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Dead of Winter (1987)

A fledgling actress is lured to a remote mansion for a screen-test, soon discovering she is actually a prisoner in the middle of a blackmail plot.



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Complete credited cast:
... Julie Rose / Katie McGovern / Evelyn
... Mr. Murray
... Dr. Joseph Lewis
... Rob Sweeney
... Officer Mullavy
... Officer Huntley
Mark Malone ... Roland McGovern
... Highway Patrolman
Sam Malkin ... Gas Jock
Pamela Moller ... Woman at Audition
Dwayne McLean ... Killer
Paul Welsh ... New Year's Eve Reveler


Katie McGovern is a struggling actress living with her husband and her student brother, who is visiting. She attends an audition that she found in the paper and is selected to shoot a short video which will be sent to the director for his approval. Mr. Murray, the man holding the audition, picks Katie up and takes her to a remote mansion where they shoot the video. Katie is selected to replace the previous lead in the film who looks remarkably like her. Soon, however, things begin to look as if they are not what they seem. Katie soon realizes she is in danger and attempts escape. Written by Brian D. Switzer <bswitzer@uoguelph.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Horror | Thriller


R | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

6 February 1987 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Froid comme la mort  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


This film reunites Mary Steenburgen, Jan Rubes and Wayne Robson from Disney's 1985 film One Magic Christmas. See more »


[All goofs for this title are spoilers.] See more »


Telephone Operator: There is no 311 area code.
See more »


Version of My Name Is Julia Ross (1945) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A Young Woman Is Oblivious of Her Peril
21 January 2016 | by See all my reviews

On New Years Eve, a woman (we later learn that she is Julie Rose) drives in the snow to an almost deserted bus terminal where she removes a cash-filled briefcase from a locker. After she returns to her car in an empty parking lot, she is strangled by a lone assailant. Then the scene shifts to an apartment of an out-of-work actress Katie McGovern (Mary Steenburgen) and her husband.

Katie answers an ad for an actress and eventually passes the audition held by creepy-looking Mr. Murray (Roddy McDowall). Murray drives Katie in a snowstorm to an isolated country mansion in northern New York state for a screen test. At the mansion she meets a polite old gentleman, Dr. Joseph Lewis (Jan Rubes) in a wheelchair. He tells her that she is needed as a double in a new movie for an actress who was replaced because of job stress. So Katie studies the pictures of the woman and also alters her appearance until a video is made of her. But we find out before the 45-minute mark that something sinister is afloat.

The feeling of tension is increasingly felt when Katie gradually discovers that all is not as it seems. She discovers pictures of a dead woman that looks like her. Then Katie finds her own identification documents, like her driver's license, being burned in a fireplace. Supposedly the snowstorm has knocked out the telephone lines; later she finds the inside line cut. But the telephone in the attic works well, but why is there even a phone in the attic? Why doesn't the car start when it is needed? What's with the two-way mirrors? Incidentally, why can't the two investigating cops possess at least one brain between them?

PLOT EXPLANATION: The two men only hired Katie because she happens to be an exact double of the dead woman in the first scene. There is a blackmail plot that involves two sisters, one of whom (Julie Rose) married and murdered for money. By coincidence she later became a patient of Dr. Lewis. The other sister, Evelyn, later had Julie murdered in that parking lot, and had her left ring finger removed. Lewis and Murray want to convince Evelyn that Julie Rose is still alive. They will only release her (Katie) over to Evelyn if they get the stashed money. And when Katie's usefulness dissolves, it's probably the end of her life. The ending will not be disclosed here.

The movie does have several surprising and tense moments, such as when Katie discovers a body on more than one occasion. Another tense scene has Katie clawing her way up an icy hillside in a blizzard. There is tension when Evelyn arrives. In addition to all of this, there is one rather shocking moment when Katie awakens to find blood on her sheets. But why does Katie act so stupidly at times, especially when a disabled and unsteady man chases her up the stairs? Before that, our protagonist never even noticed the city name on the sleeve patches of the cops.

Mary Steenburgen plays all three female roles: Julie Rose, Evelyn, and Katie. Roddy McDowall and Jan Rubes are sufficiently menacing and evil; McDowall is especially obsequious. Despite its flaws, this is a suspenseful and well-crafted thriller.

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