DECEMBER 13, 2011
In case you missed it on Twitter, The Snow Creature is the 2000th HMAD (including “October Extras” and other bonuses like Short Watching Day), continuing my long unbroken streak of watching horror movies every day for your amusement. Ideally, movie 2000 would be a great one; something that would give me that little jolt of energy to continue on for the final 500, but alas - this is the sort of movie that ONLY people resigned to watching these things on a daily basis should bother to watch.
To be fair, Snow Creature is the good kind of bad movie, where its faults are laughable and even charming in some ways. You can tell the filmmakers actually had SOME appreciation for the genre, and weren’t just copying a trend the way equally bad films are made today. Indeed, the structure of the film is lifted straight from King Kong, which was 20+ years old at the time this was made, and it actually predated many other 50s monster movies. I even wondered if it was ripping off Them! at the end (set inside the same sewer system), but I did my homework and discovered that this was shot before Them! was released, so I think it’s safe to assume it’s a coincidence.
But it’s just so sloppy. At times I wondered if it wasn’t actually made in the Ed Wood style, where he found a bunch of footage of buffalo, soldiers, and atomic bomb blasts and decided to make a movie out of it after adding some narration. Indeed, the first five minutes of the movie is exactly that – a bunch of footage with little narrative thread, tied together only by a random voiceover that would do Coleman Francis proud. Then that finally stops, and we’re hilariously treated to a bunch of “Himalayans” (speaking Japanese) saying… something. Even though they are just conversing with one another, there are no subtitles for us to help understand what is being said. This could just be an issue with this particular copy of the film (it’s a public domain entry), but it wouldn’t surprise me if they just didn’t ever bother transcribing it.
No matter though; the scene just fades out with the guy still talking, as if the editor was getting bored and decided to move on to something a little more comprehensible. Then it actually picks up a bit, following the plot of Kong or that one Mummy sequel in the caves, with some hero types and a bunch of red shirts (anachronistically speaking) making their way through dangerous terrain while on some sort of scientific expedition, only to be picked off one by one by a monster. Then at the halfway mark, the Yeti is captured and the movie loses all hope.
You know things are bad when they fly from India to Los Angeles but somehow pass New York along the way (must have been the same airline that flew the models in Spider Island), and the movie just gets sloppier from there. It’s as if they actually intended to end the film in India but came up a half hour short, so there’s just a bunch of filler tossed in at random until they hit the one hour mark and decide to start a climax of sorts. And I do mean random – there’s a segment after the monster escapes that literally seems like it was assembled out of film clippings left lying around the studio, as nothing has any sort of connection. They’ll cut to a guy saying “All right, that’s good” or something vague along those lines, and then cut to someone else in a completely different location, doing something just as unworthy of its own cutaway.
Plus the monster action is almost entirely off-screen – the one time we see him really hit a guy he doesn’t even do any damage. The guy isn’t even knocked out cold, let alone killed – as soon as Snow Creature walks out of frame the guy gets back up and calls the heroes. We’re then presented with cinema’s most awkward montage ever, in which we see the usual closeups of phones and families watching TV as a newscaster tells us that a monster is on the loose and everyone should stay indoors and what not, but as with the Japanese Sherpa from before, his voice just sort of fades out, even though the montage continues. So instead of any dialogue, we just watch 30 seconds of cop cars driving aimlessly and such, set to silence except for the sounds of the cars driving along. It’s like they made the montage and recorded the voiceover separately and didn’t notice that they were two different lengths until it was too late.
Snow Creature also doesn’t make for a very memorable foe. His signature move is walking up toward the camera, and then walking backwards into darkness after a cutaway to one of the heroes or a potential victim – almost as if they were merely reversing the shot of him walking forward! (note – that is exactly what they did). We see this at least a half dozen times in the film’s final 20 minutes or so, roughly as many times as we see an angled shot of character passing over a particular chalk arrow on the ground (often without any motivation or connection to the shots next to it). I suspect director W. Lee Wilder just had every actor walk over this thing in different directions, figuring he could use it somehow. And by golly he did, whether it fit into the scene or not.
So even though it was bad, in some ways it did indeed provide a bit of a boost (there are many reasons I plan to call it a day in 2013 when I hit the 2500 movie mark, and one is just the general fatigue of it all). It wasn’t good, but I enjoyed watching this little piece of junk, and it’s almost soothing to think that even 60 years ago, people who clearly had no idea what they were doing were making movies, except without the obvious cynicism that bleeds through the similarly cruddy products of today. I’ll take a hundred of these over trash like Pterodactyl (or hell, even Peter Jackson’s bloated and dull Kong remake).
What say you?