Wednesday, July 23, 2008


I'm a sucker for 1970s-style disaster movies, or monster movies. I'm not sure why. Perhaps this reveals some sort of deep psychosis.
Snowbeast features a large cast of second-string actors including Bo Svenson, Clint Walker,and Yvette Mimeaux. It was written by Joseph Stefano who wrote the screenplay for Psycho, and directed by Herb Wallerstein who had a long career directing tv including episodes of Star Trek, Mission: Impossible, The Wild Wild West, The Six Million Dollar Man, Wonder Woman and I Dream of Jeannie.
This 1977 made-for-tv was one in a series of films that tried to cash in on the success of Jaws by featuring a wild animal stalking humans. Others of this ilk include Grizzly, Orca, and Piranha. I remember watching this on tv when it first aired, and I could tell then that this was just a cheap rip-off of Jaws, and viewing it again 30 years later hasn't altered my opinion any.
This film is so derivative of Jaws that I'm amazed that lawsuits weren't filed.
A ski resort is under seige from some sort of alpine man-beast, presumably a bigfoot, which is picking off skiers. The lodge owner's son was to warn people, but the lodge owner (played by the legendary Sylvia Sidney) doesn't want a word of this to leak out, especially with the Winter Carnival starting in a couple of days. The Lodge won't survive with that sort publicity. So Sheriff Brody (Roy Scheider) enlists Quint (the late and great Robert Shaw) to chater a boat to get the, wait, I got mixed up. They really are so similar in plot points:

- in the opening scene, the shark/bigfoot attacks a woman
- shark/bigfoot has a driving dramatic musical theme that is played whenever the monster is stalking
- "off limits" signs are posted after the first attack
- we will eventually see the remains of the first victim; in both Jaws and Snowbeast, all we will see of her is her arm
- the sheriffs in both films drive a blue 4x4
- authorites in both movies do not want any publicity for fear of loss of tourism trade
- Jaws has a shark expert, Snowbeast has a Bigfoot expert
- The Lodge has a winter carnival coming up, Amity has the 4th of July weekend, and both events take place despite warnings of the experts, and both events are ruined by attacks
- The citizens of Amity kill a shark and they think their troubles are over, but Sheriff Brody and the shark expert cut the shark's stomach open to examine its contents and discover its the wrong animal -- in Snowbeast the sherrif kills a bear and the town thinks their troubles are over, but the Bigfoot expert wants to cut open the bear's stomach to examine the contents to be sure
- Chief Brody in Jaws is afraid of the water, while in Snowbeast the main character is a former Olympic skier who is scared of skiing again
- in both films, the Sheriff organizes a small hunting party, but the monster destroys their means of transportation. In Jaws, the shark sinks the group's boat, while in Snowbeast, the Bigfoot destroys their truck camper
- like Jaws we never really see the shark until the last act of the film, while in Snowbeast we never really see the Bigfoot until the end of the film.
Unlike Jaws, here it is not worth the wait.

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