Regular readers will know that we love Nigel Kneale on The Island. ‘The Abominable Snowman’ is not one of his best known works, but it is an excellent example of Kneale’s brilliance, his compassion and, most of all, his unerring ability to turn a stock dramatic situation completely on its head.
Originally made as ‘The Creature’ for TV with Stanley Baker, Hammer eagerly snapped up the story as a counterpoint to their hugely successful ‘Quatermass’ adaptations. It stars Peter Cushing and Forrest Tucker as two men both in search of the Yeti, but with completely different motives: Cushing, of course, wants to make contact out of personal and professional curiosity, to study the creature from a scientific point of view and further man’s understanding of the world he lives in; Tucker wants money and glory, and doesn’t care how many big footed snow monsters he has to kill to get it.
The climax of the film, in which a concussed Cushing ‘meets’ the Yeti in their home environment, has a sense of subtle satisfaction for the fair minded. The creatures remain in the shadows, half-glimpsed, retaining their mystery. Most importantly, they clearly think that mankind is pretty abominable and they are simply biding their time waiting for us to blow each other up once and for all. It’s a wonderfully gentle ending to an intelligent and well-made film.
I also like the music, which rips off Ralph Vaughan-Williams marvellous score for ‘Scott Of The Antarctic’ extremely well, something RVW did himself for his seventh symphony.
Nigel Kneale, Hammer, Stanley Baker, Peter Cushing and Ralph Vaughan Williams all in one post? I spoil you, I really do.