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Ice Spiders Live!

I did a story a few weeks back about an upcoming Sci-Fi Channel original movie about big mutant spiders terrorizing a cast of former “Melrose Place” actors called Ice Spiders, although word is that the Sci-Fi Channel is insisting upon retitling the film Cold Snap for some unknown reason. Ice Spiders may sound like a generic B-movie title, but it’s still far and away better than Cold Snap. Ice Spiders is the title that Regent Entertainment is sticking with now that they’ve listed the film on their website.

If you need a refresher: An Olympic ski team is practicing at a remote ski resort that has the grave misfortune of being near a secret gov’t lab from which big mutant spiders have escaped. The film stars three former cast members of “Melrose Place” (Patrick Muldoon, Thomas Calabro, and Vanessa Williams) and is directed by Tibor Takacs, who also gave us The Gate, I, Madman, and Mansquito (I make no apologies for my love for Mansquito!). It turns out that even prolific TV mega-producer Stephen J. Cannell (“The A-Team”, “The Rockford Files”, and “The Greatest American Hero” amongst countless more) has an acting role in the film.

While I’ve always had something of a love/hate relationship with the Sci-Fi Channel’s original movies, my patience with them has been wearing thin of late. The Sci-Fi Channel has a perceived formula for filmmaking success that generally shoehorns the filmmakers into making sci-fi/horror/creature features that are just different variations of the same uninspired, overly clichéd storylines’ and it’s a formula that’s become increasingly exposed. There’s almost a consistency to the banality of their badness – so formulaic that if you watch enough of them, you can recognize a sameness to their story beats, plot points, characterizations, pacing, visual aesthetics, etc. And they don’t have the luxury of having multi-million dollar budgets to blow on special effects, action scenes, and what not in order to try and mask the obvious lameness of the film’s overall quality. I’ve come to realize why it is that the indie genre films that Sci-Fi picks up the broadcast rights to often prove so superior in quality to the original films that the network itself commissions.

It’s disappointing that the Sci-Fi Channel seems content to keep churning out genre movies with no real personality outside of numbing predictability given that they probably are the biggest purveyors of what constitutes modern creature feature cinema. I don’t expect cinematic epics or all-time classics, but the rut these films are in is depressing. Is it really asking too much for better fair than Komodo vs. Cobra, Raptor Island, Alien Express, and Deep Shock? And yet, like many people, I see them advertise a new original movie, think to myself that the premise has the potential to deliver the kind of movie I so love, and decide to give it a chance despite knowing that the odds are high that I’m only going to end up like Charlie Brown repeatedly falling for Lucy’s football gag and ending up flat on my back wondering how I could have allowed myself to be duped yet again.

But unlike the countless people that no doubt stopped reading this story the moment they read the phrase “Sci-Fi Channel original movie,” here I am lining up to kick that football yet again. Regent Entertainment just put up a trailer for Ice Spiders, and while it definitely looks to have many of the earmarks of a Sci-Fi Channel original movie – it actually looks quite reminiscent of 2000’s Spiders but transplanted to a snowy environment – the trailer is still a pretty solid one. Specifically, while we don’t see much giant spider action in it, what we do see shows a preference for use of practical special effects over the usual video game quality computer effects that plague the majority of Sci-Fi Channel original movies. While it may not look 100% realistic either, it’s physically tangible and doesn’t look like something cartoonishly unrealistic when mixed with the live action actors and environments. So color me cautiously optimistic for this one. Check out the trailer by clicking here and decide for yourself.

Don’t expect Ice Spiders/Cold Snap to air until some time in 2007. Coincidentally, it won’t be the Sci-Fi Channel’s only original spider flick for next year. There’s another tentatively entitled In the Spider’s Web in the works.

The Foywonder

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Jon Condit