Cover scan courtesy of VHSCollector.com.

I approached 1991's Winterbeast with cautious optimism.  It was really more like giddy anticipation.  I looked forward to watching this z-flick in the same way that my impetuous nephew, Zachary, foretells his afternoon snack.  "I didn't know you had a nephew, Dom."  I don't, but that's irrelevant.  Scaring up a copy of Winterbeast took years of sedulous patience and rueful virginity.  I recently found out that it was granted a spiffy DVD release, but fuck that noise (actually, I still want the DVD).  This monster fanatic was able to land a new, sealed videotape replete with the luscious cover art pictured above.  Oh, it's majestic.  But what's so special about Winterbeast?  Why did I covet this bitch with the prurience of an adulterer?

The short answer is that it's similar to Spookies.  Both cult classics were shot piecemeal.  They both feature a bevy of ridiculous creatures, and their storylines are equally confounding.  As we all know, Spookies is the greatest thing ever invented by man, so I have to examine any similar genre titles, however loose the association.  It's mandatory.  See, Winterbeast is a composite of random footage.  The "plot" is a vague imbroglio of senescent clichés and unspeakable stop-motion animation.  Reminds me of a joke.  What do you call a zelkafident gramp-induced exotorque?  A senescent imbroglio!  Ha!  Knee-slapper alert!  I'll wait until the laughter dies down before I continue.

We follow a group of park rangers as they look into the disappearance of a colleague.  It seems that the locals are being beheaded (and/or volleyed) by Indian spirits.  That's my synopsis.  Nothing is ever explained, and truthfully, my eyelids met on a number of occasions.  I only nodded off a second here, a second there; I'm confident that I didn't miss a ponderous chunk of exposition.  That's where Spookies and Winterbeast part ways.  I never could have drifted into oblivion during the former, while the latter pussyfoots along at a supine pace.  The dialogue is flat, most of the characters are interchangeable and the claymation...I can't even.  I provided a sample below.  That's a diabolical totem pole spying on a topless girl.  Yes, that's a sentence I just typed.

I did have fun chuckling at the shoestring effects.  Apparently, certain scenes were cobbled together in 1976 (!).  Other critters on display are a skinless dude-demon, a chicken lizard hawk and the winterbeast itself (I'm pretty sure it's the horned fiend on the cover, although it's never spelled out).  Oh, and a venerable innkeeper dons a clown mask before combusting in a spontaneous fashion.  If the entirety of Winterbeast was that fucking crazy, it would be a goddamn masterpiece.  Alas, you are forced to bear the brunt of indefatigable lethargy for the lion's share of this reel's 80 minutes.  Oy.  I wanted to love it, too.

Director Christopher Thies receives one Z'Dar for his bizarro miscreants (seriously, a voyeuristic totem pole???) and one Z'Dar for his inclusion of gratuitous nudity.  Sigh.  At least I can say that I own this spastic son of a bitch.

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