Saturday, June 27, 2015

Project Terrible: 100 Below Zero (2013)

One of the characters in 100 Below Zero (I don't know how to get the degree symbol, I'm stupid and don't want to figure it out) has a line that he says twice over the course of the movie: "I don't engage in hyperbole." As the movie went on, I realized what a funny line this is, especially in a movie called 100 Below Zero that never once gets as exciting or exaggerated the title might imply. This is my second Project Terrible movie, and comes to me courtesy of Bob, who will be posting his reviews on Alec's site, Mondo Bizarro.

Brother and sister pair Ryan and Taryn are in Paris awaiting the arrival of their father, Steve, and his new girlfriend, Lacey, from England. Mother Nature makes that rendezvous a little difficult, though, when a series of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions around Europe causes a massive ash cloud to block out the sun. The temperatures drop and the snow starts falling, but the family doesn't give up on their task to be reunited.

So this is another Asylum movie. I feel bad having to preface a review with that statement again, but it is kinda needed. Actually, 100 Below Zero is not as bad as my previous PT film, Age of Ice. The biggest reason for this is that 100 Below Zero has a bit more tongue-in-cheek comedic moments, sometimes very subtle, that shows that the characters and actors know that they are in a ridiculous movie but don't seem to care and just go with it. And I appreciate that. The production value is still just like the same old Asylum, though slightly elevated this time around - they actually filmed in Paris! Also in Budapest, which is not Paris, but at least it's not some poorly reconstructed version of Paris on a soundstage in California.

The plot of 100 Below Zero is a lot less schizophrenic and makes a helluva lot more sense than Age of Ice did. They even add in a nice touch to the plot where this isn't just some freak occurrence that will go away soon - the new European ice age will only get worse over the next two years which is why our characters have to get out as soon as they can. There's even a time limit on them as Steve, an ex-Air Force pilot, gets in contact with one of his old war buddies who promises them a seat on a plane that is evacuating to Australia, and they have ten hours to get there. Our characters - mostly Ryan and Taryn - get into some pretty strange mishaps along the way. One of them is almost brained by soccer ball-sized hail; they are trapped in a collapsing building; one of them is electrocuted by elevator cables; someone pulls a gun on them; and they are mugged when some dudes take their bicycles.

The character dynamic in the movie is that Steve's wife, Taryn and Ryan's mother, has left him and Lacey is the new, younger model. Ryan's okay with it, but Taryn has reservations. Also, Steve and his military friend Dillard, have a deep history where Steve saved his life, but that history is kind of ruined when Dillard explains what happened. Something about how a plane they were flying ran into a flock of geese that got sucked in their engine - which is more hilarious than it is horrible. None of this character stuff really ends up affecting the plot at all, though, which was probably a good choice. It would have made the movie look like it was trying too hard to be serious, and that is definitely not the point of a movie like this. We are talking about a movie that at the end has an ice cyclone - WHATEVER THE FUCK THAT IS - destroy the Eiffel Tower and most of Paris. Oh! There's also a quick, almost throwaway part where a random character is introduced and then almost immediately killed by a large falling icicle. Huge laugh from that moment!

The really disappointing thing about 100 Below Zero is what I mentioned earlier, that the weather never gets as devastatingly bad as the title and DVD cover lead us to believe it will. The characters continuously say that things will definitely get worse and worse, which gives the plot some immediacy but at the same time distracts the viewer from the fact that all of this is just beginning and that it basically looks like a regular winter's day out there (the ice cyclone doesn't show up until the very end). Two of the female characters spend the movie running around in either a short sequined dressed or a skimpy t-shirt, so things can't really be that bad.

100 Below Zero isn't the greatest, but it is good brainless fun for an hour and a half, and that thankfully goes by pretty fast. Look for the only recognizable face in the cast - John Rhys-Davies a.k.a. Sallah from the Indiana Jones movies! Two more PT films to go now, and luckily no more with snow. I'm definitely over that plot device already.


  1. Hey Michele, don't forget the dad, Jeff Fahey. He is usually a support character, but he has been the star more than once in low/mid '70s-'80s SF. The movie you might remember him in the most is Lawnmower Man.