Sunday, 24 November 2019

Ice Queen (2005)

Nostalgic for the days of ski resort themed sex comedies like Hot Dog: The Movie (1984) and Ski School (1991) but think that what that genre needed to kick it into the 21st century was a snarling she beast? Then you –dear Sir or Madam- are the target audience for 2005’s Ice Queen.

Before the film shows off its 1980s teen sex comedy influences though, Ice Queen blows its load with a high octane opening that sees grumpy mercenary Mac (Neil Benedict) masterminding the ambush of a military convoy. Utilising a gunship helicopter, Mac easily lays waste to the convoy, causing much vehicular destruction in the pursuit of his grand prize. The top secret merchandise that the convoy was transporting being a prehistoric cave woman, recently discovered in ice and kept alive in a cryogenically frozen state by the US government. Much of Ice Queen’s budget must surely have gotten sucked up by this opening scene, which comes close to being worthy of a big budget action movie, since the rest of the movie is a more humble, cash strapped affair in comparison.

Over at Snowshed lodge ski resort, the staff and the holidaymakers celebrate the end of the skiing season by holding a Wet T-Shirt competition. Rambunctiously entering into the spirit of things, our dim-witted horndog hero Johnny (Harmon Walsh) tries to talk Elaine (Jennifer Hill), the girl with the biggest boobs in the resort, into entering the competition. Elaine however is a woman whose contradictions are almost as large as her breast implants. “Wet T-Shirt competitions are totally demeaning...and I’m kinda shy” Elaine tells Johnny while flirting with a passing reveller “but where else can you make $500 that fast”.

After waking up hung-over in Elaine’s bedroom the next morning Johnny is horrified to discover that not only has he no memory of the night before, but he also appears to have been talked into ‘loaning’ Elaine the money he was meant to have used to pay his girlfriend’s rent. Johnny’s latest sexual conquest might make him a hero to his bozo buddies Jesse and Devlin, but now there is a mad rush to find the money to pay his girlfriend’s rent and cover up his cheating. Johnny’s nemesis is another character right out of the 1980s teen sex comedy scrapbook. Audrey (Tara Walden) is Johnny’s ball busting superior at the resort, who is hell-bent on ruining straight guys’ fun and likes to emasculate Johnny and his homies by referring to them as ‘girls’. All the men in this film hate Audrey cause y’know she is a woman in a higher position of power than them...and a lesbian. Audrey is especially set on getting Johnny the sack from the ski resort after she overheard him bad mouthing her. “I can’t just fire him for calling me a bulldyke” frets Audrey. “It was big bulldyke” sniggers one of Johnny’s homies.

Fortunately Johnny’s boss, comedy fat guy Ed (John Romeo) is a big hearted pushover who is happy to loan Johnny the money to cover up Johnny’s infidelity, despite the fact that Ed is also the uncle of Johnny’s girlfriend Tori !!! Ed also proves his homie allegiance by pranking bossy boots Audrey, offering her some stale biscuits to eat after she comes looking for Johnny in the Ski Resort’s canteen. Ice Queen is an ardent defender of a dude’s right to ogle wet t-shirt competitions, cheat on their girlfriends, lose their girlfriend’s rent money, give lesbians food poisoning and cause avalanches. Well, in fairness to Johnny it is his job to cause small scale avalanches. Johnny and his friends’ role at the resort being to let off small, controlled explosions on the mountains in order to prevent a large scale avalanche. Trouble is, they are as terrible at this job as they are everything else. Johnny’s pals being so hung-up on whether or not he did it with Elaine, that they let a charge off too early. Inadvertently burying Johnny- who’d been skiing back to the resort- under a small scale avalanche. As if Johnny’s day couldn’t get any worse, the Ice Queen finally commeth. Now being transported by plane, the Cave woman/Ice Queen wakes up in a bad mood, rips off the hand of the pilot then puts her arm through him, causing the plane to crash into the mountains. This of course triggers a second, more severe avalanche that buries the resort under snow, leaving Johnny, his pals, girlfriend Tori, Ed, Audrey and Elaine at the mercy of the Ice Queen.

Having transformed from an attractive woman into a grotesque monster mid-flight, the Ice Queen herself appears to be the embodiment of someone’s lifelong hatred of women, what with her bad teeth, bad hair, terrible table manners, bloodshot eyes and violent demeanour. She is played by a British actress/model with the kind of double-barrel surname that demands you say it with a posh accent. Ms. Ami Veevers-Chorlton has graced the pages of FHM and Elle, and her biggest brush with acting fame was a role in the Bond movie ‘Die Another Day’. So, naturally Ice Queen shows the attractive Veevers-Chorlton ‘as is’ for about five seconds, before burying her under five hours worth of prostatic make-up designed to make her look as ugly as possible. While giving her no dialogue whatsoever unless you count 90 or so minutes of yelling “ggggrrrrrr” and “aaaaarrrrrgggghhhh”. 

Producer Peter Beckwith clearly fancied himself as a cut-price Irwin Allen of the DVD era. His back catalogue mostly consisting of the likes of Landslide (2005), Killer Flood: The Day the Dam Broke (2003), Frozen Impact (2003) and Lightening: Fire from the Sky (2001). Films about avalanches seem to be a particular Beckwith forte, evidenced by this, Icebreaker (2000), Icebreaker 2 (2000) and Trapped: Buried Alive (2002). All pointing to Beckwith either being a man with a paranoia about avalanches, or a man who knew how to spread about the stock footage he had of real life avalanches. 

The combo of stock and original footage in Ice Queen’s two avalanche sequences impresses. The bad, mid-2000s CGI and shots of toy cars buried in snow...maybe less so. It does further fuel the suspicion that most of the budget went on that gun-ship helicopter when you see the toy car collection being brought out to simulate the avalanche’s aftermath. Come to think about it, just why are there so many cars on the Ski Resort’s car park when all the holidaymakers are meant to have left by this point. Did they all decide to leave their cars at the resort and just walk home instead, all the way from a Ski Resort in the mountains!!!

Overall Ice Queen suggests the work of someone who’d gotten out of the wrong side of the bed that morning, and decided to get their jollies by rattling politically correct cages. “There are species out there that can change gender or eat their own young” explains do-gooder boffin Dr Goddard (Daniel Kuhn), to which grumpy Mac quips back “Yeah...they’re called liberals”. True, flipping the bird at political correctness is in keeping with the film’s 1980s sex comedy lineage, but Ice Queen presses down so hard on that pedal that it threatens to sour the good time, smut comedy vibes this film is trying to channel.

Insults like ‘bulldyke’ and ‘snowflake’ are batted around, but Ice Queen’s one true sweetheart is ‘bitch’, used so often it’s difficult to believe some behind the scenes misogynist wasn’t getting a charge out of it. Just about every character in the film gets one, sometimes two, opportunities to call the Ice Queen a bitch. Variations used include “one cold bitch”, “one drunk bitch”, “ice bitch”, “blue wriggly bitch”, “some screaming utter bitch thing”, “crazy bitch”, “it’s showtime in bitch town” and perhaps most cutting of all for a woman “bad fashion bitch”. The latter insult refers to the Ice Queen’s apparel, a spandex costume that the US government had squeezed her into after thawing her out, which resembles a joke-shop version of a H.R. Giger suit. Hell hath no fury like a bitch in spandex.

To give credit where its due, parts of Ice Queen are legitimately funny, such as Elaine’s defence of her character “I’m not a hooker...I’m in law school” or the gang discovering the Ice Queen’s Achilles heel is heat when they accidentally immobilize her by turning on the hand drier in the ladies’ toilet. Not forgetting Audrey’s hilariously insensitive way of breaking it to the others that one of their number has been disembowelled by the Ice Queen “someone got hold of your friend and turned him into a frozen food display”.

Nor can you claim that Ice Queen isn’t involving, especially when you find yourself pondering over questions that the film itself can’t be bothered answering. Do liberals really eat their newborn young? Did Johnny really give Elaine his girlfriend’s rent money or did she just steal it? And did Elaine actually win the Wet T-Shirt competition? We hear the reasons why she needed to enter the competition; she wants to put herself through law-school. We natch’ get to see her heroically overcoming her ‘shyness’ and pouring a jug of water over herself, and of course the competition itself, but never discover if those boobs helped put her through law school.

At a time when it should be fully getting its horror movie groove on, Ice Queen’s script (written by three people, which might explain its multiple personality issues) gets preoccupied with absolving Johnny and Elaine of guilt and redeeming the pair in our eyes. Ya’see ....everything bad that Johnny and Elaine did at the start of the film was in fact the fault of Johnny’s friend Devlin, an utterly secondary character we barely meet in the movie. According to Elaine, Devlin discovered she was in dire financial states and offered her $5000 to have sex with Johnny. Now, judging by what we do see of Devlin, he looks like he barely has $5000 to his name, let alone to giveaway. Since he is also a sexually desperate looking, wannabe horndog, wouldn’t you think he’d use that $5000 to coerce Elaine into having sex with himself, rather than his more good looking and successful friend? Who knows what went on in Devlin’s head -he’s long dead by the time these revelations come out- but it sure must have been dark and hollow in there.

Determined to prove to Tori that she isn’t a slut, Elaine tells Tori that she wasn’t planning on going ahead with sleeping with Johnny for money if he turned out to be unattractive, but “he’s pretty buff”. Tori, therefore, should forgive Johnny and take him back, because a man who other women want to have sex with for money is always worth keeping hold of. Good god, the twisted morality of Ice Queen is something to behold.

There is actually some confusion over whether Elaine and Johnny really did have sex at all. Sure, we do see them having sex in a hot tub early on in the film, yet both later sincerely swear to Tori that nothing went on between them. So, did the filmmakers want to have their cake and eat it by both showing Elaine’s boobs during that hot tub sex scene then later redacting this ever happened in order to show these two characters in a more positive light?

It’s far easier to have sympathy with the Ice Queen herself, a misunderstood monster if ever there was one. Everyone has such resentment and hostility towards her as they bombard her with ‘bitch’ insults and put downs over her looks. Mac starting the chauvinistic ball rolling by suggesting that rather than bringing her out of her cryogenic state under ethical conditions “I’d wake her up quick and make her do a shimmy dance”. Sure the Ice Queen does kill people, might not be the greatest of conversationalist, and her fashion sense is a little rooted in the 1980s, but c’mon...she is kinda cute. Especially when she starts to sexually come on to Johnny... you can still tell there is an attractive model with a double-barrelled name hidden away under five hours worth of prosthetic muck.

Rarely will you find yourself getting behind a villainess as much as you do in Ice Queen. Rarely will you find yourself wishing violent death on people as much as the sorry bunch of asshats this film dares call characters...even if deep down you know the full extent of your bloodlust will never be satisfied. Yep, sorry to say some of them do make it to the end credits unscathed. The Ice Queen’s infatuation with Johnny getting the better of her. Resulting in a preposterous gender reversal on the climax of Ridley Scott’s Alien that sees Johnny taking on the Ice Queen while distractingly stripped down to his underwear “what this chick needs is a Wet-Me competition”.

Ice Queen is a cheap cocktail of disaster movie, creature feature, 1980s sex comedy throwback and aggressive, liberal baiting. However if you were that girl in high school who had bad teeth, bad hair, could never get a date, got called a ‘bitch’ for no good reason, and whose dirt poor parents sent you out every Halloween in a costume that they’d thrown together from leftover spandex and plastic tubing, you now have a horror icon you can relate to on a personal level in the Ice Queen. Worship this bitch.