Article by Steve D. Stones
In my hometown of Ogden, Utah - the Union Station train depot located on Historic 25th Street and Wall Avenue hosts a Yeti Bash event every year during the first Friday of February. At this event, you will find art vendors and small local businesses selling their art and products, interactive art events for children and grown men dressed in Yeti (aka the Abominable Snowman) costumes. A beard contest is also a part of the event in which contestants are awarded cash prizes for the best categories of beard. Beer is also severed with plenty of food vendors outside Union Station to choose from while you enjoy the evening's festivities.
As an art vendor participant of this event every year, I get pumped up for this event by watching two of my favorite low budget Yeti films from the 1950s – The Snow Creature (1954) and Man Beast (1956). I even suggested to the person who invites me to this event every year, Josh Smith, that both these films should be screened somewhere inside Union Station during the event. The two films were not shown this year, but I am hopeful that in future Yeti Bash events to come, the two films can be shown as a fun double-bill for patrons of the event.
As a fan of both films, and after having viewed both films several times, it is hard for me to pick one over the other as my favorite of the two. Although both are of a very low budget and directed by unknown, not-so-famous directors, both films have something to recommend to any fan of obscure, low-budget science-fiction films.
From the stand-point of story and plot, I feel The Snow Creature is the most believable of the two films, but not necessarily the best of the two. The actual Yeti creature in The Snow Creature is not the most believable. He looks like a cross between Chewbacca of Star Wars and a Muppet from Jim Hanson's Muppets TV show. The actor who plays the Yeti creature is covered in hair except for his facial area, which makes for a hilarious looking Yeti. The Yeti creature in Man Beast, played by Rock Madison, is much more convincing.
The Snow Creature
A botanist named Dr. Frank Parrish, played by Paul Langton, travels to the Himalaya Mountains to collect plant samples for the Corey Foundation in the United States. Parish is accompanied by his field photographer Peter Wells and a group of natives who serve as porters for the trip. The entire group is led by a guide named Supra who is very familiar with the terrain.
A few days into the trip, Supra's wife is kidnapped by a Yeti creature. Supra's brother Leva travels to his location in the nearby town to inform him of this. Supra insists that Parish and the photographer Wells deviate from the planned trip and go after the Yeti to rescue his wife. Both Parrish and Wells are not convinced of Supra's claim and both deny the existence of any Yeti creature.
Determined to save his wife, Supra empties the guns in Parrish's tent one night and later forces him and Wells to help him and the rest of the natives find his kidnapped wife. Having no choice but to follow Supra, Parrish and Wells go further up the rugged mountain in pursuit of Supra's wife.
While taking shelter in a cave from the brutal weather outside, Parrish, Wells and the group come across the Yeti creature. Frightened, the Yeti causes a collapse of the cave, killing a female Yeti and her child. Parrish and Wells force Supra and the natives at gunpoint to tie up the Yeti creature and take him down the mountain to Supra's hometown.
Eventually the Yeti creature is flown to Los Angeles, where he escapes from a refrigerated container and ends up in the storm drains of the city, similar to how the giant ants end up at the ending of Them! (1954). Parrish and the Los Angeles police chase after the Yeti in the storm drains after he has committed a series of murders.
Connie Hayward, played by Virginia Maynor, arrives in a Himalayan town with her boyfriend Trevor Hudson. Connie seeks the help and guide of a local native to take her up the mountain to find her brother Jim who left days earlier with a scientific expedition led by Dr. Erickson. Jim has been diagnosed with a condition that demands that he return to the United States for a series of injections to save his life.
Connie and Trevor enlist the help of Steve Cameron as their guide up the Himalaya mountains to find Jim. Cameron informs them that another guide named Varga is the only guide who takes groups up the mountain, but with every expedition Varga participates in, at least one person is killed during the trip.
Ms. Hayward, Hudson and Cameron catch up to Dr. Erickson after a few days of aggressive climbing. Erickson informs them that Jim Hayward turned up lost one evening, and no one has seen him since. This makes Ms. Hayward even more determined to find her brother Jim.
The entire group eventually meets up with Varga, and Connie and Trevor become suspicious and mistrusting of him. Their suspicions prove to be correct when Varga kills Dr. Erickson after he reveals to him that he is part Yeti. Varga's goal as a guide is to kidnap women for breeding purposes for the Yeti creatures.
A large part of what makes Man Beast so unbelievable is that all the scenes of the actors climbing up the mountain for several days show them carrying small packs on their backs and nothing else. Every time they stop to make camp somewhere, large cabin sized tents seem to magically appear. Any camper and climber will tell you that when you climb up a mountain for several days, you better carry large packs full of food for several days and adequate shelter and cooking supplies.
The Snow Creature does not suffer from this same problem. The actors carry large packs full of supplies in every scene shown in the film as they journey up the mountain. Although the Yeti creature in The Snow Creature may not be as believable as the Yeti in Man Beast, the plot is much more believable, at least the first forty minutes of the film.
Once the Yeti creature is captured and brought to Los Angeles in The Snow Creature, the viewer must suspend all matters of disbelief. How a creature from the climate of the Himalaya mountains can survive the warm climate of Los Angeles is something the viewer cannot help but ask as the last 30 minutes of the film unfolds. His desire to hide out in the cooler temperatures of the Los Angeles storm drains does not seem believable enough.
As flawed as both films are, The Snow Creature and Man Beast make for an interesting and entertaining double-feature on a cold winter's night. Happy viewing!