Friday, April 27, 2007
Movie Review: SHRIEK OF THE MUTILATED
aka SCREAM OF THE SNOWBEAST
Directed by Michael Findlay
Are you like me? Do you hate to follow “rules”? I really hate following rules, even ones I’ve made up myself. In keeping with this anti-authoritarian attitude, I have decided that Worldweird’s “no movies from English speaking countries” is just too limiting. How can we really delve deep into the world of weird, weird cult films without covering one of the world’s most bizarre exploitation industries, that of my own country, the good ole US of A! Our inaugural item to review for this issue is none other than Michael Findlay’s’ absolutely ridiculous Yeti opus SHRIEK OF THE MUTILATED and we may never be the same again …
SHRIEK is utter mess of a ramshackle cinematic debacle. Unlike the director’s 60s peak with the astonishing “FLESH trilogy”, this monstrosity can boast very little in the way of anything approximating artistic intent or methodology. This is pure exploito dreck. But it’s exploito dreck which is fairly damned entertaining and even a bit unpredictable. Well, sort of. There’s a creepily obsessed Anthropology professor who will stop at nothing to get evidence of the existence of the Sasquatch, even risking the lives of his annoying students (who all look about 10-15 years too old for college, at least) to get it. With a fresh batch of idiots in tow, our fearless leader takes his crew to an isolated island wilderness where his ponytailed pal, (who owns the island I guess, do professors really make that much money?), holds court on the subject of local Yeti sightings. Things seem fishy from the start, since the host, while encouraging his friend’s obsession also seem strangely detached from it all. He’s more interested in bossing around his “Native American” assistant Laughing Crow (who’s obviously just some New Jersey meathead sporting an “Indian” headband) who he claims “takes good care of him”. Hmmmm, I bet he does. Befitting a film from the maker of so many perverse 1960s soft-core epics, SHRIEK does have a hint, just a hint, an underlying current, of kinky weirdness. There’s not really any overt sexuality in the movie (a shame since one of the chick students is quite the busty little looker), but there is an almost unhealthy subtext, the whole plot seems to be a masked reference to a kink-filled sexual underworld and its beastly machinations. Or maybe not.
Then there’s the Beast itself. And what a monster it is! Absolutely the most stupid, ridiculous fuzzy-bodied Animalman this side of TURKISH STAR WARS is unleashed upon our dim-bulb co-eds and lots of really fake looking bloodshed enthusiastically ensues. Most of the time the Yeti is seen in just-out-of-focus long shot, disappearing into the haunted woods. It’s almost effective. Close-ups of the creature towards the end tend to break up the magick but offer up a moose-load of unintentional guffaws to more than make up for the lack of any real terror on display. Of course all the mysterious and suspicious behavior reveals a somewhat obvious plot-twist, but that twist is itself twisted and the conclusion works over your expectations with the unveiling of a sinister plot of an International Secret and Ancient Order of Satanic Hippie Cannibals. While the prettiest and most idealistic of our young students meet a particularly bummer of a conclusion at the hands of the slathering mute (Or is he?) idiot Indian Laughing Crow, who is definitely the only character who you end up caring about in this silly little potboiler. And that’s only because, again, he’s obviously just some Italian musclehead hired at the last minute because he was willing to undergo the humiliations the role required. What a good sport.
Not the best horror movie you’ll ever see by a long shot, but it is maybe the best Yeti-Witchcult-Doomed-Co-ed movie directed by a legend of New York Roughie Cinema you’re likely to come across. Michael Findlay was a genuinely talented film-maker although this is not his best hour and a half. He would dredge his way through the hardcore porn world for a few years after this oddity before meeting an unfortunate end in a helicopter accident while planning a 3-D Kung Fu movie in Hong Kong. While THE CURSE OF HER FLESH or ULTIMATE DEGENERATE are far preferable to this greasy little celluloid morsel, enough of his talent for underhanded perversity shines through that it emerges as a fun and severely peculiar evening’s worth of grubby entertainment. Dig in, though it might get a little messy. Not to mention furry.