ICFIFC: Snowbeast (1977)

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Monday, December 9, 2013

ICFIFC: Snowbeast (1977)

To whom it may concern, I’ve been trapped in my home for four days following a freak winter storm that descended upon the Midwest.  I ran out of food two days ago and have resorted to eating my family and watching movies made in the seventies.  I may have gone completely insane since I think the voices are telling me that I really enjoyed tonight’s film.

Snowbeast is a made-for-television horror film, first broadcast in 1977 in the United States.  The movie details the attacks of a ravenous creature (a yeti or Bigfoot/Sasquatch) on a Colorado ski resort.  The teleplay was written by Joseph Stefano, who wrote the script for Alfred Hitchcock's classic 1960 thriller Psycho.  Stefano reportedly used a book by Roger Patterson (who claimed to have encountered a sasquatch in 1967) as his primary inspiration, though no credit is given.

Snowbeast (1977)

  • Genre: Horror
  • Directed: Herb Wallerstein
  • Produced:
    • Wilfred Lloyd Baumes 
    • Douglas S. Cramer
  • Written: Joseph Stefano
  • Starring: Bo Svenson, Yvette Mimieux, Robert Logan, Clint Walker, Sylvia Sidney, Thomas Babson, Jacquie Botts, Kathy Christopher, Jamie Jamison, Richard Jamison
  • Music: Robert Prince
  • Cinematography: Frank Stanley
  • Editing:
    • Dennis Mosher 
    • Carroll Sax 
    • Neil Travis
  • Studio: Douglas Cramer Productions
  • Distributed:
    • National Broadcasting Company  
    • Alpha Video Distributors  
    • BijouFlix Releasing  
    • Image Entertainment  
    • Legacy Entertainment  
    • Mill Creek Entertainment  
    • Reel Media International  
    • Retromedia Entertainment  
    • Synergy Entertainment  
    • Treeline Films  
    • Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation  
    • Worldvision Entertainment
  • Rated: NR
  • Release Date: 28 April 1977
  • Running Time: 86 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English
Winter 1977.  The Rill Lodge and Ski Resort in Colorado is holding its 50th Annual Winter Carnival and is expecting a record turnout.  Unbeknownst to the assembled people, however, something is lurking in the woods, not quite human and not quite animal.  Two friends skiing on the North slope, Heidi and Jennifer, find mysterious tracks and hear some disturbing noises coming from the woods.  Heidi takes off, but Jennifer lags behind and is set upon by a monstrous beast.  Tony Rill, manager of the resort, is summoned and told that a female skier was found, babbling incoherently about some sort of monster and her missing friend.  He and a search party set out and split up to find Jennifer.  Rill comes upon a remote stretch where he finds Jennifer's jacket, bloody and torn to shreds.  He also hears a monstrous roar come from the woods and turns just in time to glimpse something white, hairy and massive at the edge of the tree line.

Bo Swenson, or SIR.
He answers to both!
Meanwhile, back at the resort, Gar Seberg and his wife Ellen arrive.  Seberg, a former Olympic Ski champion, has fallen on hard times and has come to Colorado to see if his old friend Rill can give him a job.  As they step into the main building, Seberg gets the brushoff from a worried Rill, and begins to feel that this whole thing was a bad idea. Rill, meanwhile, informs his grandmother, and owner of the resort, Carrie Rill about what he saw and heard, and tells her that they should put up signs restricting access to the area and inform the sheriff.  She agrees that he should merely post signs around the slopes warning of possible avalanches, arguing that no one has actually *seen* the creature, nor has it ever come down from the slopes.  No need to worry everyone needlessly and bring the sheriff in on the mater, concluding that, despite the possibility that Jennifer suffered a horrible death, "I'm not being insensitive, just realistic".  Rill is reluctant, but decides to go along with his grandmother's plan.

Stepping out of the office, Rill apologizes to Seberg and Ellen for the cold shoulder, explaining that there was a serious issue he had to attend to.  With the apologies and handshakes out of the way, Seberg tells Rill he needs a job, and is delighted when Rill happily hires him.  Rill, meanwhile, returns to the slopes and tells one of his men, Buster Smith that he and the others are to post signs saying "Restricted Area" and put them along the edge of the slope where Jennifer's jacket was found.  Smith, unsure as to why his boss is so spooked, argues that he thinks he knows where Jennifer might be and requests to take a searching party to look for her.  Despite RIll's emphatic "no", Smith takes off and heads out to the remoteness of the North Slope.  A misstep on his part sends him scrambling down the slope, where he comes face-to-face with the monstrous Snowbeast.  His screams echo through the woods.

Ben Cochran, maintenance director for the lodge, and his son John show up with some workers at the Fairchild Farm, an abandoned barn that Heidi indicated she and Jennifer had skied past.  John runs inside the barn, but quickly steps back outside, shaken.  His father runs into the barn, where he finds the mutilated remains of Jennifer. Out in the woods, monstrous eyes survey the barn.  Rill and Seberg pull up to the lodge, where they find Sheriff Cole Paraday.  Before Rill can talk to him about the strange goings-on, Paraday gets a message over his radio about a possible murder at the Fairchild Farm.  He takes off, leaving a confused Rill and Seberg wondering what happened to set the sheriff off in such a hurry.

At the Fairchild farm, Paraday and his deputy are shaken by what little John Cochran found, and Paraday sends his deputy off to find Rill.  Meanwhile, at the pool, Rill tells Seberg what he has seen and theorizes that it is some sort of Bigfoot creature that is terrorizing the resort.  Seberg recalls that Ellen once did a special on Bigfoot.  Rill reveals to Seberg that he found Jennifer's jacket, bloody and destroyed, and believes that whatever killed her is too dangerous to simply ignore.  Back at the lodge, Ellen, all bundled up in a snow bunny outfit, is dismayed to learn that both Rill and her husband have seemingly disappeared, and is even more disturbed when the deputy pulls up and tells her and Carrie that Rill needs to get out to the Fairchild Farm ASAP.  Ellen straps on some skis and decides to go go the farm.  She arrives at the farm, but Rill and Seberg are nowhere to be found.  She find some mysterious-looking tracks, and decides to follow them into the woods.

Rill and Seberg finally arrive at the farm, and they walk into the barn.  Rill offers to look at Jenifer's face to identify her, but is informed by the sheriff that her face was completely torn off.  Rill is chilled by the statement but is able to identify Jennifer through her torn outfit, which matches her jacket.  Rill informs Paraday that he and Seberg think that a Bigfoot killed Jennifer.  The sheriff, somewhat skeptical, nonetheless listens to their theory.  Still not convinced that it *was* a Bigfoot, the sheriff decides that whatever killed Jennifer is too dangerous to be allowed free reign of the woods, and that the three of them should go out the following morning, track it down, and kill it. Seberg, despite his previous aversion to killing the creature, concedes that the Snowbeast is much too dangerous and bloodthirsty to leave alive.

Nighttime. The lodge is bustling with the activity of the Winter Carnival, as girls go scurrying around getting their dresses ready and the band practices for the ceremony.  As Carrie puts the finishing touches on Snow Queen Betty Jo Blodgett, the women are horrified to glimpse a monstrous face in the window.  The Snowbeast breaks the window and panic ensues as everyone storms out of the room into the main hall.  Inside the lodge, chaos ensues and Seberg, realizing that something is amiss, goes off in search of Carrie.  She tells him that there is a monster outside and promptly gets knocked down and stomped on by the frenzied crowd.  Carrie begs Seberg to apologize to Rill, stating that Rill was right all along and that she should have put the sheriff in the loop from day one.  Seberg returns to his room, and realizes that in, the ensuing chaos, Ellen is nowhere to be found.  Surmising that she must have set out earlier to find he and Rill, he straps on a pair of skis, the first time he has done so since his Gold Medal performance 9 years earlier at the 1968 Olympics, and sets off to find Ellen in the pitch-black wilderness.

At the Fairchild Farm, Ellen has been able to sneak in and sleeps uneasily.  Suddenly, she hears the barn door creak open and something heavy moving through the barn.  Preparing for the worst, she is overjoyed to find her husband walking through the barn.  They embrace and begin to prepare for the long night.  As they build a fire, Seberg states that he's surprised that after 9 years he was able to take to his skis again like a fish to water.  He then opens up to his wife, telling her that he knew she always questioned his decision to leave the sport altogether after the '68 Olympics, and that he did it because he didn't want to become some has-been hanging onto past glories.  As Seberg tearily confesses that his retirement only made him miserable, Ellen gains some newfound respect and love for her husband.

Morning. Seberg and Ellen wake up and begin preparing to head back to the lodge.  As they walk by a loft, Ellen bumps into a ladder and body pieces begin to rain down.  Realizing that they have stumbled onto the monster's feeding lair, they scramble out, but are stopped by the Snowbeast as it tries to return to the barn.  They appear to be hopelessly trapped, but just at that moment Paraday, his deputy and Rill arrive on ski-mobiles, looking for the creature.  Furious at the intrusion, the Snowbeast races off into the woods.  As Paraday and his deputy take off after it, Seberg and Ellen are reunited with Rill and they return to the lodge.

A view of the once-bustling resort now reveals every businessman's nightmare: Ski-lifts shut down.  Empty parking lots and cabins.  The resort has become a virtual ghost-town.  Rill, Seberg and Ellen prepare to set off in pursuit of the monster, but suddenly the deputy bursts into the lodge and informs all the assembled that he and Paraday have captured and killed the creature.  As everyone rushes outside, the trio are dismayed to find that the two lawmen have instead killed a large grizzly bear.

Seberg and Ellen confront the sheriff and accuse him of giving up the hunt for the monster.  Paraday tries to convince them that there is no scientific proof to back up their claims that it was a Bigfoot that killed Jennifer and Smith, but Seberg retorts that deep down the sheriff knows that if they cut open the grizzly they won't find any human remains in its stomach.  Defeated, Paraday asks them what they want to do.  Their solution is the only rational one: Get together with Rill, and set off to finally confront and kill the creature.  Meanwhile, a funeral is held for Buster Smith, whose remains were the ones found by Ellen and Seberg in the barn.

The following morning, Rill, Seberg, Ellen and Paraday set off in a camper in search of the Snowbeast.  They set up camp on a deserted stretch of road and go into the woods in pursuit of the creature.  Hours later, they have found nothing and in the process have exhausted themselves.  Returning to the camper, they find that something has torn off their skis from the back of the camper.  Deciding that it would be fruitless to go off after the creature, as well as putting themselves at a disadvantage by confronting it in its element, the party decides that now that the monster knows where they are, they will let *it* come to *them*, and set up a watch-detail in groups of two.  Ellen suggests that her husband and Paraday take the first watch while she prepares dinner.  Inside the camper, she and Rill finally confront their mutual feelings for each other, and decide that the best course of action would be to remain friends and nothing more.  Shortly thereafter they relieve Seberg and Paraday.

The following morning, the party finds nothing amiss.  However, the creature is spying on them and kicks a stack of piled-up firewood down an embankment at the camper.  Seberg, Ellen and Rill escape and climb up another embankment to avoid the rolling logs, but Paraday gets trapped in the camper.  The trio can only watch and listen in horror as the Snowbeast kills Paraday.  They return to the camper, only to find the monster's tracks and a pool of blood where Paraday had been trapped.  Ellen climbs into the overturned camper to get a rifle while Rill climbs into the cab to retrieve Paraday's revolver.  Suddenly, the monster appears on the embankment overlooking the toppled camper.  Rill fires off a shot and hits it, sending it screeching back into the woods.  Knowing that Rill has only wounded it, and that a wounded creature is doubly dangerous, Seberg straps on his skis, takes the revolver and sets off after the Snowbeast for the final confrontation...

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