Don't Bother · Science Fiction

Lessons from The Snow Creature: How to Sabotage Scientific Discovery

Look out! It's the Snow Creature! Image: dkjf dj
This is a Yeti. Hint: he’s scary. Image: Monster Kid Classic Horror Forum

What do you consider to be the greatest scientific discovery of this generation? Would you say it’s a medical, technological or astronomical discovery? Perhaps the discovery of a previously unknown species trumps all.

Well, then, imagine our excitement when we discovered The Snow Creature (1954), a film about the discovery of a Himalayan creature known as a Yeti.

The Snow Creature is representative of 1950s sci-fi/horror films, many of which are labelled “so bad, they’re good”. The plot usually involves monsters and/or aliens that attack planet earth while a handsome young scientist feverishly works to destroy the beast.

Today’s film is likely the worst of this genre – it’s so bad, it’s bad. If that weren’t enough, director W. Lee Wilder and scriptwriter Myles Wilder are blood relatives* of legendary Hollywood director Billy Wilder. [Insert face palm.] Let’s just say, judging by this film, these two apples fell far from the Wilder family tree.

However, not all is lost with The Snow Creature. It was released the year after the first confirmed summit of Mount Everest by Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary in 1953, and you can’t blame it for capitalizing on that historic event. It also has sets that appear to be authentic, e.g. real mountains, a real airport, and a real storm sewer.

The plot involves a snow creature that terrorizes Himalayan villagers and kidnaps women. It’s eventually captured by an American botanist (Paul Langton) and brought back to the U.S. for scientific study.

The great thing about these kinds of movies is Something Always Goes Wrong. The Snow Creature is no different. In fact, our movie provides valuable lessons in how to botch a major scientific discovery.

The Snow Creature in his natural environment. Image: kdjf ken fjdf
The Snow Creature in his mountain playground. Image & Review: Monsterminions

1. Have contempt for locals who carry your supplies and field equipment. They’re just waiting for an opportunity to be mean and drink your liquor. (Never mind that your team photographer drinks steadily; a Sherpa with a taste for liquor must not be tolerated.)

2. Don’t ask probing questions when you first discover the creature. Questions are stupid, anyway, such as: What does the Yeti eat? How many are there? Why does it kill people all the time? (The big question for us: How come it never sits down?)

3. A scientist is a scientist is a scientist. The man who captures the Yeti is a botanist. (You must overlook the fact there no plants – not even office plants – in this movie.) Who needs a biologist or anthropologist for this research? Any egghead with a PhD will do.

4. Do not study the creature in its native habitat. Field study is for suckers. It’s much better to order a custom-made refrigerated booth (similar to a telephone booth), and ship this remote Himalayan creature to a large coastal city like Los Angeles. Everyone knows creatures are best studied when they’re snatched from their natural environment.

5. Don’t worry about the creature having a “calculating brain” until you arrive at U.S. Customs. Officials will determine if the snow creature qualifies as livestock, or as an immigrant.

6. Leave the creature in the care of an inexperienced guard. The Yeti, annoyed that it hasn’t killed anyone lately, will break out of its telephone-booth prison. You can only imagine the murderous rampage that ensues.

The Snow Creature is a study in awful-ness (bad script, unlikable characters, sloppy monster costume). But if you know all these things going in, you might find it not so bad after all.

*W. Lee is Billy Wilder’s brother. Myles is Lee’s son.

The Snow Creature: Paul Langton, Leslie Denison, Teru Shimada. Directed by W. Lee Wilder. Written by Myles Wilder. United Artists Corp., 1954, B&W, 71 mins.

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20 thoughts on “Lessons from The Snow Creature: How to Sabotage Scientific Discovery

  1. An excellent (if cruel) writeup of a movie that could perhaps best be described as “ignored by the Academy.”

    a handsome young scientist feverishly works to destroy the beast

    The movie’s actually quite original for this genre in that it doesn’t supply him with a shapely assistant.

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    1. Yes, the dearth of strong female roles in this movie would make for a interesting blog post on its own. (Not that a shapely assistant – who will inevitably need rescuing – is a strong female role.) I don’t think the scientist’s wife had any speaking lines but he did enough talking for the both of them, so maybe it evens out in the end.

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      1. Not that a shapely assistant – who will inevitably need rescuing

        That’s all that she’s there for, in most of these movies. “Shapely but otherwise useless,” as my wife once tartly remarked.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Ruth, your post about THE SNOW CREATURE had me cracking up! Perhaps W. Lee Myles hoped to get good luck from his famous cousins. What cracked my up most was that somehow the creature reminded me of James Whitmore with tons of mud on him! 😀 Thanks for the laughs, my friend, and have a great Sunday!

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  3. Excellent cut-out-and-keep guide for my next Himalayan expedition. Must also remember to discard the teddy-bear onesie I prefer to hike in, lest I be mistaken for a yeti*

    Jokes aside, this is a wonderfully witty write-up Ruth (genuine LOLZ) and in spite of your derision, my love of so-bad-it’s-good movies convinces me I need to see this. Also, props to Wilder & Wilder for not including a female assistant. Surely a redeeming factor?!

    *Disclaimer: I don’t actually hike or own a onesie.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha! Your comments almost made me spew my tea all over my laptop. Excellent! I love your description of the “cut-out-and-keep guide”. Perfect!

      True story: When I was a young lass, I was in a skating show and my costume was a furry brown onesie, much like the Snow Creature. Now, if I can find it before hiking season starts next summer…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post, so funny and true. Have to see this, I love these types of movies anyway but it’ll be more fun now with your list in mind. This year I too saw some questionable noir work by these Wilders that made me look up if they were actually related. There are times when I’d happily wear a fur onesie, for example snowmobiling through the drive thru to pick up my timbits.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bahahaha! I had an uncle who had a ski-doo onesie – it was his Snowmobiling Outfit & it always smelled of gasoline.

      I’ll have to check out this “noir work” of which you speak. Maybe it’s available on YouTube?

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  5. What a funny post, Ruth! I laughed all the way through the list of “how to botch up a scientific discovery” and then all the way through the comments! My favorite line was about the fact that the scientist was a botanist with “not even an office plant”. My husband and I like to watch movies like this every once in awhile just to get a good chuckle. We actually own some. They are movies my husband saw as a child, and he likes them just because he saw them when he was a child. By the way, the Yeti does look like James Whitmore at first glance, and then at 2nd glance he looks like the guy that I always mistake for James Whitmore because they look similar, but I don’t know his name. He was always on The Big Valley. I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for this one, but I don’t think I’ll be buying it!:)

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    1. Movies like this can be a lot of fun. Really, it’s almost staggering to think of the incredible variety of monsters/space aliens that filmmakers invented in the 1950s. A very creative bunch!

      This film does seem to have a cult following, so maybe I was too hard on it. But I would save your money and spend it on something better, like a colony of giant man-eating ants!

      Liked by 1 person

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