Friday, December 10, 2021

The Snow Creature


The Snow Creature
W. Lee Wilder

The Snow Creature takes its cues from King Kong (1933) in several ways, starting with the plot structure. The first half of the film we have explorers in dangerous territory, instead of the jungles of Skull Island, we are faced with the inhospitable mountains of the Himalayas. We get a taste of some good old fashioned Hollywood racism with some evil Sherpas (who speak Japanese for some reason) instead of Skull Island natives. Both sets of adventurers end up catching their respective legendary monsters and bringing them back to civilization where they escape and cause mayhem in the streets. The main difference is that King Kong is exciting and holds a legendary place in cinema, and The Snow Creature is a cheap b-movie, albeit one of the first times the Yeti was brought to American cinemas.


The Yeti has great posture.

The Yeti presented here isn’t a great example, looking more like a tall man wearing an ushanka, perhaps this was some attempt at cold war subtext but it doesn’t seem to play into anything. The Yeti is relegated to only a few scenes including an endlessly repeated sequence of it walking out of the shadows or back into the shadows accomplished by simply reversing the same few frames. The creature lacks any personality being neither bestial enough to frighten or sympathetic enough to make the viewer feel anything when it finds itself trapped in an alien environment. The humans on the other hand are pretty awful, vengeful, greedy, and violent. The Snow Creature exists in a miserable world with no levity or humanity.

While much of the production is shoddy and the direction uninspired (I would expect no less from the person who brought us Killers from Space (1954)), there is a dark undertone to the story that I found interesting. During the film we have a continuing reference to families. Surba (Teru Shimada), the lead Sherpa takes over the expedition in order to kill the Yeti and rescue his wife who was taken by the beast. It turns out the Yeti not only has Surba’s wife but also a family of its own who are killed in a cave-in. At the climax of the film, Peter Wells (Leslie Denison), an L.A. detective and expectant father kills the Yeti and is shortly after notified that his wife has given birth. There is this cycle of families being preyed on and destroyed that doesn’t bode well for the his family’s future.


I widowed a yeti and you murdered him. Let's grab a drink.

The Snow Creature might be one of the first Yeti movies but it’s far from a good movie in and of itself. It has some value as a curio but little beyond that. The ingredients are here to make something interesting but the direction and script fail that core material at all every turn. I can only recommend The Snow Creature for you Yeti completists and even then I’d save it for an afternoon where can fold your laundry while it plays.

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