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Tuesday 5 March 2013

Burl reviews Snowbeast! (1977)

It’s Bur-r-r-r-r-l! Yes, I’m here to review a winter picture, a TV movie called Snowbeast that spooked me royally when I saw it as a youngster! It was hyped for weeks in commericals, or so it seemed, and I knew I had to see it! Ha ha, I actually sat and watched it as my parents fiercely debated the wisdom of allowing me to do so in the next room! I thought it was a pretty great movie, better even than This House Possessed!
I watched it again recently, and I still think it’s pretty great, ha ha! Maybe that means I haven’t grown up in all the ways I should, but I prefer to think that I was simply able to recognize quality when I saw it, even at such a young age! I remember that it was broadcast in the summer, which made its snowy winter setting all the chillier somehow! Because winter can kill you on its own, never mind the bigfoots!
There’s a great bigfoot here, a shaggy white-furred guy who looks remarkably similar to the intentionally fake Bigfoot in Shriek of the Mutilated, ha ha! To tell you the truth, after all these years I didn’t think he’d still be scary – yeti totally was, ha ha! He rips off faces and grabs people by their heads and just mutilates as fast as he can! He’s the worst-tempered bigfoot in movies, with the exception of the one in Night of the Demon, of course!
As has been noted many times, the movie plays like one of those kiddie re-creation movies, not of Raiders of the Lost Ark this time, but of Jaws! Trade the ocean for a ski mountain, and sim sallah bim! Once again, three guys are after a monster who’s cutting into a seasonal community’s tourist trade; this time there’s a lady along too, calling to mind Jaws: The Revenge! (And there’s a love triangle, which brings to mind the original Peter Benchley book!) We have the grandson of the ski lodge owner, the deflated ex-Olympian ski guy who’s asking him for a job, and the skier’s wife, who loves them both! Add Hoss-voiced Sheriff Paraday to the mix, and you have the Yeti’s greatest nemeses!
It’s not just a movie for sasquatch lovers – fans underwhelming of ski footage have plenty to cheer about too! The theory I developed watching all this ski footage was that it was included so that different stations could cut more or less of it out to fit it into their commercial schedules without interfering in the plot! And one of the movie’s greatest assets: Sylvia Sidney, the smoker’s voice queen, as Carrie Rill, the matriarch owner of the lodge! I feel really bad for her when the Winter Carnival is interrupted by the rampaging beast, and the Winter Princess’s crown is trampled before it can even be bestowed!
There’s some fine thespian action here aside from old Sylvia – Bo Hopkins, the towering Man of Blond, is great as the depressed ski champ! He gets a fantastic redemption arc! The sheriff, played by Clint Walker after all, is fine too, and really gives it his all when he first meets up with the creature!
It could use a few more attacks and a little more footage of the creature and less of skiing! There are a few eerie shots of the bigfoot moving through the trees, but I guess they didn’t think it looked too good, so you really get only one or two glimpses of it! It’s still a scary movie, though! I give it three fades to red!

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