Written by: Matt Molgaard
Sometimes it’s hard to separate nostalgia fueled fanboyism and honest commentary. We’re so inclined to look back on films of the past with this strange auto/instinctive positive inclination, that some really mediocre movies get a pass, when they probably shouldn’t be afforded such favorable treatment. The Abominable Snowman is one of those flicks, for me, personally. Now, don’t get me wrong – I wasn’t even alive in 1957 – the charm the film carries comes not from memories of trips to the local cinema to catch the winter’s big chiller some fifty-plus years ago, but VHS runs of the earlier portions of the 1990s.
I’ve always loved Peter Cushing and his suave but versatile ways (don’t be fooled by the type casting he experienced; he was actually a pretty diverse thespian). Throw just about any Cushing flick on my desk and I’m running to a DVD/Blu-ray player as soon as humanly possible.
So when The Abominable Snowman pops up and cries of youthful years passed and fine memories of a life without serious responsibilities, you can bet I’m showing zero hesitation in finding a comfy spot on the couch and reserving 90 minutes for a cinematic legend and that trip down memory lane.
And, while the flick is insanely charming, and does feature some cool set pieces and on location shots, and Cushing does turn in a strong performance as botanist, John Rollason, it’s got some pretty hefty problems. The most noticeable is the lack of an abominable snowman. We see an arm, a hand. But we don’t ever really get a clean glimpse of the beast. We get a peek as its face, but not until the closing moments of the pic, and I’ll admit, it feels like just a little too late.
Here’s the thing: In general, these are strong performances on display, with the majority of focal characters sharing a detectable measure of synergy. Connectivity can drive a film forward, and to an extent, it does in The Abominable Snowman. But the absence of the titular character certainly hurts, there’s just no denying that. It’s hard to come back from that kind of issue, but for me, there’s still such a charm to the feature that I can’t help but seeing the beauty, even if the big bad monster doesn’t earn much of any screen time.
The gist of the story is essentially a carbon copy of the bulk of sci-fi/horror films of the ‘50s. An expedition, a potentially fatal discovery, a fight to keep the heart beating and overcome the dangerous menace now on the prowl. If you’ve seen a vintage genre piece, you’ve seen the story. But again, it isn’t the screenplay itself that propels The Abominable Snowman forward, it’s the character connectivity. And the character connectivity is spot on; strong enough to lure the viewer right in.
I wish we’d gotten a bit more of the monster. It would have increased the general punch of the production immeasurably. But even factoring in the omission of the fabled yeti, there are redeeming qualities to be found here. Just enough, I’d say, to warrant pursuing this movie.