Review of “The Snow Creature” (1954)

Image by Wolfgang Eckert from Pixabay

As hot as it’s been lately, it was nice to see some snow, even it was artificial and older than I am. A late entry in to Saturday pizza and bad movie review:

Plot:

Botanist Frank Parrish (Paul Langton) and photographer Peter Wells (Leslie Denison) leave for an expedition to the Himalaya region to explore and document the little-known plant life of the area. They hire ten Sherpas who are, Frank Parrish assures the viewer in narration, “much like human mules under the weight of our heavy supplies.” One of the human mules, Subra (Teru Shimada), even speaks English. Just before he leaves with the expedition, he exchanges an affectionate good-bye with his wife Tara and gives her a good-luck token.

As the men climb higher, the terrain gets rougher. Wells fights the weather with a little nip from a hip flask. As it turns out, one of the essential pieces of equipment is a case of booze to make sure his flask stays full. That can’t be light carrying. At least he shares a nip with Subra.

While she’s out gathering firewood, Tara is kidnapped by a large creature (Lock Martin: uncredited and unverified per IMDB) who looks rather like a werewolf, or perhaps fuzzy mummy. Subra’s brother (Rollin Moriyama) and a few men from the village head up the mountain to find him and let him know what’s happened.

When Subra approaches Parrish and Wells about his wife’s kidnapping, they discount his story of the yeti. Besides, theirs isn’t a hunting party. They’re studying plants.

Under cover of darkness, Subra seizes the company’s firearms. He also relieves the personal weapons of Parrish and Wells of their bullets.

Subra’s mama didn’t raise no fool.

The scientific expedition becomes a hunting party. All they find of Tara is the necklace that Subra gave her before they parted.

The yeti is tracked to a series of caves (whose mysterious lighting is never explained). Understandably, Subra wants to kill the yeti with its mate and child. Parrish has other ideas. They could make a fortune. He apparently didn’t see the end of King Kong.

After some wrangling, they manage to get the yeti into a deep-freezer-sized refrigerator unit and bring him to Los Angles, where (oh, irony) there seems to be an immigration snag. Is the yeti a snow-man or an animal? Is he here legally? While the immigration department sorts the matter out, the yeti must stay locked in his refrigerator in the warehouse with other contraband.

What could possibly go wrong?

Thoughts:

In many ways, this movie is King Kong. A group goes out to explore some exotic locale and brings back an unknown creature which they then exhibit to disastrous results. (Really? A botanical mission to the Himalayas?) Instead of the South Pacific, this movie looks to the Himalayas, which would have been in the public imagination because of the 1953 ascension of Everest by New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay.

The viewer never sees the yeti in full light. Nevertheless, one would be hard-pressed to see it as a snow-man, abominable or otherwise. The immigration people don’t bother trying to talk to him to decide whether he’s human. Guess their interpreter is out to lunch.

The Westerners treat the Sherpas’ concern for Tara with disdain and dismiss the idea of the yeti as a boogeyman until they think about making money from it. Back at the police station at the city of Shekar at the foot of the mountain range, Subra apologizes abjectly for his (understandable) mutiny. Parrish and Wells decline to press charges but express no condolences on the loss of his wife. Cold bastards. But hey, they’re gonna be rich.

A rather striking aspect of the movie is that the Sherpas speak Japanese. At the police station in Shekar, Inspector Karma (Robert Kino) picks up the phone and barks, “Hai!” Nor is his the only “Hai!” in the movie. The dialogue is recognizably Japanese, even to a non-speaker such as myself. My guess is the producers chose the language because several actors were native Japanese. It might have been convenient for them, but I found it jarring as a viewer.

Overall, while the movie had its entertaining moments, I don’t think I’d watch this one again.



Title: The Snow Creature 1954
Directed by
W. Lee Wilder

Writing Credits
Myles Wilder…(story and screenplay)

Cast (in credits order)
Paul Langton…Dr. Frank Parrish
Leslie Denison…Peter Wells
Teru Shimada…Subra
Rollin Moriyama…Leva
Robert Kino…Insp. Karma

Released: November 1954
Length: I hour, 9 minutes

Published by 9siduri

I have written book and movie reviews for the late and lamented sites Epinions and Examiner. I have book of reviews of speculative fiction from before 1900, and short works in publications such Mobius, Protea Poetry Journal, and, most recently, Wisconsin Review and Drunken Pen Writing. I'm busily working away on a book of reviews pulp science fiction stories from the 1930s-1960s. It's a lot of fun. I am the author of the short story "Always Coming Home," a chapbook of poetry titled "Sotto Voce," and a collection of reviews of pre-1900 speculative fiction, "By Firelight."

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