FROZEN SCREAM (1975/1980) Reviews and overview

 

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Frozen Scream is a 1980 American science fiction horror film about mad scientists that turn people into frozen zombies that wreak havoc and kill people.

Directed by Frank Roach (Nomad Riders) from a screenplay co-written by Doug Ferrin, Michael Sonye [as Michael Soney] and Celeste Hammond, based on a story co-written by German-born producer Renee Harmon and Doug Ferrin.

Production on Frozen Scream was apparently begun in 1975, but based on an interview in Stephen Thrower’s Nightmare USA book some scenes were not filmed until 1980. It failed to achieve a theatrical release. Its initial commercial release was on VHS in the UK in 1983 by Home Video Productions.

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In 1985, the film was released for the first time in the US on a double-feature VHS tape with The Executioner Part II (1984).

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The movie stars Renee Harmon (Run Coyote Run; Night of Terror; The Executioner, Part II; Lady Street Fighter and sequel), Lynne Yeaman (Nomad Riders), Wolf Muser, Kevin McGuire, Wayne Liebman, Lee James, Sunny Bartholomew and Bill Oliver.

The bizarre soundtrack score was composed by H. Kingsley Thurber III. Unbelievably, it was recycled for Don’t Go in the Woods, 1980.

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Reviews:

” …there’s no doubt that Frozen Scream is a highly bizarre experience psychotronic devotees should enjoy enduring. When there isn’t a wild-eyed frozen zombie in monk’s robes menacing the heroine, a pair of deadpan mad doctors endlessly debate the virtues of immortality and science in impenetrable German accents […] lots of weird moments and plenty of squeamish needle injection scenes…” AllMovie

” …the zero-production values hamper the somewhat decent plot […] and the hampering goes deeper with the strained voice-overs to thread the film’s vignettes into a coherent plot. The non-cinematography, the audio (the voice-overs are placed over the actor’s dialogs […] is beyond muddy, and the painful thespin’ throughout…” B&S About Movies

Frozen Scream had a script. There’s a copy in the archives of the library of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences […] And yet, I still refuse to believe that a script existed when the film was shot. There’s no story to speak of. There’s no beginning, no middle, and no end.” Bleeding Skull!

“The plot is hard to follow and banal […] The dialogue sucks and the acting is terrible. It looks like they are reading off the script while shooting […]The editing, sounds, pace sucks. It’s just a terrible and amateurish film.” Cinema Terror

” …Frozen Scream does possess some intermittent atmosphere with its mix of science and esotericism in a sunny California setting and its downbeat finale. This, however, is quickly undone by mostly poor performances that have been post-dubbed by the actors matching their already poor inflexions…” DVD Drive-In

” …a movie of such startling ineptitude. First of all, there’s the acting […] Then there’s the direction and editing; the story makes no sense, the scenes seem edited at random, and the voiceover narration that’s supposed to clear things up comes up at all the wrong moments and mostly concentrates on the least relevant plot issue…” Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings

“The acting is across-the-board deplorable — in some cases, so stilted that it attracts termites. Problems with the penny-ante production exist at the core, so even an influx of financial resources would not improve things. Frozen Scream is one tough sit.” Flick Attack

” …there was a very Manos-like quality to the whole thing. It’s blatantly obvious that all of the actors were dubbed in post, and very poorly at that […] Unsurprisingly, this makes the already unnatural-sounding dialogue even worse […] Though much of this is an unremarkable dullfest for the most part, there’s a somewhat appealing “trainwreck” quality to it…” Geoff T

” …one of those movies that is so bad, so incompetent, so unbelievably what-the-f*ck that it makes most Ed Wood films look professional in comparison. One is tempted to simply write it off as “what-were-they-thinking, oh-they-needed-a-tax-deduction” trash, but, in truth, although an unbelievably inept film, Frozen Scream displays an earnestness shared by all those involved…” A Wasted Life

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Plot:

Academic scientists Lil Stanhope (Harmon) and Sven Johnsson (Lee James) are researching the secrets of immortality. But the project involves turning their subjects into zombies and storing them in walk-in freezers.

Their collaborator, Tom Girard (Wolf Muser), refuses further participation and is apparently killed in his house by men in hooded robes who inject him with a serum. Ann (Kocol), Tom’s wife, arrives before the intruders can carry away his body.

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Ann is hospitalized following what Lil calls “the incident in the hallway.” She attempts to convince Ann that most of it was all in her head, although Ann insists she was drugged by the intruders and left unconscious. Lil says that the police found Tom’s body but no evidence of hooded men or hypodermic needles.

Detective Kevin McGuire (Gowen) is assigned to the case, which he believes is connected to the disappearance of medical students Kirk Richard (Bob Rochelle) and Bob Russell (Bill Oliver). Kevin wants to interview Ann – sometime in the past, she had dumped him and married Tom the following day – but Lil prevents it.

Sven suggests discharging Ann and appointing Cathrin (Sunny Bartholomew) as her home nurse. Cathrin is a zombie. Tom had told Ann of the immortality project, and they’d attended a ceremony on a beach. Tom left to confess to Father O’Brien (Wayne Liebman) while Ann watched the students chanting “love and immortality” around a bonfire.

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At their lab, Lil tells Sven that they’re “interfering with nature” and that “the beings we create are not human beings.” Sven assures her that they’ll soon unlock the secrets of immortality. Meanwhile, Kevin tells Ann of his suspicions about Sven and Lil. Ann agrees to report back what she finds.

Kevin and Ann interview Fr. O’Brien. He tells them that Tom had said Sven was using curare on rats, then reviving them and keeping them at low temperatures to retard their aging process. But after being revived, Tom said, the rats acted as if they were “almost soul-less.” Shortly thereafter, a zombie strangles O’Brien.

Ann gets a phone call from Tom, who complains of feeling cold and numb. The call ends abruptly when intruders burst into Ann’s house. She calls Kevin for help and rushes to Cathrin’s room. But Cathrin isn’t there. Instead, a zombie grabs Ann and threatens to kill her and Tom if she continues to coöperate with Kevin. Cathrin returns and denies that anyone was in the house. Not believing her, Kevin takes Ann home, where they sleep together. Kevin declares his love for her; she says nothing about her feelings toward him.

Ann searches Lil’s office and discovers photos of the missing med students. She tells Kevin that she’ll search Sven’s home lab during his Halloween party. During the party, Cathrin overheats and drops dead.

The party continues. Ann sees Tom staring blankly from the window of an old house. She calls Kevin. Inside the house, she finds a freezer containing Tom and the missing students, both of whom are zombies. The zombies attack. Kevin kills one but is knocked over by a car and taken to the hospital. Ann is chased by the second zombie. Just as he is about to kill Ann, Lil appears and tells him that he’s been out of the freezer for too long. He immediately dies.

Ann is taken to Sven’s lab, where he intends to zombify her. But Lil kills him. Lil asks Ann to take Sven’s place on the immortality project. As a ruse, Ann agrees but then destroys the lab. An angry Lil decides to inject Ann with the zombie serum. O’Brien, himself a zombie, arrives.

Ann, Lil and O’Brien visit Kevin in the hospital. Ann, now a zombie, promises she’ll love Kevin forever. But her eternal love has a price, which Kevin pays as Lil plunges a hypodermic containing zombie serum into his eye…

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Cast and characters (in credits order):

Renee Harmon … Lil Stanhope
Lynne Yeaman … Ann Girard (as Lynne Kocol)
Wolf Muser … Tom Girard
Kevin McGuire (as Thomas Gowen)
Wayne Liebman … Father O’Brien
Lee James … Sven Johnsson
Sunny Bartholomew … Cathrin
Bill Oliver … Bob Russel
Bob Rochelle … Kirk Richard
Teri Argula … Nurse
Art Piatt … Nightwatchman
Cheryl Harmon … Trick o’ Treat Child
Julie Ann Meisels Julie Ann Meisels … Trick o’Treat Child
Jennifer Flamen … Trick o’ Treat Child
Chris Hammond … Principal Dancer
Sandie Gelbard … Principal Dancer
Bill Luce … Man in Car
Cheryl Crandal … Girl in Pool
Chris Russell … Girl in House
Paul Yamanian … Killer
Ben Moase … Man at Party
Andy Machtigall … Man at Party
Stephen Fusci … Man at Party (as Stephan Fusci)
Gary Pearl … Young Man in Pool

Fun facts:

Some footage from Frozen Scream was re-used in Run Coyote Run (1987), which was also produced by, written by and starred Harmon. The film is a crime thriller about a psychic who is trying to find her dead sister’s killers.

Trailer:

Full film free to watch online:

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