Iced 1988 Review
Blizzard of Blood 1988
Directed by: Jeff Kwitny
Starring: Joseph Alan Johnson, Lisa Loring, Deborah Deliso
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
I used to work with a guy who thought himself a bit of a lad. He wore designer clothes to work (and probably to bed), slick hairstyle, drove a BMW, had the latest gadgets, bit of a bully, girlfriend with fake boobs – you know the kind. Anyway, i thought he was shallow and the complete opposite to me (I don’t even bother to comb my hair some days) but despite the fact we were complete opposites, we got on quite well.
We did have one thing in common though; both of us were massive fans of cinema. We often compared lists of flicks and spent time discussing Tarantino et al. Just like me, he had tonnes of DVDs and I introduced him to Amazon’s budget discs at good prices. I never really talked slashers with him as he didn’t come across as someone that’d know what one was, however he did mention that he had a soft spot for the rubbish eighties flick, No Retreat No Surrender. So much so that he bought a cinema print of it for a whole heap of cash.
In case you haven’t seen it, this is a very corny eighties film with a laughable synopsis and it boasts probably Van Damme’s worst performance, which is definitely saying something. Anyway, my point is, even people who act like they’re hard usually have a cheesy secret at home on VHS in the cupboard that they break out when alone – almost like a comfort blanket. It’s not only geeks like me. How many of us have the cojones to openly admit to them though?
Now you could say that I have got more than one, because I actually gave Graduation Day a good review and that’s definitely not something that’ll give me much street credibility. But the real embarrassment in my collection, the one I watch when no one can see and when I’m feeling pretty down and it perks me up every time is this little cheeseball.
Iced is a film so bad that it could be broadcast to life forms in galaxies far away so that they think humans are too dumb to bother with and don’t invade. Now don’t get me wrong, you can find worse lying around (Night Divides the Day oh and Carnage Road – the movie equivalent of being in a concrete cell for a week), but Iced just has a special charm for me. Maybe it’s that it was meant to be actually quite scary and mysterious? Or maybe it’s the killer’s awesome disguise? I am not sure, but I have seen Iced probably much more than many in my collection and for all the wrong reasons.
This is not the only snow bound slasher available on the market, but it’s the one that makes the most of its icy surroundings (death by icicle – ooh yeah!). Six acquaintances are mysteriously invited to a mountainous snow bound resort for a weekend break. It’s the first time that they’ve been skiing since the death of a former friend five years earlier. Jeff died after he had sworn vengeance on Cory for stealing the woman he had eyes for, Trina. Even before they all arrive, a psycho sporting the snowsuit and ski mask that the deceased was wearing when he was killed has made an extra room available by splashing one of the invitees across the motorway with a snow plough. So it looks like Jeff is back from the grave to get revenge…
If you are thinking that the plot is as hackneyed as they come, then you are completely right and it’s perhaps one of the reasons that I like this so much. Iced never even tries to be anything other than complete slasher trash. Whereas many of the latter genre entries were attempting to spice up things in an attempt to win new audiences, Kwitny’s opus studies the slasher text book and ticks off all ingredients one by one. Masked Killer: Check. POV shots: Check. Dumb victims: Check. Yes, it’s all here and even if there’s a small tad of self-recognition, mostly this plays things straight and remains content to swim in the shallow depths of the stalk and slash formula.
Funnily enough, the story was written by Joseph Alan Johnson, a name that you may recognise as he was a member of the cast for two other cheesy entries namely: Berserker: The Nordic Cursefrom 1986 and also Slumber Party Massacre from 1982. He played a small part here and was not the only one who had a bit of a history in cinema. He was sharing the stage (or slopes) with Debra Deliso (also from Slumber Party Massacre) and Lisa Loring who was lucky enough to get her break at a very early age. She played Wednesday in the original Addam’s family series and despite a few TV roles after, her career certainly stalled in the years that followed. 1987 saw her comeback with parts in Savage Harbour and the gooey slasher, Blood Frenzy and then she hit the peak of her return with this. She married adult star Jerry Butler the same year and her next screen offering was in porn film Layin’ Down the Law in a non-sex role (well that’s what it says here). It probably wasn’t the career resurgence that she initially intended, to be fair.
You’ve more chance of discovering the corpse of Thomas Desimone than you have of finding any even slightly polished dramatics here and the characters are all clichés. I did however really like Carl, the sleazy coke-head, who spent most of the runtime walking around naked or sniffing lines in the bathroom. During his haze of cocaine, cheese and snow, he cracks on to Lisa Loring’s character with the awesome line, ‘I would love to make the blood pump in your veins again!” – That has to be amongst the best and most direct chat up hooks that I have ever heard. Oh and did I mention that he has one of those tiny pig-style ponytails? How could you not love the guy? Whilst everyone walked around in a mullet, he went for the bad in any decade rat’s tail look. What a tool.
There are enough plot holes throughout the runtime to soak up the rivers from the recent Thailand floods. We get a small touch of the supernatural when a character that was just murdered calls up to say that he’s ‘…with Jeff now’ but it never really goes anywhere. It’s also amusing that during the five years that’s supposed to have passed since the opening, none of the charter’s appearances have changed and they don’t seem to have aged at all. The first victim’s car conveniently breaks down where the killer has a snowplough parked so that he can rearrange his body parts and these guys must all be stone deaf, because they never hear the dying screams of their buddies as they’re mutilated only a few yards away.
Aside from suffering from hearing difficulties, Trina is also particularly dumb. She wakes up to find her husband lying in the kitchen with a knife sticking out of his chest and after the obligatory fumble for the keys to a car that won’t start, she eventually decides to use the telephone. Instead of ringing the local law enforcement or a paramedic for her partner who is by now probably bleeding to death, she calls Alex the resort manager whom they shared dinner with the night before. Sometime later when the killer is finally unmasked after a pretty pacey showdown, his motives are thinner than Lisa Loring’s ‘comeback’ career. And just as baffling!
It’s not all campiness though and Kwitny does manage at least one jolt. There’s an ok-ish chase sequence towards the climax too, which adds some suspense. Dan Milner’s excellent score, which was obviously ripped off from a certain Harry Manfredini, helps to build the tension and probably was a better than what this picture deserved. It’s a shame that the production crew didn’t make use of the local set locations that were brimming with potential. You’d think that they could have staged a few remarkable set pieces and made good use of the snow coated mountains, but instead they decided to kill off everyone in and around the cabin. With that said, the murder scenes are fairly unique and I’m sure that the reason that they filmed everything indoors was because of budget and not a lack of creativity.
If you are one of those that’s riding the eighties revival and your favourite song is still ‘It’s the final countdown‘, then Iced will rock your world. It was released in the years when slasher directors no longer had gore to rely on to hide their lack of talent, so instead they used lame nudity and – mostly unintentional – humour.
I am sure that this will not be the last time I reach for this decrepit VHS when I need a slasher fix. I’ll have to put up with bad tracking though, because there’s still no sign of a release date on DVD. Perhaps people nowadays prefer the infinitely better Shredder from 2001? Either way, I like this cheesy slasher and recommend it wholeheartedly to those who love their campy eighties movies.
Final Girl √√