Man Beast - Jerry Warren's Most Entertaining Film
Michael W. Miller | Franklin, VA | 11/03/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Okay, I realize that's not saying much, but this is an entertaining picture much in the way that Ed Wood and Phil Tucker movies are entertaining. This is one of the 3 Abominable Snowman pictures released in the 50's. This version is much better than the BORING Snow Creature and more campy than Hammer's Abominable Snowman. Plot involves a young woman in search of her brother who is on an expedition to find the Yeti. Warren has stolen some footage of mountain climbing, but obviously spent more time trying to match the footage in this film versus his other spliced up messes. There is enough plot information in the Editorial review and the VHS review. Let's discuss the merits of the DVD. As with most Rhino DVD's, you get the movie and that's it. The picture is okay. Not spectacular, but not bad. Certainly nowhere close to an Image Entertainment release, but much better than a Retromedia DVD. Unlike other Rhino DVD's, the sound is consistent and you don't have to crank the sound on your TV. This version is certainly acceptable and worth the low price."
Not a great film, but not as bad as advertised.
Michael W. Miller | 04/30/2001
(2 out of 5 stars)
"True, it would be difficult to come up with a list of three people with worse filmographies than the director of Man-Beast, Jerry Warren. But he evidently had not learned enough to do absolutely everything wrong yet in this 1956 creature feature, his first foray into flicks. The acting is lousy, the budget is minuscule, the direction is bad (when it's not stock footage) and the overall film-making quality is negligible, but somehow it manages to be more entertaining than its more intelligent and more highly-regarded Hammer counterpart, The Abominable Snowman. This is due primarily, in my thinking, to the fact that we ACTUALLY SEE THE MONSTERS (cheap and lumpy though they be)! Yes, I know, a gradual build-up of suspense is important, and one never wants to reveal too much too soon, but in the Cushing film that revelation is the whole point. A thousand pardons to zealous Val Guest fans, but whoopty-doo. Man-Beast builds to an adequately satisfying suspense climax, and the motivations of the titular character(s) and their cat's paw are pressingly evil, ringing more true than in the later film. In addition, some of the action in Man-Beast takes place in darkness. In "Snowman" it is mostly in the light, or else in badly-composed day for-night scenes. Still, if you don't like fairly ludicrous 50's drive-in fare, there is no way you will be able to stomach Man-Beast. Yet again, if you don't like fairly ludicrous 50's drive-in fare, you wouldn't click on a movie called Man-Beast. Sit back, enjoy, and experience a time we will never recapture."
"There it is...Yeti country."
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 05/24/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Producer, director, writer, and all around hack (I use the term `hack' in the nicest, possible connotation here) Jerry Warren (Teenage Zombies, Curse of the Stone Hand, The Wild World of Batwoman) may not have been as prolific as some in his field (about 11 features in all), but he did manage to leave his mark on the collective consciousness, that mark being akin to a nice sized skidmark one might find in a pair of used underwear. Prior to his importing and subsequently hacking the hell out of a handful of Mexican features, Warren did actually make movies from scratch, Man Beast (1956) being his first, and oddly enough, most watchable. Produced and directed by Warren, the film features Asa Maynor (Under the Yum Yum Tree), Tom Maruzzi, in his only silver screen appearance, and George Skaff (The Incredible Petrified World, Topaz), along with Lloyd Nelson (The Incredible Petrified World, A Bullet for Billy the Kid), and George Wells Lewis. Listed in the credits, but not actually appearing in the film, is one Rock Madison, a fictitious individual created by Warren with the intent on making the cast of his relatively meager production seem larger (Warren claimed Madison played the character of Lon Raynon, who supposedly was edited out of the film prior to its release). Madison would go on to get credit in Warren's 1965 feature Creature of the Walking Dead.
The movie begins with an establishing shot of the snowy Himalayas, and from here we see two individuals arriving at a lonely outpost. We soon learn they are Connie Hayward (Maynor) and her beau Trevor `Hud' Hudson (Nelson). Seems Connie has come looking for her brother Dr, James Hayward, one of the individuals who signed on with a prominent anthropologist named Dr. Eric Erickson (Lewis) in his expedition to locate an abominable snowman, or, as the locals call them, a Yeti. At the outpost Connie and Trevor hook up with a man named Steve Cameron (Maruzzi), who agrees to help them find Dr. Erickson's party. As the trio head up the mountain, Trevor starts in with the bellyaching, and eventually they catch up with Erickson and his guide named Varga (Skaff). The larger group heads towards camp, where James is supposedly located, only to find the camp in disarray and nobody home. Connie eventually spills the beans about her brother and his medical condition (seems he's on some sort of experimental medication that doesn't react well to high altitudes), and the group begins searching for James, but all they end up find is trouble in quite a few forms, including poison pill, so to speak, within their own group. Things get a little hairy, literally and figuratively speaking, as they do, in fact, discover there are Yeti alive and well living high in the Himalayas, and they don't much care for visitors...some interesting revelations are made, and it soon becomes apparent no one may get off the mountain alive...
I've seen a handful of Jerry Warren's films, and I have to say, Man Beast is probably one of his better movies...which really isn't saying a whole lot given some of his excrementally rotten features like The Wild World of Batwoman (1966) or Frankenstein Island (1981), but I thought it interesting that his first is probably his best, relatively speaking. The story does have some rather huge holes in the plot, and a number of loose threads, but overall, it ain't half bad, especially considering I was expecting a lot worse. I did learn a few things while watching the film including the following...
1. While it may be difficult to breath at extremely high altitudes, smoking certainly isn't an issue.
2. One of actor Lloyd Nelson's abilities was that of being able to scream like a twelve-year-old girl on cue.
3. The climate in the Himalayas is such that one can get by with a windbreaker, a skimpy hat, and no gloves.
4. Anthropologists, while enthusiastic to a fault, aren't terribly bright.
5. Yeti creatures seem to spend their days sitting around in the snow, peaking out from behind rocks, and starting avalanches.
6. Yeti are not covered in fur, but hair, much like men (and sometimes women) from the Mediterranean.
7. If you take a standard gorilla suit and spray paint it white, you have yourself one fine Yeti costume.
I mentioned plot holes earlier, the biggest one here, in my mind, is Connie's reasoning for looking for her brother. She claimed at one point he was taking some experimental drug, and that it had been recently discovered said drug didn't react well in high altitudes. I thought for sure this drug, in conjunction with the high altitude, was going to result in her brother turning into a Yeti (perhaps explaining the recent Yeti activity), but the story never went in that direction, ultimately turning her whole motive into a rather flimsy one at best. What was really funny was throughout the movie she's determined as hell to find her brother, so much so she follows him up a mountain, but the second some hairy, relatively benign beasts make the scene, she's ready to split, like quick...what about James? James who? The story did have a fun and interesting twist involving Varga near the end, one I didn't see coming at all, so that made things worthwhile for me. As far as the performances, most were adequate (George Skaff was entertaining), but Asa Maynor, who played Connie, came off the worst. She was obviously new to this whole `acting' thing at the time, and a quick look at her credits does indicate this was her first feature, so it wouldn't hurt to cut her some slack. One of the things I liked about this film was the fact it didn't drag things out too much, as the running time is barely over an hour. There are lengthy scenes of people trudging through the snow and appearing to climb mountains, so if that kind of thing gets you all wet and squishy, you're in for a real treat here. Warren keeps things moving along fairly well, and provides a good sense of forward flow, aspects not necessarily found in some of his later works. As far as the snowmen, yeah, they were hokey, but for a cheapie B horror/adventure movie from the mid 1950s, they weren't half bad. I would have liked to have seen the creatures mix it up a bit more than they did with the characters, but oh well...maybe they're truly pacifistic in nature (they didn't seem to mind bonking the occasional person on the head with a rock, though).
The picture quality, presented in fullscreen, on this Rhino Home Video DVD release looks decent enough. There are lines and aging elements present throughout, but nothing overly intrusive or bothersome. As far as the audio, I'm unsure the format, but it does come through surprisingly clear and crisp. There aren't any extras, but there is a scene index, for what it's worth.
If abominable snowmen movies are your bag, I'd highly recommend checking out the Hammer Studios feature The Abominable Snowman (1957), featuring the Peter Cushing and Forrest Tucker, directed by Val Guest.
SOMETHING IS AFOOT - - - - BIG-FOOT THAT IS!!
Heather L. Parisi | St. Augustine, FL USA | 01/17/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"IN A NUTSHELL: A DECENT "B" SCI-FI/HORROR FLICK - NO GORE, VIOLENCE OR SEX!
This film seems to be rather interesting, busy and purposeful, but looks can indeed be deceptive.
WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT: THERE IS SOMETHING AFOOT -- BIG-FOOT THAT IS!
An expedition to the Himalayas is followed by a trio of intrepid amateurs in search of Connie Hayward's, [Virginia Maynor] soon to be found to be missing, brother. There's alot of chasing around in what looks like snow, and somewhere, in the thick of things, there is an expedition to find, yes, the always elusive Yeti.
Without giving away what plot surprises there are, be advised that in this film you will indeed see what the filmmaker is passing off as the mysterious Yeti. But, there is more, lots more, and that is the reason to see this film. You see, there is something that is not quite right going on here, and in each of the last four expeditions there were fatalities and missing people. Indeed, something is afoot, Big Foot that is, and this element of the plot may make this film worth watching, at least once.
THE ACTORS AND PRODUCTION CREW:
Rock Madison - Lon Raynon
Virginia Maynor - Connie Hayward
Tom Maruzzi - Steve Cameron
Lloyd Nelson - Trevor Hudson
George Wells Lewis - Dr. Erickson
George Skaff - Varga
Jack Haffner - Kheon
Jerry Warren - Director / Producer
Victor Fisher - Cinematographer
Josef Zimanich - Musical Direction/Supervision / Composer (Music Score)
ABOUT THE VIDEO: AVAILABLE NOW ON DVD
The version of the film I have is the "Acme Video Edition". It is in B/W and plays in the "SP mode", and was recorded in "Hi-Fi" so the resolution of both the audio and video are actually quite good, especially for a 50 year old low budget film. There are NO special features.
LOOKING FOR HIGHER PRODUCTION VALUES? CONSIDER VIEWING ---
"The Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas", 1957, Directed by Val Guest and Starring Peter Cushing and Forrest Tucker.