The Abominable Snowman (1957)

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Due Out for Sale 30-May-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Main Menu Audio
Interviews-Crew-Val Guest (Director)
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Peter Cushing Trailers
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1957
Running Time 86:15
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (59:33) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Val Guest
Studio
Distributor

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Forrest Tucker
Peter Cushing
Maureen Connell
Richard Wattis
Robert Brown
Michael Brill
Wolfe Morris
Arnold Marlé
Anthony Chinn
Case Gatefold
RPI ? Music Humphrey Searle


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    In the foothills of the Himalayas Doctor John Rollason (Peter Cushing) waits with his wife Helen (Maureen Connell) in a lamasery for the arrival of a party of mountaineers. Rollason's quest is to search for proof of the existence of the yeti, the so-called Abominable Snowman. Despite the warnings of the head lama (and the misgivings of his wife), Rollason heads off with a small group of men led by Tom Friend (Forrest Tucker) up into the mountains in search of the mythical beasts. Well, as it turns out they are not mythical, and Friend has commercial interests that outweigh any scientific considerations.

    An early Hammer effort (despite the Warners logo on the film, this being an American release print), this features an American star. Not unusual for Hammer, who imported Americans like Bela Lugosi, Barbara Payton and Brian Donlevy in some of their earlier films, before they developed home grown stars in Cushing and Christopher Lee (who is not in this one).

    The film is effectively directed by Val Guest, and generates considerable eeriness and spookiness, mainly through not showing much of the creatures and suggesting menace through sound and atmosphere. It also benefits from some location shooting in the Pyrenees, which adds considerable veracity to the outdoor scenes. I would even venture to say that this is one of Hammer's best genre efforts, a film that is good enough to stand with any of the mainstream major studio efforts of the era. It is well acted, especially by Cushing, though second-string American star Tucker is by no means eclipsed. Unfortunately it is only available as part of a three disc set called Superstars of Horror Volume 1: Peter Cushing, not separately.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film comes in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    Given the positive reviews of the Region 1 equivalent, I was expecting something better than this transfer, which is an improvement on my VHS copy of the film. While it is reasonably sharp, fine detail is not especially clear. It looks slightly blurry in fact, as though it were an NTSC to PAL transfer or from a VHS master tape, but I have no proof that either is the case. Contrast seems a little high, which makes faces seem a little bright. The film is monochrome, and the transfer looks a little too grey and lacking in deep blacks and clean whites.

    Some posterisation can be seen at times, but the most significant artefact is telecine wobble, quite obvious in the opening credits. There are occasional film artefacts but by and large the transfer is very clean.

    The disc is RSDL-formatted, with the layer change barely disruptive at 59:33. There are no subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The sole audio track is Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.

    The audio is very good indeed on this disc. Dialogue is clear and the sound effects, particularly the howling mountain winds, come across with some intensity. There is no obvious hiss or distortion, and audio sync is perfect (apart from one or two looped lines of dialogue).

    Humphrey Searle's score is also excellent, with some Tibetan influences detectable in the opening themes. The music adds considerably to the mood of the film, and helps with the sense of unreality when the action moves into the mountain peaks.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Audio

    You can hear some of the wind effects when viewing the main menu.

Interview-Crew-Val Guest (Director) (13:16)

    A recent interview with the nonagenarian director, which covers his Hammer period and this film. Worth watching at least once as he has some interesting things to say about the production and the actors.

Theatrical Trailer (1:40)

    This seems to be an American trailer, widescreen but not 16x9 enhanced. You have to hear the voice-over narration to believe it.

Trailer-Peter Cushing Trailers (7:54)

    Trailers for Biggles, And Now the Screaming Starts, Bloodsuckers and Shockwaves, all of which feature our star.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    In comparison to the US Region 1, the Region 4 misses out on:

    The Region 1 misses out on the director interview.

    The UK Region 2 has the same extras as the Region 1. Both are reported to have an excellent video transfer, but even if it was the same the extras tip the scales in favour of the overseas competition. More so when each is available as a stand-alone release. The Region 1 is also available in a two film set with Shatter, at a budget price.

Summary

    An excellent film from Hammer studios, one of their best.

    The video quality is good but sounds as though it is not as good as the Region 1 release.

    The audio quality is very good.

    One useful extra.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Thursday, July 14, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

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