Sort of a cross between Rear Window and The Legend Of Boggy Creek, Ryan Schifrin's Abominable is a fun, drive-in style monster movie with gore galore, gratuitous nudity, a fun b-movie cast and a goofy creature at the center of all the mayhem.
When the movie begins, a farmer and his wife (Dee Wallace Stone of The Howling) head outside to see what's causing a disturbance. They find a dead horse and soon enough come face to face with a giant furry monster. From there we meet Preston Rogers (Matt McCoy of Snapdragon) who lost his wife and the use of his legs when a mountain climbing expedition went awry. Six months later, after physical and emotional therapy, Preston is returning to the cabin up in the mountains that he once shared with his wife, this time accompanied by Otis (Christen Tinsley), his male nurse.
When Otis heads out to get Preston some soy milk (it's seems he's lactose intolerant), Preston sees a group of five young ladies descent upon the cabin next door. Soon enough, one of the girls goes missing and the beast who killed the farmer's horse starts looking around Preston's cabin and the cabin next door for a snack. He emails the police (lead by Paul Gleason of Van Wilder) when the phones go out but they figure he's a nut and don't pay him any mind. To make matters worse, the girls next door don't realize that he's trying to help them, they figure he's a peeping tom.
While all of this is going on, the farmer has gathered up two of his pals (Jeffrey Combs of Re-Animator and Lance Henricksen of Pumpkindhead) to do a little recon work in the woods. They're out there to find the creature and put a stop to him and soon enough they come across the missing girl from the cabin next door – of what's left of it. Their attempts are in vein and soon enough the monster is back, making life very difficult for Preston and the girls. Otis returns, but he thinks Preston is making it all up and so he doesn't prove to be any help and it looks like it Preston wants to save his skin and help the girls next door it's going to be all up to him.
Despite the fact that it's a completely ridiculous premise, Abominable turned out to be a whole lot of fun. The acting is a little on the hammy side but it fits the movie nicely and the creature effects are pretty cool as well. Towards the end of the movie there are a few really strong gore scenes that will take most viewers by surprise (these were likely cut from the original Sci-Fi Channel broadcast along with the nudity and the profanity) and that make the movie more intense and surprising. The action moves along at a pretty brisk pace and Matt McCoy manages to make Preston a fairly likeable lead character. The cameos from genre legends like Combs, Henricksen and Stone add to the fun and while the girls who rent the cabin next door don't have much to offer the story, at least they make for pretty monster bait.
The film isn't particularly scary (though there are a couple of decent jump scares) but it is definitely an entertaining throwback to the kind of drive-in movies that were so popular in the seventies that so many of us remember nostalgically. It's nice to see a movie that doesn't take itself too seriously and that isn't ashamed to be nothing more than a fun monster romp with some nice exploitative qualities and some interesting character actors.
The 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer has fantastic color reproduction and perfect black levels and is virtually blemish free in regards to print damage or visible debris. It's also got a lot of aliasing and line shimmering throughout which, while not particularly detrimental to the viewing experience as a whole, is definitely noticeable in a few spots. Aside from that, however, this is a very fine looking DVD. There's a pretty strong level of both foreground and background detail present in the image and there aren't any issues with compression artifacts or edge enhancement.
You've got your choice of enjoying the film by way of either a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix or a Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix, both in the film's native English language. The 5.1 track gets the edge for the added 'boom' during some key moments in the movie but both tracks sound quite decent without any signs of hiss or distortion to complain about. Levels are well balanced and dialogue is pretty much always easy to decipher even when the score (from the director's father, Lalo Schifrin, famed composer extraordinaire – the guy did Bullitt) and the effects get a little bit loud. There aren't any subtitles or alternate language dubs supplied but an English closed captioning feature is present.
First up as far as the extra features is concerned is a full length commentary track with writer/director Ryan Schifrin, who is joined by Jeffrey Combs (who really only speaks during the scenes that he appears in) and Matt McCoy. This isn't a bad discussion despite Combs' minimal involvement as Schifrin takes control of the conversation from the get go and proves to have a lot to say about the project. He talks about some of what influenced him to make the movie and the difficulties that arose working with some of the effects sequences. He covers casting and what it was like on set and working with some of the actors in the production while McCoy covers what it was like working in front of the camera while McCoy covers working with the wheel chair and acting opposite a guy in a giant monster suit.
Anchor Bay has also provided a pretty decent making of featurette entitled Back To Genre which is a nice mix of interviews and behind the scenes footage. Pretty much everyone involved in the project, save for Lance Henricksen, is interviewed here including the director and almost all of the actors. They talk about the location shooting and some of the effects work and generally just do what they can to explain their experiences on this production and it's all fairly interesting stuff.
Rounding out the extra features are two trailers for Abominable, a gallery of promotional artwork and behind the scenes photographs, a blooper reel, a handful of fairly inconsequential deleted scenes, one of Schifrin's student films, a gallery of conceptual artwork, animated menus, an audio setup menu, and a chapter selection menu. The disc comes housed in a metallic embossed slipcase that reproduces the cover art of the keepcase, albeit in shiny form.
Anchor Bay has given a fun monster movie a really nice presentation with plenty of extra features that are the icing on the cake. Abominable isn't a modern classic by any stretch but it's a fun, entertaining and surprisingly gory little monster movie that's nothing less than completely entertaining. Recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.