Saturday, May 03, 2014

Winterbeast = Re: Bane Twits

Note:  This is a review that was originally posted on Epinions.  With the closing of the site, at least to new content, I've begun to move my old reviews here.  This is one of them.

It’s hard to say what makes one movie a cult classic while another fades off into the sunset.  Some, like Plan 9 From Outer Space, were so bad that they became famous for being bad.  Then, there are those, like Winterbeast, that I hadn’t heard of until I saw it mentioned on  So, I headed over to Netflix to see just how bad it was.

The movie starts with some sort of bad horror sequence.  After this odd sequence, Ranger Bill Whitman goes in to work at the ranger station.  One of the other rangers, Stillman, is already there taking a report about a ranger who is “gone” as in dead.  Whitman and Stillman figure that the missing ranger stayed out overnight putting up trail markers or something.  All of this is distracting them from sitting around looking at girlie magazines.  Stillman even has a deck of playing cards with pictures of naked women. 

Speaking of naked women, we cut to a woman is getting undressed in the local inn when a really tall monster attacks her.  The monster is tall enough that it can forcibly take her from a second-story room and kill her by beating her against the wall.  I know that it’s a horrible, random way to go, which is to say nothing of the stop-motion animation.

Several more people are killed in horrible, random manners leaving the rangers to wonder if something’s really going on.  Bill wants to put up signs warning people that there may be dangerous things going on around the trails, but Sheldon won’t have any of it.  You see, Sheldon owns the local inn that I was talking about.  Telling people that there’s something dangerous in the area could be bad for business.  (Apparently, it’s better to let a few customers be attacked and killed.)

It turns out that Sheldon has a connection to what’s going on.  A ranger finds the grave of one of Sheldon’s ancestors, but is killed before she can tell anyone.  Whitman and Stillman find him at the inn dancing to an old recording of "Oh, Dear! What Can the Matter Be?"  It’s official:  This guy is totally out of his gourd.  It doesn’t matter, though. We’re not going to have to worry about Sheldon much longer.

From here on out, the movie gets weirder, more disjointed and has a few more deaths.  I mean, I can’t even begin to explain how it unfolds.  It just happens.  The movie ends with the main demon/beast being dispatched.  At least, we hope so.

The tag line for the movie was, “It Must Be Seen To Be Believed.”  This pretty much describes it.  According to the Internet Movie Database, filming was started in 1976.  The project was abandoned, only to be resumed in 1989.  (Two scenes survived from the original filming.)  This may be the primary reason why the movie looks so bad.  It’s not that it’s disjointed.  It’s more like one of those story projects where several people each write a chapter and pass it on to the next person, except that each person only had a vague idea of what the other people were doing.

For instance, the first scene at the ranger station had Whitman and Stillman talking, but it looked like the lines were written after the scene was filmed.  There are cases where the voice doesn’t match the lip movement if there’s any lip movement at all.   The film quality also varied.  Usually, it wasn’t that bad, but there were some scenes where it looked like the film wasn’t developed properly.

There’s a reason that the movie is listed on a site for bad movies.  I could understand if you were going for a cheesy look, but this movie just sucks.  Even if you were going for a really crappy movie, you could have done better.  The acting is wooden and the script isn’t very well developed.  It’s like the story is used to string together some bad stop-motion animation.  I wouldn’t be surprised if, when the writers realized that they ran out of story, they resorted to drugs.  (Note to legal department:  I’m not actually alleging the use of illicit drugs.  I’m just saying that the possibility exists.)

This movie is not suitable for children.  The DVD that I got from Netflix started with one of the characters saying, “Holy s__t!”  Then, you have these monsters that could give small children nightmares.  Add to that the violence and a story that even an adult has trouble understanding and you have something that children should not be exposed to.

In fact, I’d almost recommend that most adults stay away from it, as well.  The one scene that I really liked was the one of the inn proprietor dancing.  It was bizarre, but was at least entertaining.  I think that it makes the rest of the movie worth sitting through.  If you can find a clip of just this scene, I wouldn’t bother renting the rest of the movie, though. 

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