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May 5, 2011

Midnight Movie of the Week #70 - Abominable

Well, they can't all be John Carpenter's The Thing.

But before you walk away, wondering what I'm doing giving a Midnight Movie of the Week spot to a film that premiered on the Sci-Fi Channel (before its SyFy takeover!), I ask you to consider Abominable.  It's not high art by any means, but it's a surprisingly competent drive-in horror that is one of the more entertaining monster movies of recent memory. 
Matt McCoy, who was a minor star in the '90s after playing the male lead in The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (a sleazy favorite of mine), stars as wheelchair bound Preston Rogers, who is spending the weekend at a cabin near the site of the accident that left him paralyzed.  He expected a secluded weekend away from everything except his jackwagon of a nurse - a creepily mustached fellow named Otis - but a group of young women preparing for a wedding soon show up at the cabin next door. Because, really, what's the point of having a secluded cabin if there's not another cabin next door?
These five girls - including potential survivor girl Haley Joel (a Harvard grad who I assume is no relation to Osment, I assume) and indie scream queen Tiffany Shepis - are ready to party, but they didn't expect the third party in this game of chance.  As McCoy's Preston witnesses what's going on outside his window, he becomes convinced that some kind of creature that is "kind of like the Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas" is on the prowl.  The girls start to disappear one at a time, and the immobile Preston appears to be their only chance at survival.
If the set up sounds a lot like Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window - which is totally The Mike's favorite movie ever - that's because it is.  While director Ryan Schifrin is no Master of Suspense, he paces Abominable well and definitely instills a strong vision upon the film.  This isn't a film that should be confused with the intentionally awkward cheap monster films that the SyFy network has become known for in recent years, it's a very professional b-movie that tells its story and finds ways to fit the hulking monster alongside its characters.
Abominable also gets a boost from some of the established talent involved.  Established actors that fill small parts in the film include Jeffrey Combs, Dee Wallace Stone, Paul Gleason, and Lance Henriksen, and each actor does more than just walk on screen to add a name to the cast.  A mid film scene where Henriksen, Combs, and Cliffhanger's Rex Linn discuss the strange goings on around a campfire is a welcome break from the cabin-based plot, and Gleason's small role as the speculative Sheriff is pleasantly reminiscent of his iconic role in The Breakfast Club.  Another notable talent involved in the film is composer Lalo Schifrin of Mission: Impossible fame, who is the director's father.  His musical score is nothing groundbreaking, but it effectively helps the film become more menacing than you'd expect at times.
Abominable certainly doesn't hit the b-movie high notes of something like Tremors - then again, what monster movie of the last twenty years has? - but it's a more interesting and well made monster film than you'd expect from the box cover.  From the opening scares to the final ridiculous reveal, Abominable is a lot of fun and a great throwback to Hitchcockian suspense and drive-in monster madness.  If you watch the film and try to mock it with friends, you might succeed.  But if you actually give Abominable a chance, you'll probably have just as much fun.

1 comment:

Emily said...

I was really pleasantly surprised with how enjoyable this was- and not in a "so bad it's good way" either. Like you, anything Rear Window-esque makes my ears perk up, and this one didn't disappoint. Obviously it's not the greatest movie ever, but it was a good example of a well-done b-movie. It also may be the best abominable snowman type monster movie I've viewed- although admittedly I haven't seen many of those.