Starring: Matt McCoy, Haley Joel, Jeffrey Combs, Paul Gleason, Rex Linn, Phil Morris, Dee Wallace Stone, Lance Henriksen
Director: Ryan Schifrin
We received this flick way back in October 2006, and it sat around the Bullz-Eye offices, unwatched, for quite some time. Ultimately, the reason for our hesitation was because of one line on the back of the DVD box: “Featuring uncensored footage not seen in the Sci-Fi Channel broadcast.” This sentence might seem innocuous enough – indeed, it might even inspire some people to want to watch the film, because everyone knows that the phrase “uncensored footage” quite often equals “bare boobies” (it certainly does in this case). But honestly, have you seen the films that the Sci-Fi Channel scores for their cable premieres? They’re uniformly Grade-Z flicks that, were it not for a token actor or actress of note within the cast, would be destined for straight-to-video fate.
“Abominable,” however, is a notable exception to that rule, and we apologize wholeheartedly for haphazardly lumping it in with its Sci-Fi Channel cinematic brethren.
Written and directed by Ryan Schifrin, “Abominable” is a labor of love (but more about that below). What’s perhaps more important is that it’s about Bigfoot. If you spent much of the ‘70s glued to your television, then you probably caught one or two episodes of the syndicated, Leonard-Nimoy-hosted series, “In Search Of.” The episode that tackled the whole Yeti / Sasquatch / Bigfoot legend probably did more to increase the profile of that myth than anything else. “Abominable” probably won’t inspire anyone to believe that Bigfoot actually exists, but it’s an enjoyably fun, sometimes claustrophobic, romp.
Preston Rogers, played by Matt McCoy (“Carnivàle,” “Huff”), is a longtime mountain climber who’s still coming to terms with the fact that his last climb resulted in the loss of his wife and the use of his legs. With his grumpy male nurse (Christian Tinsley) in tow, Rogers returns to the mountain cabin he and his wife shared and quickly finds himself bored out of his skull. In a loving nod to “Rear Window,” he manages to entertain himself by using binoculars to check on the group of hot co-eds in the cabin next door. Simultaneous to the goings-on at Casa de Rogers, a group of local hunters (Rex Linn, Jeffrey Combs and Lance Henriksen), are trying to figure out what’s been killing animals in the area. It’s probably not giving a lot away to say that they find out the hard way, and that the beast quickly works up an appetite for some hot co-ed action.
As noted, “Abominable” is, first and foremost, fun. Oh, make no mistake, it’s also scary, and there are at least two legitimately horrifying moments, most notably when one of the co-eds makes an unexpectedly hasty exit from their cabin via the bathroom window. But Schifrin’s script and direction provide just the right blend of humor and horror, skewering clichés as often as paying homage to his inspirations. (A favorite: when Rogers realizes he needs to defend himself, he rolls his wheelchair into the kitchen, checks out the cutlery, then solemnly announces, “We’re gonna need a bigger knife.”)
McCoy has one of the best “horrified” expressions in the movie business, and although he holds the film together almost single handedly, he’s surrounded by small but fun appearances by many familiar faces. The most enjoyable comes from the late Paul Gleason, playing the sheriff in his patented hard-ass manner and getting a laugh by first appearing on camera while holding a mug that reads, “Don’t Mess with the Bull.” By the way, the film’s score is fantastic as well, but given that it was done by Ryan Schifrin’s dad, Lalo (“Mission: Impossible”), that’s probably the least surprising thing about “Abominable.”
Okay, so Bigfoot himself doesn’t look all that awesome. Despite their best attempts, it still looks like a big guy in a monkey suit. In the end, however, there are so many other things going for “Abominable,” including a final moment that will make fans of horror sequels giggle with glee, you can forgive them.DVD Review:
If there’s one thing you can say about Anchor Bay, it’s that they rarely fail to give a film the best possible DVD release, whether it’s a major movie or not. “Abominable” includes a making-of featurette, deleted and extended scenes, outtakes and bloopers, trailers, galleries of posters, stills, storyboards and even Ryan Schifrin’s student film, “Shadows.” What’s most enjoyable, however, is the audio commentary with Schifrin and McCoy, along with occasional pop-ins from Jeffrey Combs. Schifrin goes into great detail about how he pulled every string and called in every favor to make “Abominable,” and he provides an extremely interesting look into what a filmmaker can accomplish on a small budget.