The low-budget horror flick Abominable is surprisingly bominable. In fact, it is the single most bominable film about the Abominable snowman ever made. (I concede that measuring a movie against the likes of Harry & The Hendersons sets the bar rather low.)
(What do you mean “bominable” is not a word? If “abominable” means “bad”, “bominable” must mean “good”, right? It’s petty criticism like that which keep me from being a gruntled employee of SnarkCriticPop.com. Sorry, I’ve gotten off track before getting on the track.)
If the universe has but one constant that we can all embrace and rely on, it’s that on Saturday nights at 9 o’clock the SyFy Channel is going to air a really, really crappy movie. Whether it’s a movie like Mansquito, Frankenfish, or Dinocroc, it never fails. If you want cheesy special effects, this is the greatest two hours in the week.
And let’s be honest, there’s a lot working against the movies that make their debut on SyFy. Their budget is small, the script they are working with isn’t exactly highly sought after, and the actors available are usually either has-beens or never-will-be’s. (Notable exception: those films that feature megastar Kevin Sorbo.) Still, one of these movies would have to be truly, hideously terrible for me to rank it as one of the worst movies ever for the simple reason they didn’t have the resources your big-budget blockbusters do. If you’ve got Lorenzo Lamas running from dinosaurs that look as though they escaped from the Commodore 64 graphics department, odds are you are watching a SyFy Channel movie (Raptor Island, to be specific).
Low expectations sometimes make for pleasant surprises. Or, as my father once told me, “The cynic is never disappointed.”
The pre-title scene of Abominable is surprisingly tense fare, with a middle-aged couple being stalked by an unseen, dog-chomping, big-footed beast on their ranch. Using the Jaws philosophy (don’t show the monster unless you abosultely have to), it’s a effective scene.
Then the credit sequence begins and, the music blew me away. This was no generic fare; this was a very dramatic, moody, full orchestra score. As the credits continued to roll I saw the music was composed by no less than Lalo Schifrin. Schifrin is an accomplished composer of TV/movies, mostly known as the man responsible for creating the memorable Mission: Impossible theme. What was THIS guy doing the soundtrack for THIS movie?
At first I thought Lalo may have fallen on hard times. That may partially be true, as a quick trip to imdb.com informs that Lalo’s most prerstigious work of late has been the Rush Hour franchise. *shudder* (I put my money where my mouth is – at least this once — I own the Abominable soundtrack.)
The answer comes with the name of the writer/director, Ryan Schifrin. This is Lalo’s son making his directorial debut. At this point I found myself in the unfamiliar position of watching a SyFy Channel movie and not only thinking it might not suck, but wanting it to be good.
The plot of Abominable in and of itself is nothing extraordinary.
When in a remote, mountainous region of the country where a wealthy, crippled man named Preston (Matt McCoy) is returning home. Flashbacks reveal that Preston suffered an accident at a nearby mountain where his wife died and he lost the use of his legs.
His obnoxious, hateable male nurse Otis is taking him there under doctor’s orders. Preston isn’t sure he’s ready to face his old home for the first time since losing his wife, but Otis pays him no attention, and drops Preston off in his house. Otis must carry Preston and his wheelchair up a set of stairs to get into, emphasizing Preston’s inability to exit on his own accord.
In a classic, b-movie plot device to introduce boobies a group of young women are moving into the only house nearby, on a bacholorette party weekend (including Haley Joel, pictured right, no relation to dead person seeing child star Haley Joel Osment). All that’s missing is a pillow fight.
Spying through his binoculars Preston catches a glimpse of a very sinister-looking Bigfoot. He tries to warn the women, who think he’s just some crazy pervert, as that abominable Bigfoot begins to pick them off.
The build-up to the carnage is much more effective than the carnage itself. The limited budget kinda makes the half-hour, frenzied finale fall short of the really good first hour.
Preston is played by Matt McCoy, a character actor who looks familiar but you can’t place his face (he was in L.A. Confidential as well as Police Academy 5!), and he is good here.
Small, supporting are filled with lots of other, “hey, it’s that guy who’s been in things!” actors like Paul Gleason (Die Hard), Lance Henriksen (Aliens), Rex Linn (CSI: Miami), and Dee Wallace (E.T.).
Ryan Schifrin’s story in Abominable combines Bigfoot lore with Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Rear Window. Similar to Rear Window, Preston is wheelchair bound, snoops out of boredom, spies an atrocity, and tries to warn the damsel in distress of danger. I’d call it homage rather than a rip-off; if you’re going to borrow you may as well borrow from the best. (If there are any producers out there interested in monster movie/Hitchcock hybrids, I am almost finished with my screenplay Wendigo With Vertigo.)
Another factor that I appreciated in Abominable is that the creature is not Computer Generated. Most the cheap monster movies these days have even cheaper CGI. The costumed Bigfoot here is relatively convincing but doesn’t hold up too well in the final act when it is shown a wee bit too much.
As you can probably tell, I really enjoyed Abominable. Perhaps by building up the movie as I’ve done I have Abominable is a disservice by raising expectations. After all, if you pick up a pearl on the beach you’re more likely to be impressed by it than if the same pearl were presented you with the preface, “Behold the finest pearl yet to be discovered by man!”
In my humble yet always correct opinion, Abominable was unexpectedly an effective, scary movie that deserves recognition and my recommendation.
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