Written by Mr. Mouseburger 26th Jan 2009
(From memory, so please forgive tiny discrepancies, as I am desperately trying to forget this film!!)
For those of you who have never heard of the Vipco Screamtime Classics, let me enlighten you. They are an eclectic mix of B-movie horror films which would make the production values of Garth Marenghi's Darkplace look luxurious. Having watched a previous Vipco offering - Rats - it was with some trepidation that Old Bluffer and I sat down and prepared to watch Snowbeast.
To be honest, the back cover had promise; a peaceful ski resort being terrorised by a rabid Yeti creature. The plot was actually not too dissimilar from Jaws in that an insular community who relies on tourism for their livelihood are being terrorised by a largely unseen monster. All similarities end right there. The film revolves around an anniversary gala for the said ski resort, and the preparations for a big party to celebrate. The resort is run by some dishevelled crone and her son, Tony, who is the hero of the piece (or should that be piste).
These preparations are frequently interrupted by Tony being dragged away to investigate mysterious disappearances that have suddenly started to occur in the peaceful town. His mother is worried these maulings might have a negative impact on the tourist trade, and so asks Tony to sort it out discreetly.
The motivation of the Snowbeast is somewhat difficult to divine. However, if I was a betting man, I would say it is something like this; the Snowbeast had lived for years in peace with the townsfolk, but upon hearing that they were having a celebration, and he had not received an invite, went apoplectic with rage and swore revenge.
Cue a lot of deaths which are shot from the viewpoint of the Snowbeast - not for any artistic reasons, but merely so they did not have to show how ropey the Snowbeast costume looked. From memory, I can only recall seeing the Snowbeast once, and it resembled something akin to an anorexic Hoth Wompa. Now i am the first to admit, that I might be a bit desensitised to horror and violence in films, but this thing was about as terrifying an ordeal as an interview with Michael Parkinson.
Anyway, the film culminates in the Snowbeast trying to gatecrash the big anniversary party. I say *big* but in reality the funds for this film were channelled to other aspects of the production (it will remain a mystery as to where, it certainly wasn't to the special effects department!) as, rather than hiring extras, the party is set in the local gym with, what this reviewer strongly suspects, members of the film crew making up the numbers.
An appearance at the window of the gym hall and a mild roar is enough to send all 15 people at the party into mass hysteria and they run around flapping their arms and screaming. This is enough to drive Tony into action, and he assembles a small hunting party including an ex-ski buddy Gar, and Ellen, an ex-love interest who is now married to Gar.
[It should be noted that early in the film there is an attempt at some character development where Ellen indicates that she might have married the wrong person in Gar, but this storyline is quickly dispensed with in favour of more downhill slalom footage. As a slight aside, I think that the town was built on a mountain inspired by MC Esher, because the characters seemed to be able to ski downhill to every part of town ad infinitum]
I digress. Well, the ending of the film is true to form of the previous hour, and incorporates an inordinate amount of skiing. If the director's wish was to make the hunt for the Snowbeast seem like a long, drawn out process, he achieved it with flying colours, as 3 minutes of ski time was made to feel like hours.
The trackers left a lot to be desired too, as despite the mountain range being littered with Yeti footprints and Yeti dung, they instead ignore all these clues and head up to a location that they suspect is the Yeti's lair.
Thankfully when they get up the mountain, the whole episode is put to an end rather swiftly. The Yeti sets a trap for Tony by cunningly retracing his footsteps, thereby demonstrating that it has more intelligence than the hunting party following it. However, in its eagerness to kill Tony, it does make a schoolboy (or should that be school-yeti) error, and rushes headlong towards our hero, who is brandishing his ski pole in an poor attempt to drive it off. A moment of genius, which is out of character for Tony, enters the head of this ski dude though and he sets the pole against the trunk of a tree and allows the Yeti to impale itself.
Even in death we are not treated to a glimpse of the Snowbeast (obviously the fancy dress costume had to be back at the shop by this point!), and all we get is an abrupt ending and the credits accompanied by some awful lounge music.
Unsatisfying to say the least.