January 3, 2013 | Back to: News

Winter watch: A guide to some of Lake Tahoe's cameos and skiing's campy classics

LAKE TAHOE - So, you woke up early, schlepped your gear to the hill, skied some tasty snow, had the obligatory apres-drink and are sitting back home, too tired to get far from the warm glow of the fireplace? Perfect. Outside is definitely the place to be at Lake Tahoe, but sometimes - like during a blizzard - sitting inside in front of the television isn't so bad.

But that reality doesn't mean you have to stop enjoying the lake and the sports it offers. Lake Tahoe and the quirky ski culture that surrounds it have gotten plenty of screen time over the years. Here are some movies that either feature Lake Tahoe or have ties to its most well-known winter activities.

Hot Dog ... The Movie (1984) - The gold standard in campy '80s ski movies, "Hot Dog ... The Movie" is a must-see for anyone interested in the good ol' days of skiing - or at least how they were portrayed by Hollywood. Filmed at Lake Tahoe, primarily at Squaw Valley, "Hot Dog" includes a familiar theme of likable, underdog dirt bags battling smug, well-heeled rich folk for skiing supremacy. The movie features quite a bit of on-hill action, including versions of skiing that still make appearances (Chinese downhills) and plenty that don't (Ski ballet). The movie is available on DVD and is also available for free online at unofficialnetworks.com/hotdog. Rated R.

Dumb and Dumber (1994) - This classic buddy flick features Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels taking a road trip to a little place called Aspen. This comedy features relatively little skiing, but includes some awesome do's and don'ts of the ski world, as in do take your skis off before walking into the lodge, do not stick your tongue to the metal chairlift and do wear a spandex ski racing suit whenever possible. The movie also provides some unforgettable slope side quotations that just about any ski bum can relate to. Case in point: "I said, 'Do you love me?' and she said, 'No, but that's a really nice ski mask.'" Rated PG-13.

Ski Patrol (1990) - An unheralded classic from the golden age of eye-rolling ski flicks, "Ski Patrol" boasts a few highlights between the standard-issue love story, including an out-of-control snowboarder with a split personality, comedian George Lopez's first acting credit as explosives expert Eddie and the now familiar plot line of a much-beloved ski resort threatened with purchase by corporate interests (see: "Out Cold"). Still stuck in the early-'90s, Ski Patrol has not been released on DVD, but can be found online through services like Netflix. Rated PG.

Out Cold (2001) - "Out Cold" may not be quite as beloved as the Hot Dogs of the world, but this update to the ski comedy genre is worth a look for a couple of decent snowboarding scenes and plenty of (mildly) humorous comedic action. As for the plot? Character Stumpy sums up the small town-meets-big development tension. "I was there. Yeah, it was called the '80s. Ford was President, Nixon was in the White House and FDR was running this country into the ground. I was bummin' in a hole-in-a-wall town in what is now called Utah. Some fella from Colorado shows up, starts making so-called 'improvements,' right? Before we knew what hit us, the streets are running with latte.'" Rated PG-13.

A View to Kill (1985) - Actors to play James Bond: Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Tom Sims, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan. Wait. Tom Sims? That's right, this Moore-era Bond movie features recently deceased snowboarding pioneer Tom Sims dropping a monster cliff, skimming a pond and generally showing all the squares how James Bond gets down on a snowboard, all while being chased by three automatic weapon-wielding skiers. Somewhere, some snowboarder (or skier) has had this dream. Totally radical. Rated PG.

Frozen (2010) --This campy horror flick has nothing to do with Lake Tahoe, other than its ski resort setting. Much of Frozen is laughably bad, but the "group of friends stuck on a chairlift after the resort closes" plot line is well-conceived enough to play on that nagging feeling in the back of chairlift riders' minds that wonders "What if I get stuck up here?" The answer: Wolves. Rated R.

Godfather: Part II (1974) - An all around classic and possibility the best gangster movie ever made, "Godfather: Part II" includes Lake Tahoe among its backdrops. The winner of the 1975 Academy Award for best picture, the movie used Fleur de Lac, the historic West Shore estate of Henry J. Kaiser, as a setting. The private development is still around, but not open to tours. The estate is popular as a sight-seeing stop on Lake Tahoe boat cruises as the weather warms up. Rated R. For a taste of Lake Tahoe's actual mafia history, check out Scott Lankford's book "Tahoe beneath the Surface."

Misery (1990) --Unlike "Frozen," "Misery" is a legitimately scary movie featuring Kathy Bates playing an obsessed fan of an author she rescues, and then imprisons, following a car crash. We're dealing with Stephen King here, so the mental anguish grows as the movie progresses and the sledgehammer scene is as hard to watch as ever. The level of cabin fever in this flick can make even the viewer claustrophobic. In other words, "Misery" provides plenty of motivation to get out of the house. The movie includes shots from around the Lake Tahoe region. Where the author in the movie, played by actor James Caan, crashes was filmed at Donner Pass, near Tahoe's North Shore. Rated R.


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Jan 3, 2013 04:32PM Published Jan 3, 2013 04:31PM Copyright 2013 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.