FEBRUARY 23, 2016
I rented Iced when I was 14 years old, and I'm pretty sure it was the first movie I ever hated. I had seen some movies I didn't care for as much (even then I knew The New Blood was a lesser Friday entry), but this one actually made me angry, partly because as a budding skier I was so excited about a ski-based slasher movie. I had visions of a chase where the victim couldn't run because they were in those awful (leg-saving) ski boots, and then fumed that the movie never bothered to have anything like that. Why was I coming up with better ideas than this "real movie" that I had rented? I was still in 8th grade for Christ's sake!
Watching again now*, my opinion didn't change. I mostly wondered how I even managed to get through it in 1994, coming to the conclusion that since I rented it with my own money (and probably didn't have anything else new to watch) I was hellbent on seeing it through to its conclusion. To be fair, the last 10 minutes are the only interesting scenes in the entire movie, as we get the "twist" reveal that slightly apes My Bloody Valentine's switcheroo (far less successful) and one of the most ludicrous final jumps in slasher history. They're not GOOD, mind you, but there's a slight whiff of batshit craziness that, had the movie offered all along (or at least before the point any sane person would have given up hope on the movie), it would probably be better received today. In fact, I suspect the only reason the movie has two defenders (that I know of, are you a third?) is because their memories are formed by the final moments, not the interminable 80 minutes that precede them.
What's incredible is how it can't even get the basics right. It's one of those slashers where someone dies accidentally in the opening scene and x number of years later (four here, I believe) the prankers are all punished for their crime by being offed one by one, but the guy who dies (OR DID HE?) went off by himself and got himself killed while skiing. None of the others were there and most of them didn't even know he was going out there, so there's really no sense of justification that a Terror Train or Prom Night offers you - their hands are clean! The twist makes a little more sense out of it (albeit in a clumsy and ridiculous way), but if we're using My Bloody Valentine as a comparison - Harry Warden had a beef with the general idea of Valentine's Day, so if there was no twist and it was Harry all along, that'd be fine, and he didn't need any reason to specifically target these "kids". Here, it's presented as the dead guy coming back to off them all for his accident (he even has broken ski glasses for POV shots), so you spend the whole movie thinking that the killer is an emo crybaby instead of a formidable antagonist. The reveal that it's not him but his friend doesn't help - it's STILL blaming a bunch of folks who were inside and didn't really care one way or another about the guy.
But even if all that stuff was airtight, the movie would still be a chore to sit through, as he only kills one of the group in the first hour or so, and then wipes out four more in a span of like five minutes. Until then, we watch these mostly terrible actors go through the reunion motions, making the film as much of a half-assed Big Chill ripoff as a half-assed slasher. We hear about old dates at the drive-in, work issues, enough romantic hangups for like three movies, etc. To be fair, this DOES give the characters some more dimension than slasher victims are usually afforded, but when the dialogue and acting is this bad you want them to just spare themselves the embarrassment and simply move on to getting themselves killed. Indeed, there's even a bit where one guy is talking about an old drive-in date at some monster movie, saying it's the sort of horror movie no one cares about unless someone is naked or dying, and I had to laugh at the lack of self-awareness. Unless it was intentionally mocking itself, but if so - was it really worth making such a bad movie just to make a joke about how it's a bad movie? I can't imagine a scenario where that would make sense.
The editor does the movie no favors, either. There's a scene early on with Debra De Liso (one of two Slumber Party Massacre vets; the other one has a smaller role and also wrote this stupid thing), her husband, and their single friend driving up to the ski lodge, and it's almost like they went out of their way to ensure no audience member could possibly believe that the single girl in the backseat was ever in the car at the same time as the others. No master shot of them all, completely different lighting on her in the back than the two in the front... even the audio changes a bit, as if she was added to the scene months later. One guy has either fantasies or premonitions of the girl he wants (she's not interested) having sex with others, and later on he apparently rapes her but it's unclear if this is just another of his fantasies (she doesn't seem too bothered by it if it happened, as the next time we see her she's freely disrobing and taking a nice hot sauna bath. And then gets killed). The killer seemingly teleports during a crucial moment in the climax, and none of the kills are worth a damn - the most inspired is an icicle (this is pre-Die Hard 2, remember) but they do one of those ironic cutaways to someone tossing an ice cube into a glass just before the money shot.
There's also a curious lack of skiing. The minimal footage we do see is pretty bad (the skiers seem to be going about 2 mph when we see close-ups of their feet "racing" by), but once they arrive they pretty much just stay inside the lodge and yammer on and on. The one death in the first hour is of the obligatory guy who gets killed along the way so that the others can wonder where he is (and also, when strange things start happening, assume he's the one behind them), and after that there's barely even an OPPORTUNITY for a kill scene since they're all hellbent on sticking together. Sometimes the girls go off together and leave the guys elsewhere, and I think there's one scene of a couple in their room as they unpack, but otherwise they're all accounted for and obnoxiously huddled together. Split up, dammit! I want to see you all get killed!
Nothing else works, either. The music has a vague Manfredini-esque quality to it during the climactic "chase" but like the killing itself, it's too little, too late. Otherwise it often sounds like what a bad comedy might play on the soundtrack to introduce a Chinese restaurant scene. Gore is minimal (I couldn't find the trailer so the clip below is of all the kills in their entirety if you don't believe me), and they even manage to screw up the cool "broken glasses" POV by showing the glasses totally intact when we see the killer in full view. The only reason I'm not listing this thing as "crap" is because it's worth seeing for how to NOT go about making your slasher movie, seeing as it gets just about everything totally wrong (beyond the basic concept, which is fine). It's a shame that on paper, the idea of reteaming some Slumber vets in a whodunit slasher (and given a rather novel location, to boot) would seem to produce slasher gold, but Iced is so dull and shoddy that it doesn't even qualify as "so bad it's good" entertainment. 14 year-old me may have been wrong on a couple of things (that was the same year I first saw, and thoroughly disliked, Halloween III) but he was dead on with this one, and I apologize to my younger self for the bit of doubt I extended by giving it another chance.
What say you?
P.S. I was partially inspired to watch again because I took a few shots at the movie over the years and again in Horror Movie A Day: The Book, so I kinda figured I owed it to myself and you guys to actually have a review up, same as I did for (fellow punching bag) Dark Ride in the early days. If I come across any others like that maybe I'll give them a look - should I give Shredder another try?
*On Youtube, which is technically a bootleg, but as I've explained before - when a movie has never come to DVD (let alone Blu-ray) and can only be seen by buying a used VHS tape, my money's not going to the filmmakers anyway (unless the filmmaker happens to be VHSCollector23 or whoever is selling it on ebay), so Youtube views are, I think, acceptable. There is literally no way to purchase the movie through a channel that would provide income for the film's makers or distributors, so it's either Youtube or lining the pockets of some guy who wants 70 bucks for it (seriously). If whoever owns Iced ever gets off their ass and releases it on a new format, I'll buy a copy to make up for it, promise. Then I'll throw it away, also promise.