Triskaidekafiles

Triskaidekafiles is a love letter to cheesy cinema from the 80s and 90s, with the occasional dip into other eras.  if you're a fan of MST3K, Elvira, Joe Bob Briggs, or just bad horror movies in general, Trisk is the place for you.

Winterbeast (1992)

WINTERBEAST

WRITER: Christopher Thies

DIRECTOR: Christopher Thies

STARRING: Tim R. Morgan as Bill Whitman
    Mike Magri as Ranger Stillman
    Charles Majka as Charlie Perkins
    Bob Harlow as Dave Sheldon
    Lissa Breer as Ranger Bradford
    Chris Lenge as The Winterbeast
    Bill McLeod as Dick Sargent

QUICK CUT: A lodge in Western Massachusetts opens back up after several years of being closed for business.  But the tourists just don't know how to stay on the marked trails, and the rangers have to go searching through the forests.

THE MORGUE

    Bill Whitman - The head ranger, keeper of many mustaches.  He's the man in charge, the man with the plan, the man who is watching people disappear.  He's a good ranger, trying to do the right thing, but then bureaucracy gets in the way.

    Stillman - A new ranger from out of town, who's a bit of a perv, likes the ladies, but seems mostly harmless.  Largely inappropriate.  Can't seem to take his sunglasses off ever.

    Charlie - A local shop owner and photographer.  He helps the rangers out where he can, and his wife out on the side.  He knows a lot of the local lore.  Maybe...too much.

    Dave Sheldon - A local lodge owner, whose family has been involved in the community for generations.  He's a bit gruff, a bit weird when you first meet him, and all he wants to do is keep his family's business up and running amidst all these disappearances.

 Flames keep away the fearsome sight of the Winterbeast

Flames keep away the fearsome sight of the Winterbeast

THE GUTS: Hello again, Triskelions!  December is here, 2016 is creeping towards a close, and I have finally gotten ahold of a movie I have often referred to over the last two years as my own personal White Whale; Winterbeast.  I won't bore y'all with the details of my quest to get my hands on this movie, but if you REALLY want to know the epic two year quest, you can read a post I made over at Ignipotent.  Instead, I am just gonna dive right into this like a kid excitedly tearing into his Christmas presents.

Before I really get into it though, a minor thing you might not notice is, some of the early credits cards are clearly matted over some actual film, as you can see hints of scenery around the edges, because someone didn't cover up the whole image.  It's a minor thing I normally wouldn't point out, but is an instant sign of the quality we are in for here.

Also, if you love the music over the credits, get used to it, because it's a straight 80 minutes of nearly the same few chords!  They paid for this score, and by damn, they are gonna use the hell out of it.

But unlike my review, this movie blasts out of the gate, as the first thing we see is a cop come across a friend, with a mangled face and then SUDDEN CLAYMATION MONSTER ATTACK.

 I am barely over a minute A MINUTE into this movie, and already have to deal with this Snake Mountain escapee bullshit.

I am barely over a minute A MINUTE into this movie, and already have to deal with this Snake Mountain escapee bullshit.

All right, you have my attention, Winterbeast!  If that's not enough for you though, Two-Face starts peeling off strips of flesh from his stomach, with a grin like a stripper flirting with the audience.

While the very next thing is Deputy Doright waking up because IT WAS ALL A DREAM, I will allow it, because what in the name of Corman is this?!

BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE, the scene transitions from cop waking up to cops at the station, by splicing in ten seconds of a guy with a hairy skull and spine crawling out of his stomach like the world's most puppety chestburster.

 Hello my honey!  Hello my baby!

Hello my honey!  Hello my baby!

And again, I am only two minutes into this.  Let me tell ya folks, Winterbeast is a squawking wild ride.  I have only begun to scratch the surface of WHAT this movie serves up.

Ranger Mustache arrives to work, where someone or other has gone missing, but there's a suspect there, and he's probably guilty because he's a creep!  At least, according to RangerShades.

He takes the lady's statement about how things are scary in the woods, questions the creep, and this ultimately goes nowhere.  But Shades is sure to mention how creepy this police station is.

The movie does slow down the pace a bit after those wild few minutes, obviously.  No movie can keep that breakneck pace of WHAT indefinitely.  But while there's no blood or claymation action, the acting continues to be perfectly stilted while Mustache and Shades hang out and shoot the shit.

FINALLY these two Ranger Rick wannabes decide to go check out the Wild Goose Lodge, owned by local Dave Sheldon, where people seem to be going missing with alarming frequency.

 Look, I don't judge.  Before Groot made it big, he had to take his share of crap jobs just so he could keep paying the bills.

Look, I don't judge.  Before Groot made it big, he had to take his share of crap jobs just so he could keep paying the bills.

But the Claymation monsters are never far behind, as we leave the rangers to watch a poor woman get undressed, and a claymation tree thing come after her.  Leaf her alone!  You're barking up the wrong house!

It is the best thing ever.  Not only do we have the usual PoV cam sneaking through the trees, not only does a giant fake fist smash through her living room window, not only does she turn and pause and clearly think before making a blood curdling scream, but it all culminates in Claymation tree smashing Claymation girl, against model house.  THIS IS AMAZING.

All with gratuitous nudity to boot!

 Hey, lookit this!  You got termites!

Hey, lookit this!  You got termites!

But back to the rangers, as they arrive at Wild Goose Lodge.  or Wild Goose Lodges.  It says both on the building.  Continuity!

Ranger Mustache meets with Dave, and hoo.  The guy's fashion sense...  He looks like a walking bagpipe.  Anyways, the ranger asks Dave to put up some warnings to stay off the mountain, but the lodge owner wants to wait and see, maybe the missing guy will return.  And if you're getting a faint whiff of Jaws from all this, run with that, it gets stronger as we go.

Meanwhile, some guys are chatting, and IN AN INSTANT a fight breaks out.  To be frank, this is the most accurate thing for Bostonians.  Just say someone's doing a shitty job, and cue the bar room brawl.  It has nothing to do with the plot, it's just hilarious.  I don't even know why it happened.

 He couldn't be more evil if his name was Dave McEvil and he owned the Evil Goose Lodge on Evil Mountain.

He couldn't be more evil if his name was Dave McEvil and he owned the Evil Goose Lodge on Evil Mountain.

Anyways, Shades and Dick meet the next morning to go rummaging through the woods for any sign of Teller.  Don't expect him to shout for help, I guess.  What do you mean his name is Tello?  I don't care.

They drive through a bunch of tourist traps AND OH SWEET KAUFMAN.  I KNOW those shops.  This was filmed on the Mohawk Trailer, in Western Massachusetts.  I've been to these places.  I spent large chunks of my youth in this area.  I still have a Mohawk Trail pennant SOMEwhere in Trisk Central.

Shades wanders around and finds a totem pole decorated with a few skeletons.  Yep, perfectly normal, lets just wait and see what's gonna happen.  And I swear, Hannibal designed these tableaus.

He brings Ranger Mustache up, along with the witness from earlier, and they stare at the horribleness.  And their acting is equally as horrible.  Because they must leave.  Yes.  This is strange.  Our emotion shows it.

 ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

With the new murder scene discovered, Mustache Man heads back to Dave, while they're celebrating a foliage festival.  Dave doesn't want the guests of the lodge to overhear, so says let's go someplace a little less private.  LESS private.  That is not a typo, that is what he says.  I can't decide if it's supposed to be a joke by Dave, or if he misspoke, and no one noticed while making the movie.  Or cared.

Dave continues to roadblock the ranger's requests to shut the mountain off from tourists, because tourism is the only coin worth a damn.  And let me tell you, this is 100% true for much of New England.  Without tourism, we die.

More actual lines of dialogue because it says more about the movie than I ever could; "You don't expect me to believe that people still believe that stuff!"  "The days of those Indian Legends are long gone!"  While standing in front of a sign that says INDIAN LEGENDS TRADING POST.  Is this serious?!

Later, Charlie the photographer, sits down with Mustache to show him some artifacts he has acquired, that help him believe in the tall tales about the area.

 And not a single person comments on the dildo in the box.

And not a single person comments on the dildo in the box.

While they talk about the dildo Indian good luck charm, some hikers encounter an earthquake in the mountains.  I want to call bullshit, but they DO happen.

Instead, another creature bursts up from the ground, dragging them off out of the plot.  Yep, it's another random death of people we don't know to keep the plot interesting.  It's one of THOSE movies.

The keeper of the Dildo meets up with Mustache and hands him some files, so he can go and talk to Sheldon some more about shutting down the mountain.  But since it's all hokum and legends, Sheldon still isn't budging.

 Great, here comes Gloop and Gleep from the Herculoids.

Great, here comes Gloop and Gleep from the Herculoids.

And Mustache shows up with like...the third style of mustache he's had so far in this movie.  If I had the time and patience, and this wasn't already overloaded with images, I'd do just a separate tracking of that nonsense.

Dildo Dude is doing more research on the folklore of the place, discovering the mountain may be an "Indian Gateway to Hell".  Just before the cameraman wanders around outside, and changes the lighting from orange to blue.  Spooooooky.

But since we haven't had a claymonster attack in forever, we cut to another random hiker who gets attacked and killed.

 Every move has a special meaning.

Every move has a special meaning.

 Humanity, now with easy to remove tops!

Humanity, now with easy to remove tops!

Mustache decides to take things into his own hands though, and posts missing posters, and closes several trails.  Dave doesn't take kindly to this, and shows up at the ranger station to shut things down and throw removed posters around, because the ranger has been listening to those local creeps.

Another ranger goes wandering in the woods, and finds the gravesite of Sheldon's great great grandfather, and it looks like he's still pretty lively as something bursts out of the pile of leaves next to her, and after a quick fight, kills her.

Chuck shows up with more information after his research, "Look, we need to talk.  I found this book at the library, and there's something in it you need to know."  "Okay, but it will have to wait."

NO!  No, you tell now!  I hate when plots force stuff like that!

 Papa Smurf noooo!

Papa Smurf noooo!

But noooo, we have to have another shouting match with Dave about whether or not to close the lodge.  Because that's more important.

While Mustache and Chuck go and talk about anything BUT what he said was important, Dave gets busy in his lodge posing all his victims, because why not?

And oh.  Oh dear readers.  We enter now into one of the single most bizarre pieces of cinema I have ever seen.  It starts with Sheldon playing "What can the Matter be?" continues with him putting on a too-small clown mask, doesn't stop there as he starts dancing to the music, and if that's not enough for you, he starts fondling the various corpses.

 Just paint your face, the shaodws smile...

Just paint your face, the shaodws smile...

You thought clowns were terrifying before?  You were ducking for cover when mad clowns roamed the streets over Halloween?  Well brace yourselves, because this is about to get messed up.

Mustache and the Chuck arrive to look through the place, and split up.  Mustache finds a few dead bodies in the lobby.

Elsewhere in the lodge, Chuck wanders in to...wait, where did he get a shrunken head from?!  Hello, minor plot point!  Was this his important business?  WE NEVER KNOW.

He stares at whatever this weirdness is, and I know Chuck's wondering what can the matter be.  Look, if you wandering around a lodge full of dead people while carrying a shrunken head is the LEAST STRANGE THING happening, it's time to run.

Oh, dear, what can the matter be?  EVERYTHING.  EVERYTHING CAN THE MATTER BE.

 52 minutes into Winterbeast and Chill, and he gives you this look.

52 minutes into Winterbeast and Chill, and he gives you this look.

Our two...heroes, I guess they are, meet up and they find a bit of research about how one day a second man will come, complete the work already begun, and ancient demons will rise.  So, there's your plot, and Sheldon's the second man.  In a clown mask and plaid jacket.

So uh, yeat.  That's the actual plot.  I'm disturbed by how much this makes sense after how many times I've watched this mess.  Fortunately, I don't think our heroes and Dave were in the same scene, filming at the same time, because they do not match.

They ask why he would want to do this, and he laughs us into an extended version of the chestburster scene from earlier.  Or maybe it's happening now.  Is this monster the winterbeast?  What about the rest?

Sigh, moving on...

 Slash has really let himself go.

Slash has really let himself go.

We cut back to Dave, still laughing, and he's laughing so hard...HIS HEAD BURSTS INTO FLAMES AND MELTS AWAY.  It's a glorious effect.  I love every second of it.  The next time I get caught doing something, I know I'm going to laugh maniacally until my head explodes.

And uh...there's still twenty minutes to go?  The bad guy's dead?  There's a lot more movie left!!

Your main bad guy literally just said "Fuck it, I'm out!" and exited stage left by his head exploding.  That is a whole new level of screw you.

 If you can't handle me at my Ghost Rider, you don't deserve me at my Dan Ketch.

If you can't handle me at my Ghost Rider, you don't deserve me at my Dan Ketch.

 The only rational response to hearing the plot of this movie.

The only rational response to hearing the plot of this movie.

 Oh dear, what can the matter be?  My skull burst into flames and that was the end of me...

Oh dear, what can the matter be?  My skull burst into flames and that was the end of me...

Our heroes assume their job is done, and time passes.  Mustache calls the Chuck, and says he's going to get rid of the skeleton totem pole, what with it being freaky as squawk.

Shades heads up that night to cut it down, but he's minus his shades.  I guess he's not cool enough to wear his sunglasses at night.

He swings the axe aaaaand, the totem pole comes to life and waves it's arms around.  It may also be bleeding, but the film is poorly lit and poor quality so who knows?

 You got me a new house??  You shouldn't have!

You got me a new house??  You shouldn't have!

The totem polish monster picks Shades up and tosses him around, in the most poorly edited thing I've seen in awhile.  It throws Claymation Shades, then cuts to him just standing on the ground.  Quite the recovery!

Mustache and Shades head out to a farm the next day...why?  I don't know.  I guess because they think the creature is there, but we're never told.

Fortunately, monsters do indeed show up, so at least there's that.  There's some forced drama with Mustache falling into a hole, and Shades trying to hide.  We even get amazing slow motion as he tries to escape.  Sadly, the monster kills Shades, probably because he tried to roll away slowly.

 This is how we all eat Gummi Bears.

This is how we all eat Gummi Bears.

While the monster of the moment is busy digesting his meal, Ranger Mustache makes a run for it.  Meanwhile, Chuck realises something is wrong, and goes to join the fight.

Before he gets very far though, there's ANOTHER monster, a bird like creature that doesn't do much but caw and flap.  He runs away from that easily.  Well, runs and rolls down a hill, with the most terrible foley work I've ever heard.  Actually, as an aside, I have not talked about the foley work enough.  It's all comedy gold.

He drives off to the skeletotem pole, dumps gasoline on it, and sets it on fire.  So at least something got accomplished.

 Polly wanna cracker!!

Polly wanna cracker!!

It goes boom, I guess, because it's never mentioned again.  Instead, we find Ranger Mustache wandering the woods, and he runs into the monster that I think burst out of Telle's chest, all growed up.  Surprisingly, it doesn't say anything.

Chuck shows up just in time for the final battle, and thank the maker this is almost over.  I will say they do a great job of making the monster actually seem threatening.  He's always filmed looming over the camera, puffing himself up to seem big.  They sell the imposing nature of this inhuman creature very well.

Mustache tries shooting him with flares for no apparent reason, and with even less apparent effect.  They briefly whip out the good luck charm (The...the real one.  Not the dildo.) so there's at least some semblance of setup and payoff.

 He's really more of a late Autumnbeast, isn't he?

He's really more of a late Autumnbeast, isn't he?

But OH, any ideas of continuity are flung right out the window immediately following that.  Chuck gets knocked down, but he gets up again, to see the shrunken head totem thing he was carrying earlier.

Which we a) have zero clue how he got it, let alone b) how it got to be right there on the forest floor, while not to mention c) when it turns out that shooting it with a flare is what stops the Winterbeast...there's no setup at all here.  It is a literal deus ex machina that saves the day because the day needed to be saved.

Oh, and these entire ten minutes have had MAYBE two lines of dialogue.  Instead you get the same unending loop of music.  I told ya.

Shooting the totem head makes the real head explode, so there's probably some sort of complimentary magic going on, but it's not like they ever said anything.

 Steve Tyler, the later years.

Steve Tyler, the later years.

The beast's head explodes, our heroes walk off into the forests *cracking a joke* after nearly dying and everyone they know dying, with a hearty laugh.  "Next time, we hunt for bears!  HAHAHAHA!"

I hope actual bears eat you and shit on your corpse, you insenstive assbags.

They hard end the movie right there, and it may as well have been an 80s freeze frame moment.  But before we do that, aren't there still all those claymation monsters lurking the backwoods of Massachusetts??

AUTOPSY REPORT

Video: It looks pretty bad.  Not the worst, but everything is off, and the quality is VHS level, at best.

Audio: It all sounds like it was reocrded in a tin can, even the unending seven chords of music.

Sound Bite: Every line.  Every, godsdamned line.

Body Count: One of the few things I have no complaint with!

1 - A man I assume is Tello, dying with a monster clawing out of his stomach, two minutes in.
2 - Poor woman getting bashed against her house.
3 - One hiker gets dragged off
4 - Another hiker joins her shortly after.
5 - Another hiker gets his clay head removed.
6 - Ranger girl dies horribly at the hands of zombie Reverend Sheldon/the Winterbeast?
7 - Dave Sheldon's head goes up like he uses gasoline for a hair wax.
8 - Shades gets eaten.
9 - The Winterbeast goes boom.

Best Corpse: You do not top letting me watch an entire head burn to a neck stump.

Blood Type - A: There are a lot of gruesome effects, and they are far more amazing than the budget of this movie would make you think.  The head burn ALONE is gold.  And then there's all the monsters.  Sure, they look silly and fake, and yet they're kinda great at the same time.

Sex Appeal: Boobies!  That then get smashed against her house.

Drink Up! Every time someone says creep.
    Every time there's a claymation monster.
    Every time Stillman's mustache is different.
You are not walking out of this movie sober, suckers.

Video Nasties: The barest taste of Dave starting to sing along with What Can the Matter Be?  Let me tell you, this is barely even half the scene.  It gets weirder.  IT.  GETS.  WEIRDER.

Movie Review: As a movie, this is garbage.  It is poorly edited, the plot is a mess because of that.  Repeated viewings have either fried my brain, or it's making sense.  At least, the broad strokes.  The continuity with the little things is still horrid.  I can't explain the shrunken head to save my life.  And not just being poorly edited, the acting is stilted, the pacing is all over the place, and it's poorly shot.  This movie is just a mess.  The one saving grace are the effects, which is clearly where they sunk what little money they had.  Two out of five clown masks.

Entertainment Value: But holy potatoes, do I LOVE THIS MOVIE.  It was worth my two year long quest to acquire, the money it cost me.  It's brilliant in its bizarreness.  The acting is perfectly campy.  The script is half improvised, or they didn't care to do too many takes, which add to the camp even more.  The absurdity is out of this world.  And amidst all this, the movie somehow has this massively creepy vibe to it, that takes center stage the instant Dave puts on that clown mask.  It is downright terrifying.  This movie makes zero sense, it does almost everything wrong, and may well be the single most entertaining piece of film I've ever seen.  I love it, and am glad to own it, and share it.  Five out of five Discount Groots

 Hey Duncan!  Check out that moose!!

Hey Duncan!  Check out that moose!!

Look, indulge me that one in joke, I don't do them often.  As a reward, I now give you BONUS CONTENT!!

When I linked to this review on various sites, I did so with a few verses parodied from this movie's iconic scene.  Now, I give you THE ENTIRE PARODY I WROTE.  Most versions of the song are only three verses, but when I was checking how the lines scanned (Far from perfect, but it works), I realised Winterbeast was using a version with FIVE versions.  Of course.  So I tried to add two more verses.  I didn't need to do this.  I didn't even need to do three, but I love you all so much, I wanted to give y'all something special.  I'll probably come back and tweak this, but as a rough draft, it's great.  Anyways, here's the whole damned thing!

Oh dear, what can the matter be?
I've watched another bad movie.
Oh dear, how bad can it really be?
Jason's seen few things so wrong.

So I watched Winterbeast as soon as I got it
And after I did, oh I had to rewatch it
I promised I'd Trisk it, but also I sat down
and parodied this here whole song.

Oh dear, what can the matter be?
I've watched another bad movie.
Oh dear, how bad can it really be?
Jason's seen few things so wrong.

It was full of flannel and monsters and totems
And every line heard you just had to requote 'em
With a poor man's Groot and more monsters just like 'im
I'll sit and make fun all day long.

Oh dear, what can the matter be?
Winterbeast's a really bad movie.
Oh dear, how bad can it really be?
Jason's seen few things so wrong.

The bad guy wearing a clown mask, danced all to and fro
Then his head burned with twenty minutes still to go
And hold on did that box have in it a dildo?!
Trisk is where this movie belongs

Oh dear, what can the matter be?
I've watched another bad movie.
Oh dear, how bad can it really be?
Jason's seen few things so wrong.

I promised I'd watch this whole mess of a movie
It's lacking a plot and it just could not move me
And yet I still love it and found it quite groovy
The cheese in this movie is strong.

Oh dear, what can the matter be?
I've watched another bad movie.
Oh dear, how bad can it really be?
Jason's seen few things so wrong.

I've watched monsters kill folks for hours and hours
With a nonsense plot that has tried all my powers
I don't really care if they ever stop Sheldon
I just want this movie to end

Oh, dear! What can the matter be?
Oh, dear! I'm stuck watching Winterbeast
Oh, dear! What can the matter be?
Jason's been watching too long.