20 Days ’til Halloween, 2014: The Cold aka The Game (1984)


Ahhh, my favorite Bill Rebane movie. It wasn’t available on Youtube last year and so I posted, hm, I think it was DEMONS OF LUDLOW or the Rebane movie starring Tiny Tim. I described Rebane’s work and his peculiar flavor of badness well enough in that posting (“14 Days Until Halloween, 2013” if you’d like to check it out). So far this year I’ve avoided sharing the kind of films that require a “special” taste for endurance in order to enjoy. Each of the films I’ve highlighted have a generally traditional narrative arc and make “sense” by most intelligent person’s standards. I find people appreciate that. I get a lot more folk clicking on stuff like BASKETCASE 3 or British ghost stories, for example, than on HOLLYWOOD MEATCLEAVER MASSACRE…even though I personally find the latter a superior movie watching experience. Still, there’s a wide audience for “bad” horror films. Some appreciate making fun of them and some, like me, see the art in them and appreciate the strangely psychedelic effect they can have: a kind of disorientation one is unlikely to find anywhere else outside of dangerous and illegal drug use. Rebane is an expert at this kind of “so bad it’s transcendent” movie, and THE COLD is one of his best. I’m going to let this movie proudly fly the “kitchen sink Surrealism” banner this year and I hope you take a moment to give it a shot.

Unfortunately, the full effect of a Bill Rebane movie takes some time. You have to sit and watch it for a while before it “kicks in,” so to speak. I personally think THE COLD comes on a little faster than others, so it’s a good place to start with the Rebane oeuvre.

The plot is, er…simple? It’s kind of a take on the classic THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME. Several millionaires gather a bunch of “young” people at a country club for a game in which they’ll win a million dollars for facing their worst fears…or something like that. That rudimentary scenario is established within the first five or ten minutes. After the set up is through, I honestly couldn’t tell you what the hell is going on. There’s some sort of creeping “cold” – a cloud of dry ice – that is lurking about the corridors. There are people in false faces. Tennis is played (I think?) Relationships are made. Things happen. Apparently there’s a monster or spectral apparition – judging by the images I’ve found online – but I’ve seen it twenty or more times and, for the life of me, I don’t remember ever seeing a monster. There may be different versions of the movie. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen versions without voice-overs and with scenes out of order. However, as I cannot honestly verify I’ve ever been awake to watch the movie all the way through, parts of what I remember may be real or false memories. It’s hard to say. In any case, I recommend regularly watching THE COLD at three or four in the morning because it will have a different ending every time. Or, of course, if you’re young and wild you may opt for chemically altering your viewing experience. I’m too old for that myself…but I don’t discourage it for the experienced – and you WOULD have to be “experienced” to watch THE COLD under such circumstances. This is the stuff that Jimi Hendrix was talking about. It is NOT for those who keep their sanity clutched on their lap like a purse.

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