Air Date: April 28, 1977 (NBC)
Production Companies: Douglas Cramer Productions
Running Time: 86 min.
Available on: Streaming (Paramount+)
Written by: Joseph Stefano
Directed by: Herb Wallerstein
Cast: Bo Svenson, Yvette Mimieux, Robert Logan, Clint Walker, Sylvia Sidney
Rating: 5 vintage televisions (out of 10)
Because Paramount+ slapped a new logo on a thumbnail image for Snowbeast (1977), I thought the streaming service might be offering a nice, crisp transfer of the film. I was surprised and disappointed that, when I watched it, the quality wasn’t any better than many of the other 1970s TV movies that I’ve found on YouTube.
As I watched it, I noted two things. First, the film probably benefits from being a TV movie. Second, it definitely benefits from rarely showing the monster and instead using point-of-view shots that show its perspective. However, when it ended, the Paramount+ screen that appeared showed a terrific full body shot of the monster that looked pretty awesome.
I don’t recall seeing the shot in the actual movie, but it may have flashed by so quickly that I missed it. I did, however, get a pretty clear shot of it through the window of the gymnasium in which Rill’s ski resort is hosting a 50th anniversary party for its winter carnival. Its face has scary and distinctive features not usually seen on a yeti, or a “bigfoot,” as it’s called here.
I see no reason for director Herb Wallerstein to have hidden it. I do see some reason for him to trim some of the ski and snowmobile scenes, though. I was surprised that when I clicked his name, IMDb didn’t produce a list of snow sport documentaries. These repeated time-fillers pad Snowbeast and more often make it dull rather than suspenseful.
It seems like it would be pretty easy to track and kill this monster, as many footprints as it leaves for Tony Rill (Robert Logan), Gar Seberg (Bo Svenseon), and his wife, Ellen (Yvette Mimieux), to discover and marvel. It seems to take them days, though, as segment after segment ends at night and the next one begins the next morning. There’s apparently no urgency.
On the other hand, Carrie Rill (Sylvia Sidney) wants to keep a recent string of murders hush-hush so the horrific news doesn’t spoil the anniversary celebration. It’s like two different timelines, one that moves quickly as guests arrive at the lodge, and one that moves slowly as the aforementioned trio takes time out of the hunt to work on their romantic issues.
I’m going to ignore the fact that Snowbeast was written by the same man who wrote the screenplay for Psycho and instead pay Wallerstein a backhanded compliment. There’s a scene where, from the POV of the monster, it walks by a camper and we see the reflection of the snowy woods in the window. We oddly don’t see the monster, but neither do we see the camera.
Such is the hit and miss result of the film. The monster is a decent threat, and its killings aren’t bloodless. However, the acting is atrocious and the story plods. I’d say I was slightly more entertained than I was bored, but it’s close enough that Snowbeast is only average for me. It could have been better but it could have been a whole lot worse.
Visit the TV Terror Guide: 70's TV Movies playlist at ClassicHorrors.Club TV on YouTube to watch Snowbeast as well as all the great movies from this series. (It's also available on Paramount+.)