Plot: What’s it about?
Dr. John Rollason (Peter Cushing) has been all over the world and studied all manner of plant and animal life, but he hasn’t seen the one species he strives to discover. Rollason seeks to prove the existence of the Yeti, or Abominable Snowman and has taken extreme measures to attempt to finally discover the truth about the mythical creature. Rollason has even explored the dangerous Himalayas in search of the beast, but has returned without proof each and every time. But he refuses to give up on his quest and soon finds another chance to seek out the Yeti, when he joins the exploration team of Tom Friend (Forrest Tucker). The two men couldn’t be much more different, but they forge ahead in search of a common destination, the Himalayas. Tension is present between the two from the start, but they manage to create a base camp without much hassle. Soon the camp is under the attack of a large creature, who is then shot down by a trapper (Robert Brown). After this event, the idea is hatched to place the carcass somewhere in order to lure a live specimen to observe. It seems like their plan just might work after all, but do they really understand what they’re about to discover?
This release is another in the series of Hammer titles issued by Anchor Bay, and I for one have been waiting for this one. This is a classic Hammer film, one that showcases the style and substance we’ve all come to expect from the studio’s films. In today’s movie industry, horror movies have huge budgets and turn out abysmal most of the time, yet for many years Hammer was able to create some excellent horror movies, most of which had very limited budgets. The effects might not be able to equal today’s artistry, but given the time and funds involved this is a fantastic effort. And unlike many modern horror movies, this one doesn’t depend on blood and guts or special effects for impact, this film uses well crafted suspense instead. The writing is very good and offers some interesting characters and an intriguing storyline, something few modern horror flicks can boast. If you’re a short attention spanned viewer, then stick with Scream or The Sixth Sense, because this one just isn’t your style. But if you’re fan of well planned and executed horror movies, then this release should fit the bill quite well.
This film was directed by Val Guest, who knows his way around a Hammer movie set. Guest directed two installments in the Quartermass series, as well as several other Hammer films. Guest uses some tremendous sets and production design skills within this film, and it’s hard to believe this was a low budget movie, because it looks so grand and expansive. As with many Hammer movies, this one is fueled by atmospheric tension for the driving force, and Guest makes sure this style is effective. Other films directed by Guest include Casino Royale, The Full Treatment, Confessions of a Window Cleaner, and Expresso Bongo. Nigel Kneale, the writer of this film is also no stranger to the Hammer system, having worked with Guest on several films for the studio. Kneale also wrote three Quartermass movies, The Witches, and a few other more mainstream titles. The leads in this movie are played by Peter Cushing (Star Wars, The Satanic Rites Of Dracula) and Forrest Tucker (Thunder Run), both of whom turn in excellent performances. Cushing is chilling as always, and Tucker offers a nice turn as the film’s antagonist. The rest of the cast includes Maureen Connell (Golden Ivory), Robert Brown (A View To A Kill, The Spy Who Loved Me), Richard Wattis (The Love Box).
Video: How does it look?
The Abominable Snowman is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. If I didn’t know better, I would swear this is a recent theatrical film due to the incredible visual presentation on this disc. This is a black & white movie, so contrast is what makes the clock tick, and this transfer has no issues in that area. The shadows are accurate and complex, with very high detail level in even the darkest scenes. The source print looks much better than expected also, and I noticed no compression hiccups here either.
Audio: How does it sound?
This release contains the original mono track, which is by no means provides the stereotypical mono audio experience. This track is crisp, clear, and effective that I was forced to recheck the package to make sure it was indeed in the mono format. Even though the film is over forty years old, this audio track sounds wonderful, one of the best mono tracks I’ve taken in. The music and effects come through loud and clear, with no distortion present at all. The dialogue also sounds great, with no volume or separation issues to contend with.
Supplements: What are the extras?
On this disc you’ll find the theatrical trailer, a nice Hammer featurette about Peter Cushing, and a terrific audio commentary track. The featurette showcases Cushing’s work within the Hammer studios, and shows some clips from various films. If you’ve seen other Hammer Collection featurettes, then you’ll know what to expect. The audio commentary features director Val Guest and writer Nigel Kneale, who offer some interesting comments and memories.