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United Kingdom 1957
Directed by
Val Guest
86 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
David Michael Brown
2.5 stars

The Abominable Snowman

Synopsis: John Rollason, (Peter Cushing) a botanist, heads to the frozen mountain ranges of the Himalayas searching for the mythical yeti. Rollason may have joined the expedition in the name of science but his fellow adventurer, Dr Tom Friend (Forrest Tucker), has other, commercial, ideas for the creature.

Screenwriter Nigel Kneale made his name creating some of the most chilling television of the '50s and '60s. The likes of The Quatermass Experiment and 1984 shocked audiences not used to viewing sci-fi and horror on the cathode ray tube. Seeing this response and at a time when Hammer Films were looking for a new angle; the studio entered into the horror field by remaking The Quatermass Experiment for the big screen. Directed by Val Guest, the film was a huge success and led to further adaptations of Kneale’s teleplays. Quatermass 2, also directed by Guest, quickly followed and then after the studio’s huge 1957 box office smash, The Curse of Frankenstein, directed by Terence Fisher, the studio reunited the team of Kneale and Guest for The Abominable Snowman but the result seemed to take a step backwards.

After the Technicolor gore of The Curse of Frankenstein, The Abominable Snowman returned to the monochrome, more traditional style of storytelling. Borrowing from King Kong and a host of other monster movies this certainly isn’t Kneale’s most original moment but his script is a fascinating take on the genre. Cushing, as always, gives his role a serious but human side that enriches the verbal battles he has with Forrest Tucker as they discuss the moral quandries of capturing their quest. In these terms, some may find the film too talky but Cushing is fantastic in the role. Whether it was an artistic or budgetary consideration, the brief glimpses of the monster are far more effective than a stunt man cavorting around in a big woolly suit.

As a movie monster, The Abominable Snowman has not really continued his cinematic journey although there have been variations on the theme. We had Bigfoot in The Legend of Boggy Creek and the low budget US disaster movie Shriek of the Mutilated, a gory sasquatch in Night of the Demon. We’ve even had a Spanish variant in Paul Nashy’s The Werewolf And The Yeti. Notwithstanding, Val Guest’s The Abominable Snowman remains, mainly thanks to Cushing, the only serious cinematic journey to frozen peaks of the Himalayas in search of the beast.





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