The Abominable Snowman (1957 UK)

abominable snowmanThe Abominable Snowman treats its subject matter with the kind of respect usually reserved for something far more serious than a low-budget film about the mythical Yeti. It would have been easy to allow the whole production to sink to the level of exploitation, but it never does. The horror is subdued and really only surfaces in the final act. The film is not without its creepy moments as the men fear for their lives in an alien landscape of ice and mountains.

The remainder of the intelligent script focuses on the relationship between the scientist and the showman and asks the question “Who is the real monster?” The Abominable Snowman is an unusually subdued offering from Hammer. studios. Released the same year as The Curse of Frankenstein and a year before Horror of Dracula, The Abominable Snowman lacks the garish colours and the bright red blood that helped to make Hammer so famous. It may lack the usual vivid colourful hues, but it’s one of the best looking Hammer films I’ve seen. It was filmed in beautiful black and white and the cinematography is stunning.

The stage-bound sets are some of the best I’ve seen. When combined, these elements create the perfect, frigid look and setting for The Abominable Snowman. Director Val Guest made the wise decision to keep the Yeti off-screen as much as possible with only a glimpse or two in the shadows. It would have been difficult, given the budgetary constraints, to create realistic looking Yeti that could have withstood too much on-screen scrutiny. Anymore screen-time and the Yeti would have probably come off as cheesy as the title character in Hammer’s The Gorgon. In my opinion, one of the best things about the movie was how the entire plot set up the Yeti to be a fierce and man-eating creature.

But the doctor realizes that the creature may not be this terrible monster but instead, a species that is saddened and hidden away in the cold mountains, away from humans. The final encounter with the creature proves this, when we see that their face doesn’t resemble a monster but much more human-like. And I can’t say enough about the acting. Everyone involved is excellent. You can always count on Peter Cushing to deliver the goods and he’s at the top of his game in this film. It’s a shame that his genius isn’t more well known outside of horror circles. Forrest Tucker makes a great foil for Cushing. The two men make one of those perfect odd couples. The rest of the cast is equally believable.

The Abominable Snowman Yeti hand

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