As we in the Northeast bundle ourselves up for tons of snow (i.e. SNOWMAGEDDON ’13), my mind begins to wander towards my favorite snow-capped movies. I’m not talking about warm, fuzzy White Christmas-style family flics, but creepy, scary or black-comedies that use snow as a means to create surreal, other-worldly settings.
Here’s some of my top pics:
Die Hard 2
Almost as good as the original, Die Hard 2 follows the formula of the first nearly to a tee, but moves the setting to a snow-bound airport in DC, during (of course) Christmas. The snowy setting opens up such wonderful scenes like a shoot-out onboard snowmobiles, and the ol’ icicle-in-the-eye trick.
“You betcha!” The blackest of comedies from the Coen Brothers is knee-deep in snow from start to finish. Both hilarious & dismal, the frozen landscape of Fargo is bleak and unforgiving, and is used to best effect when the woodchipper makes its cameo at the end.
Zombie Nazis. In the snow. ’nuff said.
Tim Burton’s Batman movies remain my favorite: they’re more fun, whimsical and surreal that Christopher Nolan’s overly-serious versions, but aren’t the ludicrous comic-book fare of Joel Schumacher; Batman Begins is a creepy, frosty Batman treat.
Another black comedy, Groundhog’s Day is, like Fargo, both hilarious and bleak: only Bill Murray can be both of those things at once.
Kubrik’s horror masterpiece uses its snowy setting to trap its characters in The Overook hotel, and allow the crazy to take effect.
The Empire Strikes Back
Hands-down the best of all Star Wars installments, Empire Strikes Back is a moody, bleak adventure featuring crazy snow-beasts, AT-AT’s (I’ve still got one in my house), Hooded Storm-troopers that look like they got wardrobe advice from Cobra Commander, and of course the ultimate “I am your father” reveal outside of Jerry Springer.
One of the best remakes ever, and an absolute visual feast from John Carpenter (and amazing creature effects from Rob Botin & Stan Winston), The Thing is frozen to its core, and is one of the creepiest, most claustrophobic movies ever made. The Antarctic setting is used to great effect by cinematographer Dean Cundy, creating a surreal, monochromatic landscape that reflects the eerie blue lighting of the research camp our heroes are trapped in, and of course, like many of the other entries here, becomes a blank canvas for much blood-letting.