Renee Harmon returns again! I'm not reviewing her films in a very good order--really, I should have given her time to shine in Lady Street Fighter first. But Escape from the Insane Asylum was not a terrible place to start, and Frozen Scream is an excellent way to continue. After all, Escape from the Insane Asylum used stock footage from Frozen Scream! There are a surprising amount of things that use stock footage from Frozen Scream, as bits of it show up in Bryan's Run Coyote Run as well. Add in the fact that Frozen Scream shares that awesome soundtrack with Don't Go in the Woods and you begin to see the amazing James Bryan-Renee Harmon-Frank Roach web that extends through the '80s. Frozen Scream is yet another Trash Cornerstone, a film without which a proper definition of These Sorts of Movies is not possible. This one's been long overdue, so let's take a look!
We open with Renee Harmon, German accent thicker than ever, narrating over footage of the ocean, which we'll return to several times: "Ever since the creation of man, man has dreamed of immortality. But his pursuit of eternal life is always devoured by death itself." Yeah, that's usually a true statement. Following this we go to the home of Tom Girard, who appears to be under duress as he calls his wife Ann. It turns out his stress has reason; there are black-hooded men trying to break into his house. Eventually they catch him and inject him with something, and next we know Ann is the hospital, having broken down over Tom's mysterious death. The doctors say it was a heart attack but Ann knows better, and with the aid of her cop ex-boyfriend Kevin she intends to get to the bottom of things. She and Tom used to be part of a study led by Renee Harmon, a study concerned with turning its participants into immortals. It seems it all began with mind-expansion experiments involving meditation, but eventually led up to surgeries that turned the participants into the dark-robed creatures we saw at the beginning. It seems immortality comes at a price, and Ann and Kevin will soon learn how cold and lonely Hell is.
Frozen Scream is over before you know it, and its relatively bare-bones plot had continued to elude a lot of the people I've shown the movie to. The movie approaches the plot strangely, placing events out of order and being too vague in some places. It's never made entirely clear how the scientific processes used to make the zombies overlap with the immortality group's philosophical musings about "love and immortality." It appears very dream-like, but it's not clear if this is deliberate. It's surreal in the same way that Don't Go in the Woods is, but I know that that movie's quirks were intentional. Frank Roach and James Bryan are very similar filmmakers--I know from Roach's other effort, Nomad Riders, which I always confuse with Bryan's lesser Hell Riders, also featuring Harmon. I wouldn't be too surprised if there was some tongue-in-cheekness to Frozen Scream's creation, much as there was with Don't Go in the Woods. It seems like there's a method to the madness.
Of course, it may also be simple cheapness. This movie is edited like if it runs over 85 minutes, everyone involved with it will die. That leads to scenes like Kevin giving one of his oddly-omnipresent voiceovers during a surreal sequence where Renee Harmon slits her wrists and drinks her own blood. It comes across as goofy, and forced, as if we're supposed to know that Kevin's interruptions are basically for the purpose of throwing in tawdry exposition. The movie can't decide if Kevin or Ann is the protagonist...we have more of a stake in Ann than Kevin, but Kevin gets the voiceovers and the ending. It's an uncanny mix, but a captivating one. As a side-note: I'm absolutely positive, from analyzing these voiceovers countless times over the years, that Kevin's actor, Thomas McGowan, is the uncredited man who played Detective Tim O'Malley in Doris Wishman's A Night to Dismember--another movie I need to get to soon.
If nothing else, Frozen Scream is a fun revivification of the sci-fi zombie movies of the past. It reminds me of a more mature and more risk-taking Teenage Zombies, but with boobs and bizarre dream sequences. If you haven't seen Frozen Scream, it really is one of those Bucket List films. Make your cinematic experience a bit more complete and give it a shot.
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