July 30, 2011

Snowbeast (1977)

"A Colorado ski resort is besieged by a sub-human beast that commits brutal murders on the slopes."

I actually remember watching this TV movie on British television about a year after it came out and I was still the right age to appreciate it. I now have about half a dozen copies of it scattered throughout my Mill Creek (and EastWestDVD) collection. It's not my favourite film or anything ridiculous like that but it does have a great late '70s vibe to it and is still a pretty solid Yeti movie.

"Snowbeast" suffers from a plot so derivative of "Jaws" that you just have to laugh at the sheer cheek of it all. It's not the only movie to do this as "Blood Beach" was even more of a ripoff and, later, the "Alligator" movies could just as well have been called "Jaws On Land". To be fair, there aren't many ways of making a "Creature Feature" but you would think there would be some attempt back then to be original. For those of us who weren't old enough to see "Jaws" back in the day, "Snowbeast" was a very welcome substitute.

One of the main criticisms about any of these films is either that too much or too little of the creature gets shown. "Snowbeast" actually falls into the latter category since the Yeti (or whatever it is) gets all of a couple of minutes of onscreen time. It's a shame really because, when you do get a close-up, it isn't too bad at all for a guy in a hairy suit.

I nearly always feel sorry for the creature with these kind of movies but somehow I just couldn't in this case because there wasn't enough shown of it to empathise with. Without that, Bo Svenson's change of heart from arguing for the creature to finally joining in the hunt for it is nothing more than formula.

Bo Svenson is the big star in this, of course, and he really is a big guy too. He's massive for an ex-Olympic champion skier and his flared yellow skisuit isn't too flattering. I don't know if he did his own stunts or not, presumably not, but if he did then he skis really well. It's a pity that he doesn't really fit his character. Clint Walker tends to steal all the scenes out from under him although whether he is actually acting or not is another matter.

I didn't really care about either of them too much though because I was trying to place Yvette Mimieux. It dawned on me that she was the dopey Weena from "The Time Machine" (1960) although I really remember her most from a terrible TV movie remake of "Bell, Book and Candle" (1978) which I watched one rainy afternoon. She's very pretty though.

There isn't really much more to say about "Snowbeast" other than there's a lot of snow, some pretty dangerous looking snowmobile driving at one point, lots of skiing, and the creature doesn't have a very happy ending. The final scene was horribly rushed.

The only major problem with "Snowbeast" (which means that I'm only rating it as average) was that there were plenty of places where some tension, jump scares or just some action of any kind could have made a big difference. It's still worth watching for a dollar.

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