Sunday, March 12, 2017

Dead of Winter (1987)

Synopsis: Talented-yet-scatterbrained actress matches wits with two of the least-threatening villains in cinematic history. 

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “Acclaimed director Arthur Penn (Bonnie and Clyde) spins a frightening tale of terror and ice-tingling suspense. Mary Steenburgen (Parenthood) and screen veteran Roddy McDowall star in this heart-pounding shocker that promises to thrill you – and chill you – to the bone!” 

What Did I Learn?: 1) If you’re going to trudge outside in the middle of a snowstorm, it’s a good idea to actually find, and then put on your winter coat. Wrapping a tablecloth around your shoulders isn’t going to work for very long. 2) There was no 311 area code in 1987.


Really?: 1) You know, I’ve never heard of a gas station that gave away free goldfish. 2) See: “Synopsis” and “What Did I Learn?” I realize Kate is scared out of her mind, but she has some of the worst survival instincts I’ve ever seen in a protagonist. Considering there’s only one way into the attic, why didn’t she put something heavy on the trapdoor when she made her phone call? Why didn’t she throw a lamp at Dr. Lewis when he slowly trudged up the stairs in order to kill her? Certain scenes just didn’t ring true. 

Rating: I have to give Dead of Winter a rather mixed review. On the one hand, Steenburgen, McDowell and Jan Rubes deliver highly convincing performances, and the lighting, musical score, and cinematography work well to create a claustrophobic, creepy, and suspenseful mood. Dead of Winter is a great little psycho-thriller until it really starts to break down in the second and third acts (See: “Really?”), and you find yourself shouting extremely obvious advice to Steenburgen’s character. 7/10 stars.

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