02 November 2014

MAN BEAST/1956/JERRY WARREN

Man Beast is the first feature film -as far as I can tell-  produced and directed by Jerry Warren, whose names is synonymous with super low budget fare.  He is the man responsible for such bad movie gems as Teenage Zombies, The Incredible Petrified World and the very entertaining, in a schlocky way natch, The Wild World of Batwoman (for which he was actually sued by DC Comics, and won the lawsuit).  Does not seem to be a whole lot of bigfoot/yeti/abominable snowmen from the fifties to choose from really so one can not be too picky about the few offerings out there. Like Hammer’s 1955 film The Abominable Snowman this film takes us to the wilds of the Tibetan Himalayas. At least as far as the stock footage goes anyway. Connie Hayward (Asa Manor) and her whiny boyfriend (who she seems to enjoy pushing around and humiliating) Trevor (Lloyd Nelson) seemingly just waltz into an isolated outpost somewhere at the foot of the Himalayas looking none the worse in terms of wear and tear looking for Connie’s brother Jeff (...? I forget his name actually, but that sounds good enough).  In no time they form an impromptu “expedition” with some white guy they just meet named Steve (Tom Marzzuni) who has no problem going off and climbing dangerous mountains at the drop of a hat for perfect strangers. They are all very well prepared for the ascent up the treacherous, icy mountains. They carry all their gear and rations in little back packs that look like something primary school students would tote their school books and pencils in and brace themselves against the life threatening cold in wind breakers. They are so tough and rugged they do not use gloves for scaling the frozen rocks and all are impervious to frost bite it seems. Lots of odd camera work catches the trio climbing rocks from various imaginative angles but usually from down below looking up at rumps. Lots of thrilling close ups of mountain boot will keep you on the edge of your seat. 

Soon enough they over take the team or explorers they are searching for since Connie pushes them onward, and especially pushes exhausted Trevor and lets him know in no uncertain terms they have no relationship status any longer since all they do now is argue and disagree all the time about this simple ass  little unplanned trip up the sides of the Himalaya mountains. The team is made of Dr. Eric Erickson (sounds like an alias for a Marvel super hero), a Tibetan guide that does not look Tibetan at all and the obviously evil Vargas (George Skaff). Obviously evil because of the way his make up is applied. The team is led by Erickson in quest of a yeti. He is sure this is a good place to look for them and Jim has not been seen from in a while. In fact Jim never even enters the story except in campfire dialog. I almost thought he was going to be the yeti ala a Scooby Doo ending. Yeti’s (or a yeti anyway) soon begin appearing behind rocks and tents and  it becomes apparent Vargas is more than he seems to be. But he seems to be a twisted psycho from the start, so it is not stretching the imagination much when bad things begin happening to Connie and crew.

In a weird almost surreal  sequence inside a cave, reminding me of that curious short film by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali where a girl gets her eye ball sliced open,  Trevor meets an untimely and long over due demise. This proves a good thing later for Steve and Connie since they have utterly bonded during the adventure and it saves Conn ie the trouble of a nasty break up letter later. Like a lot of these old scary movies the thing that appears on screen the least is the actual appearance of the monster. We are treated to loads of corny dialog and bad acting to fill in the other 98% of the movie time. Sometimes bad acting in a film like this is too much to bear, but in this case it is of the bad variety that is pretty fun to watch most of the time. The lines are delivered without any life whatsoever or they are treated with robust, melodramatic overacting. Actors often peer right into the camera and or gaze off into nowhere. But the movie is not bad in a campy sense and only runs a little over an hour. These Himalaya yeti flicks seemed a lot funner to watch than the post Boggy Creek Bigfoot styled films that would come out later. At one point I am looking at the time on my iPad and it said the film only had four minutes left, and in that short time the whole movie had to be wrapped up in terms of the yeti and Vargas getting theirs, and Steven and Connie coming together now that whimpy Trevor is out of the way. I have not seen too many more of Warren’s films and this seems to his best so far. And with that in mind I do recommend The Wild World of Batwoman film for lovers of bad cinema.







If you look at the bottom picture in a certain way I swear
it looks like this yeti is giving someday an angry bird.

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