“Perhaps it is a mutant, perhaps it’s something left over from the Ice Age – but it’s still out there!”

That is some sample dialogue from Snowbeast, and tells you pretty much everything you need to know about this made-for-TV effort – a derivative, cliché-packed and pretty predictable creature feature.

Riding in on the tidal wave of mad animal movies that surfaced after the overwhelming success of Jaws, there is nothing here to catch a viewer by surprise.

But, if you are a fan of said films (like me), and have sat through the antics of rampaging killer whales, grizzly bears and the like, chances are you will find at least something to enjoy here.

The plot is pretty much lifted wholesale from Spielberg’s epic and transported to the snow-covered mountains of Colorado.

After a pre-credit sequence that sees a skier munched by an off-screen creature, we are thrown into the midst of Rill’s Lodge, a struggling resort run by elderly Carrie Rill (Sylvia Sidney) and her son Tony (Robert Logan).

The coffers are about to be swelled though by the 50th winter carnival and wouldn’t you know, despite evidence that there is something out there picking off the tourists, they decide to go ahead with the whole thing.

In fact, a surprisingly small number of folk are actually killed, and when they are it is sadly all off-camera, save the screen fading to red to signify some poor soul is about to meet their maker.

Things pick up a bit of pace when Tony teams up the local sheriff (Clint Walker) to try and get to the bottom of what is going on, although the situation is muddied by a love triangle involving Tony, former flame Ellen (Yvette Mimieux) and Olympic ski champion Gar (Bo Svenson).

A climax of sorts does follow, but the closing showdown between beast and man is a real let-down, especially after the skimping on the bloodshed earlier on in the film.

Whenever I watch a film like this I am always taken aback by just how serious everyone seems to be taking it, especially when the brief glimpses you get of the creature are likely to prompt laughter rather than terror.

But they stick at it, lending an air of authority to a project that probably doesn’t deserve it.

The acting is strictly average at best, although it is always nice to see Sidney, who went on to appear in the likes of Omen II, Beeltejuice and Mars Attacks before passing away, on screen.

Directed by Herb Wallerstein and scripted by Psycho scribe Joseph Stefano, the talent was in place to make something memorable here.

And indeed they have – although for most viewers it will be for the wrong reasons.

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.