Cinema Sunday: Snowbeast (1977)

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Title: Snowbeast

Distributor: NBC (National Broadcasting Company)

Writer: Joseph Stefano

Director: Herb Wallerstein

Producer: Wilfrid Lloyd Baumes

Starring: Bo Svenson, Clint Walker, Yvette Mimieux, Robert Logan, Sylvia Sidney

Released: April 28th, 1977

MPAA: PG

 

Continuing my look at “made for TV” movies, this week brings something from the realm of Bigfoot or the Yeti, in Snowbeast! This movie is one that usually flies under the radar for most people, but definitely give it a chance! You get the ultimate male himself, Clint Walker, a couple of gorgeous women, and of course, a bloodthirsty beast! Some of the “special effects” are quite laughable, but a decent story is there along with good location shots. OK, let’s get down to business!

 

The film begins with two women skiing through the snow in a remote area. As they stop for a quick break, one of them is leery that something “funny” is going down (I guess women’s intuition or ESP?). As they keep going, something sinister is watching from the tree-line. They spot some huge tracks in the snow, but the one girl isn’t impressed. A loud growl comes from the nearby trees, and an unseen beast jumps on one of the girls, while the other one barely escapes with her life.

 

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The scene switches to a local ski lodge, and its owner, Mrs. Carrie Rill (Sylvia Sidney), is announcing the events that are going to take place over the next few days, during their annual winter carnival. The crowd is pumped up, and cheer her on, then the “snow queen” (from last years event?) shows up, and steals her thunder. just at that moment, one of the lodge’s ski patrol men comes in and tells the owners grandson, Tony Rill (Robert Logan – image below), that something happened out  on the slopes. The two men then go to see the girl who escaped from the beast, and talk to her about what happened. She tells them her story, but they don’t believe her initially. The girl remarks that she’s going to call the girls parents, but Tony tells her not to worry, that he’ll find the girl. He and the others search, and Tony eventually finds her jacket, torn to pieces. He then hears a shriek from the woods, and gets terrified.

 

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Back at the lodge, Olympic skiing champion, Gar Seberg (Bo Svenson), arrives and gives out a few autographs. He and his wife, Ellen (Yvette Mimieux), make their way into the lodge, and then meet up with Tony. He’s glad to see his old friend, and old girlfriend. One of the patrol guys asks to head out and search for the missing girl, but Tony tells him to forget about it. He goes out anyway, but runs into trouble. As he’s skiing along, he hits a rough spot, and takes a dive. He slips over an embankment, but manages to reach the top. As he does, a giant hairy arm reaches out for him, and we can only guess what happens next. The creature then decides to watch some people at a nearby cabin. A boy and his father make a grisly discovery in their outbuilding though, as they see a gruesome scene of the missing girl’s body torn to shreds.

 

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The police are called in, and Sheriff Paraday (Clint Walker), is stunned at the ferocity of this crime. Back at the lodge, Tony decides to tell Gar about the missing girl, and the Yeti theory. He’s less than optimistic, but does listen to him. The two talk, and Tony tells Gar about the torn jacket he found along with the blood, and he begins to convince him. One of the sheriff’s deputy’s comes to the lodge and tells the owner that they want to see Tony out at the scene of the crime right away. Ellen happens to be skiing in that area, and sees the commotion. She also sees footprints of the beast, and being a reporter, is intrigued. The sheriff notices her going through a hollow, and wonders who it is and what she’s doing near this area.

Later, Tony and Gar are on snowmobiles trying to get to the farm where the body was found. Ellen is getting close to something, and keeps pushing forward. Tony and Gar then meet up with the sheriff, and ask to see the girl to identify her by seeing her face. The sheriff informs them that she has no face. He questions Tony about it, and the two are at odds over how to handle the situation. Tony wants to find the beast, but also to keep it quiet so the lodge doesn’t get any bad press. Out on the slopes, Ellen is still hot on the trail of the beast, but then she hears the beast shrieking nearby in the forest.

 

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Back in town (and later in the evening), we see most of the skiers in a gymnasium, getting ready for more events. The pageant is underway, but outside, skulking around, is the creature. As the crowd grows in size, the festivities are at an all-time high, the creature smashes through a window, and everybody panics. A woman pulls in with her car, and the beast attacks her, killing her savagely. The queen rushes out to the car but sees her mother dead, and has a breakdown. The sheriff and his posse don’t know how to explain this, and Mrs. Rill tells Gar to find Tony and tell him he was right. Gar goes to his cabin, and is feeling guilty about not having been on the slopes since his Olympic days. He then sets out to hit the slopes and conquer his fears, and find Ellen, who has gone missing. He finds the farm where the first body was discovered, and inside is Ellen, who got lost, and was bedding down for the night.

 

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The next morning, Gar and Ellen wake up, but before they can leave, the beast attacks the barn! it busts up the doors and grabs at them through the windows, but they evade it for a while. Just as it seems like the beast might get them, it runs off. It heard the snowmobiles coming, and it’s the sheriff, one deputy, and Tony, who are out looking for Gar, Ellen, and the beast. The sheriff sees the beast run into the woods, and pursues it, but Tony helps his friends. They head back to the lodge, and Gar volunteers to help the sheriff and Tony hunt it down. Just as they’re about to leave, a deputy comes in, and tells everybody that the sheriff shot the beast. As everyone goes outside to look, they see a dead Grizzly Bear, lying on a cart. Gar and Tony give the Sheriff the evil eye, because they know that it wasn’t a bear. The three men, plus Ellen, then decide to go up into the mountains, track the beast and kill it!

 

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I’ll stop here because anything else would be going to far! I will not be held responsible for spoiling this classic!

 

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OK, here are my thoughts:

Alright, this movie is total cheese and totally 1970’s! Of course this is why I like the film, but even any horror fan will get a kick out of this flick! Clint Walker is great at being the “tough guy” sheriff, and Robert Logan does a solid job as the part owner/ conflicted ex-lover (of Ellen). Speaking of Ellen, Yvette Mimieux is average at being the damsel in distress, but really doesn’t offer much more than that. Her attempts at being the ex-lover of one man, but the husband of his friend, is kind of weak, and quite frankly, she seems a little promiscuous in the early scenes (being married to Gar but almost willing to  sleep with Tony).

The real stars of the movie is the Yeti, and the locations. You don’t get to see the Yeti in full view until the end scene (kind of), and that’s a good thing, because your imagination can probably think of something more terrifying. The locations were fantastic though, and really added a lot to the film. They also used a fade out technique (for the commercials) that was cool. Right when the scene was going to end, or basically, the Yeti was about to  kill someone, the screen would slowly fade out with a red hue to it, and then freeze.

Listen, I’m pretty sure this one is public domain, so give it a shot. You won’t be spending any money, but you’ll never get back this 85 minutes either. So, look at it this way. Would you rather be cooking, cleaning, or working? Probably not, so hit up the link below, and watch away on some rainy Saturday!

 

Click here for the full movie!

 

 

 

 

 

Cinema Sunday: Scream of the Wolf (1974)

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Title: Scream of the Wolf

Distributor: ABC Television

Writer: Richard Matheson

Director: Dan Curtis

Producers: Charles Fries & Robert Singer

Starring: Peter Graves, Clint Walker, Jo Ann Pflug, Philip Carey

Released: Jan. 1964

MPAA: PG

 

Sticking with the werewolf theme from last week, I thought I’d spotlight this little made for T.V. movie from 1974. Like most television movies, it doesn’t have the big budget that the Hollywood flicks do, but they do sometimes have a charm to them that those other movies don’t. It also helps when you get names like Matheson, and Curtis to be involved with the project.

Two of the actors in this film a good draw for that era as well (Graves & Walker), so that helped bring people in too, and they delivered solid performances. Alright, now let’s get to this ABC television classic from 1974!

 

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The film begins with headlights coming down a foggy road. The car starts to sputter, and the driver realizes that the car is out of gas. He decides to walk to a nearby house, but is startled by something moving in the brush. He sees something that terrifies him, and we hear the growling of a beast. The man runs back to his car, barely making it ahead of the beast. The beast begins to smash his windshield, windows, and tear through his convertible top.

As the credits roll, we see a massive search going on by the police near the scene of the murder. Sheriff Bell (Philip Carey – image below), is on the scene, talking to his men about any clues they may have found. He’s shocked by the remains of the victim, and at the shape the car is in as well. The sheriff then proceeds to the home of a local writer, John Wetherby (Peter Graves – image above), to ask for his help. You see, Wetherby was an avid hunter, and has a good knowledge about animals. The two men then check out the tracks that the animal left at the scene. Wetherby tells the sheriff that the attack sounds like something a leopard would do, but the tracks resemble that of a wolf of considerable size.

 

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The following day, Wetherby is heading over to a local store in his awesome Corvette, to visit Sandy Miller (Jo Ann Pflug), his girlfriend. After he convinces her to go out Friday night, the scene does an about-face, and we see another weary traveler heading down a dark road late at night. This guy is just walking though, and when he hears something stirring nearby, he investigates. He only lives about thirty seconds more to regret that stupidity. Again, the police arrive, and can’t figure out what would’ve done this. Wetherby is also there, and remarks that the man’s whole face is missing! He also follows the tracks of the beast, and sees that after it ran for a time on four legs, then changed to walking like a bipedal animal.

The sheriff drops off Wetherby at his home, and then Wetherby heads over to his buddy’s house. A local big game hunter named Byron Douglas (Clint Walker – image below), is his friend, and the two have been on hunting trips together. Wetherby practically begs Byron to help, but he tells him that he’s too busy. Wetherby is stunned that his old friend wont help, and the scene ends. Later that day, when the darkness falls, a couple are making out in a trailer, when they hear a noise. As they investigate, they are shocked when the beast bursts through the glass door, and devours both of them!

 

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Meanwhile, Wetherby and Sandy are having dinner at a local restaurant, and discussing the murders. Byron walks in, and stops over at their table for a quick hello. He asks Wetherby if the creature has killed again, and Wetherby tells him he was right, that it has killed more people (the couple in the trailer). Byron remarks that the creature is fascinating, and Sandy gets angry (the two are at opposite ends of this conversation). Byron smirks, then asks Wetherby if he’s heard the rumor around  town that people think it’s a werewolf. Wetherby laughs and Byron tells him not to scoff at the notion. He then recounts a time the two were on a hunting trip in Canada, and hunting an enormous wolf. How the Native Americans living in that area told them it wasn’t just any wolf, but a trapper that had been turned into a wolf.

Suddenly, a local man approaches Byron, and asks him what kind of pleasure he gets from killing innocent animals. Byron tells him he can’t explain it. He then stands up and approaches the man, getting right in his face. He tells him he can’t tell him, but he can show him. The dude looks like he’s ready to crap in his shorts, but then Wetherby intervenes and breaks up the confrontation. On the way home, Wetherby tells Sandy that on that very hunting trip that Byron talked about, they were hunting it from the trees, but they couldn’t take it down. So Byron got down on the ground and took it on hand to hand with a hunting knife. He was bitten very badly by the wolf, and almost didn’t survive.

 

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After Wetherby drops Sandy off at her house, he heads home for the night. Sand y showers then gets ready for bed, but hears some noises outside her window. She then heads into the kitchen for some coffee, but sees something skulking in the shadows. She rushes into the other room and calls Wetherby. She tells him that someone is creeping around her house. She begs him to come over, and he tells her he’s on his way. Something then breaks into her home and she screams. She then runs into her bedroom, and locks the door. A beast of some kind begins to break the door down, but then the police arrive, and scare it off. Wetherby arrives minutes later, and tells Sandy she’ll be staying at his house for a while. The sheriff and Wetherby look around the house and see that whatever it was made Swiss cheese out of her door. They investigate outside and the tracks lead to the water, and a dead-end.

Wetherby goes out that next night, with a rifle in hand, to try to hunt the beast. He doesn’t make it very far though, when he’s surprised by the sheriff. The sheriff put a curfew on, and tells Wetherby that he must abide by it as well. The next day Sandy admits to calling the sheriff and ratting out Wetherby out of fear. Sandy then tells Wetherby that she thinks it’s Byron behind the killings. Wetherby dismisses her, and then the sheriff interrupts them. The sheriff then convinces Wetherby to go out to Byron’s house for a visit later on. They do, and Byron still refuses to help. He also puts himself under suspicion with the sheriff. As the sheriff storms out, Byron warns Wetherby about going out after this creature. He tells him that…”the prey will always do the unexpected.”

 

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That night, the sheriff is watching Byron’s house. His deputy shows up to relieve him, and sees some movement near the house. As he moves in to see what it was, he heads into the basement. The corridors are dimly lit, and his flashlight can barely pierce the darkness. Without warning, something snarls at him, and charges. He gets off two shots, but is overtaken by the beast. Out in the woods, Wetherby is also hunting the creature, and hears a wolf howl. He then listens closely and can hear footsteps nearby. As he investigates, he finds the deputy in his car, sliced to ribbons.

The next day, the sheriff and local government officials hold a press conference and try to calm the public down. It backfires though, and then they are told the national Guard is being brought in to stop the killings. One of the reporters exclaims that people think it’s a werewolf, and the crowd erupts. Outside, Byron is waiting to talk to Wetherby about the killings. He tells him that the sheriff had questioned him all morning. Byron leaves, and Wetherby goes to his house immediately. Wetherby demands that Byron help him, but again he refuses. Byron then tells Wetherby that he’ll help, but only if Wetherby can hold his own in an arm wrestling contest for one minute. The two engage in the contest, but Byron easily defeats him. He tells Wetherby to forget about the animal, that it would kill him.

 

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Later, Byron shows up, and tells Wetherby that he’s changed his mind about helping. Sandy is creeped out by Byron, and thinks it’s a trap. Once they arrive Byron asks Wetherby about the possibility of it being a werewolf. Wetherby still won’t believe it’s a werewolf, and the two are about to separate, when Byron tells him again that “a hunter isn’t sure of anything, except that the prey will do the unexpected.” Minutes into the excursion, a shot is fired off, and Wetherby hears Byron struggling with some animal. By the time he finds the location, he sees blood covering the jacket of Byron, lying face down. He then hears a wolf howl in the distance.

 

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That’s where I’ll stop, because the last ten minutes are all spoilers and would ruin the ending. Just keep in mind that things are not always what they seem!

 

OK, here are my thoughts:

Alright, first off all, don’t miss out on this one due to it being a TV movie. It has a good production value to it, and also has some solid performances from Graves and Walker. Nothing Oscar worthy, but solid performances nonetheless. Walker is actually pretty creepy in this film, and sets a very ominous tone for the film. Graves plays a writer, and seems to be a little uncomfortable with the role. He never really talks about it or even is seen writing. Only chasing after Jo Ann Pflug, talking with the cops, and also arm wrestling Walker. The scenes where he’s acting like a hunter though, are quite good. Speaking of Jo Ann Pflug, she does a good job of being the “damsel in distress”, but doesn’t offer much else.

The sets were good, but not great. Specifically, the outdoor shots were the good part, but the interiors left something to be desired. The “villain” is a bit disappointing, kind of in the same vein of my thoughts on another “wolf”, in The Beast Must Die. OK, I know so far my thoughts sound pretty grim, but trust me, for a TV movie this one has a good story, two good lead role players, and a good ending. I also love the sound track as well. I’m a sucker for 1970’s music, and that’s a fact! I’m pretty sure that this flick is public domain, so I’ll post the link and you can give it a watch!

Check out the movie here!

 

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