Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Trifecta Of Terror! : Winter Horror On The Edge.

Welcome to the newest feature on Fascination with Fear.  As an obsessive horse racing fan (yes, I am obsessed about something else besides horror), I decided to use a bit of horse racing terminology here at the blog.

A trifecta is a bet in which you must predict which horses in the race will finish first, second and third - in the exact order of finish.  It's extremely difficult, to say the least - but the payoff is usually rather sweet, especially in the event that you have a long shot finishing in your top trio. 

How the term will be used here is that I will give you three movies to consider watching together- all in the same night, or perhaps the same weekend.  They will be in the same sub-genre, as in:  1) Rogue 2) Lake Placid 3) Alligator; all movies about killer crocodiles (or alligators as the case may be).  Generally I will try to put them in the order of preference, meaning I feel Rogue is the best of the three (the "win" film), Lake Placid comes in second (the "place" film) and Alligator (the 1980 classic about a murderous gator in the sewers of Chi-town) would be the "show" film.  Every once in a while I will throw in a "long shot", a film that got in the top three somehow, but may not be remotely near the quality of the other two. And on rare occasions there will be a "dead heat", in which two of the films finish together- as in, they are both so good (or bad) that I can't decide which is first (or last). Got it?

Unfortunately, there is no prize money, no tickets to cash in.  But hopefully you do get at least one winner! So with that in mind, I start you out with a winter horror trifecta.

I've highlighted a fair amount of terrifying films since Frozen Fortnight started, but we never really talked about films that are just on the cusp of horror.  Movies that have certain elements that are horrific, but aren't all slice & dice or cabin-fever frights. So I decided to pick three snowy, weather-oriented films that are right on the edge of horror and star winter as one of the characters. These films all have their moments, and I know you'll agree.

If I were going to name this "race", it would be "The Nature Fights Back Handicap". 
Coming in first, we have:

THE GREY (2012)

Any film starring Liam Neeson is okay with me, but when you put him in circumstances that are out of control and watch him strike out in defense and proceed to be a kick-ass leader, that's where he really shines.  In The Grey, he stars as John Ottway - wolf killer extraordinaire. And while that sounds simply awful, it's a job that has to be done because the wolves are quite hungry and threaten the workers at an oil drilling site in remote Alaska.  It's his last day on the job and he's busy writing a note to his wife explaining that he fully intends to take his own life. He doesn't get the chance when a wolf comes 'a calling.  After tending to his duties, he and his team board a plane home, which promptly crashes during a raging snowstorm. After the loss of one of the team during the crash, the others build a fire and try to determine the best course of action. They don't get too much time to think about it before the first wolf attacks.
The Grey is one of those awesome adventure films that you get completely immersed in from start to finish. The men and their fierce drive to survive against the worst possible weather imaginable and a pack of hungry wolves is both terrifying and admirable.  When the men kill one of the wolves and the brazen jackass of the group throws the head back towards the pack, one of the other men comments that in nature, wolves are the only other creature besides man to seek revenge. And they may do just that.

In second place we've got:

ALIVE (1993)

Alive is the harrowing true story of a team of Uruguayan rugby players that crashed in the Andes Mountains in 1973. By now I'm sure everyone knows they had to resort to cannibalism to stay alive, but I think people forget the incredible bravery of the men who eventually hiked out of the mountains to try and find help.
Family and friends joined the rugby players on their flight to Chile for a match back in 1972 when high over the mountains, the plane apparently misjudged its height and slammed into a mountain peak, breaking the plane into pieces and sending it crashing to the snow-covered hills below. Several are killed on impact, a handful are critically injured. They rip apart the seats to use for cover and blankets and build a fire, intending to assess the situation at hand the next morning. But as dawn breaks, it's overwhelmingly obvious that they are not only high in the Andes, but it's doubtful anyone is looking in the right place for them because they got so off course. As days pass, food becomes scarce, and those who were mortally wounded succumb to their injures. And after hearing on a battery-operated radio that the search for them has been called off, the men start to think of other options. They eventually vote on whether or not to eat the flesh of their deceased flight-mates.  I think everyone knows where it went from there. Three of the men eventually decide to hike out on foot and hope to find rescue. Snowy weather, ice, frigid temps, and even a terrifying avalanche play an undeniable role in this nerve-wracking movie, in which a snowstorm can be the difference between life and death.

And last but certainly not least:

THE EDGE (1997)

And yet another plane crash strands some hapless folks in the wilds of Alaska.  Charles (Anthony Hopkins) goes along for the ride because his wife is involved in a photo shoot (of course she's a model, and of course she's Elle Macpherson) and he tags along. Charles is a billionaire, after all. He may or may not know that his lovely wife Mickey is having an affair with her photographer, Bob (Alec Baldwin). But he's not letting on as before the actual crash, our group settles in at a beautiful lodge and has an impromptu birthday party for Charles - all the while warning him that all the doors and windows have to be locked and food stored away due to a little bear problem they have.  Little problem is not the word - these are Kodiak brown bears, people!  Mickey and Bob invite Charles along with them and their assistant Stephen, up into the wilds about fifty miles north. They don't get a chance to check out an old Indian's hunting camp because the single engine plane runs into a a flock of birds and hits the side of a mountain, spiraling down into a frosty river below. The pilot dies instantly and quickly they discover there is no search party coming. They set off into the woods to try to walk themselves out but very soon the find they are running in circles, and the close-by snorting of a large predator (one Bart the Bear)  has them running for their lives. Full of fear amidst weather conditions akin to what the Donner Party no doubt dealt with, The Edge is a fantastic adventure film not to be missed. And if you like your horror truly horrifying, nothing screams terror quicker than getting eaten alive by a Kodiak bear.

So there you have it, the first TRIFECTA OF TERROR! Stay tuned for more pairings suitable for long, lazy afternoons sipping bourbon - or just a Friday night with a pizza and some beer!


James Gracey said...

I love this concept! I'm going to be checking out each instalment for my Friday Night Horrorathon recommendations.

Christine Hadden said...

Thanks James! I have a lot of films in mind for the ToT, so stay tuned :)