Peter Cushing, Maureen Connell, and Forrest Tucker in The Abominable Snowman (1957)


(director: Val Guest; screenwriter: Nigel Kneale/based on Nigel Kneale’s teleplay The Creature; cinematographer: Arthur Grant; editor: Bill Lenny; music: Humphrey Searle; cast: Forrest Tucker (Dr. Tom Friend), Peter Cushing (Dr. John Rollason), Maureen Connell (Helen Rollason), Richard Wattis (Peter Fox), Robert Brown (Ed Shelley), Michael Brill (Andrew McNee), Wolfe Morris (Kusang, guide), Arnold Marlé (Lama), Anthony Chinn (Major-domo); Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Aubrey Baring; Twentieth Century-Fox; 1957-UK/USA)

“I thought the adventure film was only passable when it should have been more exciting.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A slight black-and-white shot B-horror film produced by Hammer studios and intensely directed by Val Guest (“Quartermass 2″/”Expresso Bongo”/”The Beauty Jungle”). It’s based on Nigel Kneale’s 1955 BBC teleplay The Creature, and tells of the legendary search for the mysterious Yeti by a team of Westerners in the Tibetan Himalayas (with the French Pyrenees and Pinewood Studio standing in for the Himalayas). This was the final film collaboration between Guest and writer Kneale. Though intelligently penned, beautifully photographed and chilling in its claustrophobic atmosphere, the film’s histrionics and constant philosophizing make this a dreary watch that patronizingly lectures us that those exploring the mysteries of life with bad intentions will be subject to their bad karma (which gets no argument from me, except I thought the adventure film was only passable when it should have been more exciting). Also, the elusive mythological creature, which may or may not exist, is only glimpsed at but when spotted appears to be too obviously a man in a gorilla suit to cause any real fright.

In the remote Rong-ruk Tibetan monastery, overseen by a wise all-seeing lama (Arnold Marlé), humanitarian botanist John Rollason (Peter Cushing), his wife Helen (Maureen Connell), and research assistant Fox (Peter Wattis) are in his village to search for rare plants. Along comes the crude American adventurer Tom Friend (Forrest Tucker) and his team of explorers to track down the ‘abominable snowman’ and he enlists the help of the knowledgeable botanist, who becomes interested in being the fifth explorer when the brash Tom convinces him the mission is for scientific purposes only. But Tom’s hidden agenda is to capture and exploit the legendary Yeti.

These bad intentions bring misfortune to those on the expedition, as soon as they reach the snowy peaks of the Himalayas. The Sherpa guide Kusang (Wolfe Morris) flees in fright upon hearing eerie screams and returns to the monastery, thrill-seeker Scottish photographer McNee (Michael Brill) meets with an avoidable accident chasing after Yeti and plunges to his death from a precipice, ex-trapper Ed Shelley (Robert Brown) is used as live bait in a cave to lure the Yeti and in fear of hearing threatening sounds dies from a heart attack, and the mercenary exploiter Tom meets his ill-fate for messing with the unknown as he fires his gun triggering an avalanche that buries him alive.

The lama tells Helen that the Yeti doesn’t exist and that the fate of the lives of the men will be determined by their own nature; it results in John safely found unconscious with a huge footprint in the snow by his side when his wife leads a search party to rescue her missing husband and the others.


REVIEWED ON 1/5/2009 GRADE: B-   https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/