For those who only think of Hammer films as period pieces featuring low-cut blouses, this should come as an atypical surprise. Peter Cushing and Forrest Tucker star as a scientist and a Frank Buck-like adventurer in search of the Yeti in Nigel Kneale’s adaptation of his television drama. The film is much more akin to Hammer’s Quatermass films than their gothic horrors, due largely to director Val Guest, who helmed those films, and Kneale, who wrote the original television plays.
For those of you who are completists (as I am), you might be interested to know that when 20th Century-Fox released this to U.S. theaters in 1957, they felt the need to expand on the film’s original title, which was The Abominable Snowman. The DVD has the original British credits sequence; if you ever happen to catch this on Fox Movie Channel, their print has the American credits. Just so you know.
As an added bonus, Anchor Bay’s DVD (which is officially out of print, but there are some expensive originals and fairly cheap bootlegs for sale at Amazon, and it can be rented, though not streamed, through Netflix) features Guest and Kneale on the commentary track, discussing how the whole thing came about. Although there are some dull spots in the commentary, and it’s obvious that the two men were recorded individually and then their comments later edited together, it’s worth a listen for the funny story Val Guest tells about Alfred Hitchcock.
Someone once said (it could have been William Shakespeare, but I’ll have to check my sources) that there’s no more impressive screen format than black and white widescreen. This film is proof of that, with sweeping shots of icy mountains that create a stunning chiaroscuro effect (and yes, I had to look that word up to spell it. Go, big vocabulary, go!). So make sure that when you see this film, see it in widescreen. Just don’t go in expecting SHOCK after SHOCK; instead, prepare for a chilling (in both setting and tone), cerebral kind of experience. It’s definitely worth checking out.
Here’s the trailer from YouTube. Enjoy!