Snowbeast

November 15, 2010 at 12:31 am (7 Heads, Snowbeast) (, , , )

Snowbeast – 1977 – United States

Snowbeast is a TV movie (made evident by commercial pauses) where Bigfoot menaces a Colorado ski resort. Starring many hardworking TV regulars plus Sylvia Sidney (Grandma in Mars Attacks), Snowbeast is a surprisingly engaging cheapie obviously made by folks with an understanding of genre filmmaking.

During a ski resort’s Winter Carnival (an “orgy of fun and games”), Bigfoot attacks. While two resort employees investigate, the sheriff and resort owner conspire to hide the murders, preventing panic. A simple plot, but strong, charismatic characters and a few subplots keep it moving. Unlike most horror flicks, the characters are all well meaning and likable. Even the sheriff and resort owner are treated sympathetically, justifying their deceptions. Mix in a has-been Olympian and his estranged wife, plus his childhood rival in a love triangle, for a story with a fair bit of emotion—at least for this type of thing.

But Snowbeast’s best asset is scenic mountain locations, beautiful and desolate, emphasized by excellent photography including exhilarating and very professional Steadicam skiing shots. Majestically eerie music further develops the atmosphere. Forgoing effects to save money and appease censors (it’s TV), Bigfoot’s appearances are infrequent and the violence is off screen, contributing to the mystery and suspense. The monster’s escapades are in first person, including an ambitious scene where he rolls on the ground, impaled by a ski pole. Good—his single second face shot shows more than enough of the lame suit.

I caught Snowbeast on Mill Creek’s (god bless ‘em) SciFi Classics 50 Movie Pack. TV movies are often lost. Thankfully, budget DVD outlets revived this enjoyable flick. Certainly, its plot is holey and derivative, but pleasant characters, elegant photography, evocative music, and finely tuned pacing, along with care and professionalism, make a good movie to chill with. There’s little to interest non-genre fans, but those predisposed to like this stuff will utterly dig it.

Rating: 7/10. Disregarding John Carpenter’s Someone’s Watching Me!, Snowbeast is as good as TV movies get.

Note: Check the scene where Gar and Ellen flee the barn. Watch closely. As Ellen leaves, a pair of antlers drops from above the door and clobbers her. Good times.

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