The Abominable Snowman (1957)

Just two years after they launched their horror career with The Quatermass Xperiment, Hammer Films returned for the third time to the television work of Quatermass’ creator, Nigel Kneale, this time with an adaptation of his TV play, The Creature.  Of course, if you count their unauthorized sequel/knockoff, X the Unknown (1956), it was their fourth venture into the world of Kneale.

Peter Cushing returns to the same role he played in the original play, as a young botanist who gets drawn into an expedition to find the legendary snowman.  Forrest Tucker – who made no fewer than 3 Quatermass/Nigel Kneale inspired British SF Horror films that year (it must be some sort of dubious record.  The others were The Trollenberg Terror [The Crawling Eye] and The Strange World of Planet X [The Cosmic Monster] ) –  has a very nice part as the huckster trying to bring the creature back to put it on show.

But there’s a lot more going than meets the eye, and they become more and more frightened as the climb higher into the inhospitable snowy wastes and an increasingly strange series of events slowly surrounds them.

And, in the end, Kneale gives us a final twist that turns the story we’ve seen so far on its ear – and proposes a truly unique, science-fictional identity for the Yeti.

It is a creepy little film that wrings as much out of its desolate surroundings and terrified characters cut off from the rest of the world as it can.   Hammer made few better SF Horror films.  Unfortunately, far too many modern viewers will feel cheated by the creature’s almost non-existent screen time.

Sad, really.

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