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  • During the 1970's the three major networks (mostly ABC) made a slew of Made for TV movies. Many of them were junk, some were imitations of Hollywood hits at the time, and more than a few were excellent films. This is one of them.

    I'm fortunate to own this movie and watched it just last night. I won't recant the plot, for you can find that here. but I will say this - this movie holds up very well as the years have gone by. The look and feel of it really captures the isolation and situation. The script isn't filled with old 70's clichéd dialog, and is very well paced. It's very well shot, and very well acted by two solid actors. Gil Melle's synthesizer score, while dated, fits the film quite well. Some of the effects are old, but there aren't very many, and don't detract from the story. If you are fortunate to get a look at this old movie you won't be disappointed.

    Although I see the point of another reviewer who stated this movie's obscurity is part of it's charm, ABC (and the other networks) need to dig into their archives and re-master and release some of the good old TV movies to DVD. This one, A Short Walk to Daylight, Dying Room Only, many others.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "A Cold Night's Death" is a product of the ABC "Movie of the Week" factory that turned out TV-films at the rate of one or two a week back in the 1970s. Few of those films were memorable, but this is one that stands out in the same way that "The Night Stalker" and "Brian's Song" are still remembered.

    Set in an animal research laboratory isolated in an arctic wasteland, the film begins with a lone scientist, Dr. Vogel, who appears to be losing his mind, frantically radioing for help to a base that cannot hear him. When the base is out of contact with Vogel for several days, they send a pilot and two more researchers to investigate. They find Vogel dead under mysterious circumstances.

    Once the pilot leaves, the two new researchers, Drs. Jones and Enari (Robert Culp and Eli Wallach) set about salvaging the animal research experiments. Though Enari is all too happy to think that Vogel simply went mad, the more open-minded Jones is bothered by parallels he sees between what happened to Vogel and the strange things which begin happening to them.

    If these two men had the mutual respect of Fox Mulder and Dana Sculley, perhaps they could have figured out what was going on. Instead, they move further and further in opposite directions, with Jones convinced something else is at work in the station, and Enari growing increasingly paranoid that Jones has some sinister ulterior motive.

    The plot being relatively thin, to tell more would ruin it. Thin or not, the story is milked for all it's worth. Moving at a slow, deliberate pace allows the film to build its suspense one step at a time until it reaches its bizarre conclusion.

    Some of the most delicious movie endings have involved the surprise twist that literally doesn't appear until the absolutely final shot. You get one of those here, and it's a good one. Even if you can guess ahead of time who or what is behind it all, you'll still feel a shiver go up your spine when you see that final close-up.

    One thing that really makes the film is Gil Mellé's score, which is highly reminiscent of "The Andromeda Strain" (made about the same time). It's electronic, low-keyed and creepy. Director Jerrold Freedman does a nice job making you feel the isolation of these two men who are, really, beyond hope of immediate rescue. In fact, the opening scene is wonderfully spooky. We simply see the research station from the outside in a screaming snowstorm...but we can also hear Vogel inside screaming in panic. Shooting the entire scene from the exterior emphasizes Vogel's aloneness against the malevolent power that is working against him. It's a real grabber. And as Enari and Jones, Wallach and Culp are what they always are: reliable, extremely watchable pros.

    The off-camera surprise is that this movie is a Spelling-Goldberg production. Spelling and Goldberg have attained a well-deserved reputation for creating some of the worst (albeit most popular) crap on TV, and high-minded suspense movies with sci-fi/horror overtones are not their typical style. Still, give them a star for this one.

    Incidentally, two notes of interest:

    First, the movie begins with a narrative which I believe to be the voice of Vic Perrin, the Control Voice of the classic "The Outer Limits".

    Also, as some have noted, this movie is sometimes aired under the alternate title "The Chill Factor". And, in fact, I recorded it off a local station a few years back under that title. Yet the title "The Chill Factor" doesn't appear in the film. In fact, NO title appears in the film. It runs through the producers, the cast, the writer and the director, but the film's title itself is missing. There IS a blank space in the opening credits where the title normally WOULD go, so it appears that somebody removed "A Cold Night's Death", and never inserted the new title! It is, to my knowledge, the only time something like that has ever happened in a movie.
  • There were some interesting Made-for-Television feature length films in the early 1970s and A COLD NIGHT'S DEATH is among the best of the lot. The remote Arctic setting, the feeling of isolation and gradually mounting nervous tension between the two main characters are all superbly handled. The quiet loner Robert Culp and the nervously edgy Eli Wallach are perfect foils for each other and their byplay heightens the creepy 'something lurking nearby' feeling prevalent for most of the film. Maybe, just maybe, some viewers will guess what's really going on midway into the film but even so it is a brilliantly chilling movie worthy of any collection.
  • Although it plays like a somewhat lengthened "Twilight Zone" episode (even at 72 minutes) and the ending is pretty predictable, this is a solid piece of work. The mountain setting is perfect, giving the movie great atmosphere with the cold and isolation. The acting is solid (Culp's agonized trudge through the cold is the highlight), and there are some nice little touches here and there, such as the slowly growing seedly look of the two men.

    It's too bad that the many good made-for-TV movies of the '70s like these are almost impossible to see nowadays. ABC and Paramount (who made many of them) could make a guaranteed profit by releasing them on DVD. Why not put two on a disc - that would really increase sales!
  • sidmsdw18 January 2002
    This is one of those really cool (pardon the pun) made-for-tv flicks you would come across in the 1970s. I'm a total sucker for that sub-genre of the horror flick called "Scientists stranded in the frozen wastelands." Other examples: both versions of "The Thing" and the original "Outer Limits" episode known as "The Human Factor." There's just something about the frozen north as a setting that captures and holds the imagination like no other. Not even the venerable old "Haunted house on a dark and stormy night" does it for me like the icy tundra of an isolated, frozen research station. Brrrrrrrr!!! Check this one out for sophisticated science fiction chills.
  • When a lone researcher out in an arctic research lab seemingly loses his mind and is no longer contactable it's up to two others to fly in to both find out what happened and complete the project.

    The facility is full of various creatures including a host of monkeys, it's remote, quiet and the two men quickly begin to question their sanity as well as each others.

    Is there someone else there? What happened to the absent researcher?

    The film has a The Thing (1982) vibe because of its location but that's pretty much where it starts and stops. The film is tense, it's creepy but the pacing is so weird I was shocked when it suddenly ended.

    Some nice ideas and strong performances from our two performers, but the execution is more than a little lacking. Shame.

    The Good:

    Strong performances

    Great setting

    Solid concept

    The Bad:

    Too short

    Poorly paced

    Ending lost most of it's impact

    Things I Learnt From This Movie:

    Snow, obscurity, isolation and animals............sounds like my dream job
  • I, too, saw this on my L.A. ABC station as "A Cold Night's Death", when I was a teenager. I was really caught up in it -- the tension, the atmosphere, the mystery. And the ending was great, at least at that time. All of this was attributable to several factors, including the writing, directing, acting, sets, and sound effects. I wonder how I'd react if I saw if for the first time now?

    By chance, I worked with the director, Jerrold Freedman, many years later. At one point during that harried shoot, I managed to tell him how much of an impression this movie had made on me. Obviously so, since his name stuck in my head over the decades between.

    Here's another person strongly urging the release of this obscure gem on DVD, perhaps now, while it's still winter!
  • cynanrees7 February 2002
    This is a little gem of a thriller that is all too hard to find anymore. A bit like Sleuth, with really only two actors in the whole film; and while it isn't in Sleuth's class, it does have a kick-ass ending of its own.
  • Among many horror movies that can truly be called a buried treasure, this takes the cake. This is it. This is the most unknown horror movie that will scare anyone that has ever seen it. It is so unknown, it practically got little to no recognition even among the majority of horror movie buffs.

    It told the story of two researches taking over a laboratory after their fellow died a mysterious death atop a snowy mountain. Slowly but surely, they begin to experience what their colleague might have experienced.

    Among many horror movies I've ever seen, this may very well be the best when it comes to creating the feeling of claustrophobia. And the tension was very well built as the trust of the two deteriorated as days went by, making the final twist in the end much more terrifying.

    And without a doubt, no other made for TV horror reached this level of horror film-making. Hell, it's rare to see a horror film-making that actually touched this in general, period.

    Greatly recommended. 10/10.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    What a terrific little film this is. Made in 1973 on what was presumably a very low budget, this two-hander about a pair of research scientists experimenting on apes in a remote mountain science station is a lean and mean horror-thriller, put together with maximum conviction, a haunting atmosphere and stratospherically good performances.

    Robert Culp and Eli Wallach brilliantly portray the disintegrating relationship between the two men, as each comes to suspect the other with tampering with the heating systems, despoiling the food, and generally fouling things up.

    Having discovered the previous lone occupant of the research outpost frozen to death, it seems something very sinister is haunting the men. What could it possibly be? I won't spoil things by revealing the solution to the mystery - it works extremely well, and the moment when the nearly frozen Culp manages to get back into the station and confronts Wallach, axe in hand, is one of the classic scenes of horror, t.v. or otherwise.

    It's a film which draws you in gradually, relying on small moments to unsettle and rivet the viewer. This in its own way is as good as Spielberg's Duel. A treat for a first time viewer.

    Please, please, please somebody somewhere get this released on DVD. One of the best things ever produced by the medium, it deserves remastering preservation on a grand scale.
  • conn24h29 March 2005
    Oh how I would love to see this picture again! I saw it on TV I guess around the time it was made, and have never seen it since. I wonder if it even still exists? I remember it as being fantastically eerie, and the primate members of the cast were magnificent! Some other reviewers have pointed out that the movie was called "A Cold Night's Death" when they saw it - that was also the case as far as I was concerned. Perhaps that was just the UK title. If anyone who reads this knows if it exists, even on VHS, I'd love to know about it! I've given it a 9 because that's what I would have given it at the time - if only I could see it again through more adult and educated eyes - maybe one day?
  • JackmanWulf12 July 2006
    10/10
    Awful !
    Warning: Spoilers
    I remember when I was a kid saw my first horror movies in the late 70s, this one scared me to death. It's full of atmosphere, like if you know John Carpenters "Thing", but there's no Monster or Alien which kill one after another, the horror is more like "real life". The loneliness of the place where these scientists are working with the apes is more than claustrophobic and the more you stand by the cast and going through that story the more mad you'll get. The score give it's parts perfectly to it, old 70s synthesizer - sounds bring mad and scary atmosphere. I really hope this will find it's way to DVD ! A real underrated classic !
  • This film was one of the made for TV movies that used to be so popular back in the 70's that are almost never seen now. A small cast made up of two very fine actors i.e. Eli Wallach and Robert Culp play research scientists at a small Polar station that the previous inhabitants of met with bad fortune. An entertaining thriller that has a touch of science fiction and mystery in it.
  • Two scientists are at frozen Arctic research station: one goes about his daily work routine, the other slowly goes off the deep end trying to figure out how the two men there before them died.

    Great obscure little made for TV movie. I've only ever seen this on TV once, it was back in 1995 or 1996, and it was under the name "A Cold Night's Death", but I've still got it on video.

    I hate to say this but I hope this movie isn't issued on video or DVD, the fact that it IS so rarely seen and it's more obscure and therefore a little more of a surprise when (if) you can see it. It would seem to lose some the suspense to it if you could just simply go into any corporate owned "Blockbuster" type of video store and rent it anytime you wanted to see it.

    The obscurity of this movie is also part of its charm.
  • Two scientists (Eli Wallach and Robert Culp) head to an Antarctic science lab to relieve another doctor who has been sending back crackpot messages. They find the doc dead, having locked himself in a room and left the window open so that he froze to death. Naturally, this method of suicide perplexes both men, but still have a job to do in testing chimps for outer space travel. They go about their business, but things start to slowly go bump in the night. Are they not alone? Is the station haunted?

    This is a superior TV movie from back in the day. The cast is mainly the two leads and both Wallach and Culp are fantastic in their roles. The setting is really great (think Carpenter's THE THING, which it looks very similar to) and the tension really builds perfectly. Best of all, the film's mystery really pays off and you will be rethinking everything you've seen 75 minutes prior. To say anything more about it would give it away.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This television movie is aptly titled, two doctors Drs Jones and Enari played by Robert Culp and Eli Wallach are sent to an isolated Arctic research lab because Dr Vogel hadn't had contact with the base research station in five days due to snowstorms.

    But before they lost all radio transmission to Dr Vogel, radio contact between the base and Dr Vogel grew increasingly sporadic and irrational, the doctor rantings about conversations with Napoleon and Alexander The Great have become a great concern naturally.

    The Tower Mountain Research Station where Vogel was stationed had been conducting high altitude experiments on monkeys and chimps furthermore fearing their four years worth of research had been wasted, two doctors chosen for their experience in research in stress situations for space programs are sent to relieve Dr Vogel.

    What they find is the research station in shambles, the monkey's nearly dead from exposure, and Dr Vogel sitting prone frozen to death in the electronics room with the window wide open and 300 feet worth of used tape on the recorder in front of him.

    Sending the helicopter pilot and Vogel's body off back to the base research station, quickly things go awry with strange bumps in the night and doors ajarred shutting and open windows.

    Dr. Jones (Culp) begins to grow apprehensively suspicious about the conditions with which Vogel died and Dr Enari (Wallach) chooses to believe there is a rational explanation for everything including the coincidences and weird going-ons causing due friction between the pair. And what is recorded on Dr Vogel's thawing tape?

    This movie is an exceptional slice of paranoia and mood undeniably influenced later films The Shining and The Thing. The final scene ROCKS!!!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    What could be so frightening and irrational that a scientist would choose to freeze to death rather than confront it? You'll find out.

    While we think of scientists as being unflinching heroic seekers of truth, they can be pretty nutty people in denial of reality (it's true!). The movie is about two different types of scientists who are trying to complete some research involving monkeys in a remote freezing mountain environment. The experiment was left uncompleted by the death of a scientist who seems to have gone insane, and died freezing to death. Regardless of the fact that the audience can more-or-less figure out who the culprit is, the last 30 seconds are incredibly chilling to see. Imagine characters debating if a shark was involved in the deaths in JAWS, but only in the last minute of film you finally see a fin circling the hero. Or a ventriloquist who insists his dummy is alive, and at the end you see it move. Worth watching in the dark for the very creepy climax.

    Kudos for the director's long-takes and Gil (Andromeda Strain) Melle's unsettling score.
  • fabio6131 August 2001
    This is a good film to watch on a long winter evening. Two primate behavior scientists arrive at a mountain top research station to find their predecessor frozen to death under strange circumstances. As they settle in, one of them dwells on the mystery of the frozen colleague, while the other goes right to work on the monkeys. Then they begin to slowly unravel somewhat like Jack Torrence in 'The Shining'. The whole film is held together nicely by Wallach and Culp, and the sense of austere isolation is pulled off beautifully.
  • It has been sometime since I have seen this television movie. It is an eerie film, imaginatively made considering the budget that this film had, which was not much. When we had fewer stations that we do now, films like this were still being seen in the afternoons on affiliate stations to ABC. This show, was part of the Tuesday or Wednesday movie of the week that ABC had. It was from this series that Duel, Directed by Steven Spielberg came from. Regrettably, many of these other films I think were equal to Duel, but these directors and writers from what I can see, never were able to come close to Spiebergs fame.

    Todays TV movies seem to be made with bigger budgets, but watching a film like Cold Nights Death shows what greatness can be done with a limited budget. The Tuesday and Wednesday night movies on ABC were not all good, but some of them deserve greater status than has been accorded them. These films remind me of the excellent B movies we have heard about that Hollywood made as a second feature in their heyday. Those in the 1970's who looked upon the 1950's as some great creative time on TV forgot about these films. Even in the 1970's when American films were some of the best ever, Film critics then were also not appreciative of what they had before them.

    Hopefully buried treasures like A COLD NIGHT'S DEATH, and other films will get their re release, either on TV, or on DVD's. Apparently this film is available on DVD to purchase, but many others may not be.
  • While this film is called The Chill Factor I recall seeing it on one of ABC's Movie of the Week programs in 1973 under the title A Cold Nights Death and never saw it under the title The Chill Factor. I do recall that the week it was shown it was averaging about -20 where I was living so that made it interesting to watch this film and know how cold it felt for the two main characters. As some other reviewers have commented this film seems to be unavailable as so many of the made for TV movies from the 70's are. Who knows the reason why is anybodies guess. It had a Twilight Zone type plot to the story. If you get a chance to see it by all means do. Compared to the made for TV films that are turned out now the ones from the 70's such as this one are vastly superior.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I saw this TV movie classic when I was 11 or so and have never forgotten it. I watched it again last night on YouTube, and despite the poor visual quality, it delivered the goods again, mostly: eerie, mysterious, claustrophobic, and very memorable.

    But I had a big question about it when I saw it as a boy and it persists today: what exactly is the movie revealing about the monkeys at the end? Yes, we discover that they, or at least one of them, is killing the scientists. And yes, the monkeys, or at least the one who's doing the killing, seem preternaturally intelligent--capable of pressing the correct buttons on the tape recorder to erase a lengthy tape, capable of opening padlocks and locking doors with keys, capable of manipulating the objects in a room--a window, a door--in order to trap people inside it. That alone is a puzzle that the movie doesn't solve: were the monkeys chosen for the study on the basis of extraordinarily high intelligence? There's no reason that they would be, given the study's goals. And--this is the big question--who named them after famous conquerors in history (Genghis Khan, Napoleon, Julius Ceasar, Augustus Ceasar), and why? Were the monkeys bred for high intelligence and leadership/autonomy, thus given their names, and then planted in the study in order that they would oppress their handlers and thus turn the study into a test of the scientists' capacity to endure hardships? Or what? As the movie stands, it's hinted that the monkeys somehow possess the intelligence and martial qualities of great conquerors, and have been named to reflect their possession of those qualities. But again, named by whom? And how could the monkeys have been expected to possess these qualities, except via some sort of supernatural intervention? Are we supposed to infer that they have the actual souls of those famous conquerors? Or what? It's all a bit murky, no? And I have no problem with a bit of murkiness in a great horror film, so long as it's just a bit and not a heaping portion that's hard to digest, as it is, I think, in this movie. It thrilled me at 11--I couldn't stop talking about it at school the next day--but even then, these questions bothered me.

    Any theories out there? Or is it, as I suspect, simply beyond rational analysis--more from writerly error (i.e., a narrative/thematic loose end never really dealt with) than from well-considered & resolvable complexity?

    I suppose the standard answer will be that it was a kind of supernatural kismet--the cruelty of this isolated study was punished by the monkeys having been given the souls/powers of conquerors, thus aptly punishing the scientists who blithely mistreat them in the name of science. If that's the answer, the movie has a supernatural element at its core: fate put the monkeys there in order to punish the cruelty of the humans who mistreat them "innocently." Still, it feels a bit contrived: do their names make them conquerors, or are they named after conquerors because that's their intrinsic nature? And if the latter, who did the naming? Was that fellow attuned to supernatural possibilities that evaded others?
  • Intelligent, well-directed and acted thriller stars Robert Culp & Eli Wallach, who play researchers sent to a secluded, frozen scientific outpost to investigate why contact has been lost with the original researcher, who is doing experiments with various monkeys to test their intelligence and reactions...what is really going on? Film becomes a mysterious, cat & mouse type thriller, as the two men become increasingly at odds over the fate of the researcher, and what has happened to his results, which need to be retrieved from an audio tape. Both Culp & Wallach are quite good portraying the fear and frustration that overcomes them, and that lead to an ending that is so subtle, yet so powerful when you ponder it, that I really appreciate how intelligently it treats the audience, though it is too short, since the story had more potential developments.

    Still, I hope this near-forgotten film can one day get a DVD release(Shout/Scream Factory please take note!) Only way to view this film is on YouTube, and you never know when it will be taken down again...
  • poe42628 June 2011
    Warning: Spoilers
    Had THE OUTER LIMITS been resurrected in the early '70s, A COLD NIGHT'S DEATH would've been the perfect pilot episode (the opening narration, in fact, sounds like it's being done by Vic Perrin, who did the narration for THE OUTER LIMITS). I've always had fond memories of this one (which I'd seen only once before, when it first aired) and a recent viewing came as a bit of a surprise: it's even BETTER than I remembered it being. (Thanks, Steve!) Like John Carpenter's version of THE THING, A COLD NIGHT'S DEATH manages to milk the story for all the suspense it's worth. It's low key and understated, which suits the situation just fine. And, also like THE THING, it's superbly crafted (as were so very many of the telemovies made during this period). The ending still holds up as well. A perfect movie to cozy up with on one of those dark winter nights...
  • The action of "A Cold Night's Death" takes place at an isolated research laboratory in Antarctica and involves two scientists played by Eri Wallach and Robert Culp.They have come to replace the last scientist who worked at the outpost who apparently went mad and killed himself by leaving a window open and slowly freezing to death.The more time our inquisitive friends spend in the outpost,the more paranoid and suspicious they become,both of their surroundings and of each other.Something is definitely amiss and each night brings them closer to the truth behind what really happened to their predecessor."The Chill Factor" provides plenty of bleak snowbound atmosphere of dread and severe isolation.The acting by two leads is excellent and the final moment is utterly chilling.A perfect example of brilliant TV-horror that perfectly conveys the fear of unseen.8 out of 10.
  • There were a lot of good made for TV movies released in the seventies, and A Cold night's Death is certainly one of them! The film is set in polar conditions and features a very small cast of just three people. This gives the film a very claustrophobic atmosphere which benefits the paranoid atmosphere greatly. The film begins with a transmission from a madman and shortly thereafter, we follow two more men who go to the polar ice station. It soon becomes apparent that something is not quite right... The production values on show here are surprisingly good considering that the movie is made for television and director Jerrold Freedman more than makes the best of what he had to work with. The acting is very good and features great performances from Robert Cult and Eli Wallach in the lead roles. The film is short at just seventy minutes, but the runtime is used very well and the director certainly gets his point across. The ending is strange and doesn't come as a complete surprise, though it's good to watch and finishes the film off nicely. Overall, this TV movie does leave an impression and I can certainly recommend it.
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