howdy, but it has been a long strange trip to this review. This was
one of the movies on my wish
list (and the first to have that cheesy "Found!"
graphic appended to it), and how it came to be there is but the first
stop on our journey.
see, back in the olden days, when I first began this site, I was (as
usual) looking for ways to dodge work, when my friend, Dave (who helped
me through my review of KISS
Meets the Phantom of the Park with helpful bits of information
like "This song rocks!!!") mentioned
that Shriek was A Movie I Should Review, and then regaled me
with tales of watching it late at night on a local UHF station, and
that, in fact, he had taped it from the selfsame station, complete with
commercials for the local Smart, Tough Lawyer *.
He even had KISS on the same tape. Now, watching these movies
with bad local commercials constitute the ideal venue, in my book, so
I urged Dave to write a review of this legendary film. He then told
me the rest of the sad story, in which his parents taped over his Cinematic
Found Art, simply because the tape was plainly labeled, "Crap".
I began my search for Shriek of the Mutilated. Dave was helpful
as always, with questions like, "Have you got Shriek of the
Mutilated yet?" and "Loser! Where's Shriek of the Mutilated?"
Thus, when I finally got a copy, we settled down to watch, and now,
somehow, I still find myself writing this review. Not Dave. Me.
So I will no longer be referring to Dave by his given name, but rather,
as The Weasel.
top all this off, this is also the review I was working on when my former
computer died in The Great Crash of 99. Yes, my old, wheezing computer,
which I had faithfully nudged along all these years, constantly improving
it, Frankenstein-like, dragging it fussing and parsing from the mire
of 486-dom into the world of the Pentium. Well, it showed me.
It took the half-written review with it.
I do recall about that review (it was over two months ago, after
all) is that past all the above complaining, I also complained that
I had to watch the damn movie again, because we were having too much
fun watching it the first time (which is a good sign). So this makes
the third time. Like a lot of movies, the third time wasn't
that much fun.
so there's this Professor Prell (Alan Brock), who is obsessed with the
Yeti. He's taking four of his graduate students on a Field Trip to investigate
Yeti sightings in what appears to be upstate New York (ah, yes, the
fabulous Yetis of Long Island). Friction, or what passes for it, develops
immediately when Prell invites his pet student Keith (Michael Harris)
out to a pre-Field Trip dinner that evening. Keith accepts, much to
the chagrin of his girlfriend, Karen (Jennifer Stock) - the two were
supposed to go to a party that night.
this is one of those movies where you don't care much about the actual
names of the characters, because you supply your own. Karen, in particular,
became Whiny Girl, which showed a lot of prescience on our part. The
other two students, Lynn (Darcy Brown) and Tom (Jack Neubeck) became
Spastic Girl and Richard Lewis - the latter because the actor had a
very superficial resemblance to the comedian, and the former because
A) she is the Odious Comic Relief of this picture; B) during the stirring
Argument Scene discussed in the last paragraph, she and Richard Lewis
are on the right side of the frame, discussing a book with far more
animation than the two squabbling lovers on the opposite side are exhibiting.
Keith goes to Prell's specialty restaurant (which, incidentally, seems
to have Eric Idle as a waiter - though it is actually a chap named Warren
D'oyly-Rhind, which has to be the second best actor name I've encountered,
right after Zandor Vorkov) ...oh,
hell, where was I? Oh, yes, Prell tells Keith how much potential he
thinks the lad has, and introduces him to an exotic dish called gin
sung, which the chef will only make for special clients..... can
anyone else see where this is going?
isn't missing much at the party, except the hit proto-electronica tune
Popcorn. Besides, the hostess has invited Spencer (Tom Grail)
and his spouse (Luci Brandt). Spencer is currently a groundskeeper,
a former student who has been an alcoholic wreck since going on Prell's
last Yeti Field trip. Upon finding that three of his fellow guests
are about to embark on a similar journey, Spencer begins to drink heavily
and speak loudly, eventually holding everyone spellbound (or something
like) as he tells the terrible tale of his Field Trip - from
which he and Prell were the only survivors. That damned Yeti!
A word about Spencer's flashback - it is, bizarrely, rendered in a completely
white reverse-negative kinda thing, which must be what it looks like
when you're about to go snowblind. It's an interesting choice, never
used again - my guess is that the original footage was a botched day-for-night
sequence (or actual night, who knows) which was found to be too dark, and then post-processed. More about Shriek's interesting
day-for-night later. We should really get back to the story now.
wife is noticeably miffed at Spence, and when he continues to drink
upon their return home, things come to a head (so to speak) when Spencer
cuts her throat with an electric carving knife. He receives his comeuppance
later, however, when she slooooowly and tortuously crawls down the hall
to the bathroom where he is soaking in a hot tub (fully clothed), pushing
a toaster in front of her. She manages to push the toaster into the
tub and fry Spencer, which shows you the advantages of having a hundred-foot-long
extension cord on your toaster. It's an odd little side trip from our
major storyline, but certainly an interesting way to pad out the running
next day our four students and Prell pile into his van (which has a
suspicious resemblance to the Mystery Machine)
and journey to Boot Island, and the residence of Prell's friend, Dr.
Waring (Tawm Ellis), who became Doug Henning to us, due to another case
of superficial resemblance. Waring has
sighted the Yeti on his island, and Prell theorizes that the beast has
become marooned there when the winter ice melted. Not that the Yeti
could figure out how to cross the same suspension bridge they had used
earlier to get there. The
flashback in Waring's tale exhibits only the first case of day-for-night
scenes which never got darkened, as there is no difference in the light
between Waring's nighttime sighting and the "next day" scene.
Whiny Girl gets frightened by a man wielding an axe; Doug Henning explains
that it's only "his Indian", Laughing Crow (Ivan Agar), a
mute, all-purpose manservant. We must pause, once again, to mention
that Laughing Crow is one of the hairiest screen Indians we have
ever run across, and that is counting the time we watched White Comanche.
Perhaps Laughing Crow belongs to F Troop's Hakawi tribe,
which was populated by Frank DeKova and other Italian-American character
actors. In any case, it is due to Laughing Crow's later antics and outrageous
mimings and muggings that he was awarded his new Indian name, Drooling
Idiot. (Dave - er, The Weasel's - helpful comment during this seminal
scene: "Ah! This guy! This guy!")
a festive dinner of what Keith identifies as gin sung (but Doug
Henning identifies as an Indian dish - have we figured out where this
plot point goes yet?), and Richard Lewis sings a song about the Yeti
that caused me to leap to my feet and shout, "He must die! This
movie owes me that!" Everybody settles in for a boring night's
sleep, and Spastic Girl does not disappoint, as she sleeps while still
wearing her early 70's enormous eyeglasses. As a lifelong eyeglass wearer
myself, I can only marvel at this character trait.
next day, our intrepid five trek through the woods of Boot Island. Richard
Lewis separates himself from the group to poach some game, so they have
something to eat besides that awful gin sung. While hunting,
he hears the dreadful heartbeat of the Yeti (oh yes, I forgot to mention
- one of the ways you can tell the Yeti is around: you can hear their
heartbeat)! Oh, never mind - it was just a loose board in a deserted
house. The next time we hear it though, it's not the board - the Yeti
jumps on Richard Lewis and kills him (thank you, movie! Thank you!)
must we pause again to consider the Yeti... it is, after all, the movie's
monster. At this point, the glimpses of the beast are quite fleeting
(they resisted all my efforts to grab a good frame). This is, of course,
all to the better, as the glimpses should have been even more
fleeting. What we do see appears to have been cannibalized from fluffy
bathroom mats and resembles nothing so much as the title character in
Disney's The Shaggy Dog. Add to that the fact that the soundtrack
is overpowered by the Yeti's "growling", which seems to be
the nonsense words "Iggly Ooogly Argh!" repeated over and
over, and you have one of your better Bad Movie Monsters.
light returns the next morning, Prell, Whiny Girl and Keith go looking
for the missing Richard Lewis. Whiny Girl finds only
his rifle... and his severed leg! Eeek! Spastic Girl, meantime,
has wandered into the Greenhouse, and spotted something there so horrible,
it sends her screaming out into the woods... and into the arms of the
Yeti! Iggly Ooogly Argh!
numbers rapidly decreasing, and the phone out of order (oh, what a surprise),
Prell decides to use Richard Lewis' leg as bait in a trap. For his trouble,
Prell gets coldcocked by the Yeti. Cripes, what else can they use for
bait in a (hopefully) better trap?.....Oh, yeah..... Spastic
Girl's body! Whiny Girl goes to the greenhouse to hide Spastic Girl's
body, but finds instead... Richard Lewis' body! She faints, and
comes to in bed, where Prell assures her it was all a dream.
night, they tie Spastic Girl's body to a tree and await the Yeti. It
comes, but makes a grab for Whiny Girl instead. Keith pursues the Yeti
into the night, following the sound of its heartbeat, which he tracks
to.... a speaker nailed to a tree. Back at the house, Drooling Idiot
is listening to the heartbeat tape, but lets it run too long, and, for
some reason, calliope music starts to play. Mystified, Keith stands
staring at the speaker (probably waiting for the next groovy tune),
until somebody knocks him out with a branch.
as we've suspected all along, Prell and company are cannibals, and the
whole Yeti thing is just their little deer blind for getting fresh meat.
Keith steals the van and tries to go for help, while Whiny Girl is being
pursued around the house by the Yeti (Doug Henning in disguise). She
finally locks herself in a bathroom with a window that's painted shut,
and she finds Drooling Idiot hiding on a cabinet with a knife. Somewhat
understandably, she drops dead of fright. This, you see, is what Prell
and Doug Henning were building up to - as part of a holy observance
of their devil cult, they need a victim who died without wounds.
meantime, has flagged down the local sheriff and brought him to the
cannibal confab, only to discover that the cop's a cannibal, too. So
is Keith, for that matter - come on, we knew what gin sung was
really made of, didn't we? Prell has been grooming Keith for
membership in their exclusive little club. Whiny Girl's body is wheeled
in, and Drooling Idiot, breaking his silence, brandishes an electric
carving knife and utters the closest thing to a famous line Shriek
of the Mutilated possesses: "Mr. Henshaw - white meat ... or
dark?" The end.
of a double feature along with Invasion of the Blood Farmers,
Shriek tries to deliver what we wanted from our drive-in fare: a mildly diverting story (which would
not rendered confusing by trips to the snackbar, or necking), and some
gore. No skin is evident, and unfortunately the long out-of-print Lightning
Video release (the only video release thus far) appears to be the edited
TV version; for a movie known as a gore
film, there is very little on display. The money shot of Richard Lewis'
severed leg is incredibly brief. The fact that we followed up our viewing
of Shriek with the vastly more gruesome Wesley Snipes vehicle
Blade didn't help the former movie's cause.
acting ranges from adequate to hideously amateurish; Keith and Whiny
Girl, in particular, show acting chops more at home
in a community theater than the big screen. There are very few actors
here with more than this film on their resumé; the Richard Lewis
and Doug Henning impersonators were both in Blood Farmers. Significantly,
the person with the most credits in his filmography is the service station
attendant in the mandatory "You ain't goin' up there, are
ya?" scene. Psychotronic claims that Tawm Ellis (that's
Doug Henning, for those of you keeping score) was in Cat Women of
the Moon, but the Internet
Movie Database doesn't confirm that; however, they have been wrong
major problem with Shriek is, of course, budget - the story,
though stupid, is at least different. It has an unfortunate tendency
to sit and tell us about things- and only Spencer's white-out
flashback and Waring's nighttime sighting get the benefit of actual
visual support. The tale of how Laughing Crow was held prisoner in the
Yeti's lair for days and Prell's encounter with the beastie are bolstered
only by theatrics on the part of the storytellers, which is a pretty
barren patch of land, frankly. The effect is like watching Screams
of a Winter Night without the dramatizations. In other words,
a slow, painful death. An absolutely cavalier attitude as to what time
of day events transpire doesn't help matters much, either.
it's far from being the worst movie you'll see - or even the
worst movie on this site. Director Michael Findlay, along with his wife,
Roberta, had been known primarily for adult films - films like The
Curse of Her Flesh or my favorite, Satan's Bed, which features
a very young Yoko Ono. They also put together the amazing film Snuff,
which rates as one of the better hoaxes perpetrated on a gullible media
and moviegoing public. Mr. Findlay, unfortunately, died in 1977 in a
helicopter crash, so we'll never know what else he might have turned
out. As it is, most people who return to the land of Shriek of the
Mutilated do so with a lightly surprised, "You know... that
wasn't as bad as I remembered."