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The Snow Creature


Title: The Snow Creature
Year Of Release: 1954
Running Time: 71 minutes
DVD Released By: Alpha Video
Directed By: W. Lee Wilder
Writing Credits: Myles Wilder

Starring: Paul Langton, Leslie Denison, Teru Shimada
Taglines:
1. Terrorizes city, abducts women, annihilates men!
2. Half man! Half monster!
3. 10,000 times stranger than the wildest fiction!
4. Himalayan Monster captured 20,000 Feet above the Earth!
Alternate Titles:
None Found

Review Date: 2.18.11

Shadow's Title: "The Snow Job"

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 The Snow Creature

Characters
Dr. Frank Parrish - A botanist that works for the Corey Foundation, whatever that may be. He travels to the Himalayas to look for plants. What he winds up finding is a tall, hairy and no doubt quite smelly humanoid that he brings back to Los Angeles, where it promptly escapes. D'oh!
Peter Wells - A photographer from the U.K. that accompanies Parrish to the Himalayas. He seems more interested in continually drinking his scotch than taking pictures, but he does manage to get one photo of the Yeti that he later cashes in on, much to Parrish’s annoyance.
Subra - The local guide hired by Parrish to lead him into the mountains. He gets word that a Yeti has abducted his woman and after Parrish laughs at the notion of big, hairy bipeds, Subra stages a mutiny so he can lead the party in a search for his missing wife. He never does find her, poor sap.
Lt. Dunbar - Once the Yeti has escaped and is on the loose, this is the local cop who heads up the search for the beast. He’s got two things to worry about, as in addition to the Yeti killing people, his wife has recently gone into labor with their first child. Talk about having a reason to drink!
The Yeti - When Subra leads the men in a search for the Yeti, they run into this one and his hairy family. After a cave-in stuns it, Parrish decides to bring it back to L.A. The critter here is quite ridiculous looking, appearing to have been sewn together from several shag carpets.
 

 

The Plot Hold your cursor over an image for a pop-up caption

I knew it would not be long before a Charlie Sheen biopic came out.Some vaguely Asian music is blasted at us and an animated map of the Himalaya Mountains is thrust before our eyes. Before one has time to take it all in, a voice assaults us. Rather than having an opening narration from some unseen fool (a la 20 Million Miles to Earth and others), or have an ongoing narration throughout the film by some unseen fool (Invisible Invaders, The Giant Claw to name two annoying examples), in this movie’s case we will actually get to see the fool that is talking, as he is the film’s main character, Dr. Frank Parrish, and he will be expounding upon various topics throughout the movie’s running time…a la Monster From Green Hell.

Some stock footage of icy, mountainous locales now follows and Parrish tells us that we are about to see the story of an expedition that went searching for plant life but wound up in pursuit of some legendary creature that was doubted by many to exist (alas, I don’t think he is referring to fans of this film, as such life forms definitely do not exist). The ominous music builds, we get a title card and then we fade to black.

Stock footage of an old airliner is now shown as it flies over New York City. However, Parrish says that the expedition began in Los Angeles. If that’s so, then why are we seeing New York? Did they make a pit stop to grab some bagels? Parrish says that the first leg of the expedition took him to Bombay, India. Of course, as he says this, the plane is shown flying over the Great Pyramids and Sphinx at Giza in Egypt! Wow, they must have the worst pilot in history.

Eventually, the stock footage arrives and lands in Bombay. From there Parrish made his way to a little town called Shekar, located on the edge of the Himalayas. He hires some local guides, only one of which – a gent named Subra – speaks any English. Then he and his companion Peter Wells set off in search of…plants. Yes, plants. In the dizzying heights of the Himalayas. What plants are they gonna find there?! Some moss and/or lichen maybe, but full sized plants? I doubt it. I think they’ve been smoking some choice plants at this point.

The group reaches a plateau and sets up a camp from which they can examine the snowy surroundings and the distinct lack of plants more thoroughly over the next few days. During this time, Parrish chastises Wells for drinking booze in front of the porters and offering them a taste. Yes, the last thing ones needs to do is to drink and port. Especially at an altitude of twelve thousand feet. I don’t know about poor Wells, but I have no idea how I’d managed to get through the rest of this film without booze. Hell, we’re barely six minutes in and I’m jonesing for the blissful haze of drunkenness to help wash the experience of this film away.

"For goodness sake, someone get me some Barbasol!""Aaahh...Godzil...er...you're not Godzilla! Um...who are you?"Back in the town of Shekar, everything seems normal. Night falls and Subra’s young wife – whom he left behind while he went traipsing off with the Westerners in search of “plants” – heads outside to gather some firewood. As she bends down to gather some, a shadow falls across her from behind. She turns, sees who…or in this case, what is standing behind her and lets out a scream that sounds much more like a man who has caught his balls in his pants zipper. A large, hairy humanoid grabs the woman and stalks off into the night with his prize. What? Did you think that horny fish men and Martians were the only ones interested in Human women?

Of course, before we go any further, we must discuss the sight of the Yeti that the film just gave us. I have but one reaction: WTF?! That thing looked like a giant ambulating Teddy Bear! Seriously, the fur on that thing looked like it came straight from the stuffed animal factory and was inexpertly woven into a man-shaped suit. Not once did the creature resemble an animal. Nope, more like a tall, clumsy oaf bundled up in the world’s worst parka.

Four guys from Shekar now decide to make the hike all the way up to where Parrish’s group has established their camp. That makes totally more sense that say, using a radio to contact them (we’ve already seen Parrish using a radio at this point, so we know he has one). I mean who wouldn’t want a multi day hike up into the frozen, windswept barrenness that is the Himalayas in lieu of just sitting back in a warm building and using the radio?

The party arrives and Subra is informed that his wife has been abducted by a Yeti. Naturally, he is eager to pursue the beast and get his woman back. He informs Parrish and Wells, who don’t buy into the legends of the Abominable Snowman and have no intention of engaging in a wild goose…er…Yeti chase. They just roll over and go back to sleep, laughing at the notion of Yetis.

Resentful that the westerners scoffed at his desire to reclaim his wife, Subra secretly removes the ammunition for their weapons at night and then stirs up the rest of the porters into search parties a couple days later. Parrish and Wells have no way of stopping them and are forced to follow along as the others break camp. Several grueling shots of men stumbling around icy, rocky hills ensue.

At night, once camp has been established and the others are asleep, Parrish and Wells decide to use the radio to contact help. They rifle through the various bags, trying to locate it. Wells is worried about his scotch and wants to find it, too (make mine a double when he finds it). Of course once they find it, the radio is the size of a freakin’ suitcase. As they try to work its controls, Subra appears in the doorway of the tent and shoots the radio with his rifle. Then he tells the westerners to get some sleep before absconding with Wells’ scotch.

Parrish determines that the radio is repairable, so he sneaks back to the storage tent and swaps it with the contents of Wells’ crate of scotch.

Despite the size of the prints, judging by the distance between them, the yeti's stride was about two feet. Proof enough that he was either hopping through the snow, or he is a total gimp.The next morning, Yeti tracks are found near camp, exciting everyone, including the audience, who is hoping something will finally happen in this film. Hurriedly they break camp and off they go, traipsing through the snow once more. Subra leaves behind what he thinks is the case with the radio, sure that the “radio machine” is broken and useless. They follow the tracks higher into the mountains and make camp when darkness descends once again.

That night in their tent, Parrish and Wells are working to fix the radio when a horrid scream pierces the night air – this one sounding like a man who just had his testicle hair waxed and removed. Everyone runs outside to find one of the party members dead, though no explanation is given to how he died.

At this same time, we are treated to a shot of the Yeti…and it should be noted that this is pretty much the same shot of the yeti the film will use repeatedly through its running time. The creature steps forward out of the darkness and stops. Of course, this is accomplished by merely freezing the film, an obvious trick despite an overlay of falling snow. Then the yeti decides to leave and steps back into the darkness. Naturally, this is accomplished by running the footage in reverse. Get used to this sequence, cuz you’re gonna see it a lot.

One thing puzzles me at this point. How did that guy die just now? No explanation for his death was given. I doubt he spontaneously froze to death. Oh, I’m sure that could have happened, but that high pitched yelp he uttered before expiring is not something one usually does before icing over. I’m thinking the Yeti killed him…but how? Did it knock him upside the head? Perhaps it got within a few feet and its ungodly stench overwhelmed the poor bastard's olfactory system, causing him to yelp and drop dead? Who knows?

The next day while stumbling around the mountains, the group fails to see the Yeti on a ledge above them. The creature kicks some rocks which in turn somehow causes a massive stock footage rockslide that pretty much accomplishes nothing. The group takes shelter and resumes their trek when things have settled. Another day ends and with a big storm on its way, the group conveniently finds a cave in which to take shelter.

By this point, with the evidence mounting around him, Parrish is beginning to think there may be something behind the legends of the Yeti. He thinks that capturing one alive may be a great idea. Apparently the big hairy ones have been coming down from the mountains for quite some time and making off with human women when the itch hits them. The men of region are fed up and Subra in particular wants to kill any Yeti he finds.

The next day, the group explores the cave and finds a necklace belonging to Subra’s wife, one that he had given her upon his departure a few days earlier. He calls out to her and runs deeper into the cave to find her. Locating a series of tunnels, Subra splits the group up to help explore them all more fully. It’s not long before they find the bones to a mountain goat, picked clean and shining white in the dark of the cave. The group presses onward.

Death of the Banana Splits: The Day Drooper Died.Finally, while bumbling around they come across a trio of Yeti’s: a male, a female and youngster. Subra screams for his wife and upon seeing their home invaded by these rude homo sapiens, the big male Yeti strides to a wall, pushes it and causes the cave to collapse. This has the effect of killing his mate and child (d’oh) and stunning him into unconsciousness. Seeing that the creature is still alive, Parrish and Wells coerce Subra and the others (they stole back their rifles and forced them at gunpoint) to wrap up the body in a tarp and take it with them.

Still unable to use the radio, the group begins their descent down the mountain, the Yeti given some type of tranquilizer to keep it asleep. That night they all crowd into one big tent, the Yeti wrapped up in a tarp in the middle. A voiceover from Parrish says that he and Wells took turns keeping watch, to make sure that nothing went wrong. We see Parish asleep and Wells sitting with a rifle in his lap.

Wells must be the worst watchmen in history because just a few feet in front of him, the wrapped-up Yeti begins to stir. A big hairy hand emerges from the tarp and grabs one sleeping man by the head. I would be remiss in my duties if I did not point out how utterly ridiculous this hand looks. It looks like a giant oven mitt! Needless to say, the man screams, waking everyone and the Yeti is quickly subdued once again.

Eventually, after another week of bumbling around through the mountains, the group returns to the town of Shekar, where they head straight to the local police. The cops, no doubt bowing from political pressure from higher up, are ready to prosecute the locals for taking the law into their own hands. Seeing how Subra is still worried about his missing wife, Parrish decides not to press charges and makes arrangements to keep the Yeti under watch and tranquilized while he heads to Bombay to see about transporting it back to the United States.

A large refrigerated crate has been fashioned to transport the Yeti and we see Parrish back in Shekar, going over the final details with the authorities. The Yeti is in the crate, which has a large clear window in the side and resembles a colossal phone booth. The creature just stands inside, looking bored. I guess he is still suffering from the sedative given to him. Either that or he’s been perusing the script for the film. Either one is yawn inducing.

So now stock footage airplanes bring Parrish and his Yeti back to Los Angeles. Parrish is greeted by his wife, Joyce and some guy named Corey. It should be noted that Wells has buggered off back to England or some other place, having had a difference of opinion with Parrish on how to best exploit the Yeti. No sooner has Parrish arrived than he is being summoned to the customs warehouse. It seems that the immigration status of his Yeti is in question. Is it a beast or man? That’s what the authorities want to know, and until that determination is made, the creature isn’t going anywhere. Apparently in the time it took Parrish to transport the creature to the states, his old buddy Wells has cashed in on the photo he took of the Yeti and the newspapers are full of his account of the “Snow Man.” Thus immigration officials want to know if it’s a beast or man.

When shag rugs attack!A Doctor Dupont is brought in later in the evening to examine the beast. Alas, while everyone is still assembling and talking things over in an office somewhere, the Yeti is getting more and more antsy in his cramped crate, located in a warehouse. He starts rocking it back and forth and soon enough it falls over and the door busts open, allowing it egress. A guard nearby just watches in silence as the Yeti picks himself up and walks in his direction. What follows is one of the most ridiculous attacks I have ever seen. The Yeti grabs the man by his shirt and wrestles with him for a second or two before clobbering him over the head with a fist. The sheer cheesiness of the Yeti costume makes this appear as if one of those costumed mascots one encounters at amusement parks has gone rogue and is now assaulting a park patron. With the guard on the floor, the Yeti hightails it out of the warehouse. Seconds later the guard picks himself up and calls for help. Everyone converges on the warehouse, where a Lt. Dunbar from the police arrives and asks for a description of the missing creature. Oh, I’d say about seven feet tall and wearing a shag carpet over its entire body. Dunbar isn’t thrilled about being on this case, as his wife just went into labor with their first child.

The Yeti is seen walking down a dark street. It passes out of view and then we hear a woman scream. Then we see a car pull to a stop and a man emerge. He finds a woman’s body on the sidewalk. I’m guessing we’re supposed to put two and two together and realize that the Yeti just attacked this woman for some reason.

Dunbar gets the call that a woman’s body was found nearby, so Parrish joins him as he drives off to investigate.

Something just occurred to me. The time between the Yeti knocking that guard over the head and the guy picking himself up and calling for help was no more than a few seconds. If everyone was on their game, the Yeti should not have been able to get very far. It seems nobody was in much of a hurry to round it up, as the creature was able to leave the airport grounds and wander around city streets for a while before encountering that woman.

At the police station, Dunbar uses a map to track the creature’s possible whereabouts, since car and foot patrols have failed to locate him. The cops issue a warning, advising people to stay in doors as a “dangerous killer beast is at large.” Of course, that could apply to a rabid Lassie as well.

Somewhere a man and woman are having a fight, the guy kicking the gal out of his place and onto the street. On her way home, she encounters the Yeti, but manages to get away and phone the cops. The cops converge on the area as if the Dunkin’ Donuts warehouse was going up in flames. The Yeti however, has sniffed out a meat packing plant on the other side of town and helped himself to a side of beef, scaring the crap out of a couple of workers. Dunbar and Parrish are puzzled as to how the beast evaded the cops and got so far away without being seen.

Parrish finally realizes that the Yeti is using the storm drains and the sewers to navigate around the city. The cooler temperatures within them would also be more enticing to a creature accustomed to the Himalayas. Dupont consults with the city engineer and his maps and formulates a plan to scour the sewers with several teams of men.

 

Note - It is at this point that the movie enters its final segment, so if any of you really feel the need to watch this film and not know the ending ahead of time, skip the rest of this section.

 

Everyone enters the dark, dank sewers, not one bit worried about the oversized alligators, giant ants and vampire cults that call such places Another horrid script in the can. It's Miller time!home. The various teams split up and begin their sweep. After what seems like hours of them stumbling around in the dark, along with several stock shots of the Yeti moving forward and backward, Parrish and Dunbar spot the beast just as it lunges from a hiding spot and attacks two cops. One cop escapes while the other is laid out cold.

Knowing which way the Yeti has gone, they coordinate their efforts with cops elsewhere, who ready to capture the beast by stringing a large net across the opening to one passageway. Sure enough, the Yeti strides right into the net and struggles to escape, the cops doing their best to subdue him. Parrish and Dunbar arrive and join the fight. Finally, to prevent Parrish from having the life choked out of him by the Yeti, Dunbar is forced to fire his pistol, killing the beast.

With the danger over, Dunbar gets the call that his wife just gave birth to a boy. He and Parrish pile into the car and head off.

The End


Review

Despite numerous sightings prior to the 1950’s, it was not until that decade that Western interest in the Yeti or Abominable Snowman truly peaked. In the late 40’s and early 50’s, several expeditions to the region reported finding the tracks belonging to a Yeti or even claimed to have spotted one of the elusive creatures themselves from a distance. Sensationalized in the media, it wasn’t long before these stories gave someone the bright idea to make a movie about the legendary creature. This film is usually credited with being the first one of its ilk…though not necessarily the best.

Broken down into its component parts, The Snow Creature is a terrible movie on every level. Its monster is unbelievably goofy-looking, the main characters might as well be played by cardboard cutouts, the editing is so sloppy you wonder if someone was suffering a seizure in the editing booth, its over reliance on reusing shots deftly refutes the notion that there was any creativity behind the camera, and its script is so lackluster with far too many voiceovers than one may wonder if they are listening to an audio book rather than watching a motion picture. Plus, the film is very dark, making it extremely difficult to see what is transpiring in any scene set at night. Of course, the latter may just be due to the poor film print used by Alpha Video.

I won’t even discuss the characters because as a whole, they are paper-thin. They only exist because the film needs someone – anyone – to push from one scene to another. Their lack of development can be partially attributed to the annoying abundance of voiceovers during the film’s first half. Why show the action and character development when you can have one just recite to the audience what happens? Boring! The only exception to this dirge of characterization is Lt. Dunbar. He at least shows a little life in his few scenes. It’s a pity he wasn’t the main character, as he seemed to be the only actor that even halfway tried.

The main draw of the film – the monster – is so utterly silly that it inspires more laughs than chills. Seriously, who is going to cower from what is basically a seven-foot tall teddy bear made from shag carpet? Not once does the creature ever resemble anything other than a tall actor dressed in several pieces of cheap fur. It’s obvious when looking at the beast where one piece of costume ends and another begins. And don’t even get me started on how the creature ambulates. One would think an animal born and raised in the mountains would be agile on the rocky terrain, but this thing can barely keep its balance when standing on a ledge, let alone scale the rocks with anything approaching skill. Plus, the way it walks around perfectly straight and erect does not any way convey the sense that it is a non-human beast.

There is no tension in any scene, nor any sense of looming danger or terror once the creature has escaped in Los Angeles. The movie treats the entire scenario as if the beast was a lost dog that needed to be rounded up before it bites too many people. People watched these old monster movies because they wanted some monster action, but this film has one of the lamest monster rampages I have ever seen. The creature basically stalks around the city at night and startles a few people (though to give it credit, it does kill one woman, though how or why is never explained).

In the end it’s difficult for me to say anything about this film without sounding like I’m just repeating things I’ve said about other turds from this era. The monster sucks, the acting sucks, the script sucks, the editing sucks, the music sucks, hell just about everything about this film sucks. Sounds like the perfect viewing experience for the bad movie lover, right? Maybe. The problem is, the movie is bad, but it’s also plodding and a bore. There is just no energy or life in the proceedings for its badness to be all that entertaining. Some may get a kick out of it, but most folks will probably fall asleep or turn the channel before the halfway point.

If the movie has one saving grace it’s that it’s short, with a running time of only seventy-one minutes…and that includes the credits. Short enough to squeeze in another film afterwards, say...a good film from the 50’s about Yetis, namely The Abominable Snowman from 1957.

 

Expect To See:
Action - If by action you mean people running around, waving their hands in the air and firing the occasional weapon, then yes, this film has that. Then again, so did the Keystone Kops.
Monsters - If by monster, you mean something really big and hairy that likes to hump human women, then yeah, this film has that. Then again I have two words for you: Ron Jeremy.
Snowy Hijinks - The first half of the film is nothing but one scene after another of people walking, hiking, occasionally running but mostly just talking, in the snowy Himalayas.
Stock Footage - Lots of this here. Stock footage of planes, exterior shots of the Himalayas and even a few shots of cars racing around all look lifted from previous sources.
Underground Hijinks - The last fifteen minutes or so (it will seem five times longer when you watch it) are spent running around the dank confines of the L.A. sewer system.
Violence - While there are a few deaths in this film, most of the physical violence is rather tame, easily eclipsed by the shenanigans of the average Tom and Jerry cartoon.

 

Movie Stats:
Shadow's Commentary:

Deaths: 2
Yeti deaths: 3
Smokes: 14
Alcoholic drinks consumed: 6
Voiceovers: 17
Number of times that same Yeti shot is used: 21
Total gunshots fired: 4

16 Min - Random act of violence against a portable radio.
23 Min – Hear that? I think someone just sat on an icicle.
24 Min – Yeti almost slips and falls on his ass.
46 Min - Ask Dr. Stupid!
47 Min – Did he learn that manuever from The Three Stooges?
65 Min - Now he gets his gun out?
68 Min - Somebody call PETA!


Shadow's Drinking Game: Every time a Yeti appears on screen, take a drink.

 

Images Click for larger image

"I think we can forgo this second
crate of food to make room for a
sixth crate of scotch."



"Hey, do you think we can smoke this?"

"Damn, the only radio show I can
pick up are old Howard Stern reruns."

 
The camp cook prepared another
tasty dinner of lichen soup, unsure
why people complained so much.

"Maybe those people in the audience
can get us out of this film!"

"Yodel - Ay - EEE - Oooo"

 
Looks like Ro-Man finally turned
off that damn bubble machine.

 
"Look, if you start passing air biscuits
in your sleep again, I'm going to
smother you with my pillow."


Budget cuts on the set of
Doctor Who were evident when
the new Tardis was unveiled.

Frosty denies any relation.

"It's been awesome! Six new
Starbucks have opened in this
three block area."

"Big alligators and giant ants? Don't
be silly. They don't live in the sewers.
Now, the Ratmen and CHUDs are a
different story..."

 

Immortal Dialog

Parrish ponders the possibilities while camped in the mountains.

Parrish: "I couldn’t rest. A legend, the abduction of Subra’s wife, the footprints, the death of a native. All these things began to fall into a mysterious pattern."

Shadow’s Comment: Yeah...a crappy movie!


Dr. Dupont outlines his criteria for determining if the yeti is man or beast.

Dr. Dupont: “I have to determine whether his brain is a calculating brain.”

Shadow’s Comment: Bad news for all convenience store clerks.

 

Keep In Mind
  • Contrary to popular belief, Japanese is the most commonly spoken language in the Himalayan region.
  • A crate of scotch is standard gear on any expedition into the Himalayas.
  • Despite their environment, Yetis are not natural rock climbers.
  • Yetis possess the ninja-like ability to vanish into their surroundings, especially in urban areas.
  • The first thing you do should your home be invaded, is destroy your house and kill your family.
  • The quickest way from Nepal to L.A. is not across the Pacific, but rather west across Asia, Africa, the Atlantic ocean and North America.
  • Yetis are easily transported in crates no larger than a phone booth.



This Film & Me

Another film that I had heard about back in the 80’s and 90’s, I did not get to see it for the first time until the DVD revolution a few years back. As a lover of all things 1950’s, it was my kind of movie, though I went into it expecting total crap. Good thing I did, because the movie is pretty bad. I’ve always had a fascination with Bigfoot and Yeti type monsters, so despite this rather bland entry into horror cinema, I have a soft spot for it in my heart. Not too soft, mind you. The film does suck, no doubt about it.

Shadow's rating: Two Tombstones



The Good

  • Quick running time
  • Yeah, that's about all I have.

The Bad

  • Nepalese people played by Japanese actors
  • No hot chicks
  • Poor editing
  • Too dark to see well in night scenes

The Ugly

  • Shag carpet look to Yeti
  • Re-use of same Yeti shot
  • Too many voiceovers

 

 

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