Culture Art & Media 10 Cool Movies to Watch in the Sweltering Heat By Matt Hickman Writer Emerson College The New School Matt Hickman is an associate editor at The Architect’s Newspaper. His writing has been featured in Curbed, Apartment Therapy, URBAN-X, and more. our editorial process Matt Hickman Updated August 01, 2019 A movie with penguins is a good way to cool off during the summer. Rich Lindie/Shutterstock Share Twitter Pinterest Email Culture History Travel Sustainable Fashion Art & Media Holidays Community You know the drill: It’s mid-January, the wind is howling outside and the thermometer has been hovering around freezing for over a week. There’s no end in sight. At home, you’re in the most frigid of funks and work is no better, as your cubicle mate has just returned from a two-week jaunt in Thailand and won’t shut up about it. And so, in a brief but effective attempt at escapism, you blend yourself a tropical drink, break out the SAD lamp and hunker down in front of the flat screen to watch “The Blue Lagoon,” “The Beach,” or “From Here to Eternity.” Heck, even “Captain Ron” will do, as long as the setting is balmy, breezy, Bahamian and involves sand. Lots and lots of sand. During the most sweltering stretches of summer, the same trick can be applied, but in the reverse: When it’s 95 degrees outside and dew points are at their most relentless, nothing helps to put you in a glacial state of mind better than watching a film set in a frigid, frosty and/or snow-filled environment. Comedy, horror, documentary, three-hour historical romance set in Siberia ... it doesn’t matter as long as there is an ample amount of frozen precipitation, heavy outerwear and on-screen shivering involved. And on that note, viewing a chill-inducing film is made even more effective when you’re sitting directly in front of a portable fan with a gigantic bowl of ice cubes placed in front of it (we couldn’t go as far as to break out the hot chocolate and don ear muffs, but whatever works). You never know, a couple hours spent indulging in a wintery cinematic escape may even prompt you to crank up the AC a couple of notches to help save on sky-high summer electric bills. Below, you’ll find 10 of our favorite films of “the I can’t deal with this ungodly heat anymore, but can’t afford a plane ticket to the Swedish Lapland at the moment” variety. This obviously isn’t a definitive list, so please tell us about a frosty film — Christmas flicks not included — that you like to break out during the dog days of summer in the comments section. “Dr. Zhivago” (1965) Chill factor: 7 Bundled-up cast: Omar Sharif, Julie Christie, Geraldine Chaplin, Alec Guinness Main attraction (aside from the cold weather): Aside from Julie Christie’s fashionable sable headwear? The history lesson provided by this enduring — and epically long — film set amidst the Bolshevik Revolution. One hundred ninety minutes of snow-covered melodrama should give you plenty of time to cool off. *** “The Shining” (1980) Chill factor: 8 Bundled-up cast: Jack Nicholson, Shelly Duvall, Scatman Crothers, Danny Lloyd Main attraction (aside from the cold weather): Jack Nicholson's ferocious — and frequently parodied — performance as a struggling writer suffering from a really nasty case of cabin fever who goes berserk and tries to murder his wife and son while caretaking the isolated (and possibly haunted) Overlook Hotel during the off-season. *** “Star Wars Episode 5 – The Empire Strikes Back" (1980) Chill factor: 7 Bundled-up cast: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams Main attractions (aside from the cold weather): Tauntauns and Wampas and AT-AT Walkers, oh my! Although you fanboys out there are probably already well aware, the film’s snow-covered battle sequences set on Rebel Alliance’s frigid temporary home, the ice planet Hoth, were filmed at Hardangerjøkulen Glacier in Finse, Norway. *** “The Thing” (1982) Chill factor: 10 Bundled-up cast: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Donald Moffat, Richard Dysart Main attraction (aside from the cold weather): The unbearable paranoia that grips the frostbitten crew of an Antarctic research station when a shape-shifting alien decides to pay them a visit. John Carpenter’s sci-fi classic also features oodles of exceedingly gruesome special effects. Skip the 2011 remake. *** “Fargo” (1996) Chill factor: 7 Bundled-up cast: Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare Main attraction (aside from the cold weather): The hilarious (yet totally exaggerated) Minnesota accents unleashed by the cast of this Academy Award-winning Midwestern dark comedy/thriller from the Coen brothers. And don’t forget about the infamous wood chipper (which now has its own Facebook page, don’t cha, know?). *** “The Ice Storm” (1997) Chill factor: 5 Bundled-up cast: Kevin Kline, Joan Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Tobey McGuire Main attraction (aside from the cold weather): The alcohol- and adultery-fueled suburban angst that runs amok amongst two New Canaan, Conn., families over a particularly nasty Thanksgiving weekend in the early 1970s. Keep an eye out for a young Katie Holmes in her film debut. *** “Smilla’s Sense of Snow” (1997) Chill factor: 8 Bundled-up cast: Julia Ormond, Gabriel Byrne, Richard Harris, Vanessa Redgrave Main attraction (aside from the cold weather): An uproariously far-fetched ending that nearly undoes this slick, Copenhagen-set conspiracy thriller about a Greenlandic “snow expert”-turned-sleuth hot on the trail of a shady mining magnate that she suspects is involved in the death of a young Inuit boy. *** “March of the Penguins” (2005) Chill factor: 10 Bundled-up cast: Morgan Freeman, a whole lot of emperor penguins Main attraction (aside from the cold weather): The remarkable mating rituals of emperor penguins (obviously). This heartwarming — but not overly sappy — documentary chronicles the trek made by mamma penguins across the frozen Antarctic terrain in search of sustenance while their monogamous mates stay behind and tend to their unhatched chicks. *** “30 Days of Night” (2007) Chill factor: 9 Bundled-up cast: Josh Hartnett, Melissa George, Danny Huston, Ben Foster Main attraction (aside from cold weather): A shrieking horde of acrobatic vampires who descend upon the remote Alaskan outpost of Barrow after raiding a Hot Topic store at a mall in Anchorage. Extremely grisly occurrences of the neck-chomping variety ensue. *** “Let Me In” (2010) Chill factor: 8 Bundled-up cast: Chloë Grace Moretz, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Richard Jenkins, Elias Koteas Main attraction (aside from the cold weather): The friendship that blossoms between a bullied 12-year-old boy and his new neighbor, a preteen bloodsucker named Abby. The setting of this excellent remake of 2008’s “Let the Right One In” is transported from Stockholm, Sweden, to Los Alamos, N.M., without sacrificing the moody atmospherics that made the original film such a bone-chilling — yet oddly heartwarming — treat.