For me, Hammer films have always been horror cinema’s equivalent of a comfort blanket.

Restrained, reassuring, well put together and acted, you usually know exactly what you are going to get from them.

Even more so when they starred the likes of Peter Cushing or Christopher Lee, who were able to give that added gloss to pretty much everything they appeared in.

This is a 1957 effort, that hit cinemas the same summer Hammer unleashed one of their iconic hits, Curse Of Frankenstein.

This time round Cushing once again plays a scientist, on this occasion botanist Dr Rollason.

Rollason is shacked up in a Buddhist temple in the Himalayas with his wife (Maureen Connell) and pal Peter Fox (Richard Wattiss), eagerly interacting with the locals and enjoying deep, meaningful chats with the Lhama (Arnold Marle).

That all changes though when a search party led by brash American Tom Friend (Forrest Tucker) arrives on the scene, eager to continue trekking into the mountains in their search for the legendary Yeti/Abominable Snowman.

Turns out Rollason knew they were coming all along and he decides to join their mission – much to the dismay of his wife.

The_Abominable_Snowman_-_landscape

Off they head into the unforgiving conditions, on the hunt for this mythical beast.

From then on it is a desperate battle for survival as the party come up against the harsh environment, the darker sides of their personalities – and yes, some yetis.

Scripted by Quatermass scribe Nigel Kneale, The Abominable Snowman works best, somewhat bizarrely, when the creatures are off screen – with the simmering tension between the group played out very well.

There are also some neat scenes as the remaining party members begin to ‘lose it’ psychologically as the weather really begins to close in.

When the yetis do arrive on screen you almost wish they hadn’t as they do look pretty ropey – but this is 1957 remember.

Directed by Hammer veteran Val Guest (who helmed the Quatermass flicks, as well as the effective The Day The Earth Caught Fire), the film is chock full of nice moments, with location camerawork neatly intercutting with studio scenes.

There is also a nice, eerie tinge to the whole thing, with numerous scenes of the trekkers caught in blizzards being particularly effective.

In many ways The Abominable Snowman is a template for Hammer films – interesting but not overly exciting, never boring and impeccably acted.

A lot of that is obviously down to Cushing, and he bounces well off Tucker in this outing.

The Abominable Snowman is one of those flicks that barely gets a mention when it comes to the Hammer catalogue, but if you fancy giving a Peter Cushing flick a whirl and want to stray from the Frankenstein/Dracula efforts, this is a pretty good place to start.

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.