Blades of Glory

Turn Up the Thermostat

10 Memorably Frosty Movie Characters

Catch Batman Returns and Batman & Robin throughout December on IFC.

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Paramount/courtesy Everett Collection

If there’s one thing Hollywood isn’t short on, it’s ice queens (both literal and metaphorical), cold-blooded killers, and chilly villains. Like Batman & Robins Mr. Freeze, these frosty movie characters will have you reaching for the thermostat all year long. Okay, fine, Mom, we’ll go “put on a sweater”  instead! Is it getting colder in here, or is it just us?

1. Penguin, Batman Returns

In the hands of director Tim Burton and a delightfully game Danny DeVito, Oswald Cobblepot, neé Penguin, is one of the more nefarious villains Batman has faced onscreen, especially in comparison with the pun-loving Mr. Freeze of Joel Schumacher’s candy-colored Batman & Robin just five years later. He kidnaps babies and ice princesses, bites people’s noses, and pushes victims off roofs to their deaths. Oh, and he also manipulates Gotham into electing him Mayor by playing into their fears and creating mass hysteria. Fun fact: Screenwriter Daniel Waters (Heathers) specifically wrote the role for DeVito.


2. Jadis the White Witch, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe

It would be difficult not to fall under the spell of Jadis, the White Witch of Narnia; so beguiling is she when we first see her arrive in a beautiful sleigh pulled by white reindeer. We soon discover, however, Jadis is a ruthless, manipulative, tyrannical ruler who turns all who disobey her to stone and has blanketed Narnia in endless winter (“but never Christmas!”) for over a hundred years, fearing her power will be usurped in a fulfillment of a prophecy that two Sons of Adam and two Daughters of Eve will cause her great downfall. First embodied by Barbara Kellerman in the 1988 BBC television adaption, the ever transformative Tilda Swinton won raves for her portrayal in the 2005 film, simultaneously seducing and terrorizing a whole new generation of visitors to Narnia.


3. The Winter Warlock, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town

Rankin/Bass gave us a slew of classic, occasionally bizarre (see Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July and The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus) Christmas specials during the course of their 27-year partnership (the production arm of Rankin Bass Inc. shuttered in 1987). Their 1970 special, Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town, falls squarely within the classic end of the spectrum, and its villain-turned-hero, the Winter Warlock, has become one of the more beloved stop-motion characters to appear on our television screens. Winter (voiced by Keenan Wynn), as he’s called for short, has been scaring trespassers on his lands for years before our loving hero, Kris (Mickey Rooney), melts his heart by giving him a toy train as a gift. And because this is a feel-good children’s movie, Winter learns how to be a kinder person through a highly catchy, semi-inspirational song, “Put One Foot in Front of the Other.” If only every winter could be so easily tamed…


4. Stranz and Fairchild Van Waldenberg, Blades of Glory

The real world of figure skating has seen its fair share of campy routines and costumes, slightly creepy pairings, and outright backstabbing (Tonya and Nancy in 1994 anyone?) but conniving siblings Stanz and Fairchild Van Waldenberg (Will Arnett and Amy Poehler, respectively) of Blades of Glory might just be the creepiest and campiest of all, fictional or otherwise. With a penchant for slightly incestuous routine themes (“Forbidden Romance” featuring JFK/Marilyn Monroe), these reigning U.S. National Pairs Champions will do anything to keep same-sex pair Chazz Michael Michaels (Will Ferrell) and Jimmy MacElroy (Jon Heder) from taking the gold at the World Winter Sport Games, including blackmailing their little sister, Katie (Jenna Fischer) into helping them. Thanks to the perfect casting of Will Arnett and Amy Poehler, Stranz and Fairchild not only have double axels in their arsenal, they’ve got plenty of snippy one-liners, proving their tongues are just as sharp as their skates.


5. Dolores Umbridge, Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix

Depending on who you ask, Dolores Umbridge (a perfectly cast and terrifying Imelda Staunton) may be more hated than Voldemort in the Harry Potter series and not without reason. Though she dresses head-to-toe in violent shades of pink, has kitten pictures all over the walls, and says everything with a smile, make no mistake the Senior Undersecretary to the Minister of Magic turned Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher has a much darker agenda. From hating “half-breeds” to using cruel and unusual punishments against students to passing numerous “Educational Decrees” banning various types of objects and behaviors to having professors fired, Umbridge was a major source of ire for everyone at Hogwarts (except maybe Draco Malfoy). Author J.K. Rowling herself has said she feels the “purest dislike” for Umbridge. We’d say Voldemort is worse, but we “must not tell lies.”


6. The Thing, The Thing

Here’s the thing about The Thing: in John Carpenter’s 1982 cult classic film, you’re never quite sure who is still human and who is being imitated by the parasitic alien of the title. In fact, both Carpenter and star Kurt Russell have said that at various points in the film, even they aren’t sure who is who. Thus, anyone and everyone at the American research base in frozen, desolate Antarctica can be the villain, leading to an overwhelming sense of paranoia among its inhabitants with chilling results. Interestingly, The Thing and Blade Runner both opened the same day in 1982 to mixed reviews but are now both hailed as sci-fi classics by audiences and critics alike. Case in point? It’s tradition for the crew at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica to watch The Thing on the first evening of winter each year. Also, Quentin Tarantino reportedly used unused music from legendary composer Ennio Morricone’s score for The Thing for his upcoming film, The Hateful Eight, which is perfect given both films star the ever irascible Kurt Russell.


7. Annie Wilkes, Misery

Kathy Bates is no stranger to playing off-kilter characters, but none are quite as terrifying as Colorado nurse Annie Wilkes, who is definitely a cautionary tale of taking fangirling to the extreme (Tumblr, beware!). There are no lengths to which Annie will not go in order to force kidnapped author, Paul (James Caan), to resurrect her favorite character, Misery, including drugging him and, famously, breaking his feet with a sledgehammer. Though she won the Best Actress Oscar, Bates reportedly had a difficult time filming the more violent scenes, crying in between takes and was actually the third choice for the role behind Anjelica Huston and Bette Midler.


8. Miranda Frost, Die Another Day

The James Bond franchise has never been one for subtlety in its naming of characters (Pussy Galore, anyone?), so it comes as no surprise that Miranda Frost winds up being quite literally the frosty femme fatale of Pierce Brosnan’s last turn as the superspy. Played by a pre-Gone Girl Rosamund Pike, Miranda is a former Olympic fencer turned publicist for baddie billionaire, Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens), by way of MI6. Ever the cool-headed woman, she seduces Bond in a room at Graves’ Icelandic ice palace before revealing her true allegiances in a standoff between Graves and Bond the following day. During Pike’s press tour for Gone Girl, the press nicknamed her “Bond Girl to Gone Girl,” because of how similar her characters are in both films: blonde, cold-hearted, and out for blood.


9. Box, Logan’s Run

The year is 2274, and humans live in a utopia of sorts, except no one gets to live past the age of 30. So naturally when Runners Logan 5 and Jessica 6 attempt to escape, they’re almost killed by a food-gathering robot named Box (Roscoe Lee Brown) in his frozen cave. Box has a certain predilection for freezing Runners like artwork and keeping them in an icy gallery of sorts. A much longer version of this ice cave sequence was shot where Box asks Logan and Jessica to pose for his ice sculpture (What is this, Titanic?), but was ultimately cut due to extensive nudity and fears it would not pass the MGM censors. Because of the size and construction of his costume, actor Roscoe Lee Brown often had trouble moving and especially getting back up if he fell over on set.


10. Catherine Tramell, Basic Instinct

It was the leg-crossing seen round the world; one that has come to define the manipulative, mysterious novelist Catherine Tramell (a tour-de-force performance from Sharon Stone). After being accused of murdering her rock star boyfriend with an ice pick, Catherine strikes up an affair with the detective, Nick (Michael Douglas), assigned to her case. Thus, the ultimate cat-and-mouse game begins with Catherine using her sexual prowess as a means of achieving her own agenda. Like Nick, you’re never really sure if Catherine is the killer, but one look from Sharon Stone’s icy facade is enough to leave anyone dead in their tracks.

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Inauguration Alternative

Bill Murray On Repeat

It's a movie "Murray-thon" all-day Friday on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs courtesy of GIPHY

Democrats, Republicans and Millennials agree: 2017 is shaping up to be a spectacle — a spectacle that really kicks into high gear this Friday with the presidential inauguration. Not only will the new POTUS swear in, but all the Country’s highest offices will be filled. It’s a daunting prospect, and to feel a little anxious about it is only normal. But if your anxiety is snowballing into panic, we have a solution:
Bill Murray.

He’s the human embodiment of a mental “Happy Place”, and there’s really no problem he can’t solve. So, with that in mind, how about we all set aside reality for a moment and let Bill take the pain away by imagining a top-shelf White House cabinet filled exclusively by his signature characters. Here are a few hypothetical appointments for your consideration…

Secretary of Defense:
Bill Murray from Stripes

His incompetence is balanced by charm, and dumb luck is inexplicably on his side. America could do worse.

Secretary of State:
Bill Murray from Lost In Translation

A seasoned globetrotter steeped in regional traditions who has the respect of the whole wide world. And he kills Costello in karaoke, which is very important.

Press Secretary:
Bill Murray from Ghostbusters

“Cats and dogs, living together. Mass hysteria.” Dude knows how to brief a room.

Secretary of Health and Human Services:
Bill Murray from What About Bob.

A doctor-approved people person who knows that progress is measured in baby steps.

Secretary of Energy:
Bill Murray from Groundhog Day

Let’s be honest, this world is going to need a lot of do-overs.

Feeling better? Hold on to that bliss. And enjoy a healthy alternative to the inauguration brouhaha with multiple Murrays all Friday long in an IFC movie marathon including Kingpin, Zombieland, Ghostbusters, and Ghostbusters II.

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Home Run

Hank Azaria Gets Thrown A Curve Ball

Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Unless you’ve somehow missed every episode of the Simpsons since 1989, then surely you know that Hank Azaria is one of the most important character actors of our time. He’s so prolific and his voice is so dynamic that he’s responsible for more iconic personalities than most folks realize. Basically, he’s the great and powerful Oz — except that when you pull back the curtain the truth is actually more impressive. And now Hank is coming to IFC to bring yet another character to the TV pop culture hive mind in the new series Brockmire. Check out the trailer below.

Based on the following Funny or Die short and co-starring Amanda Peet, Brockmire follows the story of imploded major league sportscaster Jim Brockmire as he tries to resurrect his career by calling plays for a floundering minor league team in a podunk town.

The series is written by Joel Church-Cooper (Undateable) and produced by Funny or Die’s Mike Farah and Joe Farrell, meaning that there’s funny in front of the camera, funny behind the camera–funny all around. Sounds like a ball to us.

Brockmire premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Car Notes

Portlandia On People Who Can’t Park

Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

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If flagrant bad parking takes nerve, then retaliatory note writing takes neuroses. Watch Fred and Carrie take passive aggression to next level in Car Notes, the new Portlandia web series presented by Subaru. The first episode is yours right here and now, and you can see every installment of Car Notes anytime online, on the IFC app and on demand.

Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

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