Snowbeast (1977)

Snowbeast (1977)

An unknown terror stalks a ski resort!

A Colorado ski resort is terrorised by a giant animal, which a group of people in the town believe to be Bigfoot. Skiers are turning up dead but with the town’s festival just around the corner, the supervisor of the resort wants to keep it open otherwise they will lose their only source of income.

 

Jaws On Ice would be a more appropriate title as Snowbeast borrows heavily from Spielberg’s great white classic, simply replacing a killer shark with a large Bigfoot-style creature and switching the action to a ski resort instead of the coast. If the cinematic world didn’t get enough of a huge land animal killing people in the mountains in Grizzly, then they wouldn’t be satisfied with this third rate made-for-TV ‘shocker’ which features as much entertainment in ninety-seven minutes as a quick look at the front cover would provide in a matter of seconds.

Sticking rigidly to the now-all too familiar Jaws template, Snowbeast better have been paying royalties to Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb. The ‘monster attacks small town with a big festival/event of some kind approaching in which the town must be kept open to survive economically’ is the sub plot but this one also spews out the rest of the clichés associated with such a film including the killing of a creature everyone thinks is the real culprit but isn’t, the local officials who refuse to believe the stories, the group of random people pitched together to kill the monster and many more. These all seem forced as though the script simply found ways to accommodate them into the script when they’d have been better off leaving them out full stop. It’s the script which is the film’s main problem and seems to have been totally neutered so that it could be shown on TV – one scene was even re-shot as the original was deemed too violent for TV.

Snowbeast is hellish slow as a result, almost as if it got stuck in the snow itself and is in dire need of a helping hand to push it along and get it moving. With the little action on display being grossly underwhelming, the film really need some decent characters to keep the flow going. That’s why few of these Jaws knock-offs ever manage to replicate the same magic – let’s face it, there’s not an awful lot of shark action in the first half of Jaws but the film didn’t need it as the strong characters managed to keep the audiences hooked. The cast is decent enough but with the dodgy script and the even dodgier 70s hairstyles and wardrobes, they’re always up against it.

Snowbeast could have scored some extra bonus points for the creature and the damage it could do but the higher ups clearly wanted this as friendly as possible for TV viewing. You never get a good look at the creature at all during the film. There’s a load of point-of-view shots and a monster glove is used for attack scenes but that’s about it until the finale when you get a good look at the creature’s face. It has to be said that the creature doesn’t look too bad either, no worse than any other man-in-a-suit flick. There’s no tension or suspense, even during the attack scenes. Build up is non-existent as the creature quickly kills and then the screen freezes and turns red, no doubt for a pre-planned ad break. Creature action is in short supply too and even when it’s supposed to lurking in the trees, you never get the feeling that anything unexpected is going to happen.

So much so that the main characters spend most of their screen time on the ski slopes. Copious amounts of skiing footage is spliced into the reel so at times it feels like more of a Winter Olympics documentary than an out-and-out horror-thriller. The heroes of the piece go out searching for victims on their skis a lot and there’s about five minutes footage of just one of these searches! But padding seems to be this film’s speciality as the stupid sub-plots eat up most of the screen time. There’s drama and a little romance as a love triangle develops but it’s played out in yawn-inducing fashion.

 

Snowbeast doesn’t sound particularly thrilling and there is a big reason for that – it’s not! It’s a dull, lifeless film which offers very little and demands too much in the way of the time you’ll waste watching it. Play spot the cliché with it if you want, just put it on ice and don’t bring it near me again.

 

 ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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