Ah yes. The winter slasher. It often brings a sense of ‘no escape’ with it wherever it goes. Add some skiers, and now you have a new twist on the sub-genre. It’s so simple. Ski poles, icicles, and whatever else fills the killer’s heart with glee. The first slasher set at a ski lodge (one of very few) that I ever watched was called Shredder, a fairly modern, violent, and kind of comical body count piece. But I wanted something more from it. It ended on such a silly note, that I was hoping another attempt would play itself more seriously. Then I heard about Iced, a rarely seen late 80s slash-frenzy that was dropping its name every once in a while on review sites. “That looks kind of interesting. I hope that I can find it.” Eventually, I did come across it, and the result took me by surprise. Although it really shouldn’t have. I truly just wanted to know if it surpassed the enjoyable Shredder.
Opening at a ski resort, skier Jeff (Dan Smith) challenges another, Cory (Doug Stevenson), to a downhill race. The stakes are high: winner receives Jeff’s friend Trina (Debra DeLiso) as a love machine. The two keep the pace neck and neck, until Jeff trips, stumbling to the snowy ground. Cory ends up winning, and gloats about it to Jeff back at the lodge. Taking a seat elsewhere, Jeff starts to have conversation with an unseen friend at a table. He speaks about how Cory and his friends are a bunch of jerks, and that he could just kill them! Leaving his friend, Jeff returns to Trina’s room, only to find her and Cory arm wrestling together. Infuriated, Jeff storms out and goes skiing. Cory and Trina start to make out, which eventually leads to sex; from the bed to the chair. Jeff takes a wrong turn, and falls off of a rock, landing on a couple of small boulders.
Four years later, we learn that Jeff had died that night. Trina and Cory are an item, and they are heading to a charming winter cabin. Their friends Jeanette (Lisa Loring), Carl (Ron Kologie), Diane (Elizabeth Gorcey), and John (John C. Cooke) are joining them. Carl has a nightmare about finding himself dead in bed, where we also see that he is addicted to cocaine. Jeanette’s soon-to-be ex boyfriend, Eddie (Michael Picardi), hasn’t shown up yet. The group thinks that he’s just a little late, when actually, a stranger dressed in Jeff’s old snow suit has dispatched him and his guts across the snowy white road. Eddie isn’t the only one that has run out of luck. The killer has some kind of drive to eliminate the party guests. Who could it be? It can’t be Jeff, that’s for sure, because he’s dead. Or could it? Who else could possibly want to take revenge on the young adults? Bloody, cold-hearted revenge.
A direct to video release, Iced obviously features some low budget quirks within. The keyboard score reminds me a lot of Memorial Valley Massacre, in the sense that it has little to no dread in areas that are supposed to set the tone. The opening features music more appropriate for late 80's dramas as opposed to horror flicks. Even worse, the music is completely off. In the scene where Jeff is talking to the mysterious stranger, it spontaneously turns on, releasing a tense vibe that does not fit the moment. During the end chase scene, music builds up, then completely disappears, only to come back awkwardly random, but with much less effect. At one point, you are reminded of a Friday the 13th entry, with a similar quick-building tune. If the movie had kept with this formula instead of the unworthy keyboard effects, it may have had more to show for itself.
It’s time for an editing whine. In addition to lines that don’t match up correctly, we also get pauses between conversations. Diane and Jeanette especially. There can be between one to three seconds in the time from the end of a question to the beginning of a reply from either of these two, more often if the questions and answers are in respective different shots. The camera can be kind of shaky at times, producing an even more amateurish feel. The POV of the killer is nicely touched upon with slight originality. We can see through the broken ski goggles everything around the mystery figure. Speaking of cheese, I love how the newspaper clipping entitled ‘Harvard student dies in ski accident’ is perfectly placed for the reader in the film to find. Then again, should I love it? How many millions of times has that happened?
You may think that the characterization is good if I told you that the killing spree doesn’t really start until an hour in, but it’s not. Far from decent. The multiple conversations shared mostly by the women are dull, unconvincing, and add nothing to the story. Jeanette was a fun person, with her red coat and scarf. The rest were all just in line to get slashed. I remember one very memorable line that I believe John spoke about a movie they had seen at the drive-in. “I Was a Teenage Martian Lesbo.” Wow. Who wrote that in there? Another issue is the photography, which reminds me of a smut film, but that could also be due to the many, many scenes of sex and nudity spread throughout. It has the visual effect of a soft core porno. And it looks like Jeanette is starring in her own dirty movie. Her performance in ‘sucking a carrot’ is the hit of the scene, and nobody says a word. 'Honey, that’s not how you eat a carrot. That’s how you blow a carrot.' Silly Jeanette.
My favorite lines, not surprisingly, come from Jeanette, when speaking to her girlfriends about her boyfriend Eddie, and even insulting their partners. “I want more. I deserve better!...I’m sorry. You guys deserve better too.” If that’s not a slam, I don’t know what is. What makes it golden is the non-reaction of Trina and Diane to her comments. Prism released this on VHS years ago, and the picture still looks pretty clean. Of course, the quality will vary with each individual tape. You see, going in, I expected a mediocre film, perhaps one that was even better than Shredder. For all that I can calculate now, Iced is probably worse than the modernized snowboard film, in nearly every way. You think that the final twenty five minutes will redeem the crap before. No, it doesn’t, because more quick cuts and cheesy dramatics fill the feature even further. This is just a slasher movie that secretly wants to be a Soap Opera, and has an ending that clears nothing up. While I sort of enjoyed it, a recommendation would just be cruel. Trash it!