Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Around Christmas of 1944, a small band of soldiers on skis are in a German forest on a reconnaissance mission. There is constant tension between the leader (Michael Forest) who wants to focus narrowly on their assignment and a sergeant (Frank Wolff) who just wants to kill as many Germans as possible. Several times during the movie, the men get to ski down hills, shooting and knifing Nazis; between times, they tramp around a bit awkwardly on their skis and argue. At one point, they come across a cabin in the woods occupied by a tough German woman. In many war movies, this character would wind up being sympathetic to the Americans, but here she's a faithful German who tries to poison the soldiers. The film builds to a climax in which the soldiers try to blow up a bridge; there is a long chase along a snowy mountainside that slows down the action, and some of the men die, but there are plenty of ski attacks and the bridge gets blown up by the end.

Netflix sends their discs in wrappers which usually have a nice paragraph-long summary of the DVD enclosed. For this movie, the wrapper contained one sentence: “Roger Corman plays a Nazi in this cheapy war flick.” Aside from the misspelling of “cheapie,” this is accurate but misleading. I figured if Netflix had nothing good to say about this, it must be a miserable movie indeed, but it's certainly not as bad as the wrapper would indicate. It is a very low budget B-movie, shot in the mountains of South Dakota while Corman's crew and actors were finishing up a sci-fi film, BEAST FROM HAUNTED CAVE. One of the things that makes it work to the degree that it does is that it was shot in real snow. The action scenes are repetitious (they see Germans in the snow, they shoot at them from afar, ski down a hill, and use their bayonets when they get up close) but the real snow—both on the ground and occasionally falling—adds to the atmosphere. Corman, who produced and directed, does indeed play a Nazi but in a cameo part. All the German dialogue was dubbed in later, though most of the English sounds like it was recorded on set. Not bad for a "cheapy." [DVD]

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