Yeti: Giant of the 20th Century

Aka Yeti – il gigante del 20. secolo & Big Foot. Starring Antonella Interlenghi aka Phoenix Grant. Directed by Gianfranco Parolini aka Frank Littlewords.

In the wake of Dino’s KING KONG remake came many endless knock-offs and flix “aping” the formula, such as APE, et al. One such picture was the cult fave YETI: GIANT OF THE 20TH CENTURY (1977). To call it laughable is to rob it of its much sublime pleasures, such as the wondrously horrid score (complete with theme song pop singers billed as The Yetians — no joke!) and Ed Wood ghost-directed special non-effects.

Unless you already have seen YETI, it’s truly hard to prepare yourself for the jaw-droppingly bad surrealism ahead. In many aspects, the production values are so hit-and-miss (one moment polished, the next crazily not) that it feels a bit unkind critizing YETI for being anything other than what it is. After all, it’s not like we’re going to see the director’s cut or special edition of this anti-classic any time soon.

The Kong-sized plot has too many twists and turns to bother delineating, but the essence is obvious enough: a giant-sized Yeti is found frozen in the Artic. Of course, it doesn’t take the humanoids long to figure out a way to defrost the big guy, and — as soon as some corporate espionage subplots play out — let Yeti loose in the streets of downtown Toronto to do what shrieking Sasquatch do best in Bigfoot flix: wreack havoc.

An elfin-looking (read “gay”) kid minus the ears (played by Jim Sullivan) and the smoldering “Jane” (played by stunning Antonella Interlenghi, who later starred in CITY OF THE WALKING DEAD) are part of the background scenery, standing in as a pair for Jessica Lange. While neither as diverting as eye candy nor as well-acted, at least there is some vague hint of lusting sensuality and sexual tension just beneath the surface performances by the duo (though it may simply be the director’s subconscious desire to sleep with both actors creeping through the lens, who can say?).

And speaking of repressed sexual conflicts, try this one on for, er, size: Yeti is nothing more than the male sexual desire run amok, not unlike Moebius’ Id run amok is the

source of the nightmare in FORBIDDEN PLANET. Every towering phallic symbol Yeti sees around him once “freed” in the city threatens him and his “issues” about his size (or lack thereof, if Bigfoot lore in this highly-controversial area of genitalia is to be believed without skpeticism). Trapped in a gigantic jungle of turgid towers that never go “flaccid,” Yeti’s sexual Ego is so threatened that it responds the only way it knows how: with ape-shrieking fists of poundin’ fury! While true believers in Freud are now wretching, true believers in The ‘Squatch know whereof we speak and are nodding their heads.

Was any of this clap-trap really there, even subconsciously, when the director made YETI? Probably not, especially judging from the aesthetic results, which indicate sheer production alone was a challenge beyond attainment in many cases. But the absence of any visuals or themes suggesting otherwise makes YETI a curiousity piece worth considering, then, as well, as the naive display of directorial bravado on hand reveals much to the patient viewer who seeks to speculate on motives that were perhaps not addressed on set but were nonetheless preserved on film.

After all, who is to say what “matters” most in an artist’s work later, much later, in history? The cultural zeitgeist of a by-gone era is often better captured in the original time’s heights by those trying to “emulate it” rather than those who truly began it, as the former often reduce what is “working” about the pop mythos and distill it (with a potency about like moonshine, to bootleg!).
Kind of like the way a crappy Xerox only

retains the bare, contrasty bones of a document after so many copies. In this sense alone, YETI: GIANT OF THE 20TH CENTURY truly lives up to its billing; you’ll be searching your collection many late hours trying to find a flick that tops “Worst of the 20th Century” better — or is that worse? — than YETI.– Notes by J.J. Gittes.

What Critics Say:

  “A director’s tour de farce. It is one of the worst films ever made. Finding that out was a sublime pleasure which only z-movie afficianados can appreciate… be literally dazed by the less than special effects, crappy storyline, and bad sets which make up the crazy world of YETI!” — Bristolsales,

“Prepare yourself for the attack of the 50-foot Oak Ridge Boy!… the gigantic Abominable Snowman with the world’s largest mullet.” — Program Notes, SCHLOCKTOBERFEST ’03

“So low is the budget that the yeti and humans practically never share the same frame…topping it off is an atrocious musical score which often sounds like a cheap reworking of Excalibur’s ‘Camina Burana,’ at a few points with embarassing lyrics sung my ‘The Yetians.'” — Mike Martinez, KULT MOVIE MAXIMUS

“Features some of the most hilarious blue-screen ‘giant’ effects you’ll ever see, but my personal favorite effect is the enormous, immobile Yeti legs they built for one scene where the filmmakers actually dare to place Yeti and the humans in the same shot… a must-see for all fans of bizarre cinema.” — Acidxian,

“I saw this movie while I was in the Navy. For free. In an outdoor theater, which was lucky, because otherwise I would have had to batter down a wall to get away… stands out in my personal experience as the single worst movie I have ever seen.” — Lanzman,

“An ok monster flick, compared to the hundreds of horrendous American flicks made. Way better!!!!” — GreatMovieCritic4ever,

Zontar, Thing from Venus