Norman Bogner's decades-long career as a novelist reached heights aspiring authors reach only in their dreams. Bogner's published his first novel in 1961, and, as of today, his tally of books sold worldwide tops out at 25 million copies. 1967's Seventh Avenue reached the bestseller lists. In 1977, the novel hit the small screen in the form of a television miniseries. Bogner's career trajected higher and higher, thanks to writing
scores of melodramatic soap opera-style novels, along with chilling suspense thrillers. 1978's Snowman stands out as an odd entry on the author's resume. Snowman isn't a melodrama or a detective thriller. It's pure Bigfoot-sploitation, sans melodrama or soap opera.
On Snowmen and Potboiler Terrors
Plot-wise, Snowman tells a relatively straightforward tale. An explorer traversing the Himalayan mountains gains worldwide infamy and scorn for the loss of his entire crew. While the world blames his incompetence for their deaths, the explorer knows the incredible secret behind the disaster: they were eaten alive by a 25-foot tall (!) yeti beast.
The Abominable Snowman of this tale isn't your average yeti. The creature evolved over the ages to become much more than fur, claws, and fangs. His hide sports rock-like bone growth, making him an almost invulnerable being, and possibly the origin of Doomsday from Superman comics fame, as other reviewers also noticed.
With little food or fewer career options available in the Himalayas after hundreds of years, the Snowman secretly travels from Tibet to a California ski resort. (It's easier than you'd think)
The Snowman brings its reign of terror to a ski resort. Lots of people get ripped apart and eaten in a gory fashion. A mercenary team gets called in to end the monster's mayhem, but grave fears exist about discharging firearms in an avalanche area. Crossbows seem like a decent option until it becomes obvious standard bolts won't pierce the Snowman's rock-like hide. The solution doesn't take long to figure out. Thanks to a pinch of black market plutonium, a skilled team member makes mini-nuclear warheads capable of delivering an implosion reaction.
But don't think the Snowman's going down easily.
Snowman, Snowbeast, Grizzly, and, Yes, Jaws
The owner of the ski resort positively doesn't want anyone to find out about the flesh-eating Snowman. At 25-feet-tall, he's a bit too much for tourists to ignore. They'll take their business elsewhere.
Yes, ye olde Jaws schtick makes an appearance here. Substituting the Great White Shark with another creature might be derivative, but consumers didn't care. Grizzly (1976) pulled in $39 million at the box office packing drive-ins through the 1970s. That's way more than the massively hyped DEG production Orca (1977). Grizzly and Orca weren't alone in their Jaws-inspired cinema. The (dull) 1977 made-for-TV movie Snowbeast saw a homicidal white-haired Bigfoot attack a snow resort. That plots apes this one, but that doesn't mean one ripped off the other. Likely, more than one person came up with the same idea at the same time: Jaws but with a killer Yeti. The 1970s were the Golden Age of Bigfoot and all.
Why was the idea revisited time and time again? The formula made money repeatedly. The horror novel landscape of the 1970's also experienced a Jaws derivative explosion. No surprise there. Jaws was, of course, a novel before becoming a movie.
Paperbacks from Hell and the 1970s
Grady Hendrix's classic tome Paperback from Hell chronicles the rise and fall of pulp horror books of the 1970s and 1980s. Bogner made one foray into horror/exploitation fiction, and he did so at the right time. Horror paperbacks sold well to a strong niche market when Dell released this book in early 1978.
Snowman serves as a decent fast-paced work of horror fiction. Anyone looking for a quick-and-easy horror read probably won't be disappointed. Snowman doesn't fail to give readers what they want: enough Yeti mayhem to feed two niches. Besides the hardcore paperback horror fans, Snowman sought to appeal to anyone interested in Bigfoot. And a lot of people were interested in Bigfoot in 1978.
Bigfoot was everywhere in the 1970s. The Bigfoot craze started in the 1960s with the notorious Patterson-Gimlin 16mm film's debut and reached a crescendo circa 1977. The middle to late 1970s saw a massive amount of Bigfoot-related merchandise hit stores. Fiction and non-fiction paperbacks featuring hairy hominoids fit in perfectly during the "Bigfoot boom." The mysterious monster became a pop culture icon. Bogner's foray into hairy hominoid horror saw him draw inspiration from what was a semi-mainstream interest. The book pretty much found itself forgotten for years. The mention in Grady Hendrix's tome may launch the start of Snowman receiving a second look.
No new printing is available. Horror fans need to look on eBay and elsewhere for a reasonably-priced copy.