EDITORIAL: Cold movies to beat the summer heat

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This past winter, I wrote an editorial of movies based around summer heat or hot topics to warm your cold winter days.  We skated by with an unseasonably mild winter, but I know some of those movies helped on a few days.  With July temperatures soaring into the triple-digits in many places, the opposite is needed.  Who needs a chilly fantasy to beat the oppressive heat?  Here are a few frosty movie suggestions for summer escapes!  Let's start with the creepy ones and end on the cute ones.

Fargo-- For some reason, the cold sometimes brings out the worst in people.  You will soon notice that over half of this list is filled with pretty violent movies.  Without a doubt, the movie with the coldest morals to match its cold temperatures is the Coen Brothers' North Dakota-set dark comedy about murder, stupidity, and betrayal.  (trailer)

The Grey-- Just hitting theaters earlier this year (my full review), the biting and fierce northern Canadian blizzard elements is matched by the equally deadly pack of ravenous wolves on Liam Neeson and company's tail.  The sound design of harsh wind, lunging wolves, and the subtle sweep of snow achieves the danger of this setting very well.  (trailer)

30 Days of Night-- If you thought wolves were a dangerous adversary to fight in harsh winter conditions, try hunger and near-immortal vampires who can't feel the cold.  A very clever graphic novel of the isolated town of Barrow in far north Alaska being overrun by a group of vampires just at the wrong time (their seasonal period of no sunlight) turned into an underrated and decent horror movie with Josh Hartnett, Melissa George, and Danny Huston.  (trailer)

The Thing-- In30 Days of Night, you know who the adversaries are, but in John Carpenter's The Thing (and its lesser prequel with the same name from last year), it could be the man next to you.  Set in an isolated Antarctica research station, an extraterrestrial lifeform assimilates other organizes in order to imitate and hide among them.  A bearded Kurt Russell sees you through this cult classic.  (trailer)

Smilia's Sense of Snow-- Now that's a great title for a movie set in the cold.  Julia Ormond and Gabriel Byrne star in this slow-building thriller about a murder investigation of a child in blustery Copenhagen, Denmark.  (trailer)

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo-- Speaking of foreign murder mysteries, in both the Swedish and American versions, an intrepid-yet-disgraced reporter is brought in by a wealthy family to investigate an unsolved family murder from decades ago, with the help of our title chick hacker.  Set in snowy Sweden, the people and suspects are found to be as cold and calculating as the weather.  Definitely give either version a try.  If you don't like subtitles, stick with David Fincher's hit from last Christmas.  (trailer)

The Shining-- The murderous intentions in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo pale in comparison to what's going on with Jack Nicholson in this Stanley Kubrick classic from 1980.  Trapped in a snowstorm in a Pacific Northwest resort, Jack's cabin fever turns into a more supernatural takeover.  Again, the chills outside equal the chills inside.  (trailer)

Frozen-- The segues continue!  Speaking of snowstorms and resorts, a trio of cocky vacationers get caught on a shut down ski lift, high above the ground, at closing time on a Sunday.  With the resort closed on weekdays and a storm coming in, there's no way they will make to Friday and survival risks versus the elements must be taken in this creepy little horror/thriller.  (trailer)

Alive-- Alright, these selections have been all scary downers.  I promise from this movie on, things will get more chipper (just not a Fargo wood chipper).  Alive is the harrowing true story of a 1972 plane crash that stranded members of the Uruguay rugby team in the Andes Mountains of South America.  Battling hunger and the cold, the survivors will themselves to walk out of the mountains.  (trailer)

Dr. Zhivago-- Winner of five Academy Awards, this long and lengthy epic from director David Lean portrays romance and conflict during the years of World War I, the Russian Revolution, and the Russian Civil War through many snow-covered vistas and warm clothes.  (trailer)

Cold Mountain-- Director Anthony Minghella's take on reuniting lovers torn by the Civil War makes this list on its title along.  Starring Nicole Kidman, Jude Law, and Renee Zellweger, not too many things are particularly cold.  (trailer)

Titanic-- Winner of a shared record 11 Academy Awards, James Cameron's epic and fateful drama offers plenty of cold water, hypothermia, and frosty condensation in the air to quell your hot July and August summers.  (trailer)

The Day After Tomorrow-- Director/producer Roland Emmerich always wishes his disaster films were as epic as something like Titanic.  This one on global warming tipping the planet into a sudden new ice age with Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, Emmy Rossum, rapid-freezing people, city-engulfing ice, and snowy thrills is decent entertainment to cool you off.  (trailer)

Star Wars: Episode V- The Empire Strikes Back-- Sit in just for the ice planet Hoth first act for a quick chilly break.  Just don't get your head stuck in a tauntaun.  (Hoth scene)

Batman and Robin-- Speaking of heroes, go ahead and add the worst possible Caped Crusader movie to this list.  The presence of Arnold Schwarzenegger's Mr. Freeze gives this movie a cold setting among the camp setting.  (trailer)

Batman Returns-- For a better Batman movie in the cold, take the snowy holiday-set Gotham City occupied by Danny DeVito's Penguin and Michelle Pfieffer's Catwoman.  That will definitely go over better than Batman and Robin.  (trailer)

Edward Scissorhands-- Speaking of Tim Burton (cha-ching, segue!), while much of the movie takes place in a bright and sunny suburb, there's a little bit of snowy scenery in Tim Burton's quirky fairy tale.  It could do the trick on a hot day.  (trailer)

Groundhog Day--  Not quite Tim Burton quirky, but a big dose of strange all the same is the brilliant Groundhog Day with Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell.  February 2nd and the Pennsylvanian winter never looked so idyllic over and over than where Bill is trapped repeating every day.  Snowball fights and ice sculptures are added for good measure.  (trailer)

Elf-- Speaking of snowball fights (I can't help myself on these segues now), Will Ferrell has a winter cannon in his holiday hit from 2003.  For more New York in the snow and holiday delight, add Home Alone 2: Lost in New York to the list.  (trailer and trailer)

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation-- While we're chatting up Elf and Home Alone 2, the entire catalog of Christmas movies could easily fill this entire editorial and list.  Take your pick of your favorites and practice a "Christmas in July."  For my money, give me Chevy Chase's Clark Griswold in any month of the year.  That's my pick for the best Christmas movie to represent this list.  You A Christmas Story fans can go stick your tongue on a hot summer pole.  (trailer)

The Ice Age franchise-- We'll end this list on a pair of animated cute choices.  You can't get too much colder than the glacial prehistoric settings of our mammoth, sloth, saber-toothed tiger, and Scrat friends.  The only trouble is that with every sequel in the franchise, things are destined to melt, as is the case in Ice Age: Continental Drift, playing now in theaters.  (trailer)

Happy Feet-- Finally, as the cutest ribbon to tie up this list, you can't beat the cuddly, singing, and dancing penguins of Antarctica.  From the criminal and horror start of Fargo andThe Grey, this movie couldn't be a nicer and different than where we started.  If you liked the first one, Happy Feet Two comes out this November. (trailer and trailer)

Enjoy your hot summer months as best you can and try to cool off with any of this movies if you feel like you need a two-hour mini-vacation!