Yeti: Giant of the 20th Century is a 1977 Italian monster feature film, originally titled Yeti – il gigante del 20. secolo.
In Newfoundland, Professor Wassermann (John Stacy also in Wild Beasts and Modesty Blaise) leads an expedition to study a huge being found encased in ice, at the behest of Daddy Warbucks-like businessman Morgan Hunnicut, who, the big sneak, is looking to exploit the behemoth for his own financial gain.
A somewhat flawed plan to defrost the beast by putting him in a giant telephone box and lifting him by helicopter to Himalayan-type atmospheres, results in the yeti (Mimmo Crao, fresh from appearing in Jesus of Nazareth!) breaking loose and causing havoc.
Kidnapping Hunnicut’s granddaughter, Jane (Antonella Interlenghi, City of the Living Dead), possibly unaware she was only seventeen at the time, prompts Warbucks and his representative, Cliff (Tony Kendall from The Whip and the Body, Return of the Living Dead and When the Screaming Stops) to recapture the monster and take him to Toronto where yet more misunderstood mischief takes place. Any similarities between this and King Kong are purely superficial, you understand.
If you thought Dino De Laurentiis had cut corners with his much-derided 1976 version of King Kong, you must prepare yourself for a cinematic vision whose utter incompetence challenges brave new frontiers of rubbish, to such an extent it may even amount to genius. More accustomed to helming gunslinging flicks, director Gianfranco Parolini pulls out all the stops and then drops them on the floor in this ‘challengingly-budgeted’ attack on the senses.
The Yeti itself is a stunning feat of imagination and hair, Mimmo Crao sporting an outrageously coiffured bouffant ‘do, looks as confused as anyone but carries off the role with as much dignity as you might expect from a giant snowman.
The relationship between the yeti and Jane is rather eyebrow raising, due in no small part to her rather young age and a scene involving the yeti’s nipple which I found confusing watching it on video in the 80s as a child and still aren’t terribly sure that what I’ve seen is what happened. Fortunately, Jane is the only person who can communicate with the beast, a trick which simply involves talking quite slowly.
The producers put an awful lot of bluescreen work into the film and seem to have had a no-nonsense approach as to whether it worked or not, actor’s clothing occasionally changing colour and lines around Crao visible more often than not.
Sante Maria Romitelli’s score (he previously worked on Bava’s Hatchet for a Honeymoon) is thoroughly enjoyable, shocking rip-offs of Orff’s Carmina Burana and jaunty disco workouts giving the film an odd gravitas/quirkiness which is typical of the confusion.
For all the many flaws, Yeti is terrific fun, the script is an absolute doozy and everyone plays their parts completely straight, on the off-chance they’re appearing in a breakout hit. The film genuinely deserves a retrospective release for cheese value alone and as a reminder that you can make a film that succeeds purely through sheer exuberance and fun.
Daz Lawrence, MOVIES & MANIA