- Movie Rating -

Dead of Winter (1987)

| February 6, 1987

By this point, I might have forgotten most of the details of Dead of Winter were it directed by lesser talent, or at least a creative team with no big names.  But this scummy, wretched chunk of collective stupidity came from none other than Arthur Penn, the man who directed Bonnie and Clyde and Little Big Man.  Further it stars Mary Steenburgen and Roddy McDowell.  What drew them to this grade zilch trash?

The movie is one of those bottom-drawer pot-boilers with a plot that seems to come out of an old paperback book with mold on it.  It stars Steenburgen as Katie McGovern, a struggling actress who passes an audition and then is asked to come out to the country for a screen test.  She needs this bad, so bad that she is willing to travel through a record blizzard to get out to the house.  That should be enough foreshadowing, but then so should the fact that her driver is played by a sinister-looking Roddy McDowell.

Okay, so here’s where the movie goes completely bonkers.  She misses all of the sinister warning bells because she is being lured into a trap by two men (the other is played by opera singer Jan Rubes) who tell her that they need her as a double for the lead actress in the movie that they are filming – a woman that, unknown to her, they have previously murdered.  So, Katie studies the look and voice and movement of this woman so well that could be her sister (it helps that the other woman is also played by Steenburgen).  The point is for her to be videotaped reading her lines, after which they will murder her for reasons that are far too complicated and silly to be described here.

 In fact, I couldn’t really explain the plot if I wanted to.  It’s one of those plots that depends on the main character being completely absent of any common sense and the cops being absent of all cognitive senses.  The scene where Katie brings in the police to arrest the two men is one of the stupidest lacks of common insight that I’ve ever seen.  Katie has her finger cut off but the cops are more than willing to listen to the man who cut it off and believe every word he says.

This is the kind of movie that you sit back and watch with disbelief.  All this stuff about body doubles, severed fingers, family feuds and double crosses is silly in the extreme.  Let’s put it this way, if the movie didn’t star good actors like Mary Steenburgen and Roddy McDowell, I might not even have bothered reviewing it.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1987) View IMDB Filed in: Thriller