THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN

Director: Val Guest

Starring: Forrest Tucker, Peter Cushing, Maureen Connell

A team search the Himalayas for the legendary Yeti.

THE REGION 0 (NTSC) ANCHOR BAY DVD

Based on a long-lost BBC play written by Quatermass creator Nigel Kneale, (The Creature, in 1955), this 1957 Hammer film is unjustly neglected. Peter Cushing gives one of his finest performances as a botanist who strikes up an uneasy alliance with an American impresario (Tucker) during a trip to the Himalayas. Together they search for the legendary Yeti, but get more than they bargain for when they eventually encounter the creatures. The film may be too sedate to fully engage a modern audience, but there are several memorable scenes, and time spent watching Cushing perform is never wasted.

The film has played numerous times on TV. Usually  broadcasts tantalisingly begin in letterbox format, before switching to full-screen as soon as the credits have finished. Anchor Bayís stunning widescreen presentation, (replicating the original Cinemascope-like Regalscope 2.35:1 theatrical ratio), is a revelation, opening out Guestís tableaux considerably. Almost every shot is improved, either by keeping more cast members on screen at a time, or revealing the impressive scale and detail of Bernard Robinsonís sets. The disc captures Arthur Grantís stark black and white cinematography very nicely. Anchor Bayís print carries the filmís original British title (it was lengthened to The Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas for the US) and is even preceded by its original British Board of Film Censors certificate.

The disc is enhanced for 16:9 presentation, and comes with a commentary track by Nigel Kneale and Val Guest. The disc also contains an episode of the feeble World of Hammer TV series titled Hammer Stars: Peter Cushing. The documentary, narrated by Oliver Reed, contains clips from several films not yet released on DVD, and this, too, is presented pillarboxed in 16:9-enhanced format - a misguided idea which reduces the image size simply to keep the disc anamorphic throughout.

THE REGION 2 (PAL) DD VIDEO DVD

The Region 2 Abominable Snowman DVD, from DD Video, features a similar 16:9-enhanced transfer to the Anchor Bay DVD, but offers improved detail and better contrast.

Their disc features the commentary track (with director Val Guest and writer Nigel Kneale) from the US Anchor Bay releases, but adds an exclusive video interview with Guest (13m). It also comes with a wonderful booklet, featuring stills and promotional artwork from the film in question, and a comprehensive essay. It, too, features the Hammer Stars: Peter Cushing segment of World of Hammer. DD Video's presentation is in the original 4:3 format, which is a considerable improvement over Anchor Bay's version.

 

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