A Cold Night’s Death (1973)

A COLD NIGHT’S DEATH (1973)
TV-Movie
Article 3323 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-3-2010
Posting Date: 9-19-2010
Directed by Jerrold Freedman
Featuring Robert Culp, Eli Wallach, Michael C. Gwynne
Country: USA
What it is: Science fiction thriller

When a scientist performing experiments on apes at an isolated polar research statement becomes erratic, a relief team is sent out to relieve him for fear that he is neglecting the test subjects. They find the subjects freezing, and the scientist dead. They take over the research, but it soon becomes apparent that they aren’t alone there…

Thanks to a pair of very strong performances from Robert Culp and Eli Wallach, a perplexing mystery surrounding the circumstances of the scientist’s death, and the freezing isolation of the setting, this is one very effective TV-movie thriller. The constant howling of the winds, the shrieking of the apes, and the gradual deterioration of trust between the two men all work together to put you on edge, and it manages to keep the mystery elements a puzzle until the end. I can imagine someone figuring out what was going on if they picked up the clues, but I have to admit that the final revelation was both surprising and satisfying. The only problem I had with the movie has to do with the fact that it takes so long for one man who gets locked out of the research station to find his way back in; his final solution is the very first thing that popped up in my mind. Nevertheless, that is a minor problem, and this one is highly recommended.

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