Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas/Review

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A little known fact about Peter Cushing is that his films are scientifically proven to cure all known illness and disease. Now, I can imagine that reading that statement might have you rolling your eyes and muttering "Oh Neil, you crazy, handsome fool you. That's just the impossible dream of a madman" but I beg to differ. For the past few days now I have been suffering from the death plague/common cold (delete as you feel applicable) which has resulted in much wailing and gnashing of teeth as well as mucho, mucho mucus pouring forth from various holes, to the point where I almost did a Carol Anne and walked into the light.

Yet when it looked as if all was lost and the world would be deprived of my cutting edge satirical wisdom and fart jokes, I stuck on a copy of Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas and ta-dah, 1 hr and 26 minutes later I was cured. Thus proving my opening statement to be true beyond all reasonable doubt. Well, it was either that or the Lemsip...

Anyhow, as much as I would love to regale you with more stories of my epic battle against the death plague/common cold (delete as you feel applicable) I guess you'll want to know about the movie that saved a legend (in his own mind). It opens in The Himalayas, which you can tell immediately by the liberal use of stock footage depicting snow covered mountains, ah Hammer Studios you cheap, lovable bastards you, where we are whisked away to the monastery of Rong-buk and not at all a backlot honest guv'nor.

Here we meet Dr. John Rollason (Peter Cushing) and his assistant Peter Fox (Richard Wattis) who, along with Rollasons wife Helen (Maureen Connell), are studying the local flora and fauna for any magical healing properties it may have. Smelly hippies...This idyllic tree-hugging pastime is soon interrupted by the arrival of a second expedition, as foretold by the Lama (Arnold Marlé) and his outragous accent, led by Dr. Tom Friend (Forrest Tucker).

Where as Peter and Helen are just there to poke and prod defenceless plants it turns out that Dr. John Rollason has decided to team up with Dr. Tom Friend and his cronies, Ed Shelley (Robert Brown), Andrew McNee (Michael Brill) and Kusang (Wolfe Morris), to head into the mountains to hunt the elusive Abominable Snowman and no amount of begging, pleading, cajoling or threating to stab him in the eye with a fish slice (OK, might have made that last one up) can convince the good Doctor to abandon his foolish plan.

Which is fine by me or otherwise this film would've been over after 20 minutes. So, with everyone and their Lama telling him that this is the worst idea since Custer decided to bum-rush Little Bighorn, Dr. John Rollason chooses to ignore them all and makes way with his new best friends who-aren't-at-all-untrustworthy-in-any-way-what-so-ever in search of that damn Yeti.

Like all good Hammer films this takes about 25 minutes to get going as we have to get background, plot and other trifling things like that out of the way before we can move the story forward but that's never really a problem, due to the fact that the company knew how to spin a tale.

They were also astute enough to know that if that alone didn't grab you all they had to do was add one, or both, of their big hitters into the mix, i.e.: Christopher Lee or Peter Cushing, and they'd have to fight people off with sharp pointy sticks in a way that would make Dracula blush. Now Christopher Lee might be noticable only by his absence from this film but Peter Cushing is here in all his glory.

As smooth as butter dripping off a hot crumpet and as English as Noël Coward playing cricket with Shakespeare while The Queen serves Pimm's, he effortlessly steals every scene he's in, which is pretty much ALL of them, and makes you proud to be British while he does so. Whether he's pointing out to Dr. Tom Friend that perhaps violence isn't always the answer, "This creature may have an affinity for man, something in common with ourselves. Let's remember that before we start shooting" or when he finally comes face to face with the beast itself he does so with a certain stiff upper-lipped ness and class that very few actors have ever managed to pull off. Sorry Adam Sandler.

The rest of the film is pretty good as well, more of a study of just how stupid humans can be in their quest for money and fame than a monster movie, due to the fact that you hardly ever see the Yeti except for a few glimpses of it here and there, and the supporting cast do a decent enough job with a not too shabby script but overall there is only one reason to watch this. Hammer knew it. I know it. And so do you. So head on over to YouTube and spend 1 hr and 26 minutes (and 47 seconds) in the presence of acting royalty as he puts in another masterclass without even breaking a sweat.

Movie: 6.5/7 Out Of 10. Peter Cushing: 10 Out Of 10 for just being Peter Cushing.

Neil Gray is a writer from the UK. The story goes that he was invented in a laboratory experiment that went horribly wrong and has spent years devouring every movie form and film genre that was foolish enough to pass his way until he is now nothing more than a hideous monstrosity, more celluloid than man.
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