Abominable Snowman [1957]

Genre: Adventure, Horror
Made the same year as the gory gothic hit The Curse of Frankenstein, this smartly written, philosophically grounded Hammer studios adventure written by Nigel Kneale (who also wrote the excellent science fiction thriller Quatermass and its two sequels) was lost in the flesh and blood of Hammer's new vein of horror. Peter Cushing, best known for his ruthless portrayals of Dr. Frankenstein and his more tempered rationalist skew on vampire hunter Van Helsing, plays another scientist driven to prove his unpopular theories. Against the advice of his wife and a kindly but firm Tibetan monk, he leads blustery American showman Forrest Tucker and his party of explorers up the frozen peaks (the Pyrenees standing in quite spectacularly for the Himalayas) to track the fabled Yeti. When he discovers that this is no scientific expedition but a hunting party he starts to have second thoughts, which are only reinforced by Tucker's mercenary behavior when he kills one of the creatures. Director Val Guest keeps the "monsters" hidden until the final showdown, where their hulking silhouettes loom over the cave entrance, but their mournful cries haunt the camp like wailing ghosts, slowly driving the party members mad. While it lacks the edgy desperation and inventiveness of Kneale's Quatermass features, The Abominable Snowman is a taut thriller that contrasts the gorgeous aerial mountain photography with the claustrophobic atmosphere of the tents and caves of the base camp. --Sean Axmaker

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