The Abominable Snowman & Other Cinematic Yetis
This "Lost Race" story is wayyyy better than I ever expected an abominable snowman film to be, & has a genuine sense of wonder about it.
The Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas (often shortened to The Abominable Snowman), is based on the 1955 television play The Creature by the talented author Nigel Neale. Competent director Val Guest simply started with a higher level of writing than Hammer usually accessed.
Scientist John Rollason with his wife Helen (Peter Cushing & Maureen Connell) & Dr. Tom Friend (Forrest Tucker) ignore warnings of the High Lama (Arnold Marle) & set out to find a Yeti.
The Rollason's have somewhat pure if misguided scientific interests. Friend wants to capture & exploit a Yeti for commercial display. McNee (Michael Brill) has empathy for the primitive race. And the big game hunter (Robert Brown) just wants to shoot one.
When a Yeti is wounded & captured, his anthropoid tribe using extra-human powers sets out to save him from his captors.
The treatment of yetis as a tribal species of homonids with extraordinary powers was much more interesting than the usual treatment of a lone abominable snowman lumbering about killing people for no reason other than it's abominable. The result is a surprisingly good film.
Other Yeti or Abominable Snowman films tend to be about one or two mysterious specimens rather than a larger population for a missing link race.
Half-Human (Ju jin yuki otoko, 1955) directed by Ishiro Honda is a Japanese monster cheapy. The dubbed American release clumsily inserts John Carradine & Morris Ankrum as scientists whose expositional dialogue is supposed to help make sense of it all.
The original version, set in the Japanese Alps, has long been unavailable except on the grey market. The purported intimations of bestiality between human & ape bothered some Japanese parents. And the aboriginal Ainu of northern Japan (who are naturally larger & hairier than the average Japanese) presented a united protest against the film as offensive to their race. Under so much pressure, Toho Studios withdrew it from circulation.
Meanwhile the English dub had half an hour trimmed out of it & a few new scenes put in, plus an inferior soundtrack replaces the Masaro Sato's reasonably good score. In Half-Human a father & son yeti are severely harrassed by their discoverers, the son being captured for circus display.
It has also been shown under these English language titles: Abominable Snowman, Beast Man Snow Man, Half Human: The Story of the Abominable Snowman & under the particularly silly one-letter title "S."
It's definitely more common to treat abominable snowmen as individual monsters than as family units, but films do occasionally provide "sweet" abominable snowmen.
Gianranco Parolini's Italian shlock film Yeti, the Giant of the 20th Century; aka, Ice Man (Yeti: il gigante del 20. secolo aka Yeti le geant d'un autre monde, 1977), though originally advertised as a scary monster flick, actually offers up a fairly friendly yeti (Mimmo Craig) who loves children.
His unfortunate journey into the civilized world should provide an exciting film experience for children who won't be one bit afraid of him, since he's as endearing as King Kong or Mighty Joe Young.
The gentle Yeti with big hair, though gigantic stomping around between skyscrapers like Godzilla, looks more like a member of the Grateful Dead rock band than a different species of hominid, & only a little hairier than some guys I've known.
Most everyone who got to see this film did so when Elvira Mistress of the Dark aired it in the 1980s. The vodeo version circulating in the grey market is over ten minutes shorter than the original release, but it's hard to imagine anything missing would've improved it had it been left in.
Bob Keen's made-for-tv comedy To Catch a Yeti (1995) stars rock singer Meat Loaf as a big game hunter who heads to the Himilayas to hunt a Yeti, but ends up sooner than expected tracking one that got loose in Manhattan.
However, this yeti is so tiny that it got to Manhattan as a stow-away in a mountain hiker's backpack. He's sort of a discount version of Gizmo from Gremlins (1984), but with bigger feet.
Meat Loaf as Big Jake is out to capture the cute little critter so that it can live as a pet for some rich s.o.b.'s brat of a son. But there's a sugar-n-spice little girl eager to save the yeti from that fate worse than death.
Foolish as the dickens, small kids are guaranteed to love this one, & Meat Loaf is cool enough even when playing a fool that the parents won't too soon want to leave the room.
In W. Lee Wilder's The Snow Creature (1954), an expedition to the Himalayas has the stated purpose of looking for new plants, in a snow-covered landscape where there seems not even to be any trees. A yeti kidnaps a village woman & the botanists' sherpa wants their help in getting his wife back. The botanists don't believe in yeti & won't help, but eventually they are dragged into the adventure.
The Yeti does what it can to evade capture & shows a degree of cleverness well above that of a mere ape.
But he's eventually captured & wrapped in a big blanket so that the filmmakers won't have to show anything convincing, then tied to poles, & brought down from the mountain. There's an encounter with a Himalayan official (from whom we discover that in Tibet they speak Japanese) who easily provides permission to take their captive beasty to Los Angeles.
A legal argument is undertaken as to whether the captive Yeti is a "creature" thus legally displayed like a zoo animal, or a "man" thus subject to all regulations of the department of immigrations. The annoyed Yeti escapes into underground drainage systems of L.A. & is treated as a threat to be killed when it cannot be recaptured.
Now & then the black & white cinematography almost looks like a real thriller or adventure film with marginal actors whose performances are pleasantly hoky. But it's padded with dimwitted narration & other tricks to get it to feature length. One method of padding is to show the same few seconds of yeti footage, of it stepping in & out of shadows in the sewer system. Why they couldn't've shot it several times hidden in shadow rather than keep recycling that same few seconds is a puzzle.
The Yeti suit would seem to be three or four of grandma's worn out fur coats sewn together & a headpiece added that looks like it might've been the mock-up for a Hammer werewolf. Snow Creature makes most cheap monster films look expensive.
Jerry Warren's trashy cheapy Man Beast (1955), barely over an hour long inclusive of stock footage as padding, tells the story of a young woman who sets off to the Himalayas in search of her missing brother, & encounters an unfriendly Abominable Snowman, not to mention the half-breed Yeti passing for human.
A twist ending indicates the screenwriter really was trying to think up a story for this thing, even if they did fall short.
The film has very little going for it except nostalgia among those of us old enough to remember an age before vhs & dvds, when we'd be looking at stills of such beasties in issues of Forrey Ackerman's Famous Monsters of Filmland & wishing we could see all that stuff.
If I could've seen it when still a kid I'm sure the cave sequence would've made me jump. Alas, we waited our whole lives to finally get the chance for some of this crud 4E tantalized us about, & of course it's not as thrilling for a grown-up, though getting stoned first might help.
Michael & Roberta Findlay's 1974 Shriek of the Mutilated (aka, Shriek of the Snowbeast; or, Mutilated) follows four students & their professor on an expedition to an island of Hudson Bay in search of a Yeti, with no explanation as to how a Yeti got to North America. What they find instead is a cannibal cult.
This is the sort of exploitation trash that delivers the goods. If you want bad, you get bad: plenty of gore FX, nonsensical plot, silly looking monster suit that resembles an ewok or a puppy costume for an adults-only furry animal convention, a cast of nobodies who can't act, moronic & accidentally funny dialog.
For years a combination of censored-for-television & low-rent video distributors who did not respect either the film or anyone who might want to watch it meant that Shriek of the Mutilated was available only in truncated versions.
But the latest dvd restores as much of the film as is apt ever again to be seen. It begs to be viewed with smart aleck friends with a good ear & eye for howlers. It doesn't otherwise deserve to be seen at all.
Miguel Iglesias Bonns' terrible Spanish werewolf film La Maldicion de la Bestia (Night of the Howling Beast aka The Werewolf vs the Yeti, 1975) exists in variously edited formats with varying amounts of sex & gore left in.
Apart from the climactic battle, it has very little to do with the Himalayan Yeti which the expedition is seeking.
It is more about two cave-dwelling cannibalistic babes who bite our chief explorer (Paul Neschy, who starred as the Wolfman in a number of films) turning him into a werewolf.
Poland's entry, directed by Andrzej Czekalski, was Ostroznie, Yeti! (Beware the Yeti!, 1961).
The yeti was shipped to Poland & escaped in Warsaw, leading not to monster terrors but slapstick antics amidst a cops & robbers comedy.
It's quite attractively filmed in black & white with lcharmingly goofy characters, many of the actors possessing the same screen charisma as silent movie comedians.
It looks like it'd be great fun if it were subtitled, but I could only get through about twenty minutes of it without knowing what anyone was saying.
For horror films about the North American subspecies, see the three-part article on cinematic sasquatches: Part One The Horror of Bigfoot, Part II The Comedy of Bigfoot, & Part III Sympathy for Bigfoot,
However, one such film set in North America avoids all the sasquatch legendry in preference for that of the Yeti. That's the telefilm Snowbeast (1977) in which a peevish Abominable Snowman goes on a rampage at a ski resort, & must be tracked down by the local sheriff (Clint Walker) before the local economy is completely wrecked by terror.
As it had to be wholesome enough for television, it can't show much more than a few spatters of after-the-fact blood. Our first glimpse of the resort yeti is just of its white paw reaching into the film frame. Ever see that old kiddy program Lunch with Soupy Sales in which his pet dog White Fang reaches its large paw into the picture? It's like that.
It's padded with clumsy skiiing scenes & soap operaesque bits featuring faces forgotten from sundry serial television shows of the 70s, none of them with so much as the limited charisma of Clint Walker. We wait interminably to finally see the snowbeast & even then it's only on screen for about one second.
I backed up the dvd for a freeze-frame to see if it was really such a terrible white ape suit they daren't show more than that, but it looked okay as ape suits go, it's the same one-second image used on the box shown on this page. Except for the White Fang paw, you won't see more of it than's on the box.
The climax such as it is has a fellow shooting the snowbeast to no effect but then successfully killing it with a ski pole. As the monster slides down the bunny slope leaving a red-tinted skidmark, the injured & dying beast is not actually shown; rather, we get a "yeti eye view" of the deadly ski pole sticking in the air.
The only surprise of this film is that the script was written by Joseph Stefano from whom, on the strength of his original The Outer Limits series, one would expect a better story. The Outer Limits had many interesting monsters which were usually treated with the kind of sympathy Universal Studios had for its monsters, but Snowbeast is just a cliche bad monster void of originality or personality.
The Abominable Snowman also turns up in the wild west circus fantasy Seven Faces of Dr. Lao (1964). This toothy white-furred fellow is shown in the very last illustration on this page. He's not so much a creature for carnival display this time around as he is something of a roustabout employee. But that's a spectacularly cool film to be reviewed in detail for a separate article.