"Slaying thru the Snow" A Guide to Winter-Themed Slasher Films
The holiday season is over and some of you may have placed your copies of Black Christmas or Silent Night, Deadly Night back on the shelf for another year. But for many, the snow fall we watch through frosted windows or the bitter wind that whistles over our chimney tops inspires the need for more slasher flicks set in the dead of winter.
The fact that there are so few slasher films set in snowy locations may be surprising. The atmosphere that a grey, winter sky can add, or the idea of being snowed in or cut off from help by a winter storm would seem the perfect set up for some slasher fun. So why aren't there more to choose from?
One reason might be the budgetary restraints that many of our favorite slasher films share. Producing a feature film is hard enough without the added difficulties of working in the snow or filming in inclement weather. Snow machines and weather FX are tools that are usually utilized in films with higher budgets.
Of course there are ways to create a winter setting on a lower budget. Turn on any Hallmark movie and you'll see a few buckets of fake snow and some CGI snowflakes, but that's not what we're talking about here. We're looking for the bleak vastness that a a true winter landscape can provide. Great atmosphere and a unique setting is helpful in any type of horror story, but when it comes to the slasher sub-genre it can truly lift a film from mediocre to memorable.
So with all that in mind, here is a short list of slashers to help with your post-holiday, winter horror cravings...
Satan's Blade (1984)
Filmed in the snowy hills of Big Bear, CA, this low-budget slasher takes place on a remote ski resort where its young guests are terrorized by a supernatural knife which possesses anyone who wields it, and commands them to commit murder.
Satan's Blade is only for those who enjoy the most obscure and budget-challenged slashers of the early 80's. The acting is rough and there are several painfully slow scenes, but Satan's Blade possesses an eerie and disturbing quality that fans of obscure VHS-era slashers will appreciate.
We're on to another ski resort where a group of friends have received a mysterious invitation to return to the location of a tragic death which took place years earlier. Pretty soon, people start getting stabbed with icicles by a guy in a ski suit. Who could it be?! This is all very standard stuff, but Iced is a great time for those who enjoy "so bad it's good" horror. The cast includes the Addams Family's Lisa Losing who we sadly lost this year.
Canada gets a lot of snow. So maybe it's no surprise that this Canadian slasher boasts a beautiful winter setting. With a great cast, including John Vernon and Samantha Eggar, and a very unique premise for an early 80's slasher, Curtains had a lot going for it despite its very troubled production. Still, this story of a masked killer slicing up actresses who are competing for a role at a filmmaker's mansion has some great moments, including one of the most memorable scenes in slasher history.
Cold Prey (2006)
If there was an award for the harshest environment for horror film to be produced, this Norwegian slasher might be the taker. Filmed in the mountains of southern Norway where film gear and supplies had to be delivered by helicopter, this slasher delivers a winter setting like no other. In the film, a group of snow boarders seek shelter in an abandoned lodge after one of their group is injured. They are soon hunted by a mysterious killer.
Never Hike in the Snow (2020)
With the lack of new content in the Friday the 13th series, many filmmakers have taken matters into their own hands to keep Jason's bloodshed flowing. Some of these "fan films" have displayed a surprising high quality in terms of production value. "Never Hike in the Snow" is director Vincente DiSanti's wintery follow up to his popular "Never Hike Alone". With a cast that includes, Thom Mathews (Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives), the film places Jason in a season we've never seem him stalk, the dead of winter. If anything, this ambitious fan creation proves that Jason looks cool in the snow.
Terror Train (1980)
This is the one film where I've broken my own guideline of "post-holiday" slashers as this film takes place on New Year's Eve. But I'll give myself a break because Terror Train is rarely included in holiday slasher lists but its wintery setting was just too great to pass up. Filmed in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in the winter of 1979, this slasher on a train film is a perfect addition to any winter night horror marathon. Fresh off of Prom Night, Jamie Lee Curtis does her thing on a train where a multi-mask wearing slasher stalks a group of college party goers.
Girl's Nite Out (1982)
This one might be a stretch because it doesn't feature any snowy landscapes or icicles hanging menacingly off of sorority houses, but hear me out. I've never seen characters look, and act, as cold as the ones in this college slasher. These poor people are freezing! The film was shot in New Jersey and New York during the coldest months. Girl's Nite Out was a rushed production so hopefully the actors had limited time out in the freezing temps. The warmest person on set was probably the actor in the slasher's bear suit. Armed with steak knife claws, this furry killer stalks college students during an annual scavenger hunt. Oscar nominee, Hal Holbrook, adds a touch of class as the campus security officer on a bear hunt.
There has to be more "post-holiday" winter slashers out there so feel free to comment or message me to let me know your thoughts. Hope you enjoy the last remaining days of winter! It will be summer camp slasher times soon enough!
Kristopher Phipps is a filmmaker and writer from Austin, TX.
Connect with him on Instagram or reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org