Summer has struck with a vengeance here in Los Angeles and temperatures seem to be rising all across the country. It’s hard to concentrate on anything when you’ve got sweat pouring off your body like Niagara Falls. But the brain is a powerful thing, and if you think cold thoughts, sometimes you can trick yourself into feeling colder. Or something. I don’t know, the heat has gotten to my brain. Addled it even. Fortunately, we have a solution for you. Here now are seven movies to watch that should hopefully lower your mental temperature to absolute zero.
1) Snowpiercer (2014)
Ahh, now this is where it’s at. A whole world completely taken over by snow. Even when the sun’s out, it’s beyond frigid and since the bulk of the world is covered in snow, you wouldn’t have to shovel the driveway, or go to to work, or, like, see anyone else at all. Sure, it probably wouldn’t be all that fun to live on a train, especially if you lived in the back with all the plebs who have to eat gross gelatinous cubes and never get clean, but it’s probably pretty cold out there. Let’s say it’s cozy in the train. Cozy. Yeah, that’s the nice way to say it. But maybe if there’s an uprising, you could make it to the front of the train where you can eat some food that wasn’t made out of gross things. Let’s all just be lucky Chris Evans is the one who has to worry about that stuff and not us, and we can just sit and enjoy the picture and the cold, cold setting of Snowpiercer.
2) Alive (1993)
The true story of the Uruguayan rugby team whose plane crashed in the Andes Mountains in 1972, stranding them with no supplies far from civilization. Their story is a harrowing one, made even harrowinger — more harrowing — by the fact that, because they were on top of a freezing cold mountain, they had no other means of survival aside from resorting to cannibalism. That’s right, they ate each other. Of the 45 people aboard the plane, only 16 survived, so they had plenty of meat to choose from. Nothing quite like having to watch your friends freeze to death, but also to then have to eat them in order to keep yourself from freezing to death. Nothing like that at all actually. Gross. And sad. Why did I bring up this movie?
3) The Thing (1982)
Along the same lines, but with less cannibalism and more alienism, John Carpenter’s remake of the classic Howard Hawks-produced film is a visceral work of art. It tells the story of a small group of American scientists in an outpost in Antarctica who find an alien creature that can assimilate and mimic anything with which it comes in contact. If such a creature gets out to a populated area, then the entire planet will be taken over in a matter of days. The movie has a brilliant paranoia about it as no one is ever sure who among them might be the Thing, and moving the setting from the Arctic in the original to the far more remote Antarctica adds an extra level of isolation. To make the film seem all the more authentic, for the studio scenes, Carpenter had the temperature inside turned low enough to see the actors’ breath. Brrrr.
4) Frozen (2010)
No, not the Disney movie, because nothing makes you feel less cold than having to listen to “Let It Go” for the billionth time. This is a horror movie, but the real horror is stupidity. Through bribery, three friends get on a chairlift at a ski resort near closing time and through both pomp and circumstance, they end up getting stuck on the lift quite high up in the air. What follows is a series of “Worst Case Scenarios” as the trio have to decide whether to try to get off the lift or die of exposure. It doesn’t seem to take long before they develop frost-bitten faces and stuff. The moral of this story is “Always make sure someone knows you’re on a chairlift.” Or, probably more accurately, “Don’t be a dumbass.”
5) The Gold Rush (1925)
Who says freezing to death can’t be funny? Charlie Chaplin’s classic depicts one of the most desolate and unforgiving Arctic landscapes ever committed to celluloid. The Tramp decides to try his hand at panning for gold and spends most of it getting pushed around by the freezing wind and being holed up in a shack with swarthy, unsavory characters. He also has to eat his shoe. Not as bad as eating a rugby team, but still pretty bad. Chaplin’s just so charming in it, as always, and the set pieces are so memorable. This film includes the famous “roll dance” where Charlie has a roll on two different forks and makes them do a dance. It’s pretty frigging adorable, you guys.
6) The Shining (1980)
Didn’t stay long in happy town, cuz now we’re back to unrelenting despair. Charged with being the caretaker of a remote mountain hotel during the winter, Jack Nicholson goes mad from a mixture of isolation, supernatural forces, and having to listen to Shelley Duvall’s shrill yammering day in and day out. I think we’d all try to kill someone with an ax in this case. As the film draws nearer and nearer to its inevitable conclusion, the weather becomes more and more inclement at the Overlook Hotel and eventually they’re all but snowed in. The most famous scene of coldness in this is when Jack chases his creepy clairvoyant son, Danny, through a hedge maze, eventually freezing to death while making a silly face. Mom always told you it’d stick like that.
7) Sunshine (2007)
Nothing colder than having no sun at all, is there? The correct answer is “No, Kyle. No there is not.” Danny Boyle’s sci-fi allegory tells the story of a group of astronauts charged with reigniting a dying sun 50 years in the future. All sorts of bad stuff happens when they get up there and it gets pretty hot, but back on Earth, everything is stuck in a “Solar Winter,” which incidentally is the name of my Death Metal-meets-KC & the Sunshine Band band. The term “solar winter” also always makes me think of the song “Oh! Susanna,” which contains the lyric, “The sun’s so hot/I froze to death,” which I always thought was just nonsense, but maybe they actually foretold the end of the sun all the way back in 1848. Or maybe not. I don’t know, I’m delusional.
And if you’re still feeling hot after these seven movies, then maybe go ice skating or something.
What are some of your favorite icy coldy movies? Let me know in the comments below!
Kyle Anderson is the weekend editor and a film and TV critic for Nerdist.com. He longs for you to bother him on Twitter!