January 27, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST

EW picks nine notable films to chill with

I don’t know where you’re reading this from, but where I’m WRITING from, it’s 101 degrees, roads are liquefying into icky pools of tar, and even New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani is too prostrate from the heat to snarl. Apart from watching the duffers at my brother-in-law’s country club set the 17th hole on fire with a misaimed fireworks display on Monday night, about the only entertainment I’ve had lately is renting any video featuring snow, icicles, or frostbite. So instead of some critic’s rant designed for the express purpose of attracting flames, allow me instead to provide the following consumer service by listing some of the chilliest movie scenes of winter (and, please, nominate your own choices below).

Fargo (1996) and A Simple Plan (1998) Snotty New Yorkers like myself are generally, and perversely, proud of the fact that we live nowhere near the middle of the country. That is, until July hits and we start fantasizing about buying a co-op right on top of that ice pond they have all year round in Minnesota. Excuse me? They have summer there, too? And mosquitoes bigger than Al Sharpton? Sorry, I don’t believe it. I’ve seen ”Fargo” and ”A Simple Plan,” and I know they call it summer when the drifts come up only to your knees. One relocation problem, though: Judging from these movies, there’s a hell of a crime rate out there.

The Shining (1980) Where would you rather be: trying to get across Manhattan in midday traffic in 101 degrees in a cab with no air conditioning? Or getting chased by a psychotic, ax-wielding Jack Nicholson through an icicle-encrusted garden maze in the Colorado mountains? Not much of a contest from where I sit.

Groundhog Day (1993) Bill Murray lives one wintry Feb. 2 over and over and over again — until he becomes a better man. Now imagine if he was living July 5 over and over and over again. Can you say ”New York Post Headline”?

Winter Carnival (1939) Totally dippy romantic rah-rah romp set during the annual midwinter festival at my alma mater, Dartmouth College. We used to throw things at the screen when they screened it for us back in the ’80s, but damn if those ice sculptures wouldn’t look good in a giant glass of lemonade right about now. (Literati note: This is the movie that novelist/screenwriter F. Scott Fitzgerald got fired from — allegedly after holing up in the campus hotel for a prolonged bender and emerging only to throw up on the shoes of the college president?s wife.)

The Thing (1982) John Carpenter?s remake of the Howard Hawks sci-fi classic has always been unjustly slagged (trust me, it’s over-the-top gory but really good). Here?s why it’s on this list, though: Antarctica. Say it again: Antahhhhrcticaahh. I feel better already.

Aleksandr Nevsky (1938) This one has major film-geek cred because it’s directed by Russian godhead Sergei Eisenstein — you could call him the guy who invented film editing — and has an original score by Sergei Prokofiev and is brilliant in all sorts of ways except for the fact that it was personally commissioned by Stalin. But the reason it’s here is for the scene in which the 13th-century Russian prince of the title defeats an invading army of Teutons by leading them onto a frozen lake that’s not quite frozen enough. So where do I enlist?

The Gold Rush (1925) Charlie Chaplin amidst the tundra and blizzards of Alaska. Anything that combines cold and laughter is welcome, because God knows I?m not laughing now.

Titanic (1997) Not that I actually wish to become a human popsicle by jumping into the North Atlantic in April. And, yes, I know the loss of human life on such a massive scale was tragic and sobering and yadda yadda yadda. But can I just say that rewinding and replaying that shot of an endless field of frozen bodies brought my body temperature down by at least three degrees? Truly the pause that refreshes.

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