Snowbeast (1977)

It's the 50th anniversary carnival at the Rill Ski Resort, and matriarch Carrie Rill (Sylvia Sidney) wants everything to go perfect. Unfortunately for her, Colorado has suddenly gained its very own Yeti, and he intends to crash the party.

First on the menu is a random snow bunny out skiing with her friend. She goes missing, and her friend insists she saw strange footprints in the snow. Tony Rill (Robert Logan), head of the ski patrol, goes looking for her and finds her jacket and little else. While puzzling out what happened he glimpses a strange creature watching him from the woods. His grandmother, of course, wants him to hold his tongue until the carnival is over.

He does his best, ordering fellow ski patrol comrade Buster (Thomas Babson) to cancel the search for the girl and instead put up signs restricting the area. Buster has an idea where she might be, and goes looking - in the right space, if what he meant was the creature's stomach.

Shortly after a family stops at an abandoned cabin, and their son finds the girl's remains, which catches the attention of Sheriff Paraday (Clint Walker), who decides something must be done. Meanwhile, Tony's old friend (and romantic rival) Gar Seberg (Bo Svenson), an Olympic gold metal skiier, comes looking for a job, which soon turns from ski instructor to assistant bigfoot hunter.

The movie was made for television in 1977, so the budget is as low as can get. Still, it is bloody for a movie of its type, and it does have some interesting scenes, including an attack on a school dormitory holding the crowning of the snow queen as part of the festival. What is scene of the creature is not as laughable as I feared, and director Herb Wallerstein did the smart thing in not showing it full on at any point.

The major drawbacks are that Robert Logan is horrible in his part (and he is actually the lead, despite most versions giving top billing to Bo Svenson). Yvette Mimieux is the romantic interest of both men, but the subplot is barely developed, and although she insists on coming along with the men to hunt the beast, she is at one point relegated to making dinner. The day-for-night scenes are way to obvious and done horribly.

The most tedious part of the movie is the endless skiing scenes. Occasionally something interesting does happen, but then we have another five to 10 minutes of someone skiing. It was obvious padding to try and make the movie long enough for its time slot.

It's not as horrible a film as it could have been, and in the end it is largely another entry in the formulaic Jaws ripoff style that was popular at the time, just this time replacing sharks, piranhas or grizzlies with bigfoot. It would have been better as a 45-minute episode of an anthology show. Not really anything worth searching out here.

Snowbeast (1977)
Time: 86 minutes
Starring: Robert Logan, Bo Svenson, Yvette Mimieux
Director: Herb Wallerstein


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