Monday, July 27, 2009

Shriek of the Mutilated

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.


  1. Jenn: I want to see this movie for one reason and one reason only: The scene with Spenser St. Sincair and April. What a sad, pathetic end for a fellow who once survivied the Yeti - to die fully clothed, half in the bag, in a bathtub. And as for April, you gotta love her can do spirit. I wouldn't have even thought of the toaster at such a time, with my throat cut and all; and even if I had, I just know I wouldn't have found a handy outlet.

    Also, any film that, as you say, "utterly degrades into a mess" can count me a fan; and it never hurts to have an Italian named Laughing Crow in the cast.

    Great post! -- Mykal

  2. Thanks, Mykal. The scene with Spencer and April is actually the best scene in the entire thing, seriously. It's like just there and then you sorta forget about it, along with Spencer and April, and is easily, I think, the most violent and non-sequitur sequence there.

    I would call this one a 'hot mess' but in a good way. I'm a hot mess myself, so I can relate to this movie and others like it :P Takes one to know one, as the saying goes.

    P.S. as for my slacking on the drinking, ain't no way, I'm halfway thru a magnum of cabernet and it's only 10! The night is young!

  3. Jenn: Cheers! By the way - in your avatar, is that a poster for Creature from the Black Lagoon I see over our shoulder? I knew we spoke the same language! -- Mykal

  4. It is indeed! I have him tattooed on me too. I think he's my favorite misunderstood monster :)

  5. I keep meaning to get some experience with the Findlays' work under my belt (ooer), but have yet to do so. I guess I just don't know where to start. I guess I need an expert, gentle guiding hand to help lower me into the hot mess of Findlay magic.

    I keep reading about this movie, and now I'm going to have to put it on my ever-lengthening to-be-watched list. Just from your description it sounds right up my alley. I'm a sucker for a toaster-as-murder-weapon scene, and the fact that the domestic disturbance was instigated by one too many yeti tales is just icing. Also: Yeti As Cockblocker. No wonder they call him abominable. :)

    Great choice on the Creature from the Black Lagoon tattoo! I had the idea once for a "Mt. Rushmore of Horror" tattoo--the same positioning as the monument, but with Karloff as Frankenstein's monster (Washington spot), Bela as Dracula (Jefferson), Chaney as The Wolf Man (Roosevelt), and the Creature from the Black Lagoon (Lincoln). Unfortunately I never had the money or open canvas space to get it done. :)

    I am kinda planning on a Wolf Man tatt for my next round-number birthday, though. Whether it'll happen or not, it's a beautiful dream!

  6. The Findlays truly were the power couple of 42nd Street. Roberta claims she was the first female pornographer and Mike died a bizarre death when a helicopter took his head clean off. Interesting stuff, the two of 'em.

    Yeah, I'd get mad at my man too, if we couldn't go to parties because eventually he'd just start rambling on about that damn yeti again. I don't know if I'd get toaster in the bathtub mad, but you never know.

    As far my Universal tattoos go, I've got the Creature, I've got the Bride and the Monster (they look like they're on top of a wedding cake), a Mummy on my chest (but that's my least fave and I would like to get it covered up but that shit hurt somethin' awful). I wanna get a Wolf Man, but a Naschy Wolf Man somewhere, but I'm running outta space. I like the Mt. Rushmore idea - it would look good as a backpiece.

    When I scrape together the cash, I'm going to get a piranha and a shark on the tops of my feet. I want to them on my hands, but I don't know if I'm quite ready for hand tattoos :)

  7. Another title I havent heard of thats been added to the ol wishlist care of Ms Jenn herself!

    PS - Cavalcade has been awarded a Great Reads Award:

  8. Thanks Carl! And awesome on the Great Reads! I feel so honored *blushing*

  9. Get the piranha and shark tattoos on the palms of your hand. That would be pretty rad. The guy who tatted my back had a tattoo on the bottom of his foot. Now that's hardcore. Or just plain stupid. I can't decide.