WRITER: Joseph Stefano
DIRECTOR: Herb Wallerstein
STARRING: Bo Svenson as Gar Seberg
Yvette Mimieux as Ellen Seberg
Robert Logan as Tony Rill
Clint Walker as Sheriff Paraday
Sylvia Sidney as Carrie Rill
QUICK CUT: A washed up Olympic star in need of a job and confidence, rolls into a friend's family's Colorado mountain resort. Oh, and then they run into bigfoot. Bet he didn't see that coming.
Gar - A former Olympic gold medalist in the biathalon, Gar has gone on to...not much. He lost his faith in himself, and didn't want to be a monkey dancing for peanuts. Thus, he has not gotten back on his skis since. He's old friends with Tony, a former rival for his wife's attentions, but despite their rivalry, the pair remain close.
Ellen - Gar's wife, and formerly interested in both men. With Gar's confidence problems, their love and marriage is waning, but she remains faithful to him, even in the presence of her other suitor.
Tony - The owner in training of the Rill Lodge snow resort in Colorado. His grandmother still runs much of it, but it is slowly falling more and more to him to take care of things. Including giving his old friend Gar a job, not sleeping with Gar's wife, and hunting down snowbeasts.
THE GUTS: With summer looming it's hot and sweaty head over the US, I figured now is as good a time as any to get in the mood with...Snowbeast! Beat the heat with this chiller of a thriller. And I think we all know my cleverness there will beat anything in this movie, won't it?
And yes, this is written by Joseph Stefano of Psycho and Outer Limits fame. This could be...interesting. But it probably won't.
We get introduced right away to two snowbunnies, and they can't decide whether to keep skiing or turn in. One of them has a Bad Feeling about things. And I must say, there is nothing terribly ominous to give that feeling. They're out in the open, the sky is bright and crystal clear. The worst there is, are glimpses of the snowbeast's hand in the woods. But they don't see that.
One of the girls continues down the slopes as the cameraman charges the other one, killing her in a cutaway. Not surprising, since this is a made for tv movie, but oh well.
Wait, maybe she lived! The movie cuts from the killing to the base of the mountain where they're setting up for the winter carnival. And there's the two girls, clearly in the crowd.
Word reaches the base lodge about things going wrong further up the mountain, and that's no surprise since both girls are right there! They're probably telling everyone about Jennifer almost being attacked by a film crew!
Tony decides to check it out, and he and one of the ski patrol hope on a snowmobile and find Heidi out at a rangers station. Which she got there fast from the base lodge, if she beat them to it!
While Tony heads out to investigate, led only by a description of an old barn by a river, he sends Heidi back to the base, and instructs the ski patrol to keep things quiet. Bury the secrets under the snow and keep them there!
Elsewhere on the mountain, retired Olympian Gar Seberg has arrived to bask in what little glory he has left amidst the Colorado skier circles. And to ask Tony for a job. I hear they have an opening for monster hunters.
Tony reports in to his grandmother about what he saw in the woods, and they have differing opinions on what it might have been, and what they should do. But they at least agree to restrict access to the area where Jennifer was killed, to try and limit any encounters until the learn more. No need to ruin the winter carnival.
With a plan of action decided on, Tony finds a ski patrolman and tells him to stop the search and post the restricted zone as soon as possible. Rather than actually follow orders, he figures it's better to keep searching. But you know what he gets for disobeying; he falls and tumbles off a steep slope. Fortunately, the snowbeast was there to grab and crush his skull, saving him from a nasty fall down the mountain.
After the movie fades to red (Oh my Lloyd, more movies need to do this!!) we find a family trucking around until they stop at hey! An old barn by a river! The kid goes inside to check things out, as kids tend to do, and stumbles back out all pale and weak, saying a woman in the barn was eaten by a geek. His dad goes in for a look and finds Jennifer's shredded body.
Tony sees Sheriff Paraday and tries to have a talk with him, but he gets called away, what with there now being a dead body. Hey, if the sheriff catches the monster and puts it in jail, would that be Paraday's Cage?
With that bit of punning out of the way, Tony meets up with Ellen to talk about Gar and stuff. We're treated to some decent enough exposition, where we learn their marriage is troubled, her and Tony used to have a thing, and Gar's actually pretty washed up and stuck in the past, unable to go back to being an ordinary person after all the fame and glory of being a gold medalist. It's well handled, as these things go.
Once Tony hugs and kisses the married woman, in a friendly way, Gar finally arrives as she leaves. Tony asks him if he's still a good marksman, and tells him about their monster troubles. But not until he promises not to tell his wife the reporter.
As Paraday checks out the dead body, Tony and Gar go for a swim and discuss his job. Once he finds out all the details of the crazy little story, and they properly call the thing a bigfoot, Gar isn't very happy. He doesn't want to be thought of as a hired killer.
But that little bit of drama is literally defused in the next scene. Gar actually tries to defend the snowbeast as a wild animal that doesn't want to harm people, but once Tony tells him about Jennifer, things change. Yeah, not so harmless.
A deputy shows up to try and find Tony, but he's busy convincing Gar. Helen overhears him, making her reporter sense tingle, so goes out to the farmhouse on her own to investigate. She finds snowbeast droppings in the woods, and follows them. So much for keeping it a secret from her.
Tony and Gar finally arrive at the barn, and he indentifies the dead body. I love how this entire thing hinges on the victim wearing a very identifiable snowsuit so we and Tony can ID the corpse. The exact same reason it was easy to see her in a crowd after she was killed. Seriously.
Paraday and the guys talk about what's in the woods, hammering home the bigfoot idea, and decide the thing must be killed. Gar gives pause, but now that he's seen what the creature is capable of, he's on board with killing the cryptozological find of the millennium. Or of the X-Files, even.
The rest of the mountain is carrying on with their winter carnival, oblivious of the thing in the woods as they decorate the high school gym to crown their snow queen. Or at least they were oblivious until the snowbeast shows up outside and turns her into a scream queen.
He causes quite a ruckus as he smashes windows and makes everyone stampede. They wisely don't linger too much on the monster, and stick to just showing the occasional limb or shadow, like when he comes upon the snow queen's mom and executionals her.
After cleaning up the mess, and sending grandma Rill off to the hospital since she fell during the stampede, Gar retires for the night. He fails to notice his missing wife, last seen being attacked by the monster while they were at the barn, and instead stares at his skis. Gar has what I can only describe as either a bad acid trip, or a 'Nam flashback, as the movie cuts back and forth from him staring at the skis to his glory days on the slopes.
Now, they made a big deal about how he's never put them on since he won the gold, and doing so is tough for him, so having that moment of reflection, followed by finally strapping them on...I'd say they earned that. They also earned the lengthy skiing sequence of Gar back in his glory. Sure, there's been plenty of skiing padding out this film so far, but this one is appropriate for Gar's story. The rest of the excessive skiing can bite me hard.
Surprisingly, Ellen isn't dead, and Gar finds her alive and well in the abandoned farm. How he ended up there, who knows. And again, they never really had him show any concern. They could have worked some kind of payoff here, but failed on the setup. So, points for the skiing payoff, failure on the relationship and search.
The pair catch up and stay warm by the fire, and their love for each other is rekindled along with Gar's skiing spirit. I do like the whole idea that his wife needed to be in danger for him to finally strap the Rosignols back on, but they just didn't quite sell it as THAT being the reason. Oh, and then they start making out? Uhh, are they still in the barn? Next to Jennifer's faceless corpse? Eeek?
Snowbeast returns to his home the next day, and discovers his food is trying to escape. As Gar and Helen try to get out of the barn, with the creature bashing against the doors and windows, they also find what's left of the ski patrolman it grabbed earlier.
Tony and the cops show up, scaring the snowthing off with their snowmobiles. They're about to give chase when the couple finally get out of the barn, thanks to Gar bashing through the door. And making the antlers hilariously fall off the wall and hit Ellen on the head. The trio are reunited, and make plans to regroup before they continue their search and destroy mission.
I do like that the movie pauses to give a funeral to the patrolman. That's an easy thing to skip in a movie like this, and it's also a good time to dial the pace back again and catch our breaths.
But enough of that, it's back out into the woods to kill the...no wait, the sheriff killed it off screen! Yeah, this is gonna turn out to be fake, isn't it? And yes, it's just a bear that the sheriff killed to try and make the locals calm. And to top it off, the fake snowbeast is actually a fake bear.
Gar naturally doesn't believe it, and confronts Paraday on his kill. They discuss what to do about it, but so much of the covnersation is drowned out by snow crunching underfoot.
But anyways, the three of them decide that it's better to make sure they have the right snowhulk and grab Tony before heading back up to the mountain to take care of things.
The team spends the day snowmobiling around the woods trying to find a trace of the snowcyclops, but don't find anything. They decide to head back to the trailer and back down the mountain. Which is good, because the creature is waiting for them right there. I love that this creature could have, and should have, totally trashed the camper to impede their escape, but all he ends up doing is tearing off the ski rack. He's just phoning it in at this point.
Paraday actually makes the good point that at least the creature knows where they are, so rather than trying to move and hide, better to wait and have the creature come back. It's easier than canvasing an entire mountain. Warmer too.
Gar and the sheriff keep watch while the other two make dinner. Tony asks about the past, and why she didn't choose him. I like that they could have done some overblown sexual tension, or teasing of a possible affair, but it's just the story of three old friends who care about each other, with no animosity. Tony may still have feelings for the woman, but he won't interfere with his close friend and his wife. Another nice change of pace from what has become the norm.
The next morning, they're still waiting for the creature, and he's finally gotten bored of watching them from the woods. So the snowwolverine smashes down a pile of logs that was sitting up the hill, down into the trailer. Which begs the question where those came from...but I digress.
Paraday is the only one in the camper when the logs collide with it, simultaneously killing him, and trashing the truck. Finally. I want to know how logs got in through the back door when they hit the side, but I guess they're plot convenience logs. There's another interesting goof when you notice that there are icicles hanging off parts of the truck that is now on its side. Icicles pointing towards the ground. Which could only happen if it had been there awhile.
The trio hike it to the barn to hole up for the time being, but Gar points out that's not a great idea since that's where the snowfinfangfoom hides its food. Tony doesn't think he'll be doing that anymore since it has lost so much food from that place thanks to them.
Soon, Tony wants to take care of the stuff they left behind, when he gets bored and makes his way back to the camper to get their lost skis and guns. The other two decide to tag along rather than split up, which means they ran away from the camper so they could run back to the camper. Nice circling around the plot, movie.
Once they get to the camper, they can't find anything, but remember they had some extras inside the back. So they make Ellen climb over Paraday's dead body to get them.
Tony grabs a revolver from the cab, just in time for the snowphoenix to show up and get shot. For a movie starring a character that they've been touting as an olympic biathlete, it's a little surprising they let anyone besides Gar shoot the thing. AND hit it. Fortunately for that point, the creature runs off and Gar gives chase.
If the chase was a downhill ski chase, that might be thrilling. But instead, it's a slow chase on a fairly even, flat grade, more like cross country skiing. So it's kinda slow. And try and picture someone making the motions of skiing as they're chasing someone. It's a little bit unintentionally hilarious.
The snowgroot finally appears so this movie can end already, and Gar shoots him a few times. The thing keeps coming though, making him stab it with his ski pole, and that seems to do the trick. So, it was a vampire snowbeast, and needed to be staked through the heart?
And much like Puppet Master 5, the movie ends pretty much immediately once the bad creature is dead. But unlike the latter, this movie actually feels complete. Ish. The death doesn't leave other things up in the air, like the other movie.
Video: For a 1970s made for tv movie, that was released on a disc with three other movies, in the public domain? I can forgive it for not looking great. I've certainly seen worse, and it's easy enough on the eyes.
Audio: Same here, really. Nothing special, but aside from crunching snow killing dialogue in a few scenes, everything is pretty clear. This is...surprisingly watchable, all things considered.
First Blood: Despite her still being around a few moments later, I am going to say Jennifer actually died five minutes in when the snowbeast rushed her.
Best Corpse: Has to be the ski patrolman who gets saved from falling off a cliff by having his skull grabbed and yanked. And bonus points for reappearing almost half the movie later by falling out of the barn's loft.
Blood Type - D+: A made for tv movie, so the blood is almost nonexistant. And the laughable snowbeast costume and fake bear don't help the score.
Sex Appeal: 1970s made for tv movie? Sex what now?
Movie Review: Well, it has a story to tell, it moves from point A to point B and more without to much convolution and nonsense. The biggest flaw of the movie is the amount of production errors. I caught two, and know there's more I missed out on but others have seen. Well, that and how padded the movie is with skiing and snowmobiling. But that does give us some lovely scenery of snowy mountains, so I forgive it ever so slightly. It's preferable than Lost Continent's infamous 'rock climbing' sequence where they waste time on a set. We at least get to see real mountains and trees and snow. The characters are likable, it's an okay story for what it is, but it's pretty straightforward too, so nothing to write home about. Thoroughly average, making three out of five dead ski patrolmen.
Entertainment Value: And the movie is suitably fun. The acting isn't terrible, and the effects are cheesy, so it's simple, goofy fun, but doesn't go overboard. It's a fun peek at an okay 1970s monster movie. And better made than anything from Scifi Channel's Saturday fare. It was surprising how quietly likable the movie was, if you take it for what it is. But still average, so three out of five ski poles.
Seriously, more movies need to fade to red. That's just plain awesome.