Snow Beast (2011)
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