|Copyright 1991 Mercury International Pictures
| Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 17 May 2009
- Ranger Bill Whitman - This guy can out-moustache anybody, even a UPS driver, and the way he parts his hair makes him look like he belongs to a barbershop quartet. Ladies, you will be happy to learn that he is single and available.
- Charlie Perkins - The plot needs a character who learns about the unknown menace lurking on the mountain by reading a library book, but I could have totally done without this guy. Go away, you plaid-plated fiend!
- Ranger Stillman - I was wondering if one of the characters would be a sunglass-wearing smart alec. I was also hoping that a giant lizard would bite said named character's head off.
- Barbera - I think that she is Charlie's significant other.
- Dave Sheldon - The owner of the Wild Goose Lodge who often sports a mind boggling plaid smoking jacket. He comes from a lineage tainted by contact with the ancient Indian spirits. Bursts into heap big fire when his plans are discovered.
- Ranger Bradford - She hangs around until Sheldon's great-grandfather kills her, then she just hangs around.
- A Menagerie of Stop Motion Monsters - Apparently, Native Americans worshipped Ray Harryhausen.
- The Winterbeast - I do not know which monster is supposed to be the title creature, but I am guessing it was the last one that Bill and Charlie encountered.
|Let me tell you something about "Winterbeast" that explains a lot about the film: it was never finished. What you see is a mishmash of footage that was shot over a long period of time and eventually cobbled together into a movie. Now, while that might explain why the plot is disjointed and confusing, knowing this does not help the viewer in any way. It is like taking a road trip with a grandparent who is suffering from Alzheimer's. Knowing beforehand that you are going to be hopelessly lost is not a consolation.
I do want to commend this film for using the term bric-a-brac. It had been years since I had heard bric-a-brac used in a sentence.
Following a bizarre nightmare that involves a rotting friend and a wiggly monster, Bill reports for work at the ranger station. His number one pal, Stillman, says that one of the other rangers is missing and that Bradford is pretty shaken up. From what Bradford mumbles, the missing man did not fall prey to the normal perils that normally befall forest rangers (falling off a cliff, being eaten by a bear, drowning in a river, etc.). Having a rubber hand puppet burst out of their stomach is not just another day for a forest ranger. At least, I think that the randomly inserted footage of the man with the rubber puppet problem is supposed to be the missing ranger. It is hard to be certain.
Ranger Whitman does not seem to be overly concerned about the missing man. In fact, he keeps saying that the fellow is lost. Bradford must not have done a very good job of describing what she saw. "He is gone!" "You mean he wandered off in the dark and got lost." "No, I mean that something burst out of his chest, just like in 'Alien!'" "Oh, that kind of gone."
Yeah, Mr. Cagle, that kind of gone.
What would you do if someone was lost on a mountain, possibly hurt, in fair weather? Maybe take your 4X4 up the trail to honk the horn and shine the headlights into the dark woods? Bill does not do that. He just tells Stillman to take a look in the morning.
Elsewhere in a cabin, a young woman takes off her shirt (one of the few shirts in the film that is not plaid). An animated tree monster reaches in through a window, pulls her out, and then beats the screaming meat puppet against the side of the house. End of scene, back to Bill and his friends. In case you are scratching your head and saying to yourself, "That sure came out of nowhere." I suggest you get used to it. All of the monster attacks occur at random, and are over just as suddenly as they appear.
As Bill and Stillman try to figure out the terrible secret behind their mountain, they start to step on people's toes, mostly Sheldon's. In fact, only Sheldon's. See, the movie is like "Jaws," but set on a mountain instead of Amity Island, and the shark has been replaced with stop motion monsters. Sheldon stands in for Amity's mayor. He does not want Ranger Whitman to close the mountain; that would ruin the tourist industry. As if the unpleasant-looking totem pole that the rangers discover hidden in the forest is the sort of thing that people put on a postcard.
A pair of female hikers gets eaten by...um...Muffit's evil uncle in a scene that caused me to worry that the movie was not "Jaws" on a mountain. Maybe the film makers have not seen "Jaws." Maybe they have only seen "Grizzly." The shark never ate a pair of female hikers, but that bear sure as heck ate some hikers.
In case you were wondering, both of the women were wearing plaid.
The friction between Whitman and Sheldon continues, with the ranger posting warning signs and the lodge owner tearing them down. Even more people are killed in random encounters with random monsters. Ranger Bradford's death is not quite as random (though the monster is). She discovers Sheldon's great-grandfather's grave on the mountain. Grandpa Sheldon hops out of the ground and kills the surprised woman. Forty minutes into the movie, Dave and Bill are still going at it, and everybody is still wearing plaid.
I am sick and tired of plaid.
Something is weird about Sheldon. The fact that he has a bunch of dead bodies in his lodge (including Bradford's fresh corpse) is one indication. Another is that he likes to put on a mask and dance around while playing "Oh, Dear! What Can the Matter Be?" on an old record player. Bill and Charlie discover Sheldon's gruesome secret connection to the evil spirits that are running loose. Soon as the cat is out of the bag, Sheldon laughs and bursts into flames! Having found Bradford dead (very dead), and watched Sheldon turn into a laughing tiki torch, the ranger and his pal turn in. The next time we see them they are talking on the phone about how it's just a regular, boring day at the foot of Cursed Mountain on the shores of Lake Abyss.
Half the town is dead and unholy spirits are dismembering anyone wearing plaid (that would be just about everyone), and you two don't have anything better to chat about than the weather? I would be running around, screaming my head off that the tree monsters are coming to eat us all. Well, that or making Molotov cocktails while other people are screaming their heads off about the people-eating tree monsters. To be honest, both of those sound like a good idea. Choosing between them is going to be difficult.
Oh well, I will cross that bridge when I get to it.
Stillman gets beheaded by a slimy lizard monster. Then a huge vulture demon attacks Charlie. Luckless Bill is not menaced by a stop-motion creation. A big man wearing a horned demon outfit chases the ranger through a field of reeds until Charlie appears out of nowhere driving a truck. He offers Bill a ride. The horned demon jumps in front of the truck! Two people, I think that they are Bill and Charlie, fall out of the truck! One of the men starts shooting at the supernatural ogre with a flare gun. The other picks up a clay mask and tells the other guy to shoot it with the flare gun. Where did this come from? Are those the same two guys we have been watching all along? Is this even the same movie? I think that they are, and that it is - one of the men is wearing plaid.
Yeah, it is Bill and Charlie. The plaid is a dead giveaway.
This is a horribly incoherent film, but the stop motion monsters are fun to watch. I laughed when the puppet representing the topless girl was smacked against the side of the model cabin. The vulture/turkey/chicken/whatever demon was really cool. I even liked Muffit's creepy uncle that dragged the girls off into the underbrush. Unfortunately, there was not enough stop motion to make up for quite a lot of patchwork plot. If I had just seen an Indian demon walking around in broad daylight, the last thing I would be doing is nonchalantly answering the phone. Something more along the lines of freaking out would have been in order. Don't even get me started on trying to preserve my sanity in a town where I was exposed to that much plaid on a daily basis.
|Things I Learned From This Movie:|| |
- You don't want to see Stretch Armstrong without his skin on.
- Mixing red plaid and yellow plaid is bad.
- Clothing for old people comes in two options: ugly sweater and plaid.
- Any time spent looking for a tie that goes with a plaid jacket would be better utilized hunting snipes.
- Rangers use red lanterns to preserve their night vision.
- Do not ask an evil spirit to belay for you.
- Women think that maple syrup comes from pine trees.
- The U.S. Forest Service is staffed by rejects from the New York City police department.
- Giving birth by Cesarean section is fatal if you are male.
- A rolling corpse gathers no vultures.
- Flare guns are mini howitzers.
- 2 mins - Stop picking at it before you make it bleed.
- 8 mins - Ewww, the pages of that nudie magazine are stuck together...
- 12 mins - RANDOM GRATUITOUS BREAST SHOT!
- 13 mins - RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST THE BOOBIES!
- 17 mins - We're the audience, and we are just as confused as you.
- 38 mins - So, demons do exist, but they are all a**holes?
- 41 mins - What is James Brown doing here?
- 51 mins - Did you notice the dead girl in the room? Did you? Did you?
- 59 mins - That same milk has been sitting on that same table for at least two or three days.
- 61 mins - The characters became disoriented (probably by the script) and have gotten lost. They are now wandering around inside of a Depeche Mode video.
- 73 mins - I want to ask Bill and Charlie when and why they switched plaid shirts, but the list of possible answers scares me.
| ||Audio clips in wav format||SOUNDS||Starving actors speak out|| |
||Stillman: "This backwoods bric-a-brac is nowhere in my book." |
Whitman: "You know, Stillman, if you don't mind my saying so, this doesn't seem like your line of work. I mean, why did you want to become a ranger?"
Stillman: "Well, I thought it would be a really great place to meet women. I read an article about it once in Swank magazine."
||Whitman: "I can't believe this. Look, I told you I had a missing ranger; I need your help." |
Sheldon: "That's the system we all have to work under. You know this isn't the first time one of these men have gone AWOL."
Whitman: "Gone AWOL on top of a mountain? You gotta to be s***ting me!"
Sheldon: "Bill, listen. This doesn't help the situation. We have to deal with this the best way we can."
Whitman: "I am doing the best I can. I had two rangers up there all morning."
||Perkins: "Well, been reading about that (totem) pole of ours. From what it says in here, we could be in deep s**t." |
Barbera: "In what way?"
Perkins: "Well, they say that this is the Indian gateway to Hell."
Barbera: "What are you saying?"
Perkins: "Well, that's why all that s**t has been going on up there. There are more Indian charms and trinkets than I have ever seen in one place before."
||Whitman: "Four people are missing up here inside of a week, and you don't seem to give a damn. Listen to me, Sheldon. Something is happening up on that mountain. I'm telling you for the last time to close this lodge. Your guests are in danger!" |
Sheldon: "You have no authority over me or my business. This lodge is on private property. Property that's been in my family for years, and you have no jurisdiction here. How dare you make demands on me!"
Whitman: "What's going on here? Why won't you help me?"
Sheldon: "Because your delusions about monsters are putting the future of this lodge and this town in jeopardy."
|Theme Song|| Listen to a clip from the soundtrack. |
| ||Click for a larger image||IMAGES||Scenes from the movie|| |
| ||Watch a scene||VIDEO||MPEG video files|| |
|Random guy rappelling down a random cliff attacked by a random stop motion creature. If the man had been wearing plaid, this might have been the film's iconic scene.
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