Friday, December 3, 2021

Snow Beast

 Snow Beast
Herb Wallerstein

It’s Jaws (1975). Look if you made a movie post 1975 about a monster running rampant, you almost certainly patterned it after the film that not only was a monumental cultural touchstone but made buckets of cash-in the process. Why mess with success? Killer animals were big business, this coupled with Bigfoot and other cryptids rising to popularity in the 1970s as part of the overall interest in paranormal and UFOs, an Abominable Snowman horror film was inevitable. Television movies arguably also hit their peak in the 1970s so the fact that Snow Beast was also TV movie makes it a triple threat of 1970s pop culture.

If you are familiar with the plot structure of Jaws, Snow Beast follows it almost perfectly. There is a resort town under attack from an unseen creature. Rather than close the resort and risk losing a lot of money the owners keep it open and risk a lot of lives. No one really believes what is happening until it is too late, and lives are lost. Things escalate until we get a trio of people isolated and facing off an increasingly pissed off monster on its turf.



Is it scary? I mean, not really. I imagine if you were a kid in 1977 this might have frightened you at the time, but it is tame by virtually any standard. Where Jaws has an extremely lean story and quick pacing, Snow Beast feels much more leaden, in part because it must occasionally drop in a cliffhanger to cut to commercial. This means it needs to get the pace back up to speed every so often eating up more screen time than it can afford. No one in 1977 figured people would be rewatching this film in one go almost fifty years later, so I can forgive this as just a quirk of the format, regardless of that, it still has impact on the story.

Another strength of Jaws could draw enjoyment simply by watching its central characters interact, Snow Beast does not have this luxury. Gar (Bo Svenson) is probably the most interesting of the main trio, by virtue he is an Olympic skier who is not only out of work but afraid to competitively ski again for fear of not living up to his past success. The plot even draws on this during the climax. None of the other characters have any real arc and I struggle to remember even who they were. That's okay, you're really here for the yeti who sports a wonderfully monstrous look. 

Gar (center) and uh... those those two people.


If you want a good yeti movie, Snow Beast is watchable but only just so, it is hampered by flat characters and slow pace. If you want to watch Snow Beast a taste of 1970s ephemera, you will find much more to enjoy here from the look of it to how it draws from Jaws and the then cultural obsession with Bigfoot and yetis. Good yeti movies are few and far between and Snow Beast never really manages to rise about mediocre.

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