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Five chiller movies to watch during the Olympics

A yeti sits seeming to warm itself over a camp fire.
A yeti sits seeming to warm itself over a camp fire.
Wikimedia Commons

Are you not a winter sports fan? Or maybe you are but just need an occasional break between games of the two week long Sochi Olympics? Whether your case is the former or the latter, you may want to consider the following list of five arctic chillers for watching either as a break or an escape from, and therefore an alternative to, the Winter Olympics. Yours truly organized this list of movies from the least scary as well as least winter sports-related to the most of these two categories. But all have either winter or arctic settings of some sort. Most are low-budgets, but all of these films can either bring warm hearted laughs, icy shivers or maybe even both!

The Snow Creature”, 1954: A British photo journalist and an American botanical scientist search for plant species in the Himalayas, only to encounter a yeti. They capture and transport the creature back to the U.S. As with most sci fi horror movies this kind, the monster escapes upon arrival. The suspense in this movie is okay, but much of it would be considered politically incorrect by today’s standards. The monster seems to kill more women and native Himalayans than white men, and the journalist and scientist have imperialist and racist attitudes with the natives. The only thing that saves this movie from going absolutely bad is the Himalayan man who serves as guide on the expedition: he’s gutsy and sly and even though he is in the role of a backstabbing criminal he uses these two traits against the two westerners in defense of his people’s cultural beliefs. Also the monster’s face always being shadowed out gives away the low budget status of the film, even though this technique does add some mystery to the legendary creature.

The Thing from Another World”, 1951: A classic Arctic chiller. A science expedition discovers a monstrous alien frozen in ice. The ice melts and you can guess the rest. Although this is very similar to the way the monster in the above movie escapes, this movie is made much better especially with its special effects for its time and with better cinematography. It spawned (the movie that is, not the monster!) two remakes: John Carpenter’s in 1982 and Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.’s in 2011, neither of which does it justice. The first remake was not much more than gore exploitation and the second was almost nothing more than a remake of the remake!

The Capture of Bigfoot” (a.k.a. “The Legend of Bigfoot”), 1979: In this one, Bigfoot is really a yeti (referred to as an “Arak” by a local Native American)—he has all white fur and lives in an icy environment, somewhere in the Northern U.S. though we’re never really told (we just assume). This movie has what most of its type has: conflict between an animal rights type advocating for the monster and a rivaling “big” business man who wants to take the monster under captivity to capitalize off of it. “The Capture” comes in as number three on this list because of its ski resort sequence. However, this sequence didn’t really need to be included since it doesn’t do much for the plot. It was most likely put in as an excuse to include a disco concert scene to meet the late ‘70s movie paradigm which would’ve been hard to do in the small mountain town that most of the story takes place in. But the movie still has plenty of suspense and frightful surprises.

The Beast from Haunted Cave”, 1959: A ski instructor becomes the victim of a gold heist of which the gangsters disturb the monster that lives in a nearby cave. Contrary to the impression that the movie’s title and arctic setting give, the beast is not a yeti-like creature but a spidery, Cthulhu-like one. This movie has its share of creepiness but improbable character relations, such as the instructor’s overweight maid who falls in love with one of the gangsters without apparent cause. But it’s very exemplary of 1950s drive-in b-rated classics.

The Shining”, 1980: The most chilling of all five chillers! Though it takes place at a lodge that does not remain open for the ski season the blizzardy atmosphere goes great with the winter theme. Alcoholic Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) takes up the job as caretaker of the seasonally secluded hotel in which he, his wife and son get snowed. Jack goes demonically psycho as the strange happenings of the old place reveal themselves more and more. Nicholson’s maniacal laugh and the haunting soundtrack are enough to freeze anybody’s soul!

The above films are what your Examiner has been able to get ahold of since the sub-genre, horror movies with arctic themes, is very narrow considering. If you know of any others with these themes that should be included in a list like the one above, then please mention them in the comments box!

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