Perhaps only among the icy depths of snow and ice. With the nights drawing in here in England, and with temperatures on the slide, I thought I would look this month at a collection of five books and movies in which the role of wintry conditions are employed to chill the blood and crush the spirit.
A shape-shifting being emerges from the Antarctic ice to terrorise the unsuspecting occupants of an isolated military outpost. Based on John W. Campbell's novella Who Goes There?, the weather is a constant reminder of their isolation, serving to sharpen the horror of what awaits them.
But the theme of alienation from society is only one of a number of others that underpin this John Carpenter film. A key one is the suggestion the monster represents the arrival of disease in the camp, with all of its transforming, disabling and crippling effects - placed before an 80s audience already reeling from the emergence of HIV and AIDS.
Towards the end of the movie, the narrative turns full circle as the alien seeks sanctuary in the ice to wait for the arrival of a rescue team. It leads the last survivors to take drastic action to finally end their ordeal in a film now broadly perceived as a classic.
Another film that capitalises on a remote location. Based on the novel by horror fiction author Stephen King (left), it sees writer Paul Sheldon survive a car crash in the mountains only to face a fresh nightmare in the form of Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates).
Much like the snow outside Wilkes' house, the cruelty inflicted on Sheldon, on both a physical and psychological level, piles up before he finally hatches a plan to escape his nightmare.
His earlier journey, which ends in him losing control on the road and trapped in a snowbank, seals his fate and demonstrates how single choices can alter our lives forever. Left stranded before being rescued by Wilkes, it also says much, on a micro-level, about the powerful and often unforeseen potential of freak weather.
A novel that has had a huge impact on popular culture, this tale of man-made monster has even been described as the first true work of science fiction by author Brian Aldiss. The experiments conducted by scientist Victor Frankenstein foreshadow themes that would become commonplace in that genre, but the story also offers insight into how weather imagery was used by Romantic writers such as Shelley (right).
The arctic regions are the point of focus for Captain Robert Walton's letters early in the book, painting the area as unexplored and unknown - drawing a parallel with Frankenstein's ground-breaking work in giving his creation life. However, it is arguably in the monster's own experience that the remote frozen plains are employed most effectively - symbolizing not only the creature's cruel treatment at the hands of the scientist but also its banishment from society.
Looking for someone to blame for the plethora of ancient alien-themed documentaries appearing on our screens? Well, Lovecraft may have played a role in their emergence by writing this novella about an expedition to the Antarctic that uncovers a long lost civilisation inhabited by deadly otherworldly beings.
It is difficult to see how John W Campbell was not influenced by this work in creating the novella Who Goes There?, which was published two years later. Both men were clearly fascinated by the region, with large parts of it remaining uncharted (and therefore doubly mysterious) at the time they were writing.
Lovecraft may have had the upper hand here, however, in describing the harsh, sub-zero conditions. In Lovecraft: A Look Behind the Cthulhu Mythos, Lin Carter suggests that the author was particularly susceptible to the cold, relaying an incident in which he collapsed in a street after a sudden drop in temperature, and taken into a drug store to recover!
The story ends with the protagonist warning future expeditions to Antarctica to stay clear of things that should not be let loose on the earth.
I guess Campbell just didn't get the message!
A fictionalised account of the 1845 British Arctic expedition to cross the final unnavigated section of the Northwest Passage, Simmons' novel sees HMS Terror and HMS Erebus become trapped in the ice.
With the weather becoming exceptionally cold, the surrounding terrain bereft of wildlife to hunt, and on-board rations running out, starvation soon threatens the crews. If that was not enough, they are also subjected to the unpredictable attacks of a monster that resembles a giant polar bear, known as Tuunbaq. In their desperation to escape, the men pull their boats over the sea ice of King William Island as the returning monster and hostile weather take an horrendous toll on the dwindling number of shell-shocked survivors.