Monday, March 16, 2015

Yeti: Giant of the 20th Century (1977)

In 1976, the big blockbuster being hyped up was Dino de Laurentiis's King Kong. Good old Dino was convinced he had a film that would make Jaws look like a bomb, and would be so amazing that audiences would forget the beloved original. He played up the film's full-scale robot Kong (that would ultimately appear in about 6 seconds of screentime, for good reason) and the hype machine was in full swing. However, I'm sure we all know by now that Dino was flying too close to the sun. The film still made a bit of a profit, otherwise Dino wouldn't inexplicably have made King Kong Lives ten years later, but word of mouth killed it almost immediately.

Well, the great worldwide rip-off machine was already geared up to expect the film to be a hit by the time it crashed and smoldered. While, for obvious reasons, the film never generated the amount of rip-offs that Jaws did and still does, the amount it did generate is pretty impressive. From Hong Kong's The Mighty Peking Man to England's Queen Kong and the utterly inexplicable Korean/American co-production of A*P*E, it seemed like almost every country's film studios were trying to get in on the giant simian act.

Naturally, you didn't think the Italians were going to be left out of this monkey barrel, did you?

However, even if you are familiar with Italian rip-offs you are unlikely to anticipate exactly what this film has in store for you. For starters, it manages to cash in on King Kong and the then-current Bigfoot craze, while also pilfering elements from King Kong vs. GodzillaLassie, and The Creature Walks Among Us! Its effects are, hilariously, a direct copy of its model (a full-sized Yeti body prop, full-size prop limbs, but with a guy in a suit representing the creature for most of its screentime) and yet rendered in a radically bizarre fashion. Its script sounds like it was translated to English phonetically, it has an overall feeling of being aimed at children while simultaneously being very violent and containing possibly the smuttiest non-porn parody interaction between its Kong and Fay Wray equivalents that you can imagine.

Let's just say that unlike "king kong watching women give birth" (?!) anyone brought to my site by the search keywords "yeti nipple play" will not have been directed here under false pretenses.

We begin with an apparent attempt to capitalize on the then-new theory of man-made global warming, as we watch footage of icebergs breaking apart. We don't know it yet, but somewhere in that melting ice is our titular (heh, titular) Yeti. Incidentally, the Yeti's theme is introduced here under the credits and if it sounds frustratingly familiar, that's because it's a very slight reworking of "O Fortuna"! If that's not weird enough, it will later be revealed to have bewilderingly nonsensical lyrics and the end credits inform you:

The Theme "Yeti"
                              if played by The Yetians.

Yes, that is verbatim. Maybe The Yetians performed the theme, maybe they didn't. We may never know.

Anyway, we'll find out what the deal with the Yeti is soon enough, as we are introduced to our bumbling, unscrupulous Capitalist for the evening, Morgan Hunnicut (Edoardo Faieta), when he arrives somewhere in the Canadian wilderness by helicopter. In case that doesn't sound ridiculous to you,that's because I didn't mention that he arrives seated in a finely upholstered couch, inside a box dangling under the helicopter from a cable! Already the guy is more like Mr. Tako from King Kong vs. Godzilla than Charles Grodin's character in King Kong, if Mr. Tako was a fat man in suspenders. In fact his motivation for seeking out the reclusive Professor Waterman (John Stacy) are more in line with the former's ambitions.

Waterman and Hunnicut are apparently old friends who had a falling out, and thus Waterman is not at all pleased to have his fishing interrupted by the bumbling captain of some kind of industry.  And that's before Hunnicut sits down and begins helping himself to Waterman's meal. Ha! It's funny because he's fat. Waterman's annoyance doesn't dissipate when Hunnicut explains that he's there to enlist his aid in "a humane expedition" in Northern Canada. Waterman scoffs, reminding Hunnicut that he's a "paleonthnologist [sic]" and wants no part of whatever swindling scheme the "Over-nourished Overweight Daddy Warbucks who calls himself a friend" has in mind this time.

But the mention of Hunnicut's grandson and granddaughter softens Waterman's resolve, since he feels himself an uncle to those two. Still, he insists that he wants nothing to do with Hunnicut and there's no way he's going.

Comedy jump cut to Waterman heading Hunnicut's "humane expedition," naturally. Komedy! Said expedition involves the discovery of an enormous hominid in large chunk of ice, apparently by Hunnicut's grandson. We'll meet said grandson shortly, but first you'll want to observe that maybe Waterman was a bad choice to head this expedition. Remember, frozen in the ice is a completely unknown species of hominid* roughly twenty feet tall. So you'd think you'd want to be very careful with the specimen, right?

[* Sure, there was a prehistoric ape that was around ten feet tall, Gigantopithecus, but you'd never mistake it for a hominid]

Well, Waterman has ordered a squad of men with flamethrowers to surround the priceless specimen and spray it with fire to thaw it out. And we know that this is not supposed to be Hunnicut's irresponsible idea, either, because Waterman even orders the flamethrower garrison to increase the flames!

Watching all this are Hunnicut's grandchildren, teen aged Jane (Antonella Interlenghi) and pre-adolescent Herbie (Jim Sullivan), along with their loyal collie, Indio. (Oh no) Herbie is the one who found the frozen giant, but don't ask me how or when. Herbie's also a mute, which is due to the accident that killed their mother and father--as Jane explains to Cliff Chandler (Tony Kendall), who is some kind of security chief hired by their grandfather. You've probably already figured out this early in the film that Cliff is the kind of handsome fellow who will inevitably turn out to be a complete shitheel, and you honestly won't have to wait very long for confirmation.

I do have to give the movie credit: Herbie never undergoes a miraculous recovery to regain his voice.

The two kids get right up close to look at the actually pretty decent full-size prop feet of the creature (this being the kind of movie where you really have to work to find something nice to say about its effects), ignoring the fact that that puts them in the middle of streams of burning napalm. Waterman, meanwhile, goes to his trailer to communicate with Hunnicut via the 1977 equivalent of Skype. Hunnicut is eager to know what exactly Waterman has found, and considering how little of the creature has been uncovered to sufficiently figure out what it is, Waterman declares it to be a Yeti. He further elaborates, "We call him a ‘Sasquatch’ here in Canada. In the States he is known as the Big Foot. And in the Himalayas, where his footprints were first discovered, he’s called the Yeti, the Abominable Snowman. Why the ‘abominable,’ I don’t know."

That already sounds pretty ridiculous even before you factor in that this is where we first discover that the majority of the cast pronounces "Yeti" as "Yay-tee"! Waterman then conjectures that the creature froze millions of years ago, then somehow the ice he was in broke up and fell into the Arctic Ocean and then the creature drifted from the Himalayas to "New Found Land [sic]."

Waterman furthermore states that the creature is so perfectly preserved that they may be able to "activate something" in it, "like the nerves of his hand, or maybe even his heart." That Waterman talks of just reviving a part of the creature's anatomy means I am instantly giddy at the idea that Ridley Scott may have seen this movie and it was the inspiration for the idiotic scene in Prometheus where the scientists try to wake up a severed alien head.

Of course, while Waterman wants to wake the Yaytee up for Science, Hunnicut wants to wake the Yaytee up for Profit. Yes, in a direct rip off of the 1976 King Kong, Hunnicut wants to use the beast as his new spokes-monster. Sure, why not? Of course, Hunnicut somehow got to be the head of a multinational corporation despite being utterly incapable of doing proper background checks on the employees he allows into his boardroom/office and one of his underlings is actually a corporate spy who intends to pass on the news of Hunnicut's plan to his other bosses. Then again, the same thing happened to John Hammond and we weren't supposed to think he was a moron.

So, if you were to revive a 20-foot tall Yaytee, what do you suppose would be the best technique to do so? Well, if you're Professor Waterman you'd decide the best idea is to lift the creature into an upright position with chains, load it into a glass cage that looks like an English-style phone booth, chain that to a helicopter, and then fly the whole thing up to about 5,000 feet! Supposedly this is to recreate the elevation and conditions that the Yaytee would be used to in the Himalayas. Waterman, who was the one who was gung-ho about reviving the creature in the first place, now suddenly wonders if they have the right to, "even in the name of science." Cliff scoffs at this, and Waterman quickly drops his objections.

For some reason, the helicopter is crewed by a pilot, Waterman, Cliff, and Jane instead of, oh, I don't know--two other scientists or doctors? When they get up to the right altitude, they spray the Yaytee down with water to get the excess ice off of him. Then Waterman explains that the atmospheric conditions--the concentrations of ozone and ultraviolet rays--are perfect for what the creature would be used to, millions of years ago, before then asserting that they'll be pumping enriched oxygen (!) into the cage because, "That's the air we'll make him breathe!" As opposed to making him breathe chlorine gas, I suppose. Of course, since nobody else in the helicopter is an actual scientist, nobody asks what the point of waking the creature up thousands of feet into oxygen-thin air was if they're just going to pump oxygen to him.

Well, the Yaytee wakes up, naturally--and oh my God, this film's idea of a Yeti has to truly be seen to believed. First off, the Yaytee is played by Mimmo Craig and I mention the sit actor's name because unlike your average giant ape monster flick, the guy in the suit is not wearing a mask. So, imagine if Kenny Rogers decided to get himself some feathered hair and then started to turn into a werewolf. Even better is that Mimmo Craig's facial expressions range from "snarling" faces to "sitcom actor reacts to joke," with the occasional "what's my cue, again?" And most of his snarling faces are accompanied by a high-pitched stock dinosaur roar that sounds like it was derived from an elephant. For once they'd have been better off copying the hilarious method that Hanna-Barbera used for their Godzilla cartoon series and dub over Ted Cassidy going "Rar, grr, arrgh!" Hell, even "Iggly Ooogly Argh!" would sound less silly.

Oh, sorry, that's just a photo of me before I have my coffee.
So, what do you suppose happens when a 20-foot monster wakes up from a millennia-long coma, dangling several thousand feet in the air? Yep, the Yaytee throws a fit that nearly crashes the helicopter. Luckily, Jane flips a switch that supposedly pumps knockout gas into the cage, but really looks like they're spraying the actor with cocaine. (That would explain a lot) At first it doesn't work because somehow a window was left open in the cage (?!), but somehow the window is closed with a flip of a switch and the Yaytee goes to nose candy dreamland.

Somehow, despite the fact that the Yaytee almost crashed their helicopter, Jane is horrified to discover upon landing that Cliff has ordered his security team on the ground to carry rifles. "He's a human being," she objects. Yes, he's a hero; a real human being. (Oh man, somebody remake Drive with a Yeti in place of Ryan Gosling right now) Cliff is naturally unmoved by her argument, seeing as how actual human beings aren't 20 feet tall and covered in fur--and, oh yeah, this creature proved strong enough to nearly wreck their helicopter and could easily turn out to be wildly aggressive.

At any rate, Waterman sees nothing wrong with inviting the press to crowd around the cage as the Yaytee wakes up. "Prepare to meet an ancestor of ours," he declares. Um, how did you reach that conclusion, Professor? At any rate, naturally the Yaytee wakes up in a bad mood again. This time, though, there is the addition of Indio barking his fool head off at the Yaytee and the old standby--photographers using flashbulbs on the creature. The Yaytee easily tears out of his cage and...just wanders around, roaring. Apparently nobody thought that maybe they should spring for some miniatures for him to smash in his initial rampage.

Jane stops one goon from shooting the Yaytee, but Waterman is less successful when he tries. Not only is the Yaytee shot in the hand, but Waterman is left holding the rifle. Hilariously, his attempts to communicate "it wasn't me" in body language do not convince the Yaytee and the scientist just stands there as the Yaytee stomps towards him. Luckily, Cliff intervenes and the scientist does not find out why they call the snowman "abominable" after all.

The only real damage Yaytee (everyone in the movie calls him by species name, like he's a damn Pokemon, so I might as well, too) does is pick up a tree and toss it. However, he's interrupted in his rampage by Indio's barking, as Indio pulls the first of several Lassie moments by leading the beast to where Jane and Herbie lie, unconscious, after apparently being trampled by the panicked crowd. The two wake up in time to see Yaytee looming over them and...then things get weird.

As you might expect, Yaytee has fallen for Jane at first sight. He shows this by playing with his hair, like a stereotypical schoolgirl with a crush. He then scoops up Herbie and Jane in one prop hand and carries them off, with Indio following behind. Both Jane and Herbie are surprisingly cooperative with this, but then maybe they're just afraid of the creature getting angry if they struggle. waterman will later hypothesize that the kids' fur coats made them remind Yaytee of his lost mate and child, which I suppose is better than being just another monster who immediately wants to bang human women even if they're the size of his thumb.

Speaking of which, the most baffling sequence in the film occurs now--which is really saying something--when Jane loses her balance momentarily and puts her hand on Yaytee's chest to steady herself. Her hand brushes up against his nipple (!) and he looks down at her, waggling his eyebrows and smiling (!!), and then his nipple hardens and becomes erect! I told you I was not kidding about "yeti nipple play." And keep in mind this means someone was responsible for building a giant, hairy nipple that could be inflated. I wonder if they put that on their resume?

Naturally, Jane freaks out when she realizes what she's touching, pulling her hand back and acting like she just touched a giant slug. Everyone involved just pretends it never happened, but Yaytee seems maybe a little disappointed.

Waterman, Cliff, and the goon squad are following the trail of Yaytee (on foot, naturally) but somehow have lost him. I mean, he's only 20 feet tall and walks at a speed of about five miles an hour. Luckily, after Yaytee sets the kids down in a cave, Jane tells Indio to go fetch the professor or they might never track the beast down. Yaytee leaves the kids alone for a bit, and Jane tries to get a reluctant Herbie to leave. She implores the boy by reminding him, "Don’t you know cannibals are always nice to their victims before they eat them?!" Well, obviously, everyone knows that. However, their escape attempt is thwarted when Yaytee sneaks up on them. His offended expression is unlikely to leave any viewer able to maintain a straight face.

"...I was going to make espresso!"
Well, they especially can't leave now that Yaytee brought two fish--one small one for Jane and Herbie to share, and one the size of a large tuna. I have no idea where or how he caught that one. Jane and Herbie pretend to eat the fish, wile Yaytee happily eats his. Indio brings the search party, who couldn't tell that a creature that leaves footprints at least four feet long had turned away from the lake they were all staring at, to the cave just

Okay, so if you've seen King Kong you know there's a truly bizarre scene where Kong bathes Jessica Lange in a waterfall and dries her by blowing on her. Lange reacts as if having a huge, wild ape exhale forcefully on you is a wonderfully sensual (!) experience instead of foul-smelling and weird. As bizarre as that sequence is, its analogue here is even worse. Yaytee, having somehow chewed all the meat clean off his fish's skeleton, uses the skeleton to comb Jane's hair. Jane reacts as if this a tender, wonderful moment instead of how any woman I have ever met would react to having a dead fish covered in Yeti spit rubbed into her hair.

Yaytee is calm, however, when the search party approaches. Waterman explains to Jane that Yaytee thinks that she and Herbie are his mate and child. Cliff smugly jokes that she "might have some duties" if she spends the night. Well, yeah, tweaking his nipple like that might just maybe have given him the wrong idea. Still, I can't fault Jane for being disgusted that Cliff just joked about her having sex with a giant ape.

After spraying Yaytee's wounded hand with a thermos-sized bottle of some kind of bactine the search party just had for some reason--which Yaytee oddly seems unbothered by--Jane is easily persuaded to help them lead Yaytee back to civilization. Much like the "heroes" of Mighty Peking Man, and it will prove almost as disastrous an idea. At any rate, Jane talks to Yaytee much like Lt. Watson talked to Kong, "," and this is somehow sufficient to get him back to where they want him.

Well, Hunnicut apparently wasted no time in slapping Yaytee all over his company's merchandise, because it's time for a montage! An ad for Hunnicut's gas stations literally invites you to, "put a Yeti in your tank!" We see grocery stores and department stores with crude images of Yaytee in their windows being swarmed. But most perplexing of all is the shot of several women exiting a store wearing t-shirts that have blue hand prints covering their breasts (!) and on the back say, "Kiss Me Yeti."

Sorry, ladies: Yaytee only likes to have his breasts played with.

Apparently, Waterman is not pleased by all this publicity. Especially since Hunnicut wants to have Yaytee airlifted to Toronto for a public viewing. The two argue over Skype as Hunnicut is receiving a straight razor shave. Waterman snaps, "That slave of yours should cut your throat." Hunnicut, oddly, reacts by shooting the barber a look that says, "I goddamn dare you to, pansy."

Hunnicut apparently wins out, because we next see Yaytee back in that phone booth cage, being flown to Toronto by first passing over Niagara Falls (!), which is such a good idea. Naturally, this makes it even harder to figure out where the film was taking place up to this point. There's no place in Newfoundland or anywhere in what could be correctly described as "Northern Canada" that I can see that would require a route that makes you pass Niagara before reaching Toronto.

Wait, I'm expecting a film that thinks defrosting a frozen specimen with flamethrowers is a good idea to bother doing even the barest amount of geographical research.

Meanwhile, as the funky disco remix of "Yeti Fortuna" plays, we see footage a Carnavale-style parade and celebration that is ostensibly in Yaytee's honor but is very clearly an actual celebration the filmmakers happened to record or find stock footage of. Not everyone n Toronto is happy to see Yaytee, as we cut to a shady meeting of Hunnicut's competitors voting on how to deal with the problem of how much business Yaytee is drawing away from them and giving to Hunnicut. They have a plan to deal with this, however, because they have a mole on the inside. And you'll never guess who the bastard is that intends to betray Hunnicut for--

What's that? What do you mean you already guessed it's Cliff?! Well, you're right. It's Cliff

So, you're probably thinking the plan is to bring Yaytee to a baseball stadium or other open area so people can gawk at him, right? You'd think, but no. The genius plan that Hunnicut settles on is to have Yaytee set down on the roof of a hotel in Toronto. Jane, Herbie, Hunnicut, and Cliff are already there, bizarrely super-imposed in front of the footage of the rest of the crowd--even though they're actually in the crowd footage a few shots later. Cliff is hitting on Jane, but she's having none of it.

Oh, and the plan turns out to be having Yaytee open the cage and step out onto the roof! Yes, nothing can go wrong here. Oh, wait, nobody bothered to tell the press not to use flash photography. Sure enough, Yaytee flies into a rage and everybody flees back down as he...wanders around the rooftop. He does at least smash through a really fake wall this time. Cliff has dragged Jane into the hotel, but she breaks free to go back to the roof to calm Yaytee down and is immediately carried along by the panicked crowd and crammed into an exterior elevator. It's unclear whether Cliff's hilariously half-hearted attempt to retrieve her from the crowd is meant to indicate his villainy or just bad acting.

Yaytee somehow finds the controls for the elevator on the roof and begins using it as a yo-yo, to the horror of the crowd inside it. Yaytee realizes Jane is in the elevator just as the cables break and it plunges to a sudden stop as the emergency brake catches it. The crowd manages to climb out to safety, but an escaping old man deliberately pushes Jane back into the elevator as he makes his escape. So, somehow, Jane ends up being left dangling by her hands when the elevator breaks loose and falls away. Yaytee immediately springs into action, by pulling a reverse King Kong and climbing down the side of the hotel.

Fun fact: the Yeti auditioned for the part of the love interest in Ninja III: The Domination, but was told he "wasn't hairy enough."
Hilariously, despite the fact that the window wells seem to offer him footholds as they are, Yaytee deliberately kicks every window in as he climbs down. This is much to the alarm of several occupants. Naturally, Jane slips just as Yaytee punches through a window and catches her in his palm--mere feet from the ground. Of course, given this is a movie and Spider-Man isn't involved, Jane is just knocked unconscious instead of killed.

Yaytee then goes on what can generously be called a "rampage." Basically, Yaytee walks around in front of bad bluescreen footage of Toronto, alternating between snarling and looking confused. At no point does he interact with anything directly because the filmmakers had the worst decision-making process when it came to when it was time to spring for miniatures. The most amazing thing is just how shocked the residents of Toronto seem by Yaytee's presence every time he rounds a corner--especially given his size ranges from 20 to 100 feet tall depending on how he's been integrated into the footage. Apparently Canadians have no peripheral vision and their fleeing crowds are too polite to continue screaming after the monster they're fleeing from is no longer visible.

Somebody eventually calls the police, although the fact that the cop cars are all bright yellow with two "cherry tops" on their roofs makes it look like the production hired taxi cabs by mistake. Hilariously, a quick Google search confirms that Toronto cop cars actually looked like this in the 1970s. A shame, that, because it's one less bit of idiocy I can lay at the film's feet--not that I really need more.

The cops are bizarrely far away, so Jane has time to wake up and realize that they need to get Yaytee out of sight. Somehow this is managed, because next thing we know it's night and Jane is slipping out of an alley by herself to slip into a payphone to call her grandfather. Hunnicut is delighted to hear from her but naturally wants to know where Yaytee is. Jane assures him that Yaytee is safe for the moment, but the cops are sure to find them sooner or later. I'd bet on sooner, given we next see that, rather than hiding in that alley, Yaytee is standing dumbly in front of a supermarket. Yeah, he'll sure escape notice there!

Hunnicut directs her to take Yaytee to a nearby auto parts warehouse, since it belongs to a company Hunnicut used to represent. Unfortunately, Hunnicut orders Cliff to accompany Waterman to the warehouse so we know something is going to go awry. You'll also note that we don't see how Jane got Yaytee into the warehouse, but hilariously he's already laid out inside the building when Waterman, Herbie, Indio, Cliff, and two armed goons arrive. To Jane's great alarm, Yaytee is nearly comatose (!), but luckily Waterman has brought a oxygen tank (!!) in anticipation of just this eventuality.

Okay, so presuming Yaytee's present state is because of tooling around Toronto instead of an area at his native altitude--how is pumping more oxygen into his system going to help?! Well, that's what Waterman does, anyway. Cliff takes his leave, and Jane and Herbie also briefly depart, but clearly Cliff say his opportunity and passed a plan on to his subordinates. For the minute that Waterman falls asleep, the two goons replace the mouthpiece on the nearby phone (?) and then somehow sabotage the oxygen tanks so that all the air leaks out. Though, given the size of Yaytee compared to the tanks, you'd think this would happen all on its own.

Waterman wakes up as Jane and Herbie return, discovers the tank is empty, and urgently sends them to get more oxygen before Yaytee asphyxiates. From, uh, where are they supposed to get this oxygen, exactly? Hilariously, Jane and Herbie are barely out of sight when the two goons grab Waterman and bash his skull in by banging his head against some patently empty boxes. Naturally, this is where the film has decided to rip off The Creature Walks Among Us, because their plan is to frame the Yeti! Indeed, when Herbie and Jane return the two goons are lying on the ground and pretend to regain consciousness and claim Yaytee lashed out and killed Waterman.

Now, I'm not a detective, but I don't think you need to be Sherlock Holmes to see holes in two healthy men claiming that the dead guy they were found next to was beaten to death by a third guy who is immobile and hooked up to an oxygen tank. Especially since they didn't even bother to try and dislodge the oxygen tubes from Yaytee's face!

Unfortunately for the conspirators, Yaytee woke up just enough to see them killing Waterman but not enough to stop them. So when the new oxygen feed somehow revives him (why the first didn't is beyond me), Yaytee roars to his feet--somehow still fitting in the building he's at least as tall as--and begins pelting the goons with empty boxes. The goons flee into a nearby yard full of heavy construction equipment, which they hide behind in a way that suggests a 20-foot tall could somehow sneak up on them.

So, naturally, Yaytee does just that. The first goon gets the movie's most memorable death. Yaytee prepares to crush the dastardly villain with one foot, but suddenly lifts his foot up. The goon seems relieved until the foot suddenly grabs the man by the throat with its toes and strangles him. To top it off, Yaytee seems to actually snap his neck!

"You call this a pedicure?! I'll fix you!"
The second goon hides in another warehouse, but this warehouse has a huge window in it. Sure enough, Yaytee does his thing and smashes the window--which somehow kills the goon. I don't know how, given broken glass doesn't appear to be dangerous in this film's universe.

The cops have arrived at the warehouse to investigate Waterman's death, but Jane's insistence that Yaytee is innocent is somewhat undercut by the report that comes in that Yaytee definitely just murdered two other people. So now the orders are to shoot Yaytee on sight. Jane really shouldn't worry, since apparently the Toronto police can't actually see the Yeti. We briefly see that Hunnicut is informed of Waterman's death and, to the film;s credit, the one-note character actually mourns for his friend.

Of course, Jane has already come to the conclusion that Cliff was somehow responsible for Waterman's death. She has no proof, of course, so Cliff brushes her off. He's still a villain, though, so naturally he goes to sit in his nearby car to talk with his other goons about how great that murder they planned has paid off and maybe they ought to bump off Jane, too. Herbie and Indio are nearby, however, so Herbie overhears--and Indio helpfully barks and alerts Cliff to their presence. Way to go, Lassie. Cliff and goons decide that the boy who can't talk knows too much and give chase.

They catch Herbie in the warehouse just as he reaches Jane. Indio bites the goon holding Herbie and is mortally stabbed for his troubles. The movie then takes an even darker turn as Cliff slaps Jane around, and appears to be about to rape her before settling on just strangling her while Herbie watches helplessly.

The movie's not that dark, however, because Yaytee has somehow found his way back to the warehouse district unnoticed by all the cops and does a Kool-Aid Man through the warehouse wall. Given that this is not a Hollywood superhero movie from the past ten years, I'm going to assume the fact that the hole he leaves behind is cross-shaped is a coincidence.

Cliff and the goons flee, taking Herbie as a hostage, while Jane cries over the dying Indio. Even Yaytee takes time to mournfully stroke the dog's fur, before pulling a rage face and smashing through another wall of the warehouse to pursue the kidnappers. This causes something to explode (!) by Yaytee's feet, but he ignores it.

We next cut to daytime, as Cliff's car and two other cars of goons that he meets up with along the way, speed through winding roads somewhere in the countryside. In the city, several police cars apparently give chase, despite not being anywhere near the same area. Luckily, Yaytee has somehow gotten ahead of the speeding cars. He dispatches one car by chucking a tree at it--and throwing the tree makes his upper torso turn completely transparent--and the other car is taken out with a boulder after they helpfully back up so Yaytee can reach them easier. Luckily, Yaytee somehow knew that neither of the cars he just blew up had Herbie inside it.

Cliff's car turns off into a construction site in the middle of nowhere, as the pursuing police cars suddenly appear on the same mountain road. Cliff's surviving goons are apparently where Disney got the idea to murder lemmings for a "documentary," because they flee from the approaching Yaytee and manage to fling themselves off a nearby ledge to their deaths. Even Yaytee looks confused by this development.

The cop cars catch up to Jane, who has somehow managed to nearly reach the construction site on foot, and one car picks her up. Okay, did Cliff and his goons drive in a fucking circle for several hours? Cliff tries to shoot Yaytee with a grenade rifle, which Herbie does nothing to stop, even though he's not restrained and could clearly reach Cliff because the turncoat had to crawl into the front seat to fire. Amazingly, Cliff misses by several yards. Look, I realize the guy isn't Lee Van Cleef, but that's an astounding failure. Again, even Yaytee seems amazed by his foes' incompetence.

Yaytee picks up a rather woeful miniature of the car, forcing Cliff to do a Shatner roll to escape. Yaytee rescues Herbie from the car just as the police pull up. Hilariously, the police cars are all full to capacity with armed cops. Didn't they have vans for that? Jane has to stop one officer from shooting Yaytee--which you'd think wouldn't be necessary since the creature is obviously holding a young boy! Yaytee drops the car in surprise after the shot goes wide, but rather than flying into a rage he sets Herbie down--just in time for Cliff to go all Carnosaur and try to attack the beast by backing into it with a truck that has a crane on the back.

Somehow being stuck in the gut with the crane only annoys Yaytee instead of impaling him or even drawing blood, and he lifts the ruck up by the crane so Cliff is forced to jump out. Hilariously, Yaytee then flips over a model of the truck that explodes in flames before it hits the ground. Naturally, Cliff still hasn't been dealt with so, in full view of a dozen armed cops, Yaytee stomps him to death. It's Cliff's own fault, really. Rather than crawl towards the cops that are scant feet from him, he rolls to his side over and over until he's in a mud puddle and yards away from help.

Mind you, the cops could still have ignored Jane's initial objections and pumped Yaytee full of lead--especially now that he's not near Herbie--but I guess they knew Cliff was guilty of conspiracy to commit murder and decided it was cheaper than a trial and gives them an excuse to kill a giant ape man.

Bizarrely, Hunnicut arrives by helicopter at this point and happily reunites with Herbie. The cops prepare to shoot Yaytee, but Jane stops them again. She turns to Yaytee and implores him to "go back to the wilderness." Hilariously, she ends her plea to the Yeti with, "Please. Go away." Somehow, after looking briefly hurt, Yaytee gets the hint and nods at Jane. The police captain, humbled, orders his men to lower their guns and just watch as the 20-foot ape man that they just witnessed killing a man, and that they ought to know by now is responsible for the deaths of around ten others even if they don't still think he killed Waterman, turns and wanders back into the countryside.

Herbie cries on Jane's shoulder until suddenly he hears--

You're not going to believe this. Herbie hears Indio barking. Yes, Indio, whom we last saw lying in a pool of his own blood, has somehow made it all the way over here on foot. And, indeed, Indio is completely unharmed, without so much as a limp. Given that dog first appears at the crest of a hill with the sun behind him, I immediately quipped to the group I was watching this with: "I return to you now, as Lassie the White."

Herbie and Indio have a slow-motion reunion, and the movie closes with a tearful Yaytee standing in front of crumbling iceberg footage. The End, as The Yetians (or maybe not?) close us out with that damn theme song.

Available on vinyl!
It's hard to really explain Yeti: Giant of the 20th Century to someone who hasn't seen it. It's far from the worst of the crop of rip-offs that sprung up to get in on that sweet "Everybody'a cry when Kong'a die" money, but when the nicest thing you can say about a movie is, "It's better than A*P*E," you've set the bar so low that it's fallen through the Earth's crust. It's hard to say if it's even the most inexplicable of those rip-offs because, again: A*P*E.

However, the film is definitely bizarre. For starters, the Yeti itself. I can only assume the filmmakers decided that creating a mask that was as expressive as the one Rick Baker created was impossible. Their attempt to fix this by just having the suit actor's face be uncovered, however, manages to be even sillier. After all, you'd have to be as callous as the film's "hero" to not find Mighty Peking Man a sympathetic character even with his suit's woefully inadequate mask. This film's Yeti, meanwhile, is impossible to empathize with because he's fucking ridiculous. Trying to emote believably as a speechless Yeti would probably be a challenge for Olivier, but Mimmo Craig is hilariously not up to the task. If you an get through this movie without cackling at Craig's facial expressions at least once, you are made of sterner stuff than I.

And that's before you find out that the original Italian version features a bit during the sequence where the Yeti is dying that sees either the Yeti or Jane having a fantasy of the two of them dancing romantically. I think it's supposed to be the Yeti having this fantasy, but I'm honestly not sure. While it would have made the Yeti even harder to take seriously, I am kind of amused that it was considered too goofy for international audiences, even when compared to the rest of the film.

The truly amusing thing is that the idea to have the Yeti actor's face uncovered must have been conceived early on because while we wisely never see the full-size Yeti prop from the front in the film itself, promo shots reveal it has a human face, too.

A very confused face, at that.
The rest of the cast doesn't fare much better than the Yeti, to be fair, but Mimmo Craig's performance is so ridiculous as to overshadow everyone else's awfulness. Their goofy performances are just part of why this is a silly, silly film but I'll be damned if it doesn't feel completely serious all the way through. Hilarious as it may be, I cannot find any indication that the movie is in on the joke. Just look at its clear attempts to be funny, which are naturally not funny at all.

All in all, it's an absolutely strange film. If you love B-Movies and have a fondness for giant monsters, you definitely need to watch this one. Hell, inflict it on someone who isn't a hardened B-Movie veteran and cackle with glee at their horrified incomprehension.

Hell, if my review hasn't sold you, then maybe this music video for "Yeti" by The Yetians will convince you.

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