The Abominable Snowman

August 21st, 2008 DVD Reviews, Film, Xpress

One of Hammer studios’ lesser-known and very early efforts, The Abominable Snowman was the British horror workhouse’s take on the Tibetan legend.

A mild mannered professor (Peter Cushing), his wife and scientific partner and a colleague are holed up in a high mountain village overseen by an enigmatic and slightly crazy Lhama.

The trio learn of sightings of the legendary creature in the nearby mountains, so when a troop of macho American treasure seekers show up for the hunt armed and rigged to he teeth, the bookish botanist joins them against his wife’s and partners’ wishes.

It’s not a typical monster mash for two major reasons. First, aside from two scenes totalling no more than 30 seconds of screen time, we see nothing of the creature (and a good thing too — with the late 50s effects, it looks like a tall guy in a shoddy Halloween mask, even though the soft focus).

And second, there’s no scene with the slavering monster carrying away the nubile heroine while the strapping heroes give chase. The monsters in this movie are strictly human, in both the environmental and commercial sense, with no idea that the Yeti are peaceful, shy creatures.

Despite the constraints of effects technology of the day, it’s also surprisingly effective from a technical perspective (apart from the dodgy make-up) — scenes of the yeti’s mournful howling drifting down the mountains towards the group unnerving and moody.

Coming from the era when giant ants and creatures in black lagoons were the order of the day, it was a brave move depicting the monster within us, and might not have washed with audiences looking for thrills. Ripe for a sensitive and reverent remake, it’s a classic waiting to be rediscovered.

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