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Anchor Bay presents
Abominable (2006)

"There is something out there!"
- Preston Rogers (Matt McCoy)

Review By: Rich Rosell  
Published: November 02, 2006

Stars: Matt McCoy
Other Stars: Haley Joel, Christien Tinsley, Tiffany Shepis, Jeffrey Combs, Lance Henriksen, Rex Linn, Dee Wallace-Stone, Paul Gleason, Phil Morris, Natalie Compagno, Karin Anna Cheung, Ashley Hartman, Michael Deak, Chad Smith, Paul Spadone, Josh Karch
Director: Ryan Schifrin

MPAA Rating: R for (nudity, language, horror violence)
Run Time: 01h:33m:58s
Release Date: October 03, 2006
UPC: 013131484694
Genre: horror


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ B+C+B B

DVD Review

Some people run marathons or climb mountains, but I've long been on a personal quest of my own to find the definitive Bigfoot movie (and if not definitive, I would settle for something really good), a trek that actually shouldn't be as difficult as it has proven to be. The material—mythical hairy creature that lives in the woods—seems perfect for the horror genre, but man oh man has there been some real garbage over the years, some horribly missed opportunities that just couldn't make that transition into what I consider a real rarity: an above average Bigfoot movie. I'm not going to say my search is necessarily over, but the bar has been set, and Abominable has earned the top title for now, and that makes me a very happy film geek.

Writer/director Ryan Schifrin mentions in a making-of piece on this DVD that he set out to make a combination of Rear Window and the monster genre, and that clever little mashup is pretty evident in Abominable. Preston Rogers (Matt McCoy) is now a wheelchair-bound paraplegic after a climbing accident injured him and killed his wife six months previous, and Otto (Christien Tinsley), a rather self-centered male nurse, is reluctantly charged with overseeing a rehab/therapy journey back to the Rogers' remote mountain home.

Things get cooking when five attractive young women arrive at the home next door for a weekend getaway and dopey Otto is sent on a mission to find soy milk, because that leaves poor Preston all alone to watch out the window with his binoculars as a hairy creature (the "Flatwoods Monster") starts wreaking bloody havoc. And naturally the phone lines are down and cell reception is bad, so it's up to Preston to warn the girls, who unfortunately don't listen until it's too late. By the time ridiculously pretty blonde Amanda (Haley Joel) teams up with Preston to try and stay alive, it's time for some balcony rappelling and axe-swinging.

That would all be more than satisfactory, but it just gets better, because as a comedic sidebar there's Jeffrey Combs as a greasy store clerk/monster hunter, who hooks up with gun-toting Lance Henriksen (doing a sort of funny Lance Henriksen parody), who gets off a great campfire story about rhino diarrhea before an encounter with the monster. Combs and Henriksen, along with recognizable faces like Rex Linn, Paul Gleason, and Dee Wallace-Stone, don't appear very long in Abominable, but their presence gives this a familiar, comfortable feel, with the performances all pulling back just shy of outright silliness. Scream goddess Tiffany Shepis, as one of the party girls, gets a very memorable onscreen moment—and it's not just her lingering shower scene—and it ranks up there as the film's highpoint, along with a monster-chomping-face-removal of another doomed character.

There's a nice balance between comedy and horror here, and Schifrin diligently includes all the necessary elements, most notably a little nudity, some suspense, a bit of humor, and a few quality kills. Old-school purists will no doubt appreciate Schifrin's reliance on using man-in-a-suit technology, as opposed to CG, and you have to like the featured creature's big ol' hinged jaw that opens really, really wide. Having been burned by the subject matter before, I wasn't really expecting too much out of this, but everything comes together just as it should, and Schifrin now has the distinction of having made what I consider THE Bigfoot movie.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: It's a shame the 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer isn't up to Anchor Bay's usual high standards, because it takes away from the whole experience. I could maybe look past the edge enhancement and other compression distractions if the night scenes were perhaps a little less muddy. There were times when it was difficult to tell what a character was seeing because the black levels were rather blobby, but scenes set indoors looked far more natural, carrying warm colors and natural fleshtones.

Not Anchor Bay's best effort by a long shot.

Image Transfer Grade: C+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Audio options are Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 surround mixes, both in English. Neither track do wonders for dialogue, which tend to get lost during noisy swells from the score (courtesy of Ryan's father, the one and only Lalo Schifrin), but the 5.1 makes up for it with deep, sub-heavy monster rumbles and some effective rear channel creaks and howls.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
2 Original Trailer(s)
6 Deleted Scenes
Production Notes
1 Documentaries
3 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Ryan Schifrin, Matt McCoy, Jeffrey Combs, Chris Conlee
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Amaray with slipcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Photo Gallery
Extras Review: Quite a lot of extras here, beginning with a solid commentary track from writer/director Ryan Schifrin and actor Matt McCoy, as well as some separately recorded comments from editor Chris Conlee and actor Jeffrey Combs during his two scenes. Schifrin probably could have handled the chore on his own, but Conlee gets to point out the use of the infamous Wilhelm Scream during Lance Henriksen's demise, and that little nugget just about made my day.

Back to Genre: Making Abominable (37m:26s) is your typical collection of cast/crew interviews, discussing the origins, the effects, the casting, and of course the music, considering Lalo Schifrin's involvement. No earth-shattering reveals, but still a watchable piece.

Next is a set of six deleted/extended scenes (06m:14s), none of which really add anything substantial, and then a dreaded outtakes/bloopers reel (04m:10s) that follows tradition of this type of extra and isn't really all that funny. Also thrown in is the black-and-white Shadows: Director Ryan Schifrin's USC Student Film (08m:06s), a poster and still gallery, a storyboard gallery, the screenplay-as-PDF, and a six-page booklet written by Schifrin, including a nice sendoff to the late Paul Gleason.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

Anchor Bay's Abominable isn't as completely dark as I always hoped the ideal Bigfoot movie could be, but it is an immensely enjoyable genre film that succeeds where so many others have failed. It moves fast, has a number of great cameos, and has the kind of ebullience that is so often lacking in low-budget horror.

Highly recommended.

 


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