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Volume 1 Issue 5 - Picking The Pockets Of Literary Corpses

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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.

My 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)


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