Friday, December 17, 2021

The Abominable Snowman

The Abominable Snowman
Val Guest

Stop me if you’ve heard this one, a bunch of scientists and adventures are heading up the Himalayas to find the fabled Yeti. Things got wrong a lot of people die in the process. There’s a lot of fighting amongst the humans who turn out to be the real monsters after all.

What’s different this time around? This time there is a lot of skill in front of and behind the camera. For starters this is a Hammer production, so it carries with it a higher level of quality than similar productions of the time. The script is written by Nigel Kneale, the creator of the Quatermass series, The Stone Tapes (1972), and Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982), among others. It stars Peter Cushing and Forrest Tucker accomplished actors who can give fantastical material some weight.


"OK, try not to set this grave on fire too."

With Kneale writing the script this is more than just another monster movie, although he would go on to create more intricate blends of science-fiction and horror, you can see those elements at play here. One of the strongest elements of the script is how it slowly pulls back the curtain on who or what the Yeti are and why they act like they do. The Yeti in this film aren’t just monsters, they are uniquely alien beings.

A monster movie can’t exist on just it’s monsters, it needs compelling characters too, Peter Cushing is Dr. John Rollason, a mild-mannered British scientist who has been making a extended stay at a monastery along with this wife, Helen (Maureen Connell). He finds himself paired up with a brash American explorer named Dr. Tom Friend played by Forrest Tucker. These two characters butt heads on the regular and it keeps things lively as they slowly close in on the domain of the Yeti. Even though he’s a ruthless opportunist, Dr. Friend is given a spark of humanity all the way up to his inevitable end.


"I think it's looking for a manicure."

Out of all the Yeti movies I have seen up to this point this definitely the one with the highest aspirations. There aren’t any screaming women being carried off by monsters or exploitative gore, however it is staid almost to a fault. This was based on a BBC teleplay with many of the same actors and much like that studio bound production, there’s quite a bit of standing around and talking. To The Abominable Snowman’s credit, its large budget allows for some impressive sets such as the monastery feels large and lived in. Snow, typically a difficult thing to make realistic on screen, looks good here as well. You never get a full look at the Yeti until near the finale when you see its face, a moment that is used for maximum impact and moment of humanity that is unexpected. 

The Abominable Snowman
is not the most exciting yeti movie, but it the most intelligent and well crafted of the particular subgenre of science-fiction and horror. If you enjoy the work of Nigel Kneale this is not his best work but even lesser Kneale is interesting storytelling.

No comments:

Post a Comment