The Chill Factor Blu-ray Review

Written by Robert Gold

Blu-ray released by Arrow Video

Directed by Christopher Webster 
Written by Julian Weaver
1993, 86 minutes, Not Rated
Released on July 16th, 2019

Dawn Laurie as Jeannie
Aaron Kjenaas as Tom
Connie Snyder as Karen
David Fields as Chris
Eve Montgomery as Lissa
Jim Cagle as Ron
Bekki Vallin as Bessie



Six friends enjoy a winter break riding snowmobiles and drinking lots of beer. Tom and Jeannie are engaged, Tom’s sister Karen has recently started dating pre-med student Chris, and Ron and Lissa are along for the ride in search of a good time. A playful bet on whose snowmobile is faster leads the group to Black Friar Lake where they have a wide open space for racing. The race ends with both drivers crashing, leaving Tom seriously injured and unconscious after striking a tree. The friends seek shelter at an abandoned summer camp where Chris can tend to the wounds. Ron agrees to go for help while the others stay behind and explore the cabin. Evil spirits haunt the place and when the gang breaks out a witchboard, they awaken something sinister.

The Chill Factor (aka Demon Possessed) is the second film produced by Wisconsin’s Windsor Lake Studios, following the previous year’s Trapped Alive. The plan was to shoot a series of low-budget horror movies away from Hollywood and take advantage of the scenic environment and weather. Shot in 1988, but not released for another five years, Chill Factor tells a simple story of three couples trapped in a remote location dealing with the elements and some nasty demonic possession. Changing the setting to a snowy locale allowed the filmmakers to incorporate some engaging snowmobile footage and gorgeous exteriors, not to mention the risk of freezing to death. Producer Christopher Webster (Hellraiser, Heathers) makes his sole directorial effort with mixed results. He does the best he can with the material provided, but Julian Weaver’s screenplay isn’t doing him any favors.


The plot is familiar and the kills are creative, but the characters are given the bare minimum of development and remain interchangeable for much of the picture. This is the only acting credit for most of the cast and when paired with a first-time director their inexperience really shows. The supernatural content is the most appealing story element, but it is not mined to its full potential and the story ends on a ludicrous note. Further hampering the film is the inclusion of an awkward incest subplot that doesn’t make a lot of sense. There is also a voiceover narration that pops up on occasion and is more humorous than anything else. The special effects are pretty good, especially the gag involving an icicle penetrating someone’s eye, but some gags are poorly shot and difficult to see.

Chill Factor is an interesting picture that is an easy way to spend eighty-six minutes on a dark, snowy night. Take its low-budget independent roots into consideration and you may find it more enjoyable than not. It’s not the best demonic possession film by a longshot, but it really stands out in the niche market of snowmobile flicks. The movie received a minor VHS release and popped up on Laser Disc under the title Demon Possessed featuring unique artwork that had nothing to do with the picture. I was unfamiliar with the title and, given the cover art, had hoped for more of a slasher film, but the inclusion of evil spirits was a welcome diversion. I cannot recommend an outright purchase of this movie, but if you can catch it streaming somewhere it is worth a look.


Video and Audio:

Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the original film elements have received a 2K scan and restoration. Exterior shots really pop with bright colors against the snowy white backdrop. Night interiors are sometimes on the dark side and black levels are inconsistent. This transfer is light years above the previous releases and is really impressive, warts and all.

Audio arrives courtesy of an uncompressed LPCM 2.0 stereo track that is respectable but not too aggressive. There is a lot of ADR (looping) in this film and the remastered soundtrack makes it more noticeable, but this is a limitation of the original source recordings. Dialogue is clear and well-balanced with music and effects cues.

Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.


Special Features:

Filmmaker Josh Hadley and special effects artist Hank Carlson contribute an engaging audio commentary providing a comprehensive history of the production. Carlson provides background on Windsor Lake Studios and details his work helping to create the makeup effects of the picture. This is a relaxed conversational track that is entertaining and informative and shines a spotlight on the independent film scene in Wisconsin in the late 1980s.

Lead makeup artist Jeffrey Lyle Segal is the subject of the all-new interview, Portrait of a Makeup Artist (15 minutes). He reflects on his time working in theatre with director Stuart Gordon (From Beyond) and getting into film with John McNaughton’s Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. He turns his attention to producer/director Christopher Webster and his work on Chill Factor, sharing several interesting production stories.

Ouija and Chill (25 minutes) is an interview segment with makeup assistant Hank Carlson, who shares his thoughts on shooting low-budget films in Wisconsin versus working on bigger pictures in Los Angeles. He provides an overview of his career and shares his memories of working with Segal before being hired by KNB effects a few years later. He talks about Ouija boards and the supernatural and tells of his finding this movie on Laser Disc years later by chance.

Production manager Alexandra Reed sits down for the segment Lights! Cameras! Snowmobiles! (13 minutes). She details what her job entails and about working in the difficult conditions of Wisconsin winters. She remembers this shoot fondly and says there were very few problems on this production and has kind words for the director.

Fire and Ice (11 minutes) catches up with stunt coordinator Gary Paul, who describes his work creating the thrilling snowmobile sequences for the picture. He talks about working with the cast to include them whenever possible and using professional drivers for some of the more dangerous gags. He also discusses how the climactic fire gag was achieved and shares other entertaining production stories.

The original VHS workprint (84 minutes) is included and contains a few noticeable differences from the finished film, including some brief nudity. The picture quality is in surprisingly good condition, as this is an early generation dub. The print features the original on-set audio recordings, but does not contain any music or sound effects cues.

A photo gallery (28 images) contains a collection of publicity stills.

The original VHS trailer is included and is riddled with spoilers. The entire plot is revealed, including the ending, so watch this only after seeing the movie. This is one of the worst trailers I have ever seen.



Movie: Cover
Overall: 3.5 Star Rating

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Robert Gold
Staff Reviewer
Robert's favorite genres include horror (foreign and domestic), Asian cinema and pornography (foreign and domestic). His ability to seek out and enjoy shot on video (SOV) horror movies is unmatched. His love of films with a budget under $100,000 is unapologetic.
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