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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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on and the IFC app.

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Byrning Down the House

Everything You Need to Know About the Film That Inspired “Final Transmission”

Documentary Now! pays tribute to "Stop Making Sense" this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Cinecom/courtesy Everett Collection

This week Documentary Now! is with the band. For everyone who’s ever wanted to be a roadie without leaving the couch, “Final Transmission” pulls back the curtain on experimental rock group Test Pattern’s final concert. Before you tune in Wednesday at 10P on IFC, plug your amp into this guide for Stop Making Sense, the acclaimed 1984 Talking Heads concert documentary.

Put on Your Dancing Shoes

Hailed as one of the best concert films ever created, director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) captured the energy and eccentricities of a band known for pushing the limits of music and performance.

Make an Entrance

Lead singer David Byrne treats the concert like a story: He enters an empty stage with a boom box and sings the first song on the setlist solo, then welcomes the other members of the group to the stage one song at a time.

Steal the Spotlight

David Byrne Dancing
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Always a physical performer, Byrne infuses the stage and the film with contagious joy — jogging in place, dancing with lamps, and generally carrying the show’s high energy on his shoulders.

Suit Yourself

Byrne makes a splash in his “big suit,” a boxy business suit that grows with each song until he looks like a boy who raided his father’s closet. Don’t overthink it; on the DVD, the singer explains, “Music is very physical, and often the body understands it before the head.”

View from the Front Row

Stop Making Sense Band On Stage
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Demme (who also helmed 1987’s Swimming to Cambodia, the inspiration for this season’s Documentary Now! episode “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything”) films the show by putting viewers in the audience’s shoes. The camera rarely shows the crowd and never cuts to interviews or talking heads — except the ones onstage.

Let’s Get Digital

Tina Weymouth Keyboard
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Stop Making Sense isn’t just a good time — it’s also the first rock movie to be recorded entirely using digital audio techniques. The sound holds up more than 30 years later.

Out of Pocket

Talk about investing in your art: Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz told Rolling Stone that the members of the band “basically put [their] life savings” into the movie, and they didn’t regret it.

Catch Documentary Now!’s tribute to Stop Making Sense when “Final Transmission” premieres Wednesday, October 12 at 10P on IFC.

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