2010’s Sudor Frio (aka; Cold Sweat) is the first Argentinian horror film to be distributed theatrically in that country in the four-plus decades since Emilio Vieyra’s erotic vampire classic, Blood of the Virgins, made its celebrated-yet-controversial debut way back in 1967. That’s not to say Argentina doesn’t have a thriving underground horror scene, however. Dozens of micro-budget features have made their way onto video, circumventing the cinema circuit, while the country’s annual Buenos Aires Rojo Sangre Film Festival offers Argentinian horror hounds a chance to sample the work of homegrown heroes like Sudor Frio director, Adrián García Bogliano. Bogliano is no stranger to working under the radar, having written and/or directed more than a dozen films prior to generating enough buzz with this, his breakthrough hit, to merit not only a rare theatrical release in his homeland, but earn worldwide critical praise on the festival circuit. Now Sudor Frio lands stateside courtesy of Dark Sky Films.
Convinced that his girlfriend has left him for a man she met online, Roman (Facundo Espinosa) enlists the aid of his friend, Ali (Marina Glezer), to set up a meeting with the same man in order to find out his beloved Jackie’s (pinup model Camila Velasco, who is, without a doubt, the hottest import since the Habanero pepper) whereabouts. Roman and Ali follow the trail to a rundown old house in a less-than-savory part of the city, and Ali contacts her “date” to let her know she’s arrived. She goes inside the house, leaving Roman to wait in the car. Time passes, and an increasingly antsy Roman tries to call Ali on her cell, but, when she doesn’t pick up, he fears the worst, and sneaks into the house after her. What he finds beyond the doors and darkened windows of this unassuming home is a virtual torture chamber in which a pair of elderly men conduct depraved experiments on young women they’ve lured to them through internet chat rooms, slathering their bodies with nitroglycerin and leaving them to lay motionless or face the explosive consequences.
Sudor Frio isn’t exactly a deep flick, and it’s filled with some seriously gaping lapses of logic (chiefly of which is the fact that the elderly antagonists could have easily been disposed of by a ten year old with a Whiffle Bat), but this is a case where the success lay in the execution, making the shortcomings in the plot and some of the performances much more palatable. This low-budget flick packs a serious visual whallop, with gorgeously staged slow-motion sequences, nifty special effects, and some exceptionally convincing gore that will have the bloodthirsty masses cheering. I was also very impressed with Bogliano’s remarkably mature and confident directorial style. Rather than the James Wan-abees we’ve become accustomed to, Bogliano has a much more classical style that call to mind Hitchcock and Pressburger rather than the quick-edit seizure-inducing look of many of his contemporaries. Even the plot, as wafer-thin as it may be, eschews typical genre trappings, with Boys from Brazil-style mad scientists and roots in political discourse. It’s all very refreshingly original and visually compelling stuff, and done at a cost that wouldn’t cover the cost of a Hollywood production’s limousine budget.
The DVD from Dark Sky Films presents the film under its English moniker, Cold Sweat, with a nicely detailed and sharp transfer. It’s a dark film (mostly shot in gloomy interiors or under overcast skies) with a slightly desaturated palette, but the aesthete fits the material nicely, and the transfer replicates this well. The accompanying 5.1 Dolby soundtrack (Spanish with English subs) offers crisp dialogue, satisfyingly booming bass, and a nice assortment of environmental effects scattered across the soundfield.
Dark Sky packs in a ton of great extras, including an entertaining commentary track by Bogliano; a short behind-the-scenes featurette (Spanish w/ English subs); a collection of deleted/extended scenes; poster and stills gallery; theatrical trailers and teasers; radio spots, and, finally, a digital Cold Sweat comic book! All in all, a very nice collection!
While you could sail an Italian cruise ship through the gaps of logic (too soon?), Cold Sweat more than makes up for this with sheer visual firepower and Bogliano’s assured directorial style. It doesn’t hurt that his two female leads are very easy on the eyes, especially the white-hot Velasco, who has since become my desktop wallpaper (at least when the wife isn’t in the room). Definitely worth checking out!