Lately I’ve found myself less than impressed with the seemingly endless supply of direct-to-DVD flicks that have been hitting the shelves. Horror is, once again, a hit at the box-office, meaning everybody and their grandma now thinks that they, too, need to make a horror movie so that they can cash in while the gettin’s good! Monster horror is amongst the worst of the offenders, with everything from cheapo CGI dinosaurs to costume-party-Bigfoots wreaking Z-grade havoc on the small screen. It was these films that came to mind when I received a copy of Abominable in the mail a short while back. I looked at the cover, saw names like Lance Henriksen, Jeffrey Combs, and Dee Wallace Stone – a virtual who’s who of once-reliable genre veterans who have become Sci-Fi channel staples – and threw the disc into the player.
The first thing I noticed was that this flick actually looked pretty good. I mean, it wasn’t Fincher or anything, but it looked a helluva lot better than stuff like Sasquatch Hunters, and the opening sequence was both funny and a bit scary. As the movie rolled on, I found myself laughing out loud, jumping a few times, and thoroughly involved in the simple-yet-effective story. I was actually liking this movie. Scratch that; I was loving it!
Matt McCoy stars as Preston Rogers, a man who has recently lost his wife (as well as his ability to walk) in a climbing accident, and has been institutionalized ever since. Preston’s doctor feels it would be good for him to return to the scene of his wife’s death so that he can confront his emotions, and assigns his prickly nurse, Otis (Tinsley), to take him back to the remote mountain house for the weekend. As luck would have it, the two men aren’t alone, as a group of young women are renting the house next door, and, understandably, attract Preston’s attention.
However, he’s not the only one watching them.
Abominable is a mix of Rear Window and The Legend of Boggy Creek, with some decidedly eighties elements thrown into the mix (hot chicks, senseless nudity, lots of gore; you know – the essentials). Writer/director Ryan Schifrin delivers a very funny and oftentimes scary fright flick that firmly embraces its B-movie roots, but does so without resorting to self-aware humor or parody. This film takes its silliness quite seriously, thank you, and nowhere is that more evident than in the solid performances by its iconic cast. Matt McCoy, the always-charming staple of moronic 80’s comedies, turns in a really nice, understated performance as Preston, imbuing his character with a sense of quiet hysteria that makes for a truly unique hero. I was also really impressed by first-time actor (and creature designer) Christien Tinsley’s turn as the despicable Otis. Tinsley underwent a metamorphosis of his own to “find” the character by thinning out his hair and growing a 70’s style moustache, giving Otis a truly lecherous vibe. The genre vets all turn in solid performances, as well, but the biggest surprise was Lance Henriksen’s cameo as Zeigler Dane, a sort of good ol’ boy hunter who is tracking down the creature with Combs and CSI: Miami’s Rex Linn. He delivers his lines with such a relaxed, carefree demeanor – the polar opposite of the moody intensity we’re used to from the actor – and just seemed so comfortable doing so that it made me wonder why we haven’t really seen this side of the actor before.
Anchor Bay gives Abominable a respectable release on DVD, loading up on special features like a making-of, feature length commentary (with Schifrin, Combs, and McCoy), deleted scenes, outtakes, and much more.
Abominable is a really pleasant surprise, and one of those flicks that is destined for cult-status. There are a few moments where the script stumbles over itself, and the titular monster works better when you don’t see him, but none of that detracts much from an otherwise wholly entertaining monster mash - one that I'll be sure to watch again.