Directed By Christopher Thies
Winterbeast is the total package — absolutely sublime entertainment that continues to deliver hours after the film ends. I am still reeling and giddy in delight of the heaping spoonfuls of crazy imagery and completely irrational moments that this film threw at me. We should all stop and take a moment to consider ourselves blessed that we live in a world that allows stuff like this to see the light of day. The acting, editing, and staging are so bad, and fly so deliberately in the face of film theory that it reaches levels of incoherency not seen since the French new-wave.
It’s hard to decide where to begin, but the film’s most entertaining moments are the scenes featuring one-of-a-kind stop-motion creatures brutally murdering random hikers and mountain climbers. Far from Harryhausen’s workshop scraps, these creatures actually come off as being created and animated with tremendous care. In fact, watching these things only made me long for the days when this lost cinematic art was the standard for on screen special-effects. There are about five or six different creatures, but my personal favorite was the giant, featherless zombie chicken (that actually predates Poultrygeist by 15 years). It is only when miniature clay versions of the actors are incorporated with the monsters that it comes off as trashy, but no less entertaining. Their death scenes end up looking like outtakes from old Mr. Bill shorts. I kept waiting for one of them to be torn apart while screaming “Oh noooooooo!”
Watch in glorious amazement as the laws of film editing are completely rewritten here. Actions are matched up in locations miles apart and scenes are ended mid-sentence, cutting off entire sections of dialogue. If it wasn’t for the excessive artifacts and visible film tears I would have thought this film was cobbled together on a couple of worn-out VCRs on a Saturday afternoon. But who really has time for editing when the Winterbeast lurks out there?
I am very forgiving however, and would be able to accept all of this if the actors actually were capable of cognitive thought. These poor people are slaves to a movie logic so powerful and irrational in its sway that it compels them to mysteriously lose all facets of basic motor skill. Monsters pursue actors who inexplicably fall out of cars crawling by at five miles per hour. Where most people would vault over waist-high obstacles, these actors prefer instead to get on their knees and crash through them, kool-aid style. If these guys were capable of doing anything a normal human being might do while under pursuit, they would actually have a chance at survival. Instead we have to cringe as they flutter their arms around and scurry around in circles like deranged swamp rats.
While investigating the Indian curse, Ranger Bill consults Charlie, one of the locals who tells him long forgotten local legends involving medicine men and ancient warriors in their never-ending battle against spirits and demons. He reaches for a leather felt-lined box containing some sacred artifact and – WOW!
Often while watching this film I kept asking myself the question that my colleague put forth while drafting up this blog’s original mission statement; “Is it worth watching?” The answer is a resounding yes. I simply could not imagine anybody out there depriving themselves of the inane experience and exercise in disjointed filmmaking that is Winterbeast.