Cinema Sunday: The Abominable Snowman (of the Himalayas) (1957)

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Title: The Abominable Snowman (of the Himalayas – U.S.)

Distributor: Hammer/ Warner Bros.

Writer: Nigel Kneale

Director: Val Guest

Producer: Aubrey Baring

Starring: Forrest Tucker, Peter Cushing, Maureen Connell, Richard Wattis, Robert Brown

Released: August 1957

MPAA: Approved

 

Welcome friends, to another week of Hammer Studios greatness! This week’s film is one that I honestly thought I’d already reviewed! After a quick search, I realized I hadn’t. So, I must present this little gem that was lost in the archives mainly because of the success of Curse of Frankenstein, that was released the same year. With some familiar faces, solid acting, and a setting that is very creepy, this one definitely needs to be revisited, so let’s get down to business!

 

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As the film begins, we see Dr. John Rollason (Peter Cushing), talking to the Lama (Arnold Marlé). The Lama questions why Rollason has agreed to meet with an adventurer type guy that is coming to explore the area that the monastery is located. Rollason tries to calm the Lama’s fears, but he cannot. A few moments later, the Lama tells Rollason that his wife, Helen (Maureen Connell) is approaching, and seconds later, she walks in the room along with his assistant, Peter Fox (Richard Wattis). Both enter and are upset with Rollason because he’s agreed to go on the expedition with this other man, rather than continuing his research.

 

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In the next scene, we meet the explorer, and the burly Dr. Tom Friend (Forrest Tucker), is leading his men through the town to meet Rollason. Friend has also brought along a trapper named Ed Shelley (Robert Brown), a photographer, Andrew McNee (Michael Brill), and a local guide named Kusang (Wolf Morris). They all meet and make arrangements to have dinner together later, and meet the Lama. At the dinner party, the Lama again questions the motives of the expedition, and eventually, the truth comes out. Friend and his group are there to find the mysterious Yeti of that region, and we also find out (eventually) that he wants to capture one alive!

 

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The next day, the expedition sets off and begins their long journey up the mountain. They keep the group small, because Friend believes that marching an army up there would scare off the Yeti. Friend has already been to great heights on this mountain, and hid equipment in caves along the way. After a day’s journey, they stop at one of the resting points. They make camp, and have a fire going, but one of the men seems uneasy. As they’re settling in for the night, one of the team believes he heard something nearby. Everyone heads out to investigate, but no evidence can be found.

 

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The following day brings an avalanche, and then one of the men, McNee, gets his leg caught in a trap and gets injured. They take him to the tent and he relaxes there for a while. Rollason stays with him as the other push ahead. When they catch up, Ed tells them that he’s captured a Yeti. They rush to see it, and are astonished at the creatures size. That night, more of the Yeti come to take back the body and to terrorize the camp. Ed shoots and kills one of them, and the group realizes that now the Yeti might get hostile towards them. McNee is almost crazy from the pain of his injury, but he also seems to be sensitive to the presence of these creatures. Friend thinks he can use this to his advantage though, and begins to scheme about another trap.

 

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Kusang sees one of the yeti reaching into the tent, and the fright of the ordeal is too much for him, so he flees. Friend and Rollason stop him and ask what he saw, but he only responds with…”I see, what man should not see!” McNee ends up wandering off the next day, and falls off of a cliff. He’s completely delusional at this point, and the fall kills him instantly. That leaves Friend, Rollason, and Ed. Speaking of Ed, he seems to be in the beginning stages of schizophrenia, and is a liability at this point. Rollason buries McNee, but Friend and Ed will have nothing of it, and continue to lay their trap. Meanwhile, Helen and Fox are leading another expedition to find the others, but they’re way behind.

 

Robert Brown and Forrest Tucker in The Abominable Snowman

Will Helen and Fox reach the others in time? Will the Lama’s prophecy come true that no man will see the creature and live? Watch to find out!

 

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OK, here are my thoughts:

Alright, well, as I said initially, this film is fantastic, but was definitely overshadowed by Curse of Frankenstein, that followed soon after this film. It’s really a shame though, because this film has a lot to offer. The script, locations, music, and acting were all very good. The only thing I think that could’ve been better were the creatures themselves. We never get to see any Yeti action (attacking/killing)! That for me is the only glaring missed opportunity in this entire film. No one is to blame, especially not the special effects people, who coincidentally did a fine job. I understand the notion of not showing the Yeti’s and letting your imagination run wild with different scenarios, but even just one or two scenes would’ve sufficed.

As far as the cast goes, Cushing and Tucker really made this one great. The Lama was pretty good too, and really gave a creepy performance. The others were at least average, and none of the players weighed down the film. I will say that Kusang was played brilliantly as well, and he and the Lama were very convincing. Do yourself a favor, and get a copy of this film either online streaming or grab a copy somewhere. You wont regret it!

 

Click here for the trailer!

 

Cinema Sunday: The Trollenberg Terror (1958)

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Title: The Trollenberg Terror (A. K. A. The Crawling Eye)

Distributor: Eros Films Ltd.

Writer: Jimmy Sangster (screenplay)

Director: Quentin Lawrence

Producers: Robert S. Baker, Monty Berman

Starring: Forrest Tucker, Laurence Payne, Jennifer Jayne (Jones), Janet Munro, Warren Mitchell

Released: October 1958 (TV series 1956)

MPAA: UR

 

I’ve heard of this film, and was fascinated by the premise, but never saw it until recently. Once I’d heard it was an inspiration for John Carpenter’s “The Fog,” I knew I had to see it ASAP! Being a huge fan of that film (and a few other of his films), it was only a matter of time until this flick would be the subject of my weekly movie review! I’ll admit I only know one actor in this one (Forrest Tucker), but he’s enough to be another reason to watch the movie. OK, no more talk, let’s get to the meat and potatoes!

 

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The film begins with three students rock climbing in the Swiss mountains. One has climbed a bit higher than the others, and they shout to him, asking what’s going on. He tells them it’s very foggy, and he can see someone coming through the fog. The two men on the lower ledge hear him scream, and then his body falls passing by them. He’s hooked on to a rope and they try to pull him up. The one man gets a look at him before the other man does, and he screams in terror, and let’s go of the rope. The other man shouts at him for letting go, but he tells him that his head was missing! Cut to the opening credits…

 

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In the following scene, we watch as two women are on a train, one of them is sleeping. Anne Pilgrim (Janet Munro – image below, left),and her sister, Sarah (Jennifer Jayne – image below, right) There is a man sitting across from them, Alan Brooks (Forrest Tucker), reading a newspaper, and he notices that these two are a bit odd. Anne wakes up, and Sarah tells her that they’re passing the mountains. As she moves toward the window, she faints, and falls right into the lap of Brooks. When she awakens, she tells her sister that even though their trip isn’t over yet, that they must get off of the train at the next stop, Trollenberg. Brooks is really stupefied, but keeps to himself.

 

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As the train stops at Trollenberg, Brooks gets off and meets another man, Klein (Frederick Schiller), owns a hotel of sorts, and Brooks invites them to stay there with the blessing of Klein. The two sisters are psychic, and have a routine they perform across Europe, and Anne uses her ability to pick the minds of the locals to find out why the townspeople are leaving. She questions Klein about this, but he’s evasive. Brooks looks on with  desperation in his eyes. They take a car ride to the hotel, where another man, Philip Truscott (Laurence Payne), is waiting there and seems to recognize the girls, but they hurry to their room to avoid a confrontation.

 

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That night, Brooks (Forrest Tucker – image above, right) is in his room unpacking when Truscott comes in and attempts to be friendly, but as soon as he leaves the room, he telephones someone, inquiring about Brooks. Brooks happens to be walking down the hallway, and hears the conversation. As he heads downstairs, he meets two climber, Brett (Andrew Faulds – image above, left), and Dewhurst (Stuart Saunders). They’re heading up the mountain for a climb, and going to stay the night in a shack on the side of the mountain tonight, then head up tomorrow. Truscott, Brooks, and Sarah, all join them for a farewell drink. They all have one, but then the conversation turns to the recent “accidents” on the mountain, and things get a bit grim. The bartender, Hans, is reluctant to talk about these matters, and about the villagers sentiments about the subject.

 

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As the two men head out for their excursion, Brooks decides to hitch a ride with them up the cable car. He climbs aboard, and heads to the observatory, where we see Professor Crevett (Warren Mitchell). He tells Brooks that the goings-on around here are eerily similar to that of events that took place three years ago in the Andes Mountains. Crevett explains to Brooks that everywhere that the ominous cloud goes, death follows, as well as high amounts of radiation. Meanwhile, back at the hotel, Anne and Sarah do their best Jedi mind trick routine (image above) to the applause of the guests. During this though, Anne begins to fall into a trance. She sees the two climbers in the hut (Dewhurst & Brett), and warns of danger. Crevett and Brooks realize that the girl must be psychic, and she is somehow able to see into the mind(s) of whatever is in the  mysterious cloud surrounding the mountains. Brooks calls the hut, and Dewhurst confirms that Brett is missing. Later, the observatory calls the hotel and tells the Professor that the cloud is no moving towards the hut. Within minutes, they call Dewhurst, and he tells them that he thinks he sees someone in the fog. Within seconds, Dewhurst is dead.

 

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The following morning, Brooks and some of the others head out to find Dewhurst and Brett. After searching for hours, one of the villagers finds some bloody clothes, and then calls out to another villager. Before he can get his bearings, we see Brett, looking like one of Romero’s living dead, and he brutally kills the man. As the other villager arrives, he tries to defend himself, but Brett overpowers him, and slays him as well. Brooks, Truscott, and their party find the hut, and it’s very cold inside. The blankets are frozen, and so on. They find Dewhurst, and he’s been decapitated. They call to the city, and get an airplane to search from above as well. The next night, Brett inexplicably shows up, and seems a bit off kilter. As he’s sitting at the bar, Anne walks in, and he attempts to kill her, but Brooks knocks him out. They lock him up, but he escapes, and then decapitates the hotel owner. Brett then attacks Anne but Brooks shoots and kills him. Brooks and Crevett inspect the body and discover that any kind of heat can make his body disintegrate.

As the cloud moves toward the village, the people make their way to the observatory for a final showdown with the creatures in the fog! Will they survive or will they meet their doom!

 

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OK, here are my thoughts:

When I heard that this film inspired John Carpenter, it immediately jumped to the top of my watch list. Having Forrest Tucker as the lead actor doesn’t hurt either. I loved his performance in The Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas (1957), and that film will be reviewed sooner than later as well. He’s really in charge in this film, and totally runs the show from the minute he’s on-screen. The supporting cast is also right there to add some flavor. Warren Mitchell portrays the Professor, and he fits the part perfectly.

The special effects were good for their time, and the “monsters” were pretty scary looking in this film. The man behind them was Les Bowie (uncredited), and he should be lauded for his efforts. The music score (Stanley Black) was very riveting at a few points, and will have you on the edge of your seat. The sets were fairly generic, but most of the time they didn’t need to be more than that anyway. The observatory scenes were the best, and seemed the most “real.” Get out and find this movie, it’s certainly worth the time!

 

Click here for the trailer!

 

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Janet Munro