Well, we wanted summer to finally show up – and show up it REALLY did. Today Mother Nature's bombarding us with blankets of fire – but you can beat the heat with the help of these seven cold-weather films that'll transport you to refreshingly frigid winter wonderlands. (OK, maybe not that wonderful since there's ax murderers and shapeshifting aliens – but you know what else is just as deadly and scary? Heat stroke.)
So put the "chill" into the next time you're Netflix and chilling (no, not THAT kind of Netflix and chill!) on a devastatingly humid summer day with one of these very good, very cold movies that are so frosty, you might require a blanket even during the muggiest forecasts of the year.
Now streaming on: HBO Max
The movie that inspired this very piece, I watched Stanley Kubrick's horror classic the other day – not because it's the greatest horror film ever made (but it is) or because Jack Nicholson's iconically deranged performance or because the impeccable craft on display. No, I popped it on solely because it was ridiculously hot and muggy outside, and the movie takes place during a freezing cold blizzard. And honestly, it was remarkably soothing – even with, you know, the axe murders and creepy ghost twins and masterful foreboding sense of dread echoing through literally every single frame. The famously frosty Kubrick and his masterful craft on display will send shivers down your spine, while the blizzard-struck Overlook Hotel and Rocky Mountain settings will send shivers through the rest of your body – a perfect combination to keep you happy inside while the summer scorches outside. Though maybe don't spend too much time cooped up inside ...
"The Empire Strikes Back"
Now streaming on: Disney+
One of the greatest blockbusters of all time also makes for one of the best cinematic summer escapes thanks to the iconic Hoth sequences that start Irvin Kershner's spectacular sequel. Set on the ice and snow covered planet, the opening is filled with images that freeze their way into your brain forever, like the AT-AT's ominously emerging from the ice blue mist, stomping their way toward our rebel fighters, or a chilled Luke hanging upside down using the force to escape a wampa. Just the frozen setting alone made this sequel feel new, visually compelling and refreshing – and it especially helps during the humid heat of summer with ghastly temperatures outside that feel like you're bunkered inside of a dead tauntaun.
Now streaming on: Hulu, Hoopla and Kanopy
If you truly just want pure, clean, uncut cold radiating from your television, to the point that icicles start forming on the speakers, check out this sparse little 2019 gem. All it needs to keep you entertained and air conditioned is a desperate Mads Mikkelsen (the blood-crying villain from "Casino Royale") and a whole lot of empty, frozen Arctic landscape as Mikkelsen's plane crash survivor must venture through the unpredictable wilderness to find his way back to society and back to safety. And that's just about all there is to it – the amount of dialogue spoken throughout the film could maybe fill a post-it note – but all that survivalist intensity is a natural thrill to watch, Mikkelsen is a hugely compelling screen presence and did I mention that it's really hot outside and this movie is 95 minutes of nonstop cold? It's a low-key but exciting adventure thriller that, during this steamy summer, is like hooking a IV of ice water up to your veins.
Now streaming on: Disney+
Parents, you'll have to make a tough choice: Is cooling off with this snowy Disney smash hit worth getting "Let It Go" stuck in your kids' heads again for the 16,714th time? Honest answer: probably! The 2013 animated blockbuster earned the insane love heaped upon it with its clever play on classic princess story tropes, its sweet sister relationship, its funny jokes and characters (remember when Olaf was just a charming and fun supporting character, not beaten into the ground by the sequel and spinoffs?) and, yes, its earworm-y hit songs written by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, the award-winning couple behind "Avenue Q" and "The Book of Mormon." Never mind the hysteria (and the lukewarm sequel): The original "Frozen" is still pretty great. Just make sure you rent the animated one and not the 2010 horror movie of the same name – though that "Frozen" is about three people stuck on a ski lift, so maybe that would make a good summer streaming option too. Just maybe don't pick it for family night ...
Now streaming on: Peacock (premium)
It's bad enough being stuck in the middle of relentlessly cold Antarctica tundra for weeks upon weeks at a time, far away from any other human contact, stuck with the same bunch of gruff researchers and outdoorsmen. But to make matters worse, when you finally get a guest, it's a shape-shifting alien creature that's plotting your gruesome demise and comes in horrifically slimy spider-legged monstrous forms when it's not disguised as your best friend or a cuddly husky. At least they've got flamethrowers to keep themselves protected – from both the cold and the creepy alien. And at least you get to watch from the safety of your couch, where the frosty conditions (and even frostier chills from this excellently creepy classic thriller, perhaps John Carpenter's finest film) can help keep the summer heat at bay while the screen keeps the paranoid shenanigans at a distance too.
Now streaming on: Disney+
You know, the OTHER popular animated movie taking place in a snow-covered world. Like many of its animated brethren, "Ice Age" got franchised into oblivion with sequels ranging all the way from middling to adequate, but the original 2002 movie, about a crew of prehistoric animals (voiced by Ray Romano, Denis Leary and John Leguizamo) trying to bring a lost baby back to its tribe, is still charming, funny and, best of all during the summer, very chilly thanks to being set during its titular era. Quick question, though: Considering the sequels involve dinosaurs and a cataclysmic meteor strike, is this THE ice age? How are the talking animals not the most scientifically dubious part of this series? Anyways, the first movie's still nice – and puts the "ice" in nice.
Now streaming on: Prime Video, FuboTV and Hoopla
What's colder than having your wife kidnapped by a pair of bumbling but dangerous criminals in order to con her wealthy father into giving you money, resulting in multiple gruesome deaths? Uh ... honestly not much, but the frigid Midwestern weather in the Coen Brothers' Oscar-winning dark comedy breakthrough comes respectably close, setting a snowy, memorably pure white backdrop to the grim Minnesota underworld misadventures. Normally, we Wisconsinites are fine being as far as possible from reminders of the all-too-familiar blistering winds, frozen windshields, crunching snow and generally frostbite-inducing temperatures of winter – but considering the smotheringly hot summer days in the forecast, I welcome this trip to a winter not-so-wonderland.
As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.
When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.