Please, Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em
I never went to film school.
There I said it.
I was never encouraged to study film, I don't have a tattoo of
Gene Siskel, and I've never been woken up in the middle of the night
by a producer who needs me to help him bury a prostitute. (One of
the above statements is false.) This lack of formal education explains
some of the gaps in the big picture of Films I Have Seen. I'm a
little short on info when it comes to tearjerkers and like everyone
else, I don't feel that I've held up my end of the bargain with
Foreign Films. But, I cower in shame when also admitting that I
have seen very few of the Hammer Films, a British studio specializing
in Gothic Horror and fully responsible for Christopher Lee's career.
I remember seeing the creepy Vincent Price movies, and that one
that Keitel goes to see in Mean Streets. But if I were on
that "Millionaire" show and they asked me a Hammer Films
question, I would have to seek out audience help (right before I
punched Regis in the face for hosting yet another dumb-ass show).
I asked my Mom who doesn't know a Hammer film from Polaroid film
why I never saw any Hammer films when I was a kid. She said maybe
it was because we used Arm and Hammer Baking Soda when I was younger.
We used it to deodorize the fridge, we poured into our bathtub,
and yes, we even brushed our teeth with it. Like I said, I was never
encouraged to study film.
Now, in my golden years, I'm taking the time to check out on all
of the things I missed out on as a kid Hammer Films, Intercontinental
Travel, and Shooting Smack into Both My Eyelids. Aaaah.....getting
old never felt so good.
Adventures With Hammer's The Abominable Snowman
What exactly made me pick up this Hammer film above all other Hammer
films? Was it the tag-team dynamo acting skills of a pre-Star
Wars Peter Cushing and a pre-"F Troop" Forrest Tucker?
Was it the long-felt affection for the Abominable Snowman in Rankin
& Bass' Puppetpalooza, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"?
No, ashamedly, it was a puzzle on the old Concentration game show
featuring a caricature of Frosty playing matador to a bull with
a bomb in its stomach. God, that makes me pee my pants to this day.
Our Himalayan adventure features Cushing as the brains, Tucker as
the brawn in search of the mysterious YETI.
Cushing wants to study it, Tucker, in a bold post-modern move,
invokes the advent of television as the dawn of a money-making era
and has plans to broadcast the "World's Most Amazing Yeti Videos"!
The search begins with the assembling of the expedition team a la
every James Cameron movie ever made. But first, Cushing's doubting
wife has to express concern over the mission a la every James Cameron
movie ever made.
Spielberg has said that he didn't want to show the shark in Jaws
because it looked fake. By doing so, he added an extra layer of
suspense. In The Abominable Snowman, search party members
are strangled, thrown off cliffs and generically killed when one
of their guns jam. (By the way, if anyone knows someone who has
ever had a gun jam, let me know. I fear it is not as commonplace
as Hollywood's yarn-spinners would have us to believe)
The visual style is that of a poor man's Black Narcissus
(Rent it. Now), effortlessly mixing sets, matte paintings, stock
footage, and the weakest avalanche money won't buy. And if nothing
else, this is worth a rental to check out some god-awful voice dubbing,
which is akin to watching the world's worst ventriloquist perform.
When all is said and done, the woman saves Cushing. Naturally. And
we never once see the Monster. Nice.
(Note to Editor: Please take out that bit about me peeing my pants
to this day. Thanks)