Bad Movie Monday: Winterbeast (1992)

My favourite kind of bad movie is the kind that has such crazy twists and turns, and is so borderline incomprehensible, that it makes me go “WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?” when the end credits roll. The kind of movie whose editing seems to have been done by a drug addicted colour blind monkey with ADHD and two left hands. The kind of movie that doesn’t dwell too long on little minute details like acting or writing, or having scenes be in order. The kind of movie that feels like it was made by aliens trying to imitate human emotions, badly. So, with this in mind, today’s review is for a movie that embodies everything I love. WINTERBEAST is one of the more bonkers Bad Movie Monday entries that I’ve torture… I mean, entertained my friends with in a long time.


Quick Recap! When COVID shut down everything in early 2020, I started an online bad movie night get-together with some friends that we eventually dubbed “Bad Movie Monday”. The premise was simple: We’d torture each other every Monday with the worst trash we could find, tell a few jokes, cheer each other up, and in the process maybe discover some weird obscure cinema that we might never have seen any other way. This series of reviews will feature highlights of those night, along with some of my favorite trash, so you can all share in the fun and maybe get some ideas for your own movie night.

I had heard of WINTERBEAST before, but I just never got around to watching it until recently. Maybe it was because the poster makes it look like a recent film, which is something that always turns me off. To me, the golden era of trash cinema is the seventies and the eighties and the nineties. That’s when affordable film making equipment met youthful enthusiasm and sincerity in a beautiful symbiosis. Anything outside of those decades is often of “lesser” quality. Movies made in the thirties and the forties and the fifties and the sixties usually have too much filler and seem to be edited by the Sloth from ZOOTOPIA, and anything from the 2000s on up is often too self-aware or self-referential for its own damn good. I’m not saying there aren’t any great golden turds to be found, but it’s less of a certainty that you’re going to find something really epic like WINTERBEAST. Because, trust me, this is epic.

SO WHAT’S THE STORY, JEREMY?

Let me, badly, sum it up. People are eaten by monsters while vacationing at a mountaintop hotel and two park rangers investigate the multiple disappearances, discovering that it may be due to some vague Native American curse. Yeah, there’s more to it than that, but do you really care? There’s stop motion monsters, wildly erratic editing, nostalgic 80s era film grain, actors who act too little, actors who act too much, some quite magnificent and gratuitous showing of breasts, and flannel as far as the eye can see. It’s a thing of beauty really.

PREDICTIONS, PROMISES, AND PONDERINGS!

#1 – Music by Casio is always a welcome treat. It’s certainly a mark of bad movie excellence.

#2 – One of the first things I noticed is that this movie is called WINTERbeast but takes place in the Fall. Yeah. We’re off to a bad start. There’s not even any snow.

#3 – That said, things literally perk up with some honest to goodness gratuititties. Gratuitous breasts always make things better. Bless you ma’am! You’re doing the lord’s work.

#4 – This movie was filmed over a period of several years, using wildly different actors and types of film stock, and it really really really shows.

#5 – I’m not going to divulge when this particular scene is going to happen, but there is a moment in the film where I squinted at the screen and said something along the lines of “Why is there a dildo in that box?” which was quickly followed by another moment where I said “WHY IS NO ONE TALKING ABOUT THE DILDO IN THAT BOX???”

#6 – The stop motion animation sequences in the film are a lot of fun to watch. Steve Fiorilla, who has like four credits on IMDb, did the effects. He’s like a bargain basement Ray Harryhausen, and I say that with sincere admiration of what he accomplished.

#7 – I was going to make a joke about the fact that two Park Rangers are investigating several missing persons cases, but apparently this is a real thing. Park Rangers are considered police officers and can totally arrest you. They even have special agents to perform more complex investigations. Who knew?

#8 – My favourite character in the film is probably the hotel owner. The actor totally commits to the role. I mean, if you’re going to be in a terrible movie might as well be the most memorable thing in it, right? There’s also a scene of him dancing while wearing a mask that’s right out of an Italian Giallo. It’s legitimately disturbing and weird.

#9 – One more thing I noticed is that this movie is called WinterBEAST and yet has many beasts. So both parts of the title are lying.

#10 – As an added bonus of terrible-ness, you’ll notice that some of the actor’s names aren’t spelled consistently between the title sequence and the end credits. For example: Lissa/Lisa Breer, and Dori May Kelly/Kelley. Bravo Sirs and Madams. You managed to be as good at proofreading as I am.

WAS IT REALLY BAD?

Oh yeah! It was bad. This is total trash. However, so what? It’s a lot of fun. More importantly though, it’s efficiently edited and fun. The filmmakers, either by design or accident, assembled their footage into a very peppy story. You never get bored. Time doesn’t endlessly stretch on as if you’re trapped in the waiting room at the end of Beetlejuice. You don’t start itching to do something else. Instead, you sit in rapt silence as you watch this pure perfect madness unfold. This is everything a good movie is, except it isn’t “good” in the sense that we usually apply it. In a way, this is almost art. Albeit slightly demented art, but since when is that a disqualification?

The film stars Tim R. Morgan as Sergeant Bill Whitman, Mike Magri as Ranger Stillman, Charles Majka as Charlie Perkins, Bob Harlow as Dave Sheldon, Lissa Breer as Ranger Bradford, and Dori May Kelly as Barbera. It was written and directed by Christopher Thies.