Release dateJuly 22, 2003 (2003-07-22) WriterRobert Boris (story), Robert Boris (screenplay), Dennis A. Pratt (screenplay), Matthew Jason Walsh (screenplay) CastAllen Lee Haff (Curtis), Götz Otto (Nelson), Alexandra Kamp (Dr. Monica Kelsey), Karen Nieci (Arianna), Howard Holcomb (Tom), Rebekah Ryan (Kate) Similar moviesGorath, Alien, The Thing, The Thing, Mawson - Life and Death in Antarctica, Antarctica: Journey into the White Desert
TaglineSome things are better left frozen
Deep Freeze (also known as Ice Crawlers) is a 2003 horror film directed by John Carl Buechler. Written by Robert Boris, Dennis A. Pratt, and Matthew Jason Walsh, the film was shot in Germany in 2001. The film was retitled Ice Crawlers for United States release.
The Geotech Company has set up a large Antarctic base to drill for oil. The facility is staffed by Dr. Monica Kelsey (Alexandra Kamp-Goreneveld), Nelson Schneider (Goetz Otto) and six workers. During a raging storm, a research team arrives by helicopter, forced to land due to an even worse storm approaching, sent by Geotech to investigate the death of a worker named Lenny (Robert Axelrod), the disappearance of workers Carl and Lippski, and mysterious tremors hitting the area, hoping to learn the cause of these events before the arrival of a United Nations investigation team who might shut down the base. The team's leader, Professor Ted Jacobson (David Millbern) has romantic ties to Dr. Kelsey. The rest of his team are four post grad students: Arianna (Karen Nieci), Tom (Howard Halcomb), Update (David Lenneman), and Curtis (Allen Lee Haff). A giant black trilobite makes its appearance and attacks Dr. Kelsey. One by one, the rest get picked off by the monster.
Götz Otto as Nelson
Robert Axelrod as Lenny
Norman Cole as Munson
Rebekah Ryan as Kate
Allen Lee Haff as Curtis
Alexandra Kamp-Groeneveld as Dr. Monica Kelsey
Karen Nieci as Arianna
Howard Holcomb as Tom
David Millbern as Ted Jacobson
David Lenneman as Update
Billy Maddox as Clyde
Tunde Babalola as Shockley
MJ Simpson notes that the film was directed and produced "by effects legend John Carl Buechler". Speaking toward the giant monster trilobite of the film, he writes "it wouldn’t be a John Carl Buechler movie without a deadly rubber monster puppet", clarifying "Of course, it has to be considerably more deadly and carnivorous than trilobites are believed to have been". He also noted that although the writing team had otherwise decent work to their credit, "three credited writers doesn’t necessarily make for a good script and this one’s a clunker." Toward the makeup and creature effects, he granted that "to be fair, the trilobite is a well-done effect, especially when seen scuttling across the floor," but that as an antgonist is "just such a dopy concept for a monster." He also found flaw with production design and "sloppiness" of the screen credits. He concluded "It’s got a few thrills, a few unintentional laughs and a bunch of exterior stock footage from The Thing, but there’s a certain amount of depth to the characters and there are no wannabe scream queens in the cast, which is a blessing."
Dread Central lists the criteria that viewers should look for to pre-determine that this film is a bad one: the premise of the film being derivative of Alien, the plot line of the film "blatantly copies that of more than one famous genre film", that a man whose specialty lies in the F/X department "rarely ever succeed when taking the director’s chair", the special effects are unremarkable, the director is already known for Ghoulies 3, and the lead writer is the man responsible for Backyard Dogs. The reviewer then lambasts the monster, a trilobite with the seeming and inexplicable power of teleportation and mind reading. Dubbing the creature "Trilly", the reviewer writes "Trilly, you see, is no ordinary man-eating, prehistoric insect awoken from an icy slumber. No, Trilly has magical powers that your typical man-eating, prehistoric insect didn’t have. Trilly seems to be psychic. Much like Santa, Trilly knows when you are sleeping and knows when you’re awake and really knows when you’re taking a bath or shower. Most importantly, Trilly knows when you’re alone. It becomes numbing the sheer number of times there are several people in a room discussing whatever but the moment one of them is alone in that room, Trilly suddenly strikes, having apparently hid somewhere in the room waiting patiently for the very moment when someone would be left alone. It’s ridiculous how often this happens." He notes that the plot makes no attempt to explain how the creature is able to roam so freely and so quickly for a large and slow beast. He concludes that the film "takes itself way too seriously given the silly concept of a killer prehistoric roach", writing that it appeared that "Buechler was trying to make a 1950’s style creature feature but mistakenly chose to go about things with the mentality of a modern slasher flick". "There is no suspense here and most shocking, given the director’s pedigree, we don’t even get any good kills. Despite being directed by a guy that has created more than his fair share of gory effects for the movies, Ice Crawlers is surprisingly anemic."
Scott Weinberg of eFilmCritic Reviews began his review by noting "Roger Corman is still churning out the schlock," writing that "Ice Crawlers (a.k.a. Deep Freeze) is a whole lot like John Carpenter's The Thing - minus the craftsmanship, the artistry and the talent." His conclusion was that the film was "one of director J.C. Beuchler's least professional efforts".