It's mutilated! And it's shrieking! Well, not really, as you come to find out after watching Mike Findlay's 1974 Bigfoot opus, Shriek of the Mutilated. But I could really care less about the actual shrieks or mutilations as long as I get to watch a guy in a furry costume run around scaring kids. I'm a huge Bigfoot fan, whether he may or may not cause shrieks and/or mutilations.
The movie begins as Dr. Prell ends his lecture on cryptozoology and prepares to take his four students (apparently Yeti Studies isn't that popular a major) - Tom, Karen, Lynn, and Keith (his star pupil) on a Yeti hunting expedition on Boot Island, about six hours north of the college. He invites Keith to a special dinner, while the rest of the gang heads off to a party, Karen being a little miffed since Keith's her man and she wanted him to go with her, but whatevs.
Later on at the party, which is for some reason centered around a movie theatre popcorn machine in the middle of the apartment's living room, ex-student-of-Doc Prell's-turned-alcoholic-janitor, Spencer St. Sinclair shows up with his wife, April. (Doesn't St. Sinclair sound like a vintage stripper name?) Everybody rolls their eyes; apparently Spence doesn't "do well" at parties. Karen engages Spencer in a dialogue about the time he went on a Yeti-focused field trip with Prell. Well, she couldn't have said anything worse to poor ol' Spence. Swilling vodka and gesturing wildly, Spencer goes on to tell the partygoers the horrors of that fateful day some seven years ago, where his whole expedition was killed by a mysterious creature, with he and Prell being the only survivors.
Let's check in on Keith. He's having dindin with Prell at a very exclusive establishment off campus. It's exclusive because the professor tells us it's exclusive. The whole conversation between Prell and Keith is very cryptic and Prell takes it one step further and orders some mystery meat, his 'usual dish,' for Keith to try. Keith digs in, questions nothing, and listens and nods in the appropriate places. Seems Prell has some big plans for Keith, but what they are, we aren't quite sure yet.
After Spencer's tirade, he and April return home. April's pretty pissed; she'd like to just go out one time, just one time, without having to hear how Spencer escaped the the furious yeti. She throws her coat at him and he retaliates like any drunk who's escaped a crypto-legend and then became a janitor would, he cuts her throat with an electrical serrated blade. He then grabs a Bud and heads to the already full tub, getting in with all his clothes on. April's not done for yet though, and has the resourcefulness to crawl from the kitchen to the bathroom, dragging the toaster behind her. One quick plug in into the outlet, and another quick push into the tub, and Spencer's toast.
The next day, Keith, Prell, and the gang head on up to Boot Island, to the house of Prell's good friend and colleague, one Dr. Carl Werner, who reminds me a bit of a less flamboyant David Lochary. The kids are also introduced to Carl's housekeeper, a mute Native American chap, who looks more Italian really, named Laughing Crow. The irony wasn't lost on me. Karen's a little unsettled by Laughing Crow's demeanor - he tends to lurk quite a bit - but everyone else seems cool with the weirdness and everyone settles in, Tom even singing an original song about a Yeti with piano accompaniment.
Dr. Carl tells the crew about a recent Yeti encounter - he heard a noise or something and grabbed a rifle, and saw a furry white bipedal creature in off in the woods a distance. It's exciting stuff and the next morning, Prell and the kids venture out into the woods in search of the Yeti. Tom eventually looses the group and wanders off on his own, thus becoming the first victim of our fuzzy wuzzy costumed critter.
When Tom doesn't return, Lynn gets very upset because she was hoping to do sexy times with him that weekend, and Carl and Prell assure her Tom is an experienced woodsman and will find his way back to the house eventually. To calm herself the next morning, Lynn takes a walk out to the greenhouse, and discovers, what I'm assuming, is Tom's body inside, and runs freaking out into the woods, becoming the Abominable's second victim.
Karen has officially decided when they find Lynn's body, that something ain't right goin' down, so she pleads with Keith to leave. She implores Keith to get her the hell out of there, but Prell and Carl have convinced Keith to help them use Lynn's body as bait to lure the Yeti close to the house so they can catch it in this teeny tiny little wolf trap.
After this, the whole thing utterly degrades into a whole mess about a secret cannibalistic theatrical society with global membership. Seriously. Karen dies of fright, everyone stabs Keith with some forks, and we find Laughing Crow wasn't a mute after all. White meat or dark, indeed!
Honestly, I didn't think a Findlay could have made a movie like this. If you're not familiar with the Findlay's work, please check them out - they made some of the sickest, so sick you need shots, movies of the exploitation age. And while SotM has none of the trappings of the other Mike Findlay features I've had the (un)pleasure of watching, this movie is a great time! This was probably the fourth or fifth time I've seen it and I never get tired of it. I could ask for a bit more Bigfoot action (greedy, greedy), and the explanation about the presence of the creature is a little lacking, but the whole absurdity of the conclusion leaves me reeling. L.O.V.E.I.T.
And what kinda soundtrack to you think a movie about Yetis, secret devil cults that eat people, and the Saturnalia would have? Yeah, classical sounds just about right.