A tagline on a DVD box can catch your attention, and ultimately sell the product. I recently had the assignment of reviewing the DVD A Cold Day In Hell and the taglines had me pretty excited about the review. Mr. Stuart Alison from Independent Film Quarterly had a couple of dynamite sounding tags on the product. “3:10 To Yuma Rides Up Next To True Grit.” And “The Best Film Michael Madsen Has Starred In Since Reservoir Dogs.” These make it sound exciting doesn’t it? After reading these tags and then watching the movie, I had two prevailing points of view. If the rest of Mr Alison’s reviews were of this nature, he needed to quit doing movie reviews as he is depriving the public of truth. The other was this, if horribly bad films often turn into cult classics, A Cold Day In Hell just became the leading contender for the all-time classic cult western.
In looking at this movie technically, I honestly don’t know where to start. I could simply say that virtually every technical aspect was horrific and among the worst I have seen in many years. Let me be brief here as I want to be respectful in my review. This movie had some of the worst acting, set design, costuming, plot, continuity, and virtually every other aspect of filmmaking in a movie I have ever seen. I could go into so much detail here such as contemporary houses in a western scene, the usage of bad wigs and poor make-up in such an amateurish way that I am personally amazed at how this movie received the funding it did to be made. One would wonder if it was the intent of the director to make a bad movie, but you just don’t get that feel.
The story line in A Cold Day In Hell is so hard to follow that I am still in a state of confusion trying to make sense out of it. While Michael Madsen is in the movie, I am trying to figure out his role other than a name actor in an independent film. He is in so few scenes; you are never quite sure what his role is other than a sort of dishonest Marshall. There is virtually zero development in his role other than to provide a name to the movie. The closest thing to character development is in the role of Tether played by Ronald Bumgardner and his daughter Savannah played by Kimberly Campbell. Tether is a long range shooter who left home after the death of his wife. He has moved from place to place and he is now searched out by his daughter. It comes to be that as their relationship starts to develop, he realizes the need to come back to reality to provide defense to his former town. There is a land baron, in the disguise as a banker who intends to wipe the town out for financial gain. He has had others killed for their failure to give their land and property over to his band of outlaws. Tether comes to the rescue with shootouts and fights that resemble nothing like we have ever seen before. There is such a bad display of filmmaking including non exploding explosives during one scene where dynamite is shot with a rifle that one has to wonder, ‘What was this director thinking?’
My faith tells me at times to beware of a thief who would come in the night. Sometimes in life we have to be warned of those who would take advantage of us. This movie, its quality is one that unfortunately takes advantage of the viewer who would either rent, or purchase it. There is an admirable concept on the need to look after those who are weaker, but this story is done in such a poor way that I for one think more about how the consumer who purchases the movie will be taken advantage of than I am the characters in the movie. I am also reminded though of reviewers who for whatever reason will give a quality review for a movie no matter how bad it is. I have always found it critical to watch all of a DVD when reviewing it, what special features exist, (for this one, they are virtually non existent) what is it like from the start to the very end of the credits and so forth. I owe it to those who are spending their hard earned dollars to either rent or purchase a film. I have purchased movies before because of the taglines; I may have at least rented this one as I love True Grit and 3”10 to Yuma. I would have been even more disappointed had I done so. A Cold Day In Hell is a perfect reminder that when in doubt as a consumer, check things out before putting the money on the table. There are far too many people who have limited funds and just as there those who will take advantage of others in regards of finance, there are movies that will take advantage of the consumer. The Western is a loved genera; many of its viewers include older citizens on a fixed income. My faith also tells me to watch out for, to help and look out for the interests of orphans and widows and those in despair. This movie also reminds me of another concept that drives my faith, which is to do all I do with all of my potential. Unfortunately, the 1.5 million dollars spent on this movie was a waste of money that could have been spent in more effective ways.
This may be the worst movie I have ever seen, it is certainly the worst western I have ever seen. There is virtually nothing positive I can say about it. It is that bad, and being that bad almost makes it worthy of cult status. I could have a lot of fun with people watching it in a cult series; I just can’t imagine that people would watch it enough to memorize the lines which would make the mocking of the movie fun. Of course the same could have been said about other films that were bad, who knows what would and could happen here.
Personally, I feel as if I was robbed of my time watching A Cold Day In Hell. In no way that I can think of would I sit down to watch it again, even if you paid me. Now of course I may take the offer of pay if in a dark theater, with ear plugs in, and the potential to take a nap, at least then I would have a dream that would have some level of plot, and if really bad, the potential to forget and not remember. I wish I had a good western to recommend for you, unfortunately, this isn’t it. I hope you don’t find out how right I am.
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