Our trek through the wilderness of 1977 continues with Snowbeast, or Jaws Comes to the Ski Lodge, or We Have a Run Down Barn For a Location and We’re Gonna Use It in As Many Scenes as We Can, Dammit! Bo Svenson puts on his best Buford Pusser drawl to play a former Olympic skier who’s living too much in ’68; when he comes looking for work at his buddy Robert Logan’s winter resort, he falls right into the search for a Bigfoot man beast who’s mad ’cause they didn’t make him king of the Winter Carnival.
This is a fun TV movie, and very entertaining, but it has some major issues also. Bo and Robert have a lame love triangle with Bo’s wife the TV reporter and Bigfoot expert, played by Yvette Mimieux, who thinks maybe she should’ve married ol’ Robert instead. Now, every TV movie has some lame soapy operatic side story, but this one is extra stupid. Also, the scenes are edited together in general in ways that don’t make sense, but since there are rumors that the movie used to be more violent ’til the NBC censors got ahold of it, that could explain that.
Nevertheless, the breathtaking mountain and skiing shots mostly make up for the problems, although this could just as well have been an hour long TV episode of some horror show, and a good one, if some of the fat was trimmed off. Either that, or it could have been a gory drive-in movie. The director did make effective use of the monster in that we never get a good look at it. Fun scenes that weren’t taken out include the part where the beast comes to the carnival and, angered by the poor quality of the high school band’s intonation, kills the Snow Queen’s mom. Also, there’s the part where Svenson, Logan, and the sheriff played by Clint Walker try to identify a missing girl whose body has been found and the following exchange occurs: “I’ll recognize her when I see her face.” “She doesn’t have one.”
Tim Burton apparently was inspired by Snowbeast when casting Beetlejuice, as this movie contains the lady who played the annoying real estate agent and the lady (Sylvia Sidney) who played the caseworker, Juno. Sidney, by the way, looks just as old here as she did in 1988, leading me to believe that she actually was dead when she appeared in Beetlejuice.
Hey, remember all the great reporter characters we’ve known in fiction over the years? April O’ Neal, Clark Kent, Les Nessman, Daria Nicolodi’s character in Profondo Rosso? Now think about this: if you made a movie about reporters today, it’d have to be a period piece, because nobody actually reports anymore. I can’t wait until they start including plucky blogger characters in everything.
New horror movie rules: if you are in a TV movie, and you are billed as a “guest star,” you are going to die. And, “we are having a festival upon which the economic survival of this town depends and we will not warn our visitors that they are likely to be murdered by the immediate deadly threat” is a valid subgenre of horror. Also, a movie rule in general: if there is a pair of antlers on the wall, the cinematographer will frame a shot so that they look like they are growing out of a person’s head. Fact.
Hey, check out this great site with behind-the-scenes Snowbeast photos and info!