The Abominable Snowman (1957)
By: Devon B. on July 9, 2008  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
DVD
Umbrella Entertainment (Australia). All Regions, PAL. 2.35:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0. 86 minutes
The Movie
Credits
Director: Val Guest
Starring: Peter Cushing, Forrest Tucker, Maureen Connell, Robert Brown
Screenplay: Nigel Kneale
Country: UK
External Links
Purchase IMDB YouTube
Sometimes people say the movies I watch aren't educational, but I know different. A Hammer horror flick may not seem the best place for learning, but The Abominable Snowman taught me something. I'd always thought, based on my own experiences, that the higher in altitude you go, the colder it gets. However, this is clearly not always the case, as in this movie you can see people's breath when they're at a village in the Himalayas, but when they ascend from there, it stops being visible. Also, sometimes the word "avalanche" means "Watch out for a few flakes of snow."

I'm not a great fan of Hammer. In fact, the only Hammer movie I'd say I like is The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires, and that's probably just because it's a Shaw Brothers co-production. But I do like movies about yetis. Actually…Yeti: The Giant of the 20th Century is fuckin' awful and The Werewolf and the Yeti (AKA La Maldición de la Bestia) is bad even by Paul Naschy's admittedly low standards. So, in theory I like movies about yetis, but we haven't had the yeti equivalent of Night of the Demon (1980), and the fact that some prints of Werewolf and the Yeti use footage from Night of the Demon in the end credits doesn't count. I hoped I would really enjoy The Abominable Snowman, and at first it seemed I would…

Peter "Where is the rebel base?" Cushing stars as a botanist who's hanging out in the Himalayas. A group of jerks show up who want Cushing to go up into the mountains with them. Cushing's wife is none too happy about that, because she knows they aren't out after plants, but Cushing goes anyway. His co-expeditioners are hiding things from him and it isn't until it's too late he realises he should've thought more carefully about the company he keeps. Oh, yeah, also, there're yetis.

At first I was really digging The Abominable Snowman. The film is in black and white, which helps it immeasurably. I think one of my major problems with the output of Hammer Studio is that they were "modern" updates on classic horror stories, and they haven't aged well. At all. I know, I know, lots of people like Hammer, but these people are caught in the past and need to move on to the decade where horror peaked: the 80s. The black and white helps create a classic feel, and the excellent cinematography keeps the film looking good. Even when there're less active moments of dialogue, the camera is used to create movement and utilises the widescreen format well to keep the viewer engaged. The film is very well directed, and features some much deserved digs at American culture. The movie plays quite a bit like King Kong, but this may have more to do with a Kong remake, The Creature From the Black Lagoon, that was only a few years old at the time of Abominable Snowman's release. Unfortunately the film lulls at about 45 minutes in, and never recovers. When the yetis appear, even in brief glimpses, that doesn't help.
Video
The Abominable Snowman is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio with 16:9 enhancement. The film is over 50 years old, so sports spots and grain, but never at an unacceptable level. The print is sometimes a little hazy, but overall it's quite good.
Audio
Audio is a 2.0 track. The dialogue remains clear, which I guess is the main thing on a 2.0 mix.
Extra Features
The DVD comes with the film's trailer, as well as the trailers for other Peter Cushing titles: And Now The Screaming Starts; Shock Waves; Bloodsuckers; and, perhaps most terrifying of all, Biggles. The main extra is an interview with director Val Guest, the highlight of which is his gentle mocking of his stars' claims of filming abroad.
The Verdict
Hammer fans will probably enjoy seeing this, but it isn't really like their 70s stuff. Yeti fans should definitely look elsewhere.
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score

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