Director: Val Guest
Writer: Nigel Kneale
Cast: Forrest Tucker, Peter Cushing, Maureen Connell, Richard Wattis, Robert Brown, Michael Brill, Wolfe Morris, Arnold Marle, and Anthony Chin
Composer: Humphrey Searle
Release Date: 8/26/1957
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Against the wishes of his wife Helen (Maureen Connell), English botanist Dr. John Rollason (Peter Cushing) accompanies Tom Friend (Forrest Tucker)—a fortune-seeking American—on an expedition to locate the legendary Yeti. Complications arise when Dr. Rollason—recognizing the Yeti as a docile, intelligent, and telepathic species—clashes with Friend, who intends on capturing one of the creatures for monetary gain.
The Abominable Snowman is a suspenseful, thought-provoking horror/adventure film. Those who enjoy science fiction stories with an intellectual angle will thus admire this offering, which benefits from an eerie narrative setting, a compelling human conflict, and a poignant moral commentary on the greed and callousness of man.
Despite concealing the creature’s form until the climactic scene, The Abominable Snowman employs a variety of subtle—albeit highly effective—fear-building tropes in order to maintain a chilling, claustrophobic atmosphere. Specific examples include giant footprints in the snow, haunting descriptions of the Yeti’s countenance, and blood-curdling cries emanating from the Himalayas—all of which deceptively portray the Yeti as a fierce, primal creature with antagonistic tendencies, thereby misdirecting the viewer from a more dangerous threat facing Dr. Rollason and his fellow expedition members.
Similar to nearly every British horror film, The Abominable Snowman suffers from languid pacing and copious exposition. Modern audiences may therefore struggle to appreciate this production, which lacks the intense and gory monster encounters that one would likely expect of a Yeti-themed terror tale.
By introducing a personality clash between Friend—an opportunistic hunter who wishes only to exploit the Yeti—and the scientifically curious Dr. Rollason, The Abominable Snowman does an excellent job of contrasting man’s primitive, selfish desires (e.g. financial gain) with the potential to explore, discover, and acquire knowledge for the sake of bettering oneself.
Combining elegant performances with challenging implications on mankind’s place in the animal kingdom, The Abominable Snowman is an underrated installment in Hammer Productions’ lineup of creature features. Also worth praising is the atmospheric tension of this film, which compensates for an occasionally slow-moving narrative.
Overall Quality: 9/10
If you enjoyed this post, please enter your email address in the subscription box to stay tuned for more updates.