Snowbeast


The legendary creature is half man... half animal... and a cold blooded killer!



Year of Release: 1977
Genre: Horror
Rated: Not Rated
Running Time: 86 minutes (1:26)
Director: Herb Wallerstein


Cast:

Bo Svenson ... Gar Seberg
Yvette Mimieux ... Ellen Seberg
Robert Logan ... Tony Rill
Clint Walker ... Sheriff Paraday
Sylvia Sidney ... Carrie Rill
Thomas Babson ... Buster
Jacquie Botts ... Betty Jo
Michael J. London ... The Snowbeast



Summary:

The 50th Annual Winter Carnival is about to begin at the Rill Ski Lodge in the Colorado Rockies. However, a mystery hangs over the gala preparations as the body of a young skier is discovered on the slopes, grisly murdered. Tony Rill, manager of the lodge and the grandson of the lodge's owner, Mrs. Carrie Rill, sees a shadowy, beastly shape disappearing into the woods. Terrified, he informs his grandmother. But Mrs. Rill, in an effort not to lose business during the Winter Carnival, assures Tony that such stories are simply folklore. And then another skier disappears.


Review:

Snowbeast, remindin' us that it's perfectly fine to smooch your high school rival's girlfriend if you get the deadbeat a job first. Not to be confused with the rule about smoochin' your boyfriend's rival after you give him a job. The rules're different for women I think, but let's not go into why that is cause I don't wanna end up in the Huffington Post misogynist registry. That whole can of sperms is just better left unopened. An speakin' of stuff that always ends in regret, I been sick the last week after engagin' in what I'm told was "a stubborn display of moronic masculinity." That's what Sadie Bonebreak called it when I refused to watch the movie at the Grime Time from inside the projection booth. I woulda just parked the Topaz at the bottom of the steps, but the DVD remote wouldn't work through the wall, an Skunky Hernandez was adamant that the next movie on the disc was not to start or else folks'd feel entitled to see it for free. So I shoveled the foot of snow off the deck an watched from my usual perch, cause my personal code of ethics prevents me from watchin' the flicks indoors at a drive-in. Besides, sittin' inside the booth'd be like goin' to a steakhouse an orderin' a salad, ya know? Tetnis says I got "walking pneumonia," but I dunno how accurate his diagnosis really is beins how he hadda do the exam while bustin' up a fight at Walleye's Topless Dancin' & Bait Shop. I say "breaking it up," but if you know Tetnis at all, it's really more that he's pickin' two completely new fights with the two drunks so they'll take a swing at him an legalize the beating they're about to receive. Normally I wouldn't question Tetnis' expert analysis, but I never did no walkin' during the movie other'n when I hadda get up to separate Apollo from the hubcap he got stuck to after he hiked his leg up on it. Skunky thought it'd be "cute" to dress Apollo an Gank (Duke Tankersley's ole hound dog) up in white shag rugs so they'd look like the Snowbeast, otherwise I woulda never got up at all. Everybody's sayin' it was the 6" of snow I had piled up on my beanie that done it, but I still say it was that third mutton burrito Juanita brought me from the concession stand. I mean, I'm not gonna tell 'er that, cause a free meal's a free meal, but I guess it don't really matter how it happened anyway. I'm startin' to feel better though. Every night after work Sadie comes by to take my temperature an yell at me awhile so I don't forget what an idiot I am. She's gonna make what's-'er-name a fine wife someday. Anyhow, what I'm tryin' to say is, if the review gets hard to follow, it's prolly just the Robitussin talkin'. That, an I can't really make out some of my notes cause of the nose runnins that dripped on 'em.

Nevermind that though, cause the flick was definitely a fun one to watch up on the big screen, beins how it was originally a made-for-TV movie. Heck, it might've been the movie's outdoor premiere for all I know, an just a measly 39 years after its original air date. Only thing I don't understand is why it originally aired in April, cause when you think about it, the plot to this flick is basically How the Grinch Stole Christmas meets Jaws, so I'd think you'd wanna run it around Christmas time to bail out those poor parents who get stuck watchin' hours an hours of those stop motion Rankin Bass holiday specials. Course nobody ever asks me to handle their programming, or babysit their kids, so what do I know? I'll tell ya this much, though, I do know a thing'r two more'n I did before watchin' this week's flick, an if you'll stick around for a minute before we get to the movie, I'll pass 'em on to ya. First, you've pretty well kissed an told if you can identify a nekkid dead girl who's had 'er face ripped off. Second, bein' trapped with your spouse in a barn in subzero temperatures is way cheaper, an far more effective, than seein' any marriage councilor. An third, never dress like a banana when there's a killer arctic monkey on the loose. But the REALLY important thing to take away from this flick is to make sure you never, ever die in the mountains on an incline, cause nobody'll ever find ya. I sat through this entire movie waitin' for somebody to go UPHILL to look for the missin' skiers, an it never happened. Whole dang movie's like one of those old Juicy Fruit ads they used to run in the early '90s with people barrelin' down ski slopes while some unemployed backup singer goes on an on about how "the taste the taste the taste is gonna moooooOOOOOoooooove ya!" Sometimes there'll be cops on snowmobiles ridin' on FLAT ground, but nobody could care less about any elevation higher'n the ski lodge. I think this's why the cops never could catch up to the thieves in Beast from Haunted Cave either, cause they went slightly uphill during their escape. Anyway, what I'm tryin' to say here is that the next time your folks start tellin' you about how it used to be uphill in the snow both ways, you call 'em on it, cause from what I've seen, it wasn't even uphill ONE way.

The movie begins with these two babes in the woods on a skiin' trip where one of 'em (Heidi) wants to head back to the lodge cause there's "something's funny," at which point the dominant female (Jennifer) tells 'er it's just her acting an to quit bein' a big baby. But about that time they find these footprints that look like somebody dragged a coupla camera cables over the cinematographer's butt cheek impressions, an next thing you know this big hairy white guy who'd been waitin' for Luke Skywalker to join 'im for dinner comes outta nowhere an sasquashes Jennifer into people mache paste while Heidi heads back to live with 'er grandfather in Switzerland. Meanwhile, just a little ways down the hill at the local ski lodge, we got big preparations goin' for this year's big Winter Carnival, an the fact of the matter is these people need all the prep time they can get, cause their carnival don't have funnel cakes or crooked games or even a place where a 10-year-old can see his first hooter. Mostly it just seems like the Winter Olympics for the untalented when you get right down to it. But anyway, it ain't long before this chunkhead (Tony) who's only got a job cause his Gramma (Mrs. Rill) owns the ski lodge, finds out about what happened to the missin' skier an places Heidi into Bigfoot protective custody to make sure nothin' happens to 'er before he can force The Minnesota Iceman to stand trial. Then Tony goes out to look for Jennifer an finds a shredded yellow snowsuit an starts gettin' a little worried. This is perfectly understandable, cause if that thing belonged to April O'Neil it won't be long before the Channel 6 news van shows up an creates a public relations nightmare for their shindig. One thing's for sure though; whatever it was done sucked all the filling outta the Twinkie, an that don't sit well with Tony's masculine mountain man bravado. So havin' been left with no other choice, he goes for the jugular right outta the chute an tattles to Grandma Snowses. Only Old Ma'am Winter just makes like Murray Hamilton in Jaws an tells Tony that if people hear tell some prehistoric critter's Neanderthawed out on the mountain an started turnin' people into Hickory Farms samplers, everyone's gonna go home an force 'er to push back her hip operation. Then Bo Svenson shows up to mope about how nobody liked his Walking Tall sequels so Tony'll feel bad for him an give 'im a job, an while that's goin' on Tony's flunkie (Buster) goes out lookin' for Jennifer's carcass again an ends up wipin' out an gettin' his skull crushed into powdered milk by Krampus.

Meanwhile, Tony goes out to dinner with Bo's sqveeze so she can tell 'im about all the marital problems she an Bo've been havin' an how for the last year she's been havin' nightly reruns of I Dream of Weenie starrin' Tony's ski pole. Apparently their marriage councilor's explained to Bo that he ain't hittin' 'er slopes often enough, but Bo's been depressed ever since the Wheaties people stopped callin' a couple months after he won the gold medal for Slalom back in '68, an now she dunno what to do cause she completely identifies with Mick Jagger an his inability to get satisfaction. Then Tony plants one on 'er an tells 'er that if she ever gets tired of 'er NordicTrack she can always trade 'im in for a ThighMaster, an even though Bo sees the whole thing he just kinda lets it go since Tony put his butt on the line with Grandma to get 'im a job. Right now though, Tony's got bigger fish to fry, so he an Bo hit the pool so he can read 'im all the latest developments from the Yeti Gazetti an ask 'im if he's still got that Olympic medalist's trigger finger from his Biathlon days. Mostly he wants to know cause he needs somebody who can bring down the Missing Stink, but it's also something you'd definitely wanna be aware of if you're plannin' to go shooshin' down Ellen's Tetons. But anyhow, Ellen decides she's gonna go searchin' for The Legend of Foggy Peak not too far from the barn where Tony an Bo hafta meet Sheriff Cole to ID Jennifer's body, which is kinda tough given that it's been layin' in a water trough in the dead of Colorado winter for two days an looks about like a freezer burnt cow's tongue. Then Bo an Tony tell Cole about the Sno-Magnon they seen an how Ellen knows all about the critter cause she did a 60 Minutes special on it for Morley Safer durin' a slow news week, an Cole figures they better just tell everybody that Dan Haggerty's on the rampage so people won't go/get turned into apeshit. Cept that plan kinda goes to pot later on when the high school band starts preparin' for the crownin' of their Snow Globe Queen an playin' Rule, Britannia! in the ski lodge gymnasium at 5000 decibels cause they never could find the sheet music for God Save the Queen. Thing is, it's way past noise curfew an His Abominance hasta get up early to start filmin' The Mysterious Monsters the next mornin', so he heads down to the lodge an proceeds to kick glass an break dames until he runs into the Ice Queen's mama an strikes a pose so frightenin' 'er TRUCK becomes paralyzed with fear, at which point he punches out 'er window an shows 'er what a bad Mamma Jamma he is.

Bo is P.O.'d, an once he reassures Boss Granny that she did the right thing by endangerin' hundreds of lives to host 'er little skank crownin' ceremony, he vows to make the Winter Carnival safe for snow bunnies everywhere. Only he can't start plannin' his assquatchination attempt on Mr. Frostybuns just yet, cause when he gets back to his cabin he realizes Ellen never came home an figures she's prolly gettin' 'er precious "needs" takin' care of by the hairy guy's Sascrotch, or worse, Tony. Turns out she's just holed up alone in the barn where the last body turned up cause she refused to ride the chair lift back to the lodge with Craig Morton. Fortunately, Bo's able to crush the skulls of his personal ski demons an locate Ellen before she freezes into a nagcicle, at which point she finally defrosts an apologizes for bein' a lousy wife for the last 10 years. Then Bo explains that he stopped skiin' cause he'd seen so many former champions turn into nobodies after the fact that he figured he might as well get a head start by abandonin' the one thing he was good at, or somethin'. I really didn't understand that part. He was afraid he MIGHT become a nobody if he kept skiing, so he guaranteed it by givin' it up entirely. So anyway, the next mornin' The Grinch heads down to Whoville to see who's been fartin' around in his meat locker an tries kickin' the door in before the people-stink gets permanently embedded in his straw pile, only before he can get at 'em, Cole an Tony show up on snowmobiles an run 'im off so they can wrinkle up their faces an make these smarmy "we know what you two were doin' in there" grins at Bo an Ellen. Then all the lodge employees give Buster a burial at ski until it's finally time for our scrappy band of middle class heroes to ride out into the woods an have a little chat with ole scatmatts about his monkey shines. Course, what they don't count on is the skunky monkey preparin' for their arrival by sawin' up a buncha logs an stackin' 'em up into a pile, an when they park their camper on the side of the road to go look for 'im he kicks the support out from under it an literally rick rolls their truck. After that any semblance of strategy they mighta had goes out the window, as the surviving 'squatch hunters (there was some minor Cole rollage when the logs struck the truck) run for their lives into the forest, which is where I'm gonna leave 'em so the ending don't get spoiled. That said, if you can't stand not knowin' who emerges alive from the Battle of Yettisburg, the movie's in the public domain, an I've provided a link to it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iELllKW-f7Q

Alrighty, well, if you were willing to actually check that link out you probably noticed that, for a movie billed as "Snowbeast" there wasn't a whole lot more snow than beast in there. Of course, to be fair, we are talkin' made-for-TV territory, and when you've got that kinda glass ceiling looming overhead, it's probably best not to go crashin' through it if you intend to continue getting jobs. That said, the movie could've survived a few cuts to the skiing sequences, ya know? I mean, there comes a point where it feels like these guys just wanted to get a free trip to Aspen on the studio's expense account and decided to pad out the movie with footage of their vacation. And for a flick that was supposed to be watered down enough to not offend Grandma during the CBS Weekend Movie or whatever network this thing aired on, it kinda makes you wonder how they were able to get away with havin' Robert Logan find the first victim's ski suit. Was I the only one that saw that and realized the Snowman'd gone through the trouble of defrockin' this lady before haulin' her off? They coulda just had the guy find a pool of blood or something, or maybe a sleeve from the girl's suit, but it's the whole thing layin' there in the snow. Don't get me wrong, I kinda like the movie, it's just that sometimes people try to be so sensitive to the audiences' presumed anxieties that they end up accidentally making a scene a whole lot worse than it was to begin with. I really do like a lot of these '70s made-for-TV flicks though, and after you've seen enough of them you begin to understand and accept the rules/boundary markers that the crew aren't allowed to cross, which ultimately leads to lowered expectations and an overall lack of disappointment. There are some really good ones though, like Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, but that one probably scared the tar out of an entire generation of 6-year-olds, where flicks like Snowbeast and Moon of the Wolf never came close. Something else that's kinda strange about this one is how Bo Svenson gets top billing in the opening credits, but doesn't even show up for the first 15 minutes of the movie. During that time it's really all Robert Logan and Sylvia Sidney, and even then it's another 20 minutes before the focus gradually shifts over to him. It's almost like they weren't sure if Svenson was gonna agree to do the movie and had to start shooting without him, after which they just slowly phased him in. Actually, it's kinda like in Psycho where the movie starts out with Janet Leigh, only then Anthony Perkins dresses up like Betty White and stabs her to death in the shower and sinks her car into the bog behind the hotel. Except in this movie the director hasta keep the amount of dead people to a minimum, so he decides to just kinda demote Rob to supporting cast without ever telling him. Matter of fact, Joseph Stefano wrote the script for both movies, so take that for what it's worth.

In any event, it's time for the Snowbeast's annual shearing, so let's give him a buzz cut and find out if he's all fluff, or whether there're some cajones down at the south pole. The plot is alright when you're looking at the big picture, but one can't help but notice the parallels to Jaws, particularly when Sylvia Sidney starts tryin' to get Robert Logan to downplay the whole "murder monkey on the loose" situation so as to not ruin their big festival. There's also the question of why exactly Bo Svenson's character stopped skiing for 10 years after becoming famous for skiing. They actually try explaining why he did it, but it only makes things even more incomprehensible, because as I understood it, he basically stopped skiing because too many of the previous champions ended up becoming nobodies. Thing is, by making the decision to stop doing the one thing you're famous for, you end up with the same result, only faster. He didn't want to become a nobody, so he takes the one path that guarantees he becomes a nobody, and the whole angle is really just an excuse to try to generate drama for the scene in the movie where he has to "confront his demons" and ski again to save Yvette Mimieux, when logically there's no reason for him to have ever ditched the skis to begin with. The acting, at least as far as the primary cast goes, is pretty good. Svenson, Logan, Mimieux, Sidney, and Clint Walker are all fine, but now and then you do get some pretty pitiful deliveries from the extras and the lower tier supporting cast. Like when the Winterball Queen or whatever she is finds her mama after the Satchman punches the window out of her truck and mangles her body. That scene's a little bit funny. But in general, all the actors playing pivotal roles are at least decent, and if a person is inclined to fail the movie for any technical deficiencies, it should not be due to the acting.

Here's who matters and why: Bo Svenson (Raising Jeffrey Dahmer, Beyond the Door III, Curse II, Primal Rage, Deep Space, Maniac Killer, Wizards of the Lost Kingdom, Night Warning, Day of Resurrection), Yvette Mimieux (The Time Machine 1960, The Black Hole, Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell, The Neptune Factor), Sylvia Sidney (Beetlejuice, Mars Attacks!, The Omen II, God Told Me To), Thomas Babson (Beasts), Kathy Christopher (Beasts), Richard Jamison (Retribution), Richard Jury (Chupacabra, Endangered Species, Earthbound), Annie McEnroe (Beetlejuice, The Hand 1981, Manhunter, The Howling II, Battletruck). Additionally, if Bo had his druthers, he'd prefer you remember him as Roy Jennings in Heartbreak Ridge, Robert Logan would be best remembered as J.R. Hale on the TV series 77 Sunset Strip, and Sylvia Sidney is likely to haunt you if this performance gets top billing over her portrayals of Mrs. Verloc in Sabotage, or Katherine Grant in Fury. So it's a pretty good primary ensemble, even if the credits list proves a little scant.

The special effects are almost nonexistent. Matter of fact, I only even remember seeing blood on one of the four murder victims, and even then it's just kinda smeared on the guy's face. So essentially, the only special effect in the movie is the creature costume, which is hard to rate because it gets so little screen time. The one scene where you get any kind of look at it is, amusingly, when it's running away at a great distance through some trees. That scene comes off as pretty lousy, but that's because the actor in the suit isn't making any effort whatsoever to move like an animal, not because the suit is bad. Suit's too far away to really even make a judgement on. I will say that in the scene where the claw grasps Buster's head, it looks really good. Conversely, in the scene where the foot kicks the rick of logs down the hill, the foot looks like crap. The only other time you see the monster is a very brief shot of it breaking out the window in the gymnasium, which, again, is too short to praise or condemn. Obviously the special effects guys either knew they had a bad suit, or thought it'd be funny to make a movie where their Bigfoot is difficult to see, which would be a cute little piece of social commentary. The shooting locations are without a doubt the best thing about the movie, with the vast majority being filmed on location at the Crested Butte Ski Resort in Crested Butte, Colorado. The area's snow covered peaks and surrounding wooded areas create an ideal setting for a movie of this type, and in addition to being very pleasing to the eye, they also prove highly effective at conveying a sense of isolation necessary to generate the bulk of the film's atmosphere. That said, the gymnasium scene almost certainly had to have been filmed at a local school, and really clashes with the feel of the lodge it is presumed to reside in. Interestingly enough, the Winter Carnival event that takes place in the movie is actually a real event, and despite having only a population of around 800 people at the time of Snowbeast's filming, the area has been used as a shooting location for about a half dozen films over the last few decades. The soundtrack is surprisingly decent for a '70s TV movie, even though the bar for achieving that description requires little more than not sounding like a police drama. Instead, we've got some fairly melodic horn music that presides over most of the scenes that convey menace, and cheerful string/woodwind sections that are utilized during the more mundane moments that occur inside the lodge. Of Robert Prince's horror compositions, this one is definitely better than the one he did for Gargoyles, but maybe not quite as good as his treatment for Squirm. Overall, not bad for a public domain title, but a little slow as far as pacing goes, and definitely lacking in thrills. Fans of '70s made-for-TV flicks and fans of Bigfoot movies should enjoy it, but it's really not for everybody.


Rating: 52%