‘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.
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).
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.