Winter of Frozen Dreams
Eric Mandelbaum, Michael Graf, Michael Caughill and John Besmer
Thora Birch as Barbara Hoffman
Keith Carradine as Detective Lulling
Brendan Sexton III as Jerry Davies
Leo Fitzpatrick as Couture
Dean Winters as Ray Curtis
The year is 1980 and the place is Madison Wisconsin. Barbara Hoffman has been convicted of murder after one of the most bizarre and dramatic trials of the day. Ms. Hoffman, a call girl with a beautiful face and cold exterior, has been convicted of murdering a male suitor to collect his life insurance money, and acquitted of another murder that transpired under similar circumstances. As details of the case unfold it is possible that there are others who had fallen prey to Hoffman’s charms, and love of insurance funds.
The tale of Barbara Hoffman was dramatized in a book titled “Winter of Frozen Dreams”, and later in a film of the same name distributed by Monterey Media and premiered in a limited Television presentation on April 3, 2009.
In the film Barbara Hoffman (played by Thora Birch) is every bit the ice princess, and quite a contradiction. Both an intelligent biochemistry student and notorious prostitute, Hoffman finds any way necessary to survive. On Christmas Eve in 1977 Hoffman calls her fiancé Jerry Davies (Brendan Sexton III) and begs that he come to her house immediately – she’s got a problem. The problem is a dead man on her bathroom floor, bloodied and beaten wearing only his underwear. “He was a client”, she said, “and he got rough so I had to defend myself.” Instead of calling the police Hoffman convinces her young love that they should dispose of the body in a snow drift.
Shortly after the deed is done Jerry feels pangs of guilt and alerts the police to the location of the body and what they had done. What follows is a complex tale of lies, murder, sex and double (and triple) lives as the details of Hoffman’s life and exploits are revealed. Through it all Jerry remains the dutiful boyfriend forever loyal to Hoffman while she navigates through an intricate web of deception without the slightest hint of emotional attachment.
The case of Barbara Hoffman begs to be filmed due to the inherent Film Noir quality of the true-life events. Thora Birch is phenomenal as the cold and calculating Barbara Hoffman and believably portrays the steely serial killer through every conflicting role, from student to prostitute, victim to vixen. Brendon Sexton III delivers a performance as the love-struck Jerry that is heart-wrenching as he strives to do the right thing while under the spell of a woman with devious plans and exacting actions. Dean Winters (Oz, Law and Order) as the pimp and drug dealer Ray Curtis is perfect as the rough loser making good in the seedy underworld of prostitution and drugs. Keith Carradine as the hardened Detective Lulling adds the tough cop elements that firmly places Winter of Frozen Dreamsin the realm of True-crime Film Noir.
Thriller, crime drama, real-life serial killer – each of these can describe the sub-genre of Winter of Frozen Dreams – but not horror. Although there is not a machete to be found, fans of serial-killer drama will be highly satisfied with this one and should definitely check it out.