A famous and well-regarded professor at a local college is putting together a group of select students to head to a small island to hunt for an elusive Yeti. The professor hopes to capture the creature or kill it; either way proving its existence and therefore validating a lifetimes-worth of research and belief. The students go along pretty eagerly. They want to be famous, too. There is nothing special about them; they’re all just average college students, not hunters, not trackers, nothing that would seem of importance on such a quest. Once on the island, they meet a friend of the professor and his Indian servant. The students and teacher go on an organized expedition to explore certain areas of the island where the professor’s friend claims there’s been recent activity. Some of them meet their doom, of course, murdered by the Yeti. Those who survive want to leave, but the professor forbids them, and soon they are all under attack, with only a couple able to survive the next night of terror. They stay alive, only to find out that a greater horror awaits them…
There were so many times I passed over this film when I was a kid renting movies, despite its garish cover art and its compelling story of Yeti vs. man. Something told me to stay away; the movie looked like it might be cheap and very dumb. I was correct in that instinctual reaction, but here’s the thing, years later, finally watching the film, I’ve found that I love it. No, it’s not very good. You really have to stretch your credibility to claim that this movie isn’t anything but a turd. The acting is about as wooden as a plank, the “monster” is a man in an awful suit with a painted face who wears shoes, there are many “day for night” sequences where it is inky black one minute and bright as noon the next, all in the same continuous action series. The plot itself is bearable until it becomes absolutely ludicrous that the students don’t just pack up and drive away, especially after fellow students start dropping dead. There’s that whole racist bit with the Indian character who is obviously white. And did I mention how laughable the monster was? Seriously, when it’s chasing people down to kill them, it cavorts like a little kid buzzing on acid. This movie isn’t very good. But…there comes a moment, if you’re patient, when the story take a bizarre twist, and although that twist is as ludicrous as what came before it, somehow, it works. These bastards managed to explain almost every deficient aspect of the movie (except the day for night bungling and there’s still no explanation for why the students didn’t just leave) and actually have it all make sense. Yes, it is ridiculous, but by God it was fun. I’ll give them credit; they knew what they were doing all along.
Made by the notorious pair of independent filmmakers Michael and Roberta Findlay (read his bio about his bizarre death), Shriek of the Mutilated is a movie I found quiet endearing, despite or maybe because of, it’s awfulness. Here was a group of people dedicated to making a movie about a Yeti and they had the zeal and the spirit to not only pull it off, but to make it wildly entertaining. I’ll take a dozen movies like this over the usual Hollywood dreck any day. Give me passion and heart; it will triumph your good taste and big budget every day of the week. And that’s what this film is made of: all passion, all heart, with a loving lack of common sense.