The Abominable Snowman (1957) 3/5
This film was overshadowed by Hammer’s other science fiction/horror film of that year: The Curse Of Frankenstein.
Peter Cushing plays Dr Rollason, who, after staying as a guest of the Lhama with his wife and friend while on a botanical expedition to the Himalayas, joins a second expedition of five people fronted by glory seeking Tom Friend (Forrest Tucker) to find evidence of the fabled Yeti.
Unbeknownst to Rollason, who is going out of scientific curiosity, Friend’s real motive is to try and capture one of the creatures. Maybe he should have just got a nice Dalmation dog instead.
The first sight we have of one of the creatures is when one of the biggest hands you ever saw comes creeping beneath the canvas of their tent. Seriously in need of a manicure.
Sherpa guide Kusang flees, not before being questioned by the others. “What did you see?” “I saw what men should not see.”
Soon they manage to kill one of the creatures, but we still don’t see the full animal, just the arm and that oversized hand. (We are not to have a more revealing glimpse until the end of the film.)
As snowstorms set in, the film has a claustrophobic feel to it, and the snowy setting is ideal for the black and white format. Tensions rise between Rollason and Friend. One by one the men begin to die, but not directly at the (big) hands of the Yeti. One falls to his death, one has a heart attack, and one (Friend) is killed in an avalanche.
After this last death, Rollason staggers back to a cave that the men used, where he finally encounters two of the Abominable Snowmen.
And at last we see the Yeti’s face, then Rollason passes out.
The creatures, who just want to retrieve the dead body of their kin, leave Rollason out to be found by a search party that includes his wife Helen, played by Maureen Connell, and I was reminded of some earlier wisdom dispensed by the Lhama: “The fate of your husband will be governed by his own nature.”
“That’s you doomed then,” says my wife.
The film finishes with Rollason, the only survivor of the expedition, telling the Lhama that they found no evidence of the creatures.
The newly resurrected Hammer Films have announced that they are going to do a remake of this film. I look forward to comparing the two.