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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Movies For A Polar Vortex

Posted By on Tue, Jan 7, 2014 at 2:33 AM

Oh, the weather outside is frightful. But Netflix and Amazon Prime streaming is so delightful. Trapped inside as the cold winter winds whistle by your window? Why not watch some movies where well-coiffed Hollywood stars are nearly as cold as you are... and in a lot worse circumstances.

After all, doesn't it warm your the cockles of your heart to see beautiful rich people suffer?

Here's a list of frigid flicks, where things look a whole lot worse than a snowy commute down I-94.

John Carpenter's THE THING

Let's face it, it may be colder than Antarctica's McMurdo Station right now but it'd suck a whole lot worse if a severed head sprouted spider legs and scurried under your couch.

INSOMNIA

Christopher Nolan's first big studio film is set in the small fishing town of Nightmute, Alaska, where the sun almost never sets. The 2002 movie featured a guilt-ridden Al Pacino stalking a serial killer played by Robin Williams.

Or you can watch the 1997 Norwegian original, which starred Stellan Skarsgård and is a whole lot moodier and Norwegian-y (ie. better).

30 DAYS OF NIGHT

Conversely, you could indulge in this 2007 horror, where a month of perpetual darkness brings a clan of vampires down on a frozen town filled with terrified Alaskans and Josh Hartnett.

THE GREY

It's Alaskan. Your plane crashes. It's friggin cold. Maybe not Polar Vortex cold but pretty damn close. "Ha!" you say. Not so fast you smug Michigander, you. Did I mention that you're being hunted down by a pack of man-eating wolves? Not so cocky now, are you? Especially since Liam Neeson isn't around to save your ass.

ICE STATION ZEBRA

Remember the Cold War? Sure, you do. Well, this Arctic-bound suspense-thriller literalizes the term.  Based on an Alistair MacLean action novel (he also wrote the screenplay) it stars a veritable Who's Who of late 60s stars, including  Rock Hudson, Patrick McGoohan, Ernest Borgnine, and Jim Brown. John Sturges, who directed such classics as The Great Escape and The Magnificent Seven, helms.

FARGO

A little blood. A little quirk. Some awesomely broad accents. The Coen Brothers' black comic crime masterpiece brings home the frosty goods, as pregnant police-woman Marge Gunderson attempts to solve a muder that leads to a kidnapping that leads to more murders, dontcha know. And if you think your fingers ache now, imagine them going through a chilly wood chipper.

ALIVE

An airplane full of soccer players. A tragic mountain-top crash. Cannibalism. It's all true! At least Metro Detroit hasn't been forced to resort to that... yet. And, no, despite your wishes otherwise, they don't eat Ethan Hawke. He's the star for goshsakes.

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN

A snowy Swedish vampire flick begat a snowy American vampire flick (LET ME IN) begat a stage production in London's West End. I can attest that thefirst two are pretty terrific... and word is, the theatrical play is too. What happens when an alienated and bullied tween meets an eternally tween-age vampire in a landscape that's as cold and bleak as the undead's soul? Horror and heartbreak, the perfect emotions for a community fretting over Snow-mageddon.

THE SHINING

"Wendy? Darling? Light, of my life. I'm not gonna hurt ya. You didn't let me finish my sentence. I said, I'm not gonna hurt ya. I'm just going to bash your brains in."

That's what happens to folks who let cabin fever get the best of them. Think of Stanley Kubrick's horror masterpiece as a cautionary tale of what happens when you stay inside with the kids for days on end. Get outside - even for just a few minutes. Find other adults to talk to and avoid snow-covered hedge mazes.

A SIMPLE PLAN

Okay, other than cold-ass weather the big story lately has been about the mega-huge multi-state lotteries. Well, Sam Raimi's pre-Spiderman thriller shows just what happens when you mix a sudden windfall of money with folks desperate to escape their snowbound, workingclasss existence. This movie was made back when Billy Bob Thornton gave a shit about being an actor, Bill Paxton was a thing and Bridget Fonda was a stone cold <fill in the blank>.

HAPPY FEET

This one is for the kiddies. Though it may induce certain negative reactions in the parental units (see The Shining above), it is set in the Antarctic and features a toe-tapping penguin in a huddle of tuxedo'ed avian singers. The show-stopping "Somebody To Love" (Queen) is pretty great and Robin Williams does triple duty in voice-over department.

Of course, if none of these suggestions appeal to you, you can always watch episodes of Game Of Thrones and fast forward to scenes set along The Wall... or throw on a The Empire Strikes Back DVD and enjoy the chill of Hoth, where only the opened belly of a recently slaughtered Tauntaun can keep you alive.

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