A Cold Night's Death

Spelling-Goldberg Productions

74 min     6.6     1973     USA


Scientists Culp and Wallach suspect that there is someone other than their research primates inhabiting their polar station.


John Chard wrote:
Monkey See - Monkey Do! One of the finest TV movies of the 1970s, A Cold Night's Death (AKA: The Chill Factor) pitches Robert Culp and Eli Wallach at the Tower Mountain Research Station. They play research scientists who are investigating what has happened to the researcher who was working there, he was doing altitude tests on primates, but all has gone quiet and when the two men get there, they find a bizarre set-up, but more tellingly things start to happen to shake them into a state of paranoia. In this day and age of multi million pound blockbusters, of intricate sets and big buck production design, it's refreshing to come across a TV movie that shows you don't need those things to make a successful film. With just two actors, a minimalist set-up, and a smartly written script, you can achieve great unease and a sense of foreboding atmosphere. Culp and Wallach are polar opposites of the male scale, they are like some long term married couple, which amplifies when suspicion and mistrust starts to take a hold. Jerrold Freedman directs and he has a skill that utilises the sparse sets for maximum impact. The murky corridors of the research station tingle the spine, the snowy exteriors seem to hide terrors unknown, whilst his camera work (jarring angles) and the sound work are perfectly in keeping with the suspenseful and mysterious flow of the narrative. Complimenting the story's tone is Gil Melle's score, which blends synth pulse beats with electronic shards of shock. The resolution to the mystery isn't exactly a surprise, but it delivers the requisite whack, enough of a jolt to raise the hackles. 7/10