Kong count #36 – Yeti: Giant of the 20th Century

Recycling another old review:

I mentioned 1977’s Yeti: Giant of the 20th Century before in reference to A*P*E, as both are part of the crop of 70s-era King Kong knock-offs, but I didn’t get a chance to see it before now… it’s definitely one of those movies that you have to seek out if you want to see it. The giant gorilla pictures, with few exceptions, are usually the dullest of suitmation kaiju vehicles, since they all tend to follow the same mold to a tee, however, there was one aspect that particularly attracted me to Yeti: Gianfranco Parolini. Parolini (credited as Frank Kramer, because Italian filmmakers were obsessed with passing their movies off as American) is the director of some excellent spaghetti westerns, including God’s Gun, If You Meet Sartana Pray for Death, and both real entries in the Sabata series (the original Sabata might just be my favorite western ever), so my inner giant monster nut and my inner western addict conspired to make me track it down.

yeti-1

The whole film is set in Canada (for immediate failure at passing as Hollywood product), beginning with a giant frozen creature being found in a glacier by two children. Actually, that scene is offscreen and only alluded to, and some explanation of what the children were doing exploring a glacier alone is never touched upon. The children tell their grandfather, a rich CEO, about it, so before you can say “Carl Denham’s ghost” he’s decided to market the monster as a corporate mascot the likes of which the world has never seen (this world has also never seen The Lost World, Gorgo, Mothra, Gappa, or Gwangi, apparently). He drops in on his old paleontologist non-friend (one of those good, progress-hating scientists) to revive the beast, which we learn is a one-million year old yeti. I’m not the most devoted cryptozoologist, but I’m fairly sure that yeti/sasquatch/bigfoot is supposed to be a contemporary of humanity, and also less than 50 feet tall… eh, what’s the fun of staying true to pseudoscience?

yeti-2

Anyway, they take the yeti up in a helicopter to revive it, since that would best simulate its natural habitat of the Himalayas (so what’s it doing in Canada?), meaning they find themselves thousands of feet in the air when the confused, frightened animal wakes up. Good one. The yeti predictably escapes, but befriends the same two children that initially found it (yes, one is a hot blonde teenager), turning just tame enough to transport to a major city (well, Toronto) before wreaking more havoc.

There’s some corporate espionage, an okay elevator scene (caution: do not ride glass elevators in the event of fire or monster attack), a random Lassie-ripoff dog, a subplot about one of the kids regaining his speech, but overall, I don’t think it was crazy enough. When you watch Sabata or Sartana, you never have any idea what frenzied twist might be around the corner, but with Yeti, it’s relatively predictable, and all covered in either King Kong or one of its sequels (with better music). I credit the Yeti itself for being different design-wise; it’s not so much a monkey suit as a makeup job, meaning that the actor has to work double-time to pass as a giant monster instead of just a giant dude (think Frankenstein Conquers The World or War Of The Colossal Beast for similar cases). The effects range from sloppy to passable, and some effort was clearly made for certain parts (they actually made full-size props for the hands and legs), but other parts left me wondering why they even bothered with bluescreen at all.

yeti-3

International cash-in movies still get made to this day (compare the Chinese movie Robot to Transformers sometime), but with internet, rapid distribution, and stricter intellectual property laws, such things are far less common nowadays. For the 2005 King Kong, the only mockbuster was King of the Lost World (from the direct-to-video purveyors at The Asylum), and even the cheapest 70’s giant ape show was better than that.

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