Thursday, December 10, 2009

Beasts of winter.


No, it's not quite here yet; we have to wait another ten days or so for officialitititities.

But don't tell that to the upper 2/3 of the US this week.

Yyyyeeeaaahhh... uh... Winter's arrived.

In my neck o' the woods, we've been spared the ice and snow of the last storm, but if 16 years of Ozarks living has taught me anything (besides how much bacon one can feature on a single menu), it is that between November and April, ice and snow are only a matter of time.

We didn't avoid the biting cold, though. Bbbrrrrrrr! 18F with a windchill down to 9. Fun.

Now don't mistake me, I actually love snow, especially when I've got good food, drink and diversions at the ready and roads are going to be relatively safe within 24 hours or so.

Ice, however, can bite my Hallowe'en-loving behind. Ice deserves naught but our wrath and blowtorches.

But I like Winter, honestly. The darker, chillier wintry days remind me of some of my favorite creepy things... the Beasts of Winter.

The Wampa creature from the ice planet Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back (1980) made such an impact on my 12-year-old brain that I spent months thinking of nothing but stories of white fur and bloody snow drifts, and drawing dark, gaping ice caves hiding glowing eyes. A great monster treat of my youth!

I used to watch The Outer Limits when I was brave enough; back then, even in the sunny afternoon that intro spooked me silly. But I remember one icy being that I could only endure for a moment before turning the channel... as luck would have it, a picture of this same frozen nightmare found its way into my hard drive recently. Still chilling.

Of course, I cannot think of ice, snow and monsters without thinking immediately of that veggie-being from the depths of the cosmos, The Thing From Another Planet (1951)!

James Arness' alien 'thing' thrilled me as a kid, and still does.

I do love the bizarre, unique and truly memorable forms that same alien 'thing' took on in John Carpenter's groundbreaking remake of The Thing in 1982.

'Spiderhead' was just amazing, as was the disgusting and delightful slimy Dog-topus creature... yuck!

Now, when you grow up in southern California, you don't really have a lot of experience with ice and snow. Really, you don't have much Winter at all. So you make due with what Winter can be manufactured... and if that fake freeziness comes with a big, hairy, roaring snowbeast in his ice caves, so so so much the better!

I was ten in 1978 when Disneyland opened a newly restored, redesigned and re-themed Matterhorn Bobsleds attraction -- this time featuring the loudest, coolest damned beast the Park had ever boasted. I loved it, and rode it as often as I could whenever we'd visit the Park.

Yeah. Come around a track going a billion miles an hour and have this thing roar at you, swiping and barely missing your head. Awesome.

If that Matterhorn Monster could walk in the snow for real, I wonder if it would leave a track like this:

Yeah, yeah, this is from a 'real' snow monster. Allegedly. Who knows?
When I was little, my Dad had a book (maybe it was Mom's, but I always recall seeing it among Dad's things) by famed cryptozoologist/explorer Ivan Sanderson, all about the Abominable Snowman. I never read it, but the painted cover of the yellowed paperback always filled me with real dread, and fixed in my mind's eye the accepted look of a real snowbeast:

(This is not the full cover; it's the picture I recall from the original cover, but someone added
this silly cave motif to frame it... the original was the beast you see here trudging among the peaks
of the Himalayas... windswept and desolate and terrifyingly cool to my little mind!)

Then again, some snowmen are more abominable than others.

Some are just plain stupid. Take this little snowhead, Jack Frost:
NOT the cute, loveable Michael Keaton Jack Frost (1998) but the very bad serial killer slasher film Jack Frost from 1996. So terrible it got a sequel. So terrible it was worth mentioning.

I can't really leave out another monstrous beast named Jack chasing down his prey in icy climes...

He gets his in the end... but he must have known it was only fair. I mean, Jack Torrance had to know, even in the depths of his alcoholic, evil spirit-driven rage of madness, that he would never match up to the greatest, most memorable Snow Monster of all time...

Oh yeah! That's right! Raise the aurora-laden roof!

How can you beat the Bumble? Claws down winner!

As I wrote earlier, I love snow and hate ice, but generally enjoy Winter. It can be dreadfully cold, but with monsters added, Winter can also be very, very cool.

By the way... Bumbles bounce.


  1. Awesome. I'm loving the winter posts as much as I loved the Halloween ones. I know, it's still autumn. But it's not.
    Anyway, Bumbles DO bounce, and apparently like pork. Oink Oink!