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THE SNOW CREATURE (1954)
"The question is: is it a beast or a man?"

Director: W. Lee Wilder
Starring: Paul Langton, Leslie Denison, Bill Phipps, Teru Shimura
Screenplay: Myles Wilder

Synopsis: Botanist Frank Parrish (Paul Langton) and photographer Peter Wells (Leslie Denison) lead a party of sherpas on an expedition to study the plant life of the Himalayas. One night after the party leaves the town of Shekar, the wife of Subra (Teru Shimura), the head of the sherpas, is abducted by a mysterious creature. When word reaches Subra, he begs Parrish to allow the party to search for her, but Parrish ignores the request, refusing to believe that the yeti really exists. Enraged, the sherpas mutiny, forcing Parrish and Wells to participate in the search. To astonishment of the two men, the expedition does track down a yeti, which throws rocks and pieces of ice at the party. Trapped in a cave, the yeti inadvertently causes a rockfall which kills its mate and child, and renders it unconscious. Parrish and Wells resume charge of the expedition. Capturing the yeti, the two men arrange for its shipment to America. However, when the creature arrives, the immigration officials ask for proof that it isn’t human. Left in a warehouse while its fate is debated, the yeti succeeds in breaking out of its refrigerated transportation unit, and is soon on the loose in Los Angeles.

Comments: Can’t you just imagine the sales pitch that got The Snow Creature made?
"It’s about an expedition that discovers a yeti in the Himalayas. They capture it alive and transport it to Los Angeles."
"And then?"
"And then it sits in a warehouse while customs and immigration argue over whether it’s human or not."
"Brilliant!"

With a storyline so utterly bereft of imagination, The Snow Creature could be the work of only one man: W. Lee Wilder, Billy’s monumentally untalented brother. The movie is cheap and tacky and stupid, all of which I can forgive. It’s also mind-numbingly boring, and that I can’t. The film runs only seventy-odd minutes, and yet is filled with stock footage and other padding, including the same snippets of action [sic.] edited in over and over again. There are a few laughs to be had, but they’re entirely unintentional, and while some of them are pretty standard (like the rampant continuity errors – watch the clocks!), there’s also the film’s use of pulse taking as the cure for all ills. Has a policeman been throttled by a yeti? Let’s take his pulse. Has a woman been beaten to death? Hmm, better feel that pulse. Best of all, has a yeti been crushed by falling rocks? Just where is a yeti’s pulse? Most of the film’s humour, though, comes courtesy of Dr Frank Parrish, who even by the standards of B-grade fifties science fiction is a pretty poor specimen of both scientist and human being. Early on, Parrish establishes himself as Mr Sensitivity 1954 by laughing off the story of a woman’s abduction, and refusing to help look for her because "thousands of dollars went into financing this expedition." He then shrewdly observes that "because of my decision, I felt that Subra resented and disliked me." (Subra’s not the only one.) Later, having beaten the captured yeti with the butt of a rifle and called for "the hypo!", Parrish remarks primly that, "We managed to keep the creature in a semi-conscious state." Once the yeti is conveyed to Los Angeles, the film moves into its comic highlight, the is-it-human-or-not debate. If this sequence reminds you of anything, it might be the episode of The Simpsons where a group of anthropologists try to decide whether Homer’s a below average human being or a brilliant beast. The problem is, here it’s not meant to be funny. While this intellectual tussle is going on, the yeti escapes. "Hooray! Some action at last!" cries the by-now desperate viewer. Fat chance. The rest of the film is concerned with nothing but preventing the audience from ever getting a good look at the yeti, which might just rate as the cheapest, tackiest, least convincing "monster" in screen history. Apparently constructed entirely from carpet, the yeti even outdoes the tracksuit wearing aliens in Killers From Space, W. Lee Wilder’s other 1954 triumph. (Actually, speaking of The Simpsons, the snow creature does bear a passing resemblance to Waylon Smithers in his Bobo the Teddy-Bear outfit.) The creature’s reign of terror is therefore confined to repeated shots of dark, deserted streets, off-screen screams, and much wandering around in storm drains. The yeti is finally cornered and captured (just watch the conviction with which it runs into the net!), and then shot to death when it attacks Frank Parrish, who survives his attempted strangling (rats!) without even getting his tie out of place. To be honest, I find it hard to mourn the creature’s demise. Anyone dumb enough to get captured by the pack of incompetents meant to be The Snow Creature’s heroes doesn’t really deserve to live.

Check out all the details of this movie on the IMDB

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