Winterbeast (1992)

Winterbeast is less of a movie and more of a film that feels like it came from another much darker version of our universe, like a VHS tape that was found in a store and someone played it and it was too much for them and it killed them, then the police found it and it caused a few of them to lose their faith in God and they’re all in a sanitarium somewhere writing all over their faces, then the government got involved and one guy snuck the tape out but his son accidentally returned it to a mom and pop rental shop that rented it out so many times that they started making bootleg copies to keep up with the demand and here we are.

Sergeant Whitman (Tim R. Morgan) and Forest Ranger Stillman (Mike Magri) have just spent the first ten minutes of this movie talking about all the mutilated bodies around the Wild Goose Lodge. Instead of the plot, this is where you’ll start to wonder why Whitman talks so close to everyone. In nearly every scene, nearly every time he talks, he’s within kissing distance of every person he speaks to, a moment topped only when three characters stand shoulder to shoulder, the camera gives a little dutch angle, they all look to the horizon and speak one at a time in a way that can’t be a conversation.

Someone has opened the Native American gate to hell — not to be confused with the traditional Italian gate to hell — and our heroes have to figure out how to put it back together. Standing in their way is Dave Sheldon (Bob Harlow), the owner of the lodge, who is given to red and plaid suits and screaming like a New England skinnier clone of Harvey Fierstein. Then, he goes wild in a scene that really I fear I don’t have the words for, slapping dead women in the face, shoving his digits into their neck wounds, dancing to strange otherworldly music and caressing other dead bodies he’s arranged around the room. It’s a big leap from someone who has been the Mayor Larry Vaughn character up until now to wildly doing some kind of vogue-like dance to “Oh Dear! What Can the Matter Be.”

It took six years, three video formats and ten grand to make this movie or so they say. I don’t think Winterbeast was made. I think it escaped. I can’t explain a movie that has multiple monsters that don’t match — demonic humans, stop motion things out of The Gate, a gigantic chicken that nearly devours Stillman, a murderous totem pole covered in skeletal bodies, a skull bursts out of a man’s chest for no reason, Sheldon wearing a mask and dancing — as well as moments where the camera lingers forever on a chicken coop or someone driving while synth just drones away.

There’s also a moment when the investigation of the box of Native American medicine man Charlie Perkins (Charlie Majka) finds not just a monster tooth, but also a dildo and not a single person mentions it.

Director and writer Christopher Thies made one movie and this is it and it’s so much more than enough. Does he have too much creativity or audacity? And how dare someone name a movie Winterbeast and it takes place in the autumn? Why would you do that? How is there so much plaid in one movie?

You know Evil Dead straight up ripped off Equinox and everyone is too polite to say something about it? This movie gets the stop motion part of those films and then says, “What if we just had a man’s head burst into flames for no reason at all?” Also, there’s a theory that the totem pole and Indian skull were ripped off from Dokken’s “Burning Like a Flame” video, which makes way too much sense.

Nothing in this movie matches. It never seems to end as in every ending there is a new beginning, which feels like a painted sign that someone puts up on their wall as if they have any idea what it means. I can come to you and say that I have no idea what Winterbeast means but also that I loved every single second of it.

It also has music by Michael Perilstein, who scored The Deadly Spawn.

Vinegar Syndrome released this on their Home Grown Horrors Volume One box set along with Fatal Exam and Beyond Dream’s Door, two movies that also push your mind into places it is not ready for.

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