Mysterious Two (1982)

Mysterious Two (1982)‘People of tomorrow; it is the twilight of today!’

A strange couple claiming to be in touch with extraterrestrials bring their followers together outside a small town in the desert. The local sheriff’s department struggles to contain the crowds as everyone awaits salvation at the hands of an all-powerful alien race. But is the whole thing just an elaborate con?

Odd made for television project from writer-director Gary Sherman that was originally filmed in 1979 but not broadcast until the early summer of 1982. The story begins with our old friend; footage of a NASA rocket launch. Unfortunately, this one ends in a fireball. Next we meet our golden couple (John Forsythe and Priscilla Pointer) at some abandoned buildings in the desert. Talk with an incoherent vagrant tells us that this is an old missile base. Forsythe proclaims that it’s ‘perfect’ and, more importantly, that ‘It’s Time’! (pretty much all he says over the next 100 minutes). We are left to assume that this is the old NASA launchpad mothballed after the opening tragedy, but there’s no need to worry about it. That incident gets mentioned again.

From there, Forsythe and Pointer emerge from a bright light in a hole in the ground to bring their followers together. The acolytes become what amounts to a loose kind of hippy commune and the vast majority of the runtime is spent dealing with their riveting relationship problems and fascinating stories. There’s whiny James Stephens (our narrator) looking for his runaway girlfriend (the even whinier Karen McLarty), there’s a black couple who have sold their car and another woman who is pregnant and wants her baby to be the first human child born in outer space (or something? l don’t know, l was kind of zoning out by then). Anyway, it’s all completely fascinating. Forsythe and Pointer turn up every now and then in white robes and tell everyone to wait and that ‘It’s Time!’ ( I should really put that in capital letters). Eventually, the faithful are spirited away to the missile base in a fabulous alien craft (ok, it’s actually a School Bus!) where there’s a permanent dust storm and lots of bright lights that flash. And that’s about your lot.

Perhaps Sherman was attempting to make a serious film examining the nature of cults, and the people who follow them. It’s a subject worthy of examination, but one that requires a far more in-depth approach, rather than the series of soap drama vignettes that he provides. And there’s also the suspicion that he was unsure of his own point of view. Are Forsythe and Pointer on the level, or just charlatans? The film backs out of the question, and provides no real resolution. It is possible, given the closing narration, that this was actually the pilot for an intended series where Stephens would try to track Forsythe and Pointer down and rescue McLarty. If so, we can only be grateful that it never happened.

Mysterious Two (1982)

‘Is it ‘Time’ yet?’

Sherman’s subsequent career included zombie horror ‘Dead and Buried’ (1981) (hilariously banned during the trumped-up Video Nasty scare in the UK), ‘Wanted: Dead Or Alive’ (1987) with Rutger Hauer and ‘Poltergeist Ill’ (1988). Not a notable record, especially considering his debut had been gritty, subterranean horror ‘Death Line’ (1972) with Donald Pleasance.

There are some familiar faces in the supporting cast here; Noah Beery Jr plays the sheriff toward the end of a long career stretching back to the 1930s. He played  a jungle boy in ‘The Call of the Savage’ (1935), and supporting roles in more notable productions such as ‘Of Mice and Men’ (1939), ‘Sergeant York’ (1941), ‘Rocketship X-M’ (1950), ‘lnherit The Wind’ (1960) and the ‘7 Faces of Dr Lao’ (1964). By this point, he was famous as James Garner’s old dad on long-running detective show ‘The Rockford Files‘. His Deputy here is played by  a young Robert Englund, a few years before he pulled on the sweater and razor glove of Freddy Krueger for ‘A Nightmare On Elm Street’ (1984).

The story was loosely based on the real-life exploits of self-styled ‘UFO missionaries’ Marshall Applewhite and Barbara Nettles, who were famous enough to be the subject of national media scrutiny at the time. By all accounts, their group was financially well-off by the end of the 1970s so whether the fear of legal problems prompted the network’s decision to shelve Sherman’s film for 3 years is a possibility. It is true that the group were less active by the time it was broadcast. Somewhat ironically, that was in the same month that Forsythe began his 217 episode run as Blake Carrington on soap juggernaut ‘Dynasty.’

Tragically, real life proved to be far more dramatic than Sherman’s lifeless fiction. Applewhite rebranded his group a few years after Nettles died as ‘Heaven’s Gate’ and became fixated on the approach of Comet Hale-Bopp. When the local sheriff’s department broke into their mansion in the San Diego area in March 1997, they found all 38 members had committed suicide at Applewhite’s instruction, and that he had taken his own life as well.

As l say, there is an important film to be made on this subject, but Sherman’s effort is sadly lacking in depth or insight. And in any entertainment value whatsoever.


Skullduggery (1970)

Skullduggery (1970)‘That funny looking babe ain’t gonna puke on my upholstery.’

Two rogues trick their way onto a scientific expedition because they suspect valuable minerals can be found in the jungle interior. However, the lead anthropologist also discovers a tribe of ape-like humans, who may prove to be the ‘missing link’…

Unusual adventure flick with touches of romance and comedy that swerves drunkenly into more serious science fiction territory in its second half. The premise is fairly simple; rascals Burt Reynolds and Roger C Carmel manoeuvre their way onto Dr Susan Clark’s safari into the uncharted jungles of Papua New Guinea with less than noble motives. He’s the charming bad boy and she’s the uptight brainbox, so there are no prizes for guessing where that’s going, although it gets there much earlier than the audience might have expected. At least in the physical sense. Establishing their relationship is necessary to fuel character motivations later on in the picture, but their courting ritual is stretched out over the entire first act, which takes up about half of the 100 minute running time.

Although some of these proceedings are gently comedic, we get a hint that the project has problems with an early scene where Reynolds recklessly defies a local taboo. As a direct result, the safari’s headman gets a spear in his stomach and plunges to his death. Reynold’s character is obviously culpable for his demise, but the incident never gets mentioned again. Perhaps the guy simply wasn’t important. Anyway, it obviously doesn’t matter as we get straight back to the romantic sparring between Reynolds and Clark.

The discovery of the long lost tribe, christened the Tropi, is decently handled and the makeups are not too bad given the vintage of the film. So, up until the hour mark, the film seems to be a mildly pleasing lightweight adventure story, if a little on the bland side. Then the film takes a massive misstep, and simply never recovers. Reynolds and Carmel go back to civilisation to realise their money-making scheme, and enlist the help of rich scientist/businessman and all-round bounder Paul Hubschmid. Several months pass in the snip of an editor’s scissors and their jungle mining operation is firmly established with the Tropis being used to work the claim!

Bearing in mind that Clark knew nothing about their dodgy plans, she’s seems perfectly fine with it as long as she can carry on with her tests and observations. She even talks about mating one of her subjects with a human being in the hope of producing offspring! So the film has suddenly got serious. It does seem to take a while for everyone to get on board with this abrupt change in tone, however, because there’s still time for some romantic comedy with our mismatched leads, accompanied by appropriately light-hearted music. Then Hubschmid reveals that he is bankrolling Clark’s breeding programme because he wants to create a cheap global workforce and cash in! This triggers a serious change of heart for Reynolds, and a couple of very sudden story twists send everyone into the courtroom for the ridiculous final act. This tries to mix humour with tragedy as well as deliver a significant message, and fails on all counts.

Skullduggery (1970)

‘I, uh… sold the Denebians all the rights to a Vulcan fuel synthesizer.’

It is interesting to see Reynolds before he became a major star, although he had already established leading man credentials in minor projects such as ‘Navajo Joe’ (1966) and ‘Sam Whiskey’ (1969). Clark played opposite Clint Eastwood in ‘Coogan’s Bluff’ (1968) and became a leading lady throughout the 1970s, with a role in excellent Sherlock Holmes-Jack the Ripper rumble ‘Murder By Decree’ (1979) and an Emmy nomination for a TV biopic about Amelia Earhart. Carmel will be forever celebrated as the duplicitous Harry Mudd on the original series of ‘Star Trek’.

Original director Richard Wilson was fired by producer Saul David on the very first day of shooting and replaced by Gordon Douglas, who had worked with him on James Coburn spy satire ‘In Like Flint’ (1967). Douglas did have a lot of experience, including working with Laurel & Hardy, many Westerns programmers and wrangling giant ants in classic 1950s monster mash ‘Them!’ (1954). He’d also delivered several successful crime pictures starring Frank Sinatra in the 1960s. Sadly,  he never gets a firm grip on the material here.

The screenplay was based a 1952 novel by French writer Vercors; real name Jean Bruller, and there is the kernel of a good story here. Unfortunately, the film bungles it completely. Things simply happen far too quickly in the later stages, and the initial light-hearted approach is at variance with the attempts at social relevance that follow. Keeping Reynolds and Clark’s romance in the background and ditching the more comedic aspects would have allowed more time to be spent on developing the transitions between the story’s main events, and helped to keep a more consistent tone. As it is, the second half seems hopelessly rushed and fairly silly. Yes, there are some important messages about the exploitation of native people, the corrupting influence of civilisation, and the nature of what it is to be human, but they’re delivered in such a ham-fisted and muddled way that they fail to make any kind of an impact.

Reynolds blamed the film’s failure on indifferent direction and the lack of a good promotional strategy, although he did praise the script. It may be that the end results were simply a case of post-production interference in a misguided effort to make the film more commercial.

Whatever the circumstances, it’s a deeply unsatisfying mess.

The Big Space Journey/Bolshoe Komicheskoe Puteshestvie (1975)

The Big Space Journey (1975)‘I’d like to reward the excellent work of the crew…with an ice cream.’

Three new cosmonauts are chosen to accompany a veteran commander on a mission into space. Unusually, they are all 13 year olds; two boys and a girl. When the commander falls ill and is quarantined, they are ordered to take over the running of the mission…

Scientific hi-jinks from the Soviet Union cheerfully targeted at a juvenile audience. Writer-director Valentin Selivanov may have been inspired by compatriot Richard Viktorov’s double-header ‘Moscow-Cassiopeia’ (1974) / ‘Teens In The Universe’ (1975) but he delivers a more realistic take on the concept, leaving out wacky alien robots and ditching any silly romantic nonsense almost entirely.

Of course, the nation’s film industry had a long history of putting science fiction up on the big screen; films like ‘Aerograd’ (1935), ‘Cosmic Voyage’ (1936) and ‘Road To The Stars’ (1958) were part of the Soviet propaganda machine, unfailing in their positive presentation of man’s advancement through science; provided it was in the safe hands of the heroic men and women of the Soviet Union, of course. By the 1970s things had relaxed a little, and filmmakers such as Andrei Tarkovsky were allowed a certain amount of flexibility, although the authorities were still quick to intervene if anything appeared too controversial. So, while we are spared some of the more obvious flag-waving of earlier films, this effort still sails very safe waters indeed.

Our three heroic astro-teens (and representatives of the grand Soviet) are Sveta (Ludmila Berlinskaya), Fedya (Sergey Obtazov) and Sasha (Igor Sakharov). The purpose and justification of their mission remains a mystery throughout; we don’t know why children are being sent into space, or what they’re supposed to do when they get there. Instead, Selivanov’s screenplay simply gives them a series of life-threatening situations to navigate (and yes, we do get the obligatory dangerous shower of meteorites). Unfortunately, there’s little for the audience to invest in, because we find out so little about these youngsters. The only character notes are provided by some very brief inserts of their time back on Earth; a go-kart race accompanied by a sudden song being a particular favourite. The SFX and model work are not too tragic, although they do look badly dated by today’s standards.

The Big Space Journey (1975)

‘I think we should realign the whatchamacallit and recalibrate the thingamajig.’

The film also lacks a consistent tone; generally it’s serious but it does include a couple of bizarre dance routines! Somehow there’s also a ship’s cat on board, a full four years before Jones took a ride on the ’Nostromo’ in Ridley Scott’s ‘Alien’ (1979) (Mind you, I always thought he was in league with the Xenomorph anyway).

The story develops on fairly predictable lines with the kids solving a few technical problems that interfere with the flight, before a ‘twist’ ending that should surprise no one. Still, we do get a cameo from real-life cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, who talks direct to camera at the end, although his predictions for our future in space have proved woefully over-ambitious.

None of the young cast when onto significant careers in the acting business, with only a handful of credits between them. In fact, Berlinskaya never acted again. Writer-Director Selivanov helmed one other film – ‘Dnevnik Karlosa Espinoly’ (1976) and had a few other scripts produced. The brief nature of his career is not really all that surprising, considering this underwhelming project.

Completely forgettable children’s science fiction that fails to deliver anything of consequence.


Star Odyssey/Sette Uomini D’Oro Nello Spazio (1979)

Star Odyssey (1979)‘Sol 3 is better than I thought it was when I bought it.’

An alien slave trader wins the planet Earth at auction and launches an invasion in order to secure the raw materials of his business. The situation looks hopeless until a gang of swashbuckling mavericks with special skills step into the breach to try to save the day…

In the wake of the global explosion of ‘Star Wars’ (1977), many filmmakers rushed their own space operas into production in all corners of the world. Most of them only had one go at the genre, but some were markedly more enthusiastic. Take a bow, Alfonso Brescia. Under the name of Al Bradley, the Italian director delivered four such pictures in the space of a couple of years, five if you count ‘The Beast In Space’ (1980) (although we probably shouldn’t as it was a semi-porno.) Of course, he recycled the same sets, costumes and SFX, and even some of the same actors, most notably Yanti Somer, who was the female lead in most and appears here.

The last of Brescia’s quartet of space epics doesn’t waste any time in getting started (more on that later), with big bad Kess of Kol launching an immediate alien invasion that leaves the Earth at his mercy. The authorities simply can’t deal with him, even though his main weapons seem to be badly integrated library footage of big explosions and androids in silly blonde wigs prancing about in the woods. Mankind’s last, worst hope turns out to be freewheeling Professor Ennio Balbo and his ragtag bag of misfits who operate on both sides of the law (try not to yawn, Ladies and Gentlemen). These include dapper Gianni Garko, who sports black leather trousers and a nifty shirt with a glittery spider design. His hypnotic powers allow him to see through cards at the local casino (useful thing this hypnotism stuff!) and break scientists Chris Avram and Malisa Longo out of intergalactic prison (‘It’s a terrible bore being under the freeze ray for a warm-hearted girl’.)

Strangely enough when Garko’s well on his way to work the jailbreak via a cut-price Millennium Falcon, he finds himself right back at the card table in the casino, and the blonde he’d helped win earlier is still playing her numbers game across the room. Then we see Kess  of Kol buying the Earth at auction (which we kind of thought that he’d already done?!) So, what’s happening? Has the film a complex flashback structure? Or does it have a mind-bending timeline in the tradition of director Christopher Nolan? Um, probably neither. It’s far more likely that the editor simply got the reels of film mixed up and put some of the scenes together in the wrong order! l’m not even joking.

Star Odyssey (1979)

‘Don’t make it so…just don’t.’

Once we’ve passed this strange temporal anomaly, we’re treated to the scientists spending most of the running time trying to isolate something to counterattack the alien substance ‘lnderium’ (ln the end they call it ‘Anti-lnderium’ folks!) We also get ‘comedy’ (l use the term very loosely) provided by two bickering robots in love (the girl ‘bot has big eyelashes!) There’s also a pedal bin with flashing lights that stands in for R2D2.

After about an hour, our zeroes do finally manage to achieve something when they get their hands on some lnderium Swords (cough; lightsabers; cough). There are no big space battles, but we are treated to Norman (Roberto Dell’Acqua) taking part in the Android-Human World Championship where he squares off in the ring against an eight foot tall tin can called Hercules. And we also get uptight Nino Castelnuovo as Lt Oliver ‘Hollywood’ Carrera who has a ridiculously paint-on Errol Flynn moustache.

As 1970s Science Fiction goes, this is predictably dreadful stuff (which ‘Star Wars’ knock-offs weren’t?) but it’s actually worse than most due to its almost total lack of action and annoying ‘humorous’ elements. There’s a second (third?) hand feel to everything, and it’s no surprise that Brescia abandoned intergalactic exploration shortly afterward (if you forget the porno!) Unfortunately, he did return to the fantastical arena with dreadful ‘Ator The Invincible’ sword and sorcery fiasco ‘Iron Warrior’ (1987).

Rather brilliantly, in this film some of the supporting cast appear ‘in alphabetical order’ in the starting credits. It actually says that. Only it seems that a mighty strange alphabet was used. Because they don’t. Not even close.

Take my word for it; the whole thing’s best avoided.


Digby The Biggest Dog In The World (1973)

Digby The Biggest Dog In The World (1973)‘Wunderbar! That is staggering. The fresh peas on their way to Mars, the spring cabbage on Jupiter.’

Billy gets a new dog from a rescue centre close to a NATO laboratory where they are experimenting with growth hormones. The friendly canine accidentally gets a dose of the secret test powder, grows to gigantic proportions and gets kidnapped by a pair of unscrupulous crooks. They sell him to a circus, but the authorities are closing in…

Family friendly comedy patterned after the live action vehicles that were arriving in British cinemas on a regular basis courtesy of Walt Disney Studios in the late 1960s and 1970s. The entire set up of the film is basically explained in the title, and this homegrown UK product is boosted by a roster of comedy faces familiar from national film and television.

Leading the charge is ‘Carry On’ veteran Jim Dale as an accident prone animal psychologist working on the base. He’s busy trying to win the affections of lab assistant and single mum Angela Douglas, whilst irritating straight arrow base commander Dinsdale Landon. Problems arise for the hapless Dale when Douglas’ young son brings home his new pet. Grandfather won’t allow the dog in the house and so a temporary stay at Dale’s home seems in order.

Unfortunately, he’s grabbed some of the growth hormone for his roses (yes, it’s not Shakespeare, folks!) and the mutt puts his hairy paws where they don’t belong. Trying to hide the ever-expanding canine, Dale’s antics convince his neighbour (anarchic comic Spike Milligan with a silly German accent!) that he’s a few chunks short of a can of dogfood and, to make matters worse, a couple of burglars stumble across the secret and decide to cash in.

There’s nothing very surprising about director Joe McGrath’s film, and Michael Pertwee’s script leans heavily on tried and trusted story developments and familiar slapstick gags. These include laboratory director Milo O’Shea mistaking a chattering chimpanzee for his wife on the phone. The presence of Milligan is quite the welcome surprise, although an early gag when he mistakes one of Dale’s arm-waving gestures as a Nazi salute is a little questionable, and he disappears from view about halfway through the picture anyway.

Digby The Biggest Dog In The World (1973)

It made a change from ‘leaves on the line’…

Elsewhere it’s almost a who’s who of British 1970s comedy with appearances from Frank Thornton, Victor Spinetti, Sheila Steafel, Henry McGee, Victor Maddern and Bob Todd. Some of the sequences with the burglars resemble the kind of physical comedy favoured by Mack Sennett and Hal Roach in the early days of Hollywood, although the participants should probably should be wearing black masks, stripy t-shirts and carrying ‘Swag’ bags. The SFX are acceptable if you’re in a kind mood.

Pertwee wrote mostly for British TV but did have a brief excursion to the US, working on ‘A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum’ (1966) and scripting the Rock Hudson-Gina Lollobrigida vehicle ‘Strange Bedfellows’ (1965). McGrath contributed to all-star Bond extravaganza ‘Casino Royale’ (1967) and also called the shots on Peter Sellers’ misfiring satire ‘The Magic Christian’ (1969). As an Old English sheepdog, Digby was a well-worn cultural reference point for UK audiences as one of his fellows had been used to advertise Dulux Paints for many years on national television. In fact, the popularity of the campaign was such that members of the breed are still often referred to as ‘Dulux dogs’ in the UK today.

Viewed without the benefit of nostalgia, the film does overstay its welcome a fair bit, and a late attempt to tug on the heartstrings does seem a little forced. Still, it is inoffensive entertainment aimed at kids, and probably hit the mark when juvenile tastes weren’t so sophisticated or demanding.

A forgettable, knockabout comedy which raises the occasional smile.


Beyond The Bermuda Triangle (1975)

Beyond The Bermuda Triangle (1975)‘UFOs came down and snatched these things and people away.’

A newlywed couple mysteriously disappear when travelling in the Bermuda Triangle and a friend of the family begins looking for them. Meanwhile the bride’s young daughter begins hearing her mother’s voice…

Just 10 months after the ABC TV Network debuted its fairly silly film (‘Satan’s Triangle’ (1975)) about the great maritime mystery of The Bermuda Triangle, rivals NBC came up with their own take on the question. Opening with a short pre-credit sequence, we see a shot of the ocean accompanied by the significant proclamations of VoiceOver Man, who sounds particularly important here. This sea was ‘never meant for man’ apparently, and maybe ‘not for God’ either! Wow.

Unfortunately, nothing that follows in the next 75 minutes is remotely as entertaining as that. Instead, the film focuses on the extended family and friends of retired businessman, and yacht captain, Fred MacMurray, who is throwing a party on board to send a newly married couple on their way. The husband tests speedboats for designer Sam Groom, and so naturally chooses one of these to take his new bride to their honeymoon destination on Bimini. One spinning compass and scrambled radio message later, and they’ve vanished.

MacMurray and Groom look into it as the authorities are typically clueless, recruiting the boat builder’s old flame Donna Mills to look after the bride’s daughter, Dana Plato. She keeps hearing her lost mother’s voice. And that’s about your lot. So little happens in the course of the story that it’s almost criminal. We get one static talking scene after another and when Groom’s boat breaks down because of a ruptured fuel line, it’s actually one of the film’s highlights. The SFX consists of some very brief blinking lights on a couple of the actor’s faces.

Beyond The Bermuda Triangle (1975)

‘Ask them if my paycheque’s cleared yet.’

Performances are as flat and lifeless as Charles McDaniel’s pointless script, which consists of character interactions so predictable that staying awake until the climax becomes a serious challenge. And it’s really not worth it anyway. The film presents no real resolution to its story and ends on the biggest damp squib that you can possibly imagine.


MacMurray was a bona fide Hollywood star back in the classic studio era, appearing to great box office effect in lightweight entertainment such as ‘Little Old New York’ (1940) and ‘The Lady ls Willing’ (1942) (opposite Marlene Dietrich), before turning to the dark side in Billy Wilder’s riveting ‘Double Indemnity’ (1944). His fame translated into the television era too; as the lead on the hugely popular sitcom ‘My Three Sons’, which ran for 12 years. This film was his penultimate screen appearance, as he unwisely returned to the big screen one more time for Irwin Allen’s disastrous ‘The Swarm’ (1978), which would have been enough to persuade anyone to call it quits.

Groom found fame on TV as ‘Dr Simon Locke’ and Mills on 236 episodes of ‘Dallas’ spin-off ‘Knot’s Landing.’ Director William A Graham was in the chair for TV movies of the week such as ‘Police Story: The Freeway Killings’ (1987), ‘Death of A Cheerleader’ (1994), and ‘Guyana Tragedy: The Story of lim Jones’ (1980). He also worked on three episodes of ‘The X-Files.’ The 11-year old Plato found fame on sitcom ‘Different Strokes’ before the end of the decade, but died in 1999 after her life spiralled into a toxic mixture of drink, crime and drug use.

ABC’s ‘Satan’s Triangle’ (1975) may have been pretty idiotic, but at least it had some energy to it, and therefore a level of entertainment. This effort has none. How it got past the script stage and into production is a bigger mystery than anything that the film presents, apart from maybe how a seasoned professional like MacMurray got attached to it.

The sort of project that gave the ‘Made for Television Movie’ label such a bad name in the 1970s.


Yeti: Giant of the 20th Century (1977)

Yeti Giant of the 20th Century (1977)‘They’re having lunch with that Yeti.’

A rich industrialist bankrolls an expedition to the frozen wilds of Canada, where they discover a giant yeti frozen in the pack ice. Thawing it out, they put it in a glass box hanging from a helicopter, and bring it back to life. It forms a bond with the tycoon’s grandchildren, but goes on the rampage when they are threatened by rival business interests…

Dino Di Laurentiis’ remake of ‘King Kong’ (1976) was always going to sell tickets, irrespective of the quality of the finished film. The visionary producer was one of the first to realise the potential of the ‘summer blockbuster’ after Steven Spielberg had cleaned up with ‘Jaws’ (1975) a year earlier. To that end, he mounted a publicity and merchandising campaign that was unparalleled for its time, and the hype ensured box office success. Obviously, this did not go unnoticed in other parts of the world, and several filmmakers were quick to ‘pay tribute’ with such similarly themed projects as ‘The Mighty Peking Man’ (1977) from Hong Kong, ‘A*P*E*’ (1976) from South Korea and the ‘comic’ antics of ‘Queen Kong’ (1976) from the UK.

Veteran Italian director Gianfranco Parolini was also quick to rise to the challenge, delivering this effort tied in with the legend of the Abominable Snowman, and persuading old mate Tony Kendall from their ‘Kommissar X’ series to take part. Parolini (under his usual Frank Kramer alias) opens his tale with disgruntled Professor John Stacy being approached by friend and filthy rich capitalist pig Edoardo Faieta with a proposition to mount an expedition to the frozen wastes. The script, which is cheerfully vague throughout, never mentions why or what they might be looking for, but it doesn’t matter as Stacy refuses outright. Only in the next scene he is supervising a gang of flame throwing goons who are toasting a pair of giant hairy feet sticking out of a block of ice. Nice cut, Mr Editor.

This is the giant yeti, of course, who was apparently discovered by Faieta’s young nephew Herbie (Jim Sullivan) in a scene that we don’t get to see. Looking on are his teenage sister (Antonella lnterlenghi) and mysterious, suave and ruggedly handsome company executive Kendall. When old hairy wakes up, he’s naturally a bit unimpressed, what with hanging in a big box from the bottom of a strange, noisy flying machine. The poor guy doesn’t have a lot of cultural reference points, having been frozen millions of years ago in the Himalayas before floating to Canada, thanks to the disintegrating ice floes, which we saw as stock footage beneath the opening credits in a different aspect ratio from the rest of the film.

Yeti Giant of the 20th Century (1977)


Anyhow, Old Hairy gets all ‘touchy-feely’ once he meets the kids and their dog Lassie. It’s good news for the audience too as he finally stops screaming like a bargain basement Godzilla. Stacy reasons this sudden friendship is because they’re all wearing furry coats (including Lassie). Bravo, Professor! Pick up a Nobel Prize on your way out.

Unfortunately, Faieta exploits the creature’s fame via his new clothing line and various other bits of tat, including ‘Yeti Petrol’. This doesn’t go down well with his business competitors, especially as he rapidly corners the market in tacky t-shirts and monster-themed motor fuel products. So various goons attempt to sabotage the Yeti’s visit to Toronto; framing him for murder and being rather unpleasant to the kids once they tumble to what’s going down. Old Hairy takes exception to this, of course, and much mayhem follows…

Not surprisingly, this is a pretty wretched project. The Yeti is realised by dressing bearded actor Mimmo Crao in an all over furry body suit, and getting him to clamber over a few unconvincing model skyscrapers. Most of the time, though, he’s simply badly superimposed onto other footage, usually not colour corrected. Interactions with other members of the cast are limited to his big, furry hand, and lots of the crowd footage looks sourced from a film library. It’s nice to see Kendall in a different kind of role, but he seems to be just phoning it in, along with the rest of the cast. The only exceptions are Crao and lnterlenghi, who at least seem to be trying (although a little too hard in Crao’s case).

Yeti Giant of the 20th Century (1977)

‘What? The Yeti’s fallen down the well again?’

The film wasn’t a career boost for anyone. Crao never acted again, and it was a decade before Parolini made another movie. Kendall and Stacy never recaptured their 1960s glory days, when Stacy had a role in ‘The Agony and The Ecstasy’ (1965) with Charlton Heston, and Kendall ran around glamorous European capitals with Parolini and a bevy of gorgeous girls, pretending to be James Bond.

Sixteen year old lnterlenghi was making her debut here, and hers was a brief career, remarkable only for a major supporting role in Lucio Fulci’s notorious splatterfest ‘City of the Living Dead’ (1980).

Of course, if you love bad movies, this is well a worth a watch, but it’s one of those films where the laugh-out loud moments decline rapidly due to the endless repetition of the same faults. On the bright side, at least the young Herbie does get a slow-motion ‘lovers’ reunion with a blood-splattered Lassie at the climax.

And ‘The Yeti Song’ is performed by ‘The Yetians’. So there is that.