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Snow Beast (2011)

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Snow Beast (2011)Starring John Schneider, Jason London, Danielle Churchran, Paul D. Hunt, Kari Hawker

Directed by Brian Brough


Monstrous growling noises awaken everyone in the dead of night. A look of fear on everyone’s faces as they slowly approach the window to get a look at what sort of creature is making this ruckus right outside their cabin. Then the noises stop and nobody sees anything outside. Without a moment’s hesitation, in the most casual tone of voice possible, a voice lacking even a smidgen of concern or curiosity, John Schneider declares, “Back to bed, everyone.” I don’t know if that line was meant to be funny, but the way he said it sure made me giggle.

Snowbeast (one word) also happens to be the title of low-budget made-for-television killer Yeti flick from 1977 that also featured a man in a furry white Abominable Snowman costume terrorizing some frozen woodlands. In that movie the audience was disappointingly treated to very few glimpses of the actual snow beast, most likely because the filmmakers were embarrassed by how chintzy looking their Yeti suit looked. The makers of the 2011 Snow Beast (two words) had no problem showing their killer Yeti front and center despite it looking even shaggier and chintzier than the 1977 version. Good thing, too, because the delightfully hokey charm of the Yeti suit is one of the few things this film has going for it.

This Snow Beast might has well have been made in the 1970’s, and I say that not just because its title monster looks like it would have made a memorable foe on a particularly scary episode of “Land of the Lost”. You’d pretty much have to be a little kid to find anything scary about this Abominable Snowman. The entire production has the sensibilities of a more innocent bygone era of filmmaking as this could very well be the tamest of all of the killer Bigfoot movies to come along in the past decade. Ostensibly a family film that happens to revolve around a hungry homicidal hominid hunting humans, if it weren’t for those minimal moments of bloodshed, Snow Beast would be bordering on G-rated. That’s not necessarily a bad thing when you consider most of the classic films of the golden age of Sasquatchploitation were also extremely tame by today’s standards.

John Schneider is a divorced wildlife researcher who drags his rebellious teenage daughter, Emily, with him on his annual research trip to the Great White North to study the Canadian Lynx. Except this year there’s something complicating their research – there are no lynx to be found. Hey, Yeti’s gotta eat. And since the main course has run out, that puts people on the menu.

Never fear, for Jason London is here. For wherever low-budget monsters lurk, a London brother will be there. You know, if Syfy were smart, they’d hire Jason and Jeremy London to star in a “Supernatural”-style show about acting brothers that travel the globe hunting down cheesy movie monsters.

Jason London is a forest ranger convinced something strange is going on in ‘dem dere woods’. His Harry Knowles-esque partner doesn’t believe anything out of the ordinary is occurring in the wilds, can’t believe London’s character is wasting his time trying to make something out of nothing, and really would appreciate it if you’d just stop bothering him altogether.

Every single second the Yeti is on the screen doing his Yeti thing is b-movie bliss. If you can’t feast your eyes upon this shaggy Yeti costume that looks like an evil version of the Abominable Snowman from “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and not feel compelled to fight back a smile, your heart has clearly been hardened by years of b-moviemakers’ over-reliance on impersonal digital effects. Seeing its frozen facial expression peeping out from beneath a snow bank gnawing on a severed rubber hand the way you or I would chow down on a rack of barbecue ribs is the true magic of cinema.

Fear the mighty hand of the Sasquatchian snow beast for his pimp-slapping prowess is bar none. Rivaled only by its running bear hug snatch & grab skills.

Alas, these moments are merely that. As is also often the unfortunate case when it comes to old school Sasquatchploitation, the human melodrama side of the story tends to be tepid at best. There are stretches where the dialogue could have been replaced with a humming sound, and it would have made little difference to me.

The lesson of the movie is clearly the importance of appreciating family, a lesson surly Emily learns by film’s end when she convinces another colleague of her father’s who wanted for the two of them to just get the hell out of there to help her infiltrate the snow beast’s icy lair to rescue her father, whom she wasn’t even sure was still alive, and then leaves that person behind to die at the monster’s claws while she and dad race to freedom. Ah, family values.

2 out of 5

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Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View

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Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly

Directed by Marcel Sarmiento


Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as

17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?

What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.

  • Film
2.0

Summary

Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?

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IAMX’s Alive in New Light Review – A Dark, Hypnotic, and Stunning Musical Endeavor

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Recording eight albums is an achievement no matter the artist, group, or band. This is especially true for Chris Corner’s IAMX, his solo project after the trip hop group Sneaker Pimps, which has enchanted listeners since 2004’s Kiss + Swallow with its dark electronic aesthetic. There’s something fascinating about the music Corner puts out as IAMX. Perhaps it’s the underlying melancholy that seems to pervade the music, almost certainly a result of the musician’s battle with depression and chronic insomnia [Source]. Perhaps it’s the unexpected melodies that reveal themselves with each new measure. Whatever it is, IAMX’s music is a constant delight.

On Alive in New Light, Corner reveals that his eighth album was a product he created as a way of “…breaking free from demons that have long plagued him,” per an official press release. Strangely enough, this uplifting attitude may easily be overlooked but repeat listens unveil a sense of hope and wonder that are simply breathtaking. The title track echoes with almost angelic choir pads that positively shine as Corner exultingly cries in a shimmering falsetto, “I’m alive in new light!” This comes after the Depeche Mode-esque “Stardust”, which offers the first collaboration with Kat Von D, whose pure voice is a beautiful addition to the pulsating track.

The third track, “Break The Chains”, has an opening that immediately called to mind Birds of Tokyo’s “Discoloured”, which is meant as a compliment. It’s followed by the Nine Inch Nails influenced “Body Politics”, which meshes Corner’s crooning vocals with a 90’s industrial backdrop. “Exit” has an almost sinister progression lurking in the background that builds to an aggressive, in-your-face third act. The cinematic Middle Eastern flairs of “Stalker” mutate effortlessly into a heartbeat pulse that features back-and-forth vocals between Corner and Von D. The haunted circus vibe that permeates through “Big Man” is mirrored by its playful gothic aura, ghostly “oohs” and “aahs” sprinkled carefully here and there.

While the album has been a delight up to this point, it’s the final two tracks that took my breath away and left me stunned. “Mile Deep Hollow” builds layer after layer while Corner passionately cries out, “So thank you/you need to know/that you dragged me out/of a mile deep hollow/and I love you/you brought me home/because you dragged me out/of a mile deep hollow.” The way the song’s melodies back these wonderfully uplifting lyrics feels grand and epic, as though a journey is coming to an end, which is where “The Power and the Glory” comes in. Far more subdued, it’s a beautiful song that feels almost like a religious experience, a hymn of a soul that is desperate to claw its way to salvation and escape a life of pain and darkness.

What makes Alive in New Light so wonderful is how much there is to experience. I got the album and listened to it no less than five times in a row without pause. I simply couldn’t turn it off because each return revealed something new in the music. Corner also makes fantastic use of Von D’s vocals, carefully placing them so as to make them a treat and not a commonplace certainty.

While some may be disappointed that there are only nine tracks, each of the songs is carefully and meticulously crafted to be as powerful and meaningful as possible. It really is a stunning accomplishment and I’m nothing short of blown away by how masterfully Alive in New Light plays out.

  • Alive in New Light
5.0

Summary

IAMX’s Alive in New Light is a triumph of music. Full of beauty and confidence, it doesn’t forget the foundation that fans have come to know and love for over a decade but instead embraces that comfortable darkness with open arms. Corner states that this album was a way to break free from his demons. It certainly feels like he’s made peace with them.

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The Hatred Review – A History Lesson Dug Up From The Depths Of Hell

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Starring Zelda Adams, Lulu Adams, John Law

Directed by John Law


I don’t know about the scholastic interests the masses had (or have) that read all of the killer nuggets that get cranked out on this site, but when I was an academic turd, one of my true passions was history, and it was one of the only subjects that managed to hold my interest, and when the opportunity arose to check out John Law’s ultra-nightmarish feature, The Hatred – I was ready to crack the books once again.

The setting is the Blackfoot Territory in the late 1800s, and the pains of a lengthy conflict have taken their toll on the remaining soldiers as food has become scarce, and the film picks up with soldiers on the march in the brutal cold and snow covered mountainside. In tow is a P.O.W. (Law), and the decision is made by the soldiers to execute him in earnest instead of having to shorten their rations by feeding him, so he is then hung (pretty harshly done), and left to rot as the uniformed men trudge along. A short time later the group encounters a small family on the fringes of the territory, and when the demands for food are rebuked, the slaughter is on and the only survivor is a young girl (Adams) who prays to an oblivious god that she can one day reap the seeds of revenge upon those who’ve murdered her family. We all know that there are usually two sides to any story, and when the good ear isn’t listening, the evil one turns its direction towards those who need it most, and that’s when the Devil obliges.

The answer to the young girl’s prayers comes in the resurrection of the prisoner that was hung a short time ago, and he has been dubbed “Vengeance” – together their goal will be achieved by harshly dishing out some retribution, and the way it’s presented is drawn-out, almost like you’re strapped into the front-row pew of a hellfire-cathedral and force-fed the sermon of an evil voice from the South side of the tracks. It’s vicious and beautiful all at once, Law’s direction gives this visually-striking presentation all the bells and whistles to please even the harshest of critics (hell, you’re reading the words of one right now). The performances, while a bit stoic in nature, still convey that overall perception of a wrong that demands to be righted, no matter how morally mishandled it might be. Overall, I can absolutely recommend The Hatred for not only those wanting a period-piece with ferocious-artistry, but for others who continue to pray with no response, and are curious to see what the other side can offer.

  • Film
3.5

Summary

The Hatred is a visually-appealing look into the eyes of animus, and all of the beauty of returning the harm to those who have awarded it to others.

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