Made the same year as the gory gothic hit The Curse of Frankenstein, this smartly written, philosophically grounded Hammer studios adventure written by Nigel Kneale (who also wrote the excellent science fiction thriller Qu... more »atermass and its two sequels) was lost in the flesh and blood of Hammer's new vein of horror. Peter Cushing, best known for his ruthless portrayals of Dr. Frankenstein and his more tempered rationalist skew on vampire hunter Van Helsing, plays another scientist driven to prove his unpopular theories. Against the advice of his wife and a kindly but firm Tibetan monk, he leads blustery American showman Forrest Tucker and his party of explorers up the frozen peaks (the Pyrenees standing in quite spectacularly for the Himalayas) to track the fabled Yeti. When he discovers that this is no scientific expedition but a hunting party he starts to have second thoughts, which are only reinforced by Tucker's mercenary behavior when he kills one of the creatures. Director Val Guest keeps the "monsters" hidden until the final showdown, where their hulking silhouettes loom over the cave entrance, but their mournful cries haunt the camp like wailing ghosts, slowly driving the party members mad. While it lacks the edgy desperation and inventiveness of Kneale's Quatermass features, The Abominable Snowman is a taut thriller that contrasts the gorgeous aerial mountain photography with the claustrophobic atmosphere of the tents and caves of the base camp. --Sean Axmaker« less
"The three star rating here isn't for the film, which is one of Hammer's finest early films. It's for the DVD. Read the description carefully and be advised - This is NOT a DVD, but a DVD-R. I don't know who makes it, but despite what Amazon says, and what the case liner says, it most certainly ISN'T Anchor Bay, who apparently no longer have the rights to distribute the Hammer films. The genuine Anchor Bay copy is on Amazon too, at the usual ridiculous astronomical scalper prices - $516.76 REALLY! This DVD-R, with the usual blurry copy of the cover sheet, and a generic label on the disk, is almost certainly an illegal copy.
Having said that however, it's also apparently copied from the genuine disk, as it looks virtually identical. The picture isn't quite as good as the real one (which I have), but it's not bad. A bit darker and less sharp, but by no means bad. About what you'd expect from a copy of the original. Everything is exactly the same, and all the extras are there - the commentary etc., so if you don't feel like selling your house to get a genuine copy, which is rather hard to get now, this is an OK choice. Just know what you're getting.
As for the film itself - As I said, it's one of Hammer's best of the first wave, having been made the same year as Curse of Frankenstein. Not exactly horror, nor quite science fiction, but somewhere in between. With a literate script by Nigel Kneale from his own BBC teleplay version, (which also starred Cushing, but with Stanley Baker instead of Forrest Tucker as Tom Friend, and which like so many other BBC productions of the time, sadly no longer exists,) the film has good pacing and the usual fine performance from Cushing, and from Tucker as well. Filmed in Hammerscope (2.35:1) I believe it was their first really widescreen film, the other early horrors being shot 1.66:1. And it was (wisely I believe) shot in black and white, which adds to the eerie atmoshpere of the setting, on the snowy Himalayan peaks. Avoiding showing the creature outright adds an air of mystery, and the film treats it's subject matter with respect. It is probably the only film about the Yeti which is any good, not that there are that many. It's definetely worth owning. I'd give the film four stars, the DVD-R three."
The Abominable Snowman
Max Sun | 01/08/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Abominable Snowman proves that you don't need a mega budget to produce an excellent movie. The treatment of the subject matter, the Yeti, is surprising. Not surprising that the great Nigel Kneale would create an intelligent story. The acting is superb. Peter Cushing became a fixture and headliner in Hammer movies about this time. This dvd has a nice special feature on Cushing. By all accounts, it was wonderful to be a part of the Hammer Family. The sets depicting the Himalayas are very atmospheric. The location footage, shot in the French Pyrenees, is also excellent. The director is the very talented Val Guest. Can't say enough about how delightfully surprised I was concerning the depiction of the Yeti. Who the Yeti were, why they were living in the awesomely foreboding Himalayas, their intelligence(and superintelligence), and their protection by the lama. The ending is haunting. Engrossing film. The Abominable Snowman is a triumph of the Horror/Sci-Fi Genre! "
Robin Simmons | 09/28/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
""THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN"This is an unexpectedly involving movie with a great look.Forrest Tucker is greedy Tom Friend looking for a new side show attraction in this pristine black and white widescreen transfer of a gripping, thoughtful, artistic Hammer Films classic from the 1950s. Tucker, aided by Peter Cushing's sensitive scientist Dr. Rollason, set off into the Himalayas to find the legendary eponymous creature in a surprisingly intelligent adventure. Vast, lonely mountain vistas and a large, finely detailed monastery make a believable setting in which the hunters ponder life, their dilemma and the great yeti - who apparently has the ability to play mind games until the hunters become the hunted! The sound design, including the hair-raising, echoing, whale-like moans of the yeti and the oriental music score add considerably to the authentic atmosphere. In the entertaining bonus audio track, Droll director Val Guest and writer Nigel Kneale make reference to the similar adventures of millionaire Tom Slick as a source of inspiration. When it's all over, you will long remember the sad, wise eyes of the snow beast and will have no doubts about who the real monsters are. This is the best of the sub genre of bigfoot/abominable snowman films. And yes, there are others. (DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment, no regional code restrictions, not rated, 88 minutes)"
The Call of the Wild.
Robert S. Clay Jr. | St. Louis, MO., USA | 04/24/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Before Frankenstein cursed, before Dracula horrified, Hammer Studios found the Abominable Snowman. This is an intelligent sci-fi/horror flick that poses probing questions of man vs. nature. The austere tone of the film is enhanced by the bleak B&W photography, and captures the grim atmosphere of remote Tibet. Peter Cushing and Forrest Tucker disagree over what to do with the creature, even before capture. Tucker is American Tom Friend, and his interest is strictly commercial. Cushing is John Rollason, a dedicated scientist. Rollason is more interested in solving the scientific conundrum than gaining a profitable circus attraction. As their expedition reaches distant heights and snowy peaks, strange cries in the night presage tragedy. The script takes an unusual perspective as it suggests that the yeti are not missing-link predators, but intelligent, superior beings. Questions of man's relevance vs. nature's inevitability rank this film well above the more common sci-fi/horror schlock of pseudo-science and cheesy special effects. Soul-searching aside, goosefelsh rises when the men realize that killing one yeti caused a chorus of plaintive wailing across the mountains. Whatever they are, they are communicating with each other, and they are coming this way. Darkness and howling winds add to the eerie atmosphere as the expedition succumbs to madness and death. Ironically, the yeti are passive, and standby as the feeble men self-destruct. The director suggests terror without overt display. You may feel compelled to quickly turn and see what lurks behind you. The film ends on an enigmatic note. This movie is fine for collectors of classic horror flicks, and for the ranks of HammerHeads assembled. ;-)"
An Unknown Gem
miqque | 07/01/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"(These comments refer to the film, not to the DVD or VHS editions perse)Vasquez Rocks is quickly being circled by the communities in the Santa Clarita Valley. In 1940's Hollywood, a caravan of panel trucks and cars would depart around two o'clock in the morning for the long and arduous drive to shoot there on location. From Hollywood proper and the studios one used to take Cahuenga thru the pass, out to Balboa, past the dam, and out (now "old") Balboa up into the mountains and thence into the desert. It gets both raging hot (therefore the early departure, to arrive before the sun rose) and terribly cold. Get as far as Vasquez Rocks, and it snows in the winter sometimes.There is no raging beast, no graphic violence. This black-and-white film may be considered slow-paced for those with a taste only to MTV-quick-cuts films. The trick here is to get into the mood of the characters, and the solid acting allows this to happen with ease. Let it not be the cold of winter in a southern California desert, but the rarified air of the Himalayas, with a deadly mystery growing even as the storms build that you explore. It's a good old film. Not many DVDs are going to be sold at ..., but this will be a popular collector's item once the price drops to the appropriate ... range for this type of film. And pay close attention to the ending - it happens quickly. -M."