thing, this horrid hybrid of an ice goblin and Plug from The Beano (okay, his name is Olaf) probably made a lot of adults wary about the movie. From the trailers where he romped about being annoyingly cute, he seemed a terrible comic relief character in the vein of Jonathan from Hotel Transylvania, or a terrible “cute” character in the vein of, well, the Snowdog in The Snowman and the Snowdog.
A shame really, because I have a strange soft spot for living snowmen. Maybe it’s their mystery – how can they be alive without organs – or their tragedy – they don’t have long to live before they turn into a puddle, and don’t even get them started on the colour yellow. Frosty and The Snowman’s snowman have their charm, but I have a special affection for evil snowmen. Cute, cuddly Christmas icons being maniacal killers. We’ve had a lot of evil Santa Claus movies so it makes sense that we should have a lot of evil snowman movies, and here are four of the best of the cold-hearted – yeah, I hate me sometimes too – killers.
The Snowmen of Doctor Who
When the first shot of your Christmas special is a snowflake with fangs, there’s nowhere to go but up.
Just look at them bad boys. They’re definitely some of the best-designed evil snowmen in fiction, and this is the same show that recently featured giant orange turds covered with suction cups as villains. Their hollow, beady eyes and their wide grins remind one of great white sharks or even a dullahan.
That said, they are still living fanged snowman, and since they can be melted with a thought, it’s hard to take them seriously, but that’s the beauty of them. The Doctor in this episode says ‘What’s wrong with silly’ and let’s face it, Doctor Who is best when it’s silly. There’s a reason why one of the best episodes is called “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”. The Snowmen’s episode featured the beginning of an arc where the Doctor tried to discover the mysteries of his latest companion, but it also featured some lovely comic relief revolving around a Sontaran sidekick, and features a delightfully twisted scene where a group of people are fed to the snowmen.
The Snowmen hail from Victorian England, where they are created from snow with psychic problems. While this means they can be melted just by thinking of melting, it also means a horrifying ice witch can be created through children’s nightmares.
Arktos from Tabaluga
Talking about silly snowmen, we have this guy from the German franchise Tabaluga. Several cartoons have featured evil snowmen, but it’s a rare thing when a snowman is the main villain. They’re usually henchmen or a one-off, they’re rarely ever the big kahuna, and let’s face it, Arktos is probably the reason why that is.
Arktos ruled over the frozen kingdom of Iceland, and used his penguin and polar bear subjects to cover the summery Greenland, populated solely by cute little woodland creatures, in ice and snow. He seemed to fancy himself the snowman equivalent of Hitler, but he was as successful at being a threatening villain as Hitler was successful at being an artist. His arch-enemy, the titular Tabaluga, was a fire-breathing dragon. Not just any dragon either, the last of his kind, the one the other animals of Greenland saw as their saviour. I’m not going to be scared of a villain who is outclassed by his enemy to that degree. It’s like having King Neptune fight the Wicked Witch of the West, or Mario’s Angry Sun against Nosferatu, or Superman against…well, about 90% of his rogue’s gallery.
Still, I can’t bring myself to hate Arktos. He’s one of those villains who isn’t entertaining because he’s a good villain, but he’s entertaining because he’s so bad at being bad, giving him a sort of Silver Age comic villain appeal. He was as loveable a loser as Killer Moth and Crazy Quilt, his ridiculousness heightened by the fact he was pretty much fighting against Jesus.
Seriously, how can you hate a guy who steals the fucking sun?
The Snowman from Courage the Cowardly Dog
Courage the Cowardly Dog was one of Cartoon Network’s stronger shows, boasting a smooth, picturesque animation style and a good variety of creepy-crawlies and ghouls to terrify the titular pooch. We had two flesh-eating, drooling zombies posing as film directors, an evil anthropomorphic cat who took cues from Norman Bates, and a walking talking snowman that appeared in two episodes of the show. Like Arktos up there, he wanted to blanket a land in ice and snow – turning Courage’s hometown of “Nowhere” into “The West Pole” – but he had fairly more sympathetic motivations for doing so.
According to him, snowmen used to be the dominant species of the planet until all of them but him were killed by the weather getting warmer. In order to ensure his survival, he captures Courage’s owners and tries to extract their…oh god oh god oh what the fuck is this…”anti-melting gene”. Yes, a magical green goo that stops people from melting. And how did he try to do it? By putting taps on their heads. Okay, so maybe Tabaluga didn’t totally outclass Arktos after all; all Arktos had to do was plunge a tap on Taba’s noggin and just wait for some hot weather. It would have made an awesome final episode; Arktos reigning supreme while the former Messiah is reduced to a mere puddle.
Sadly, Snowman never got his gene. When he extracted it from Courage’s owner Eustace, he dropped it when Courage bumped into him. Shame, would have liked to see what would have happened if he got the gene himself. He probably would have glowed and grown muscles He-Man style I wager.
Anyway, this snowman is another character I love due to how insane he is. His voice is made to sound like Sean Connery’s, for fuck sake. Why? I guess so he could call his freeze ray in the second episode “Coldfinger”, but still, anyone who sounds like the Conn-man – wait, that didn’t come out right – demands respect. Even putting the Bondiness of his voice aside, every syllable he spoke seemed to demand power. He even sounded dignified when letting loose a big Darth Vader ‘Noooo’ when losing his gene.
Jack Frost (the horror one)
You can keep your Michael Keaton, this guy’s the OG. Okay, Arktos predates him by about a decade, but Jack up there is the yardstick by which all other evil snowmen are measured. He doesn’t have a freeze ray or psychic powers or penguin minions, but what he lacks in dominance, he makes up for in cheese. And Jack Frost the horror movie has such glorious, glorious cheese. Jack may be a lame ripoff of Freddy Krueger, but he’s a wonderful lame ripoff of Freddy Krueger.
A serial killer called, what else, Jack Frost is being taken to be executed, then lives through every supervillain origin story ever when a truck containing scientific and genetic shit crashes into the prison truck, fusing him with the snow and turning him into an evil snowman. The movie is just him going about killing people and making wisecracks relating to those murders all the way. He puts an axe in someone’s back? ‘I only axed you for a smoke!’ He attacks someone with an icicle? ‘I have a point I’d like to make!’ He rapes a chick with his carrot nose? ‘Looks like – no, you read that right. He rapes a chick. With. His. Nose. It’s to this movie what the bomb-riding scene was to Dr. Strangelove.
Like Doctor Who, Jack Frost embraces the silliness of its premise, and thus we have scenes like the townspeople attacking Jack with hairdryers and Jack quoting a line from freaking Toy Story. And that’s why I love Jack so much. He takes everything I love about bad horror movies and wears it like the scarf around his neck. The only bad thing I can think of are the little snowballs he creates in the sequel. They’re a horrible cross between the Gremlins and Despicable Me’s minions.
With the drive and energy of Courage’s Snowman, the fangs and wonderful silliness of Doctor Who’s snowmen, and the campy evil of Arktos, Jack Frost is the ultimate in snow-made malevolence. Though I’d rather hang around him than that bloody Olaf, that’s for sure.