100 Degrees Below Zero
100 Degrees Below Zero.
I have an addiction. I am addicted to what ‘Mericans term “B-Movies”. Disaster films where a large proportion of the disaster lies in the fact that the film was made. Apocalyptic dramas where the sense of apocalyptic doom has largely been brought about by knowing that someone, somewhere, funded the dismal epic being watched. Films where the funniest thing is perhaps the doorbell ringing or the dog needing to be taken out for a pee (or, I suspect, the dog needing to step outside for a rest from the film).
This one needs a wild assumption making before I can tell you what I thought of it. Let us presume that the script writer (if there was one), the Producer (if there was one), the Director (if there was one), the adolescent who created the special effects (the “special” adolescent) and the actors (if there were any) were all serious. Let us presume that they were doing their very best. Seriously. That is the only polite assumption, so I make it, and I thank them wholeheartedly for making the best worst film I have watched during this lifetime. It was hilarious, it was fascinating in the way that having your liver removed under local anaesthetic is fascinating, it was entertainment better than any evening spent straightening the bristles on the Dyson’s brush attachment.
I have no idea what the basic premise was (something about volcanic eruptions, tornados, high winds, low temperatures, some wet scientists, some even wetter “military” types of indeterminate nationality, that sort of thing). From the description it seems to be archetypal American “nuclear” family, Daddy d.i.v.o.r.c.e.d. and shacked up with younger woman, kids from first marriage (one “boy”, one “girl”) in “Paris” (more of the rabbit-ears later) and a big plan to move everyone to lovely warm Australia should a fresh ice age occur (aren’t we in one, technically, at the moment or the tail end of one or something – 11,000 year cycles?). Forget the storyline, let’s get straight to the delicious action, the groan-athon to end all “B-Movie” groan-athons, brilliantly taken to a new level here.
Opening scene – Daddy and (New) Mummy (oops – “Mommy”) flying, as one might, their twin-engined turbo-prop light aircraft from somewhere in America to a nebulous “Europe” for honeymoon with the kids (both kids being of university age, at least on paper if not actually in maturity). What could be more romantic than to honeymoon with the kids eh? The couple meet a spot of bad weather – so air traffic control from London City Airport radios them to “reduce altitude to 30,000ft” (remember this is a light aircraft, non-pressurised, supposedly having made it 3,000 miles AND at something over 30,000ft, fnarr, fnarr…). The weather gets worse as they then begin to fly over Eire… and they do indeed end up landing at “London City Airport”, an airport with no runways and that looks like a cheap hotel. Gosh, what to do, what to do.
Well, to do they decide to do rent a car and drive to Paris to meet the kids. Alright, forget about trying to rent a car in England and telling the rental agency that you’re “just popping across The Channel to la belle France with it”, I don’t think. Anyway, this minor commercial hiccough aside, they somehow rent a Fiat Seicento. Most of you won’t be familiar with this little example of Italian automotive humour; it was one of the few cars that distinguished itself in Euro NCAP safety tests as being one in which you were more likely to survive an accident if you got out and ran alongside the car instead of sitting in it while the bus/lorry/train hit you both
. Somehow, they also manage to rent a left-hand drive
example (oddly, with a dog-guard twixt the front seats and the rear). The registration number on the plate is not a UK format, but Hungarian… Daddy then proceeds to drive them to the Eurotunnel on the right-hand side of the road
and he does so somehow without meeting traffic head-on, all the way out of London and through Kent to the Chunnel. Neat trick!
For some reason, the English side of the Channel Tunnel consists of a Portakabin with a wire grill, behind which a young ticket collector sits, being very rude in an accent that changes from unidentifiable to unidentifiable something else to Irish Generic and then back to unidentifiable. The whole arrangement is guarded by a chap in camouflage fatigues, holding a machine gun as though it’s an escaped python – and his accent is an unholy mix of Eastern European “something”, although I think that we’re supposed to think that he’s Icelandic and is just down here guarding the Channel Tunnel because he had some free time on his hands. Anyway, long story less long; Daddy and New Mommy drive across a spot of grassland into the open to the elements “service tunnel” to avoid the queues. It’s a two-lane tunnel apparently, and Daddy is still driving his left-hand drive Seicento on the right-hand lane… During the quiet drive through a non-secured international tunnel the car changes registration twice, and from scene to scene the headlight are on, headlights are off, on, off, on, off – you get the idea. An earthquake then ruptures the tunnel but instead of killing them instantly as eleventy billion pints of H2O flood in, it just gets a bit wet. Mommy says “aarggh” and “ooh” and “do something you testosterone-fuelled ape” and “drive faster”. Daddy replies that he “has got it at maximum”. A peculiar phrase, made all the more so by their obviously being on the slow side of 20mph (and even the Seicento can better that without raising a sweat).
Meantime, the kids (both of whom look as though they’ll never see at least their thirtieth birthday again, if not their thirty-fifth), are in Paris. Except that it isn’t Paris, it’s Budapest with a wobbly Eiffel Tower faked in the background of every scene. Yup, an entirely different city in an entirely different country. Not Paris, not even a whiff of France. All of Europe looks the same anyway, so why worry about it eh?
Once you encounter these two vacuous little darlings you’ll want them dead within eighteen seconds of their first scenes. Were this a 3D film you’d reach out and beat them to death yourself. Don’t try to count how many times they “fall down”. I say “fall down” because, while the chap, dear love, is obviously quite used to being flung on his back with ne’ery a by-your-leave, the “girl” always just sort of gets down, Bunny Club knees together style, and then arranges herself on the pavement so as not to bang an elbow or break a nail or anything horrid.
Now, having mentioned that they spend a lot of time lying down awkwardly I should point out that, while their characters are brother and sister, I suspect that the actor and actress were in fact shagging like rabbits off-camera. There’s an uncomfortable amount of body-contact, inappropriate hugging, strangely creepy staring into each other’s eyes and general ickyness about their pairing. When they’re not hugging in a decidely non-sibling fashion they are being thrown upon one another by earthquakes, and thrown into juxtapositions that do not look at all unfamiliar to them Suffice it to say in that department; ugh.
The kiddiwinkles spend their entire time in t-shirt and jeans, this despite the blizzards and “Day After The Day Before Next Wednesday” new ice-age cold and gales. During the “Parisian” scenes with these two all other characters (and there are at least a brief five or six others in toto) come and go like snowflakes – like the snowflakes in the blizzard that were obviously too expensive to arrange, so everything is filmed in bright and dry conditions. This hapless pair steal a couple of fur coats, lose them immediately, steal some bicycles and lose them immediately, get arrested by some chaps in a large 4×4 – who then die immediately in a 10mph accident involving a building leaping out in front of the vehicle, or something – and on and on and on ad nauseam until they eventually find their way to the Eiffel Tower where Daddy will be collecting them in a heckilopter. They do, however, utter what is possibly the best line of the film; something to the effect that the French must have a plan specifically to help Americans caught in Paris during just such a crisis. Quote unquote, as they say.
Oh yes. Every country overseas has special plans in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing of Americans and every other specific nationality while abroad during apocalyptic extinction-level natural disasters. Meanwhile, the ‘Merican Embassy is deserted save for some Frenchman who turns out to be an American who came back to the “ruined” city for some important files (and once he’s used the defibrillator – in the manner of a Luddite crossed with Nurse Ratchet’s technophobe grandmother – he’s never seen again).
Shall I mention the throwing of a cable from the hovering helicopter to the kids on the Eiffel Tower, kids who then slide down the cable to the safety of the helicopter, somehow missing (damn it) being sliced to ribbons by the rotor blades? Have I mentioned the many scenes where mobile telephones suddenly spring back into life and conversations are held about how “everything’s gone” [in the earthquakes and storms] – while Paris [i.e., Budapest] is in full technicolour glory in the background of the shot? Did I mention the French chap who, seeing a “la girlie in distress” having fallen over during one of the many, many earthquakes, can think of nothing better to do than to tempt her back to his “le country maison” for a spot of “le grubby nooky” – and who, in a disgusting example of visceral female violence, receives a kick in the “les balls”? No? Well I must leave some things to your imagination.
This film is splendid. It’s crap. Pure, unadulterated, well-made crap. It’s a hoot. I heartily recommend it, and I am now deleting it from my collection. I never want to see it again.
I rate it in terms of stars with the same tongue-in-[face?]cheek attitude of the professionals here involved – Zero stars out of eight billion.
[Well, you didn’t expect me to use the new faux “billion” did you?]
Chin-chin, onwards and upwards. Now, where is the film listings… I need more… more more… which will hopefully be less.