Bullet Points: The Secret of the Ice Cave
Have you ever watched and enjoyed an action film but wish you could have experienced it with your family? It happens to me all the time and it should happen to anyone that has a heart. Action movies need violence, sex, and adult language to give them the hard edge reality and are part of the makeup that make the genre of films entertaining. However, once in awhile it would be nice to have an action film that puts those aspects on the back burner and entertains with an enthralling story, neutered violence, innocent love stories and mild language. 1989’s The Secret of the Ice Cave is one such picture and believe it or not it was distributed by Cannon Films, mavens in the gratuitous action arena. Before you go and pick up some second graders from a bus stop, this picture is rated PG-13 by the MPAA. If you are familiar with the US ratings system you will know that some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
While you may have never heard of The Secret of the Ice Cave, it is a surprisingly entertaining action adventure film that tells the story of young Alex Ostrow, played by David Mendenhall. Cannon Films might be short for The David Mendenhall Fan Club as they were really trying to push the actor in the mid to late 1980’s. His most memorable role has to be as the pissant kid of arm wrestling champ Lincoln Hawk in Over the Top, but Cannon also released Going Bananas in 1987. If you ever want to see a child getting out acted by a fake chimpanzee, Going Bananas is the film for you. It is still a mystery why Cannon no longer exists. Alex’ s mother, Valerie Ostrow (Sally Kellerman) is a scientist searching for a rare spider in Chile. Alex’s father is dead, but his step-father is a powerful business man in Los Angeles and not quite who he seems. When their trip to go see his mom is canceled, Alex sneaks off by himself to Chile and we have the beginning of an action movie!
The Secret of the Ice Cave really earned its PG-13 rating with the neutered violence. Alex is thrust into a treasure hunt with the lovely Ona (Marcia Christie) the daughter of an American hippie living in Chile (Michael Moriarity.) The pair have a treasure map that was meant for the scientist partner of Valerie, Victor Talbot, played by action veteran Norbert Weisser. Alex is led to believe the map leads to a cave filled with blue diamonds. Talbot and his henchman Frank Hagen (Virgil Frye) are a couple of nefarious types that are not opposed to killing to get what they want. They are definitely not opposed to offing a couple of kids if they get in their way. The chase is on and the audience is treated to action involving planes, trains, explosions, drugs and guns, but mostly presented in a fun good natured manner that advances the story.
The Secret of the Ice Cave really earned its PG-13 rating with the innocent love story. After Alex is introduced to Ona, the pair hit it off and go on the treasure hunt together and develop a teenage romantic relationship that is very syrupy. Manny and Valerie are complete opposites and have some minor tiffs as they try to track down their children, but you know what they say about opposites! Alex comes across a 5¼ floppy disk with the treasure map stored on it and when Talbot tries to use it it has a lewd computer program intended to fake out Talbot that would make anyone’s disk drive hard in a completely PG-13 manner. Alex and Ona later run into the most violent tribe in Chile that is know for sticking sexual organs down thieves throats, but Alex is able to appease them by fixing their television. Luckily the sodomy is only referenced in a funny manner and Alex is spared his manhood.
The Secret of the Ice Cave really earned its PG-13 rating with the mild language and drug references. In the US, a film can avoid an R rating by avoiding the F word. If you don’t know what that is…GFY. PG-13 movies can drop a shit a few times, just like me in this review. The Secret of the Ice Cave gets a few more curse words by swearing in a different language as maird is dropped a couple of times and someone even calls Alex a “maird head.” Vive la France! The worst quote overall is from Alex. “Do I look like a bullshitter?” Ding! Ding! Ding! YES YES YES YES a hundred million times YES YES YES YES!!!!! That was a rhetorical question? Sorry. Anyhow, the research in Chile turns out to be a front for drug smuggling. When Alex and Ona stumble upon some barrels filled with a white powder, Ona tastes the powder and says she thinks it is cocaine. Ona is half Chilean, the other half must be Colombian, or how else would a teenager know cocaine by tasting.
The Secret of the Ice Cave is a very enjoyable feel good movie that you can watch with your kids, but after reviewing it, the producers could have had one kick-ass action film if they didn’t try to pussyfoot around the violence, sex, and language. While I would love to see an R rated The Secret of the Ice Cave, you can find much worse ways to kill 106 minutes while spending time with your kids but still not having to talk to them. So go ahead and watch The Secret of the Ice Cave and be automatically nominated for parent of the year.
Here are some unrated Bonus Bullet Points…
I love Chile: The Secret of the Ice Cave was filmed on location in Chile and produced by Galla Productions, a German production company whose only film was The Secret of the Ice Cave.
I love insults: There are plenty of memorable quotes, but the best is when Hagen is talking to Alex, “Listen you little turd. I said bugout.”
I Love Lucy: After fixing the television for the most violent tribe in Chile, Lucille Ball in her classic TV program appear. The tribe is initially happy until they get upset again because they have already seen the episode of I Love Lucy.