For some reason, during the 1970s, made-for-TV horror movies were a thing.
And many of them were really, really good, films like THE NIGHT STALKER (1972), THE NORLISS TAPES (1973), and TRILOGY OF TERROR (1975), to name just a few.
I recently watched a made-for-TV horror movie from the 1970s that I had never seen before, either on TV back in the day or on VHS/DVD/Blu-ray, SNOWBEAST (1977). I watched it because I noticed it was streaming on Amazon Prime.
Well, after watching it, the mystery is solved, as now I know why I never caught up with this one before.
SNOWBEAST sucked! And then some!
Of course, unlike a bad comedy, which as a movie is the absolute worst because if a comedy isn’t working, you’re not laughing, you’re just bored, a bad horror movie because it’s so bad eventually becomes laughable, and so you have that at least. And that’s what happened while watching SNOWBEAST. I found myself laughing out loud at its ineptitudes.
SNOWBEAST tells the story of a Bigfoot-like creature terrorizing a ski resort community. On its surface, the story isn’t half bad, and it shouldn’t be, since the screenplay was written by Joseph Stefano, the man who wrote the screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock’s PSYCHO (1960), adapting Robert Bloch’s novel for the screen. It was Stefano’s idea to focus the first half of Hitchcock’s movie on Marion Crane rather than on Norman Bates. If only he had had a similar creative idea for this movie!
Most of the ideas found in SNOWBEAST are not that original. In fact, the plot is curiously similar to another horror hit from just two years earlier, JAWS (1975), but rather than on Amity Island, the action here takes place at a ski resort, which the powers that be want to keep open in spite of the monstrous murders being committed. And like in JAWS, the three main characters eventually get together to hunt down the Snowbeast!
But unfortunately for SNOWBEAST, Steven Spielberg wasn’t at the helm. Instead, the directing duties were performed by Herb Wallerstein, who seems to have been allergic to monsters because the actual Snowbeast is onscreen for about three seconds! For the rest of the movie, he’s either absent, heard growling on the soundtrack, or the action is viewed from his perspective through his eyes. The result is a movie that has somewhat interesting characters, decent acting from some, awful acting from others, an okay yet unoriginal plot, and some truly horrible direction. The title for this one should have been NO-BEAST!
This film needed a monster so badly I would have been happy if the Abominable Snowman from RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER (1964) had shown up!
SNOWBEAST actually has some name actors in its cast. Leading the way was Bo Svenson as a depressed skier named Gar Seberg. Gar actually has a somewhat interesting backstory, as he was an Olympic skier who retired early because he wanted to retire on top, but then found himself stuck in an unfulfilling life. Later in the movie, he gets to use that dormant ski talent to take on the Snowbeast. As stories go, this one is rather interesting, but don’t expect a climactic ski chase with Gar chasing the monster. Instead, you’ll see Gar ski by, and you’ll hear the monster growl. Oooooh! Scary!!!!
Yvette Mimieux plays Gar’s wife Ellen, who is a reporter who just happens to be an expert on Bigfoot. How convenient!
Robert Logan, known for his resemblance to Robert Wagner, plays Tony Rill, a ski patrolman who sort of represents Roy Scheider’s Chief Brody character, as he has the most common sense and takes the lead in the “we have to hunt down this beast” department.
And Clint Walker plays Sheriff Paraday, who at first refuses to believe that a Bigfoot-type creature is responsible for the murders, but he eventually changes his tune.
I liked all these characters. And they find themselves in a somewhat interesting storyline. Except that the titular monster doesn’t do his part and forgets to show up to terrorize these people!
And it’s these main characters who combine forces to take on the dreaded Snowbeast in the film’s conclusion, which would have been fun if only the director had decided to actually film some scenes featuring the friggin Snowbeast!
SNOWBEAST is a terrible monster movie, the type that is so bad you will find yourself laughing, out loud.
While the 1970s was a decade filled to the brim with topnotch made-for-TV horror movies, SNOWBEAST is not one of them, and it serves a reminder that while the 1970s produced many memorable horror films, it also produced disco and the leisure suit.
Up your nose with a rubber hose!