By Steve Anderson | September 1, 2005

The old aphorism about exposed actresses early on holds (mostly) true in an upcoming release from MTI Home Video, “Ice Queen.”

So what we have here is the story of the archeological find of the century–a woman sealed in a big block of amber found in the Amazon rain forest. Naturally, women sealed in amber aren’t the normal kind of thing to find, so this one’s special for one reason or another.

And when they follow it up with a wet t-shirt contest at a ski resort, well, you have to wonder–what ARE we going to be faced with for the next eighty minutes? You know the rule, folks…better than ninety percent of the time, if you see an actress exposed within the first ten minutes, the rest of the film will, inevitably, suck out loud.

But then, there’s more plot! Our Amazon amber woman is getting shipped to a ski patrol outpost…near the resort.

Ohhhh boy, I think we see where THIS is going.

Naturally, Something Goes Wrong and the plane crashes, causing an avalance that engulfs the lodge and a handful of survivors. They’re running out of air, there’s a homicidal cold-powered devil witch woman thing after them, and plenty of nudity which is a surprise in an environment like this.

I have to admit, I’m a little concerned. This is a plot that’s eerily familiar on several fronts. Lots of science fiction has started out like this, with alien-things in faulty containment tanks getting out and slaughtering every human being around them.

First off, kudos for the opening three minutes. That firefight looks pretty authentic by my measures…I certainly can’t spot the wires on this one.

And anti-kudos for the “skiing from the avalanche” sequence around twenty five minutes for having the skier and the avalanche in the same shot for less than ten whole seconds. Surely we can use a blue screen a LITTLE better than this, MTI.

You’ll notice also that, at twenty eight minutes and twenty two seconds, the arm is already detached when the Ice Queen pulls it away from the pilot’s body. And twenty eight minutes thirty nine seconds, that cloud of steam in front of the guy’s face…it’s not terribly convincing.

It’s also never adequately explained as to why the Ice Queen suddenly goes from hot chick to twisted evil monstrousity when she cools off.

And yet, almost the last hour is this “Poseidon Adventure” in snow, and I can’t help but be amused by the parallels. The building is even upside down, as evidenced by the bolted down furniture.

At least, until the forty six minute forty eight second mark, where two of our female leads have a catfight. Then I’m amused but in a much more wry sort of way. They’re trapped in a ski lodge under fifty billion metric tons of snow–something like HALF A MOUNTAIN, the building is literally upside down, and they’re having a hair-pulling catfight because the male lead has been philandering around and these are the two ladies in question.

Talk about having your priorities in order.

But then something amazing happens around the forty nine minute mark. A cell phone call actually GETS THROUGH. I can’t believe it. One of the most immutable new laws of horror fiction and there it is, shattered like the windows at the lodge. Of course, the operator on the other end doesn’t believe a word of it, but still…it’s pretty much a law that cell phone calls do NOT get through.

The ending features one of the biggest “What the?” moments of the film as our Ice Queen gets hot for the cold guys. I know, it’s a lousy pun, but it’s apt. She displays arousal when everyone’s freezing. And then, from there, we go right to the standard “use the monster’s one major weakness to kill it” strategy.

The special features include full screen and wide screen formats as selectable options, cast and crew commentary, a behind the scenes featurette, interactive menus, Spanish subtitles, and trailers for a bunch of movies whose titles I don’t know because once again MTI didn’t bother to tell me.

All in all, not bad. Though “Ice Queen” suffers from some predictability in its plot, it develops some minor innovations that put it at a cut slightly above mediocre. It’s worth a rental, and you’ll probably enjoy it to some degree.

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