|I love a classy piece of art, don't you?|
FYI: There is a spoiler regarding the end of this movie.
I really love Hammer's Dracula, Frankenstein and Mummy movies, and never miss them when I get the chance to see them. Still, I guess my favorites are the stories that rely more on psychological fear, particularly Five Million Years To Earth (aka Quatermass and the Pit), The Gorgon, and The Abominable Snowman. Writer Nigel Neale must appeal to me, because he created two of those, Five Million Years to Earth and The Abominable Snowman. Director Val Guest was also responsible for another good Hammer production, The Quatermas Xperiment, as well as a non-Hammer film that is in my top 10 sci-fi list, The Day The Earth Caught Fire. Even The Abominable Snowman's music appeals to me ... it just sounds Tibetan and mountainous, as silly as that may sound, with its gongs and soaring strings. The composer for the soundtrack was Humphrey Searle, who, although I don't recognize most of the movies he wrote for, did the wonderfully eerie music for the best scary movie ever made, 1963's The Haunting. The Abominable Snowman has a great deal of solid talent behind it.
The overwhelming vastness of the Himalayas is captured cleverly by cinematographer Arthur Grant, using several different techniques, including cable cars. The film makers used the Pyrenees mountains in France during winter to double for the long shots of the mountain range. Production designer Bernard Robinson, well-known for his ability to create sets for Hammer that were used for many different productions, smoothly blended the real location shots with wonderfully seamless studio sets. The mountains are like a living entity in this film. We are inexorably drawn into the feeling of howling winds, cold, exhaustion and fear of the climbing group's trek into what seem to be the mountains of the moon.
|Dr. John Rollason and the Lhama|
The other members of the expedition have their own unique reasons for searching for the Yeti. Forrest Tucker is Tom Friend, a domineering carnival barker-type of man whose interest in the Yeti is far from scientific. We watch Friend evolve during the film from a greedy, bullying "fairground trickster", in the words of Dr. Rollason, who puts his own friend's life in danger to get what he wants, to a man who realizes his failings and eventual destiny. (Critics almost unanimously panned Tucker's performance, but I completely disagree. I think he did a fine job.) Ed Shelley, played by Robert Brown, is Friend’s companion, a blustering man of little imagination and less class, but real loyalty to Friend. Scottish actor Michael Brill is McNee, gentle, quiet, whose fearful search for the Yeti is a personal quest. In the course of the expedition, each man finds himself faced with the deepest, sometimes primitive, parts of his psyche.
Rollason, when at last faced by the Yeti, sees humanity and wisdom in the haunting eyes. We as the audience see the same. We might initially have expected to see a monster, but we have met a fellow thinking creature. I found this movie to be quite poetic and haunting in nature. I know that those eyes and the quiet music that accompanied that shot stayed with me ... perhaps you will feel the same.
This post is part of the Hammer Halloween Blogathon hosted by the Classic Film and TV Café. For the complete list of blogathon entries, click here: