Starring Matt McCoy, Haley Joel, Christian Tinsley, Jeffrey Combs, Lance Henriksen, Paul Gleason, Tiffany Shepis, Rex Linn, Dee Wallace Stone, Michael Deak
Written & Directed by Ryan Schifrin
Gonna getcha, gonna getcha
So you better watch out
Lock your doors
Board your windows
Bigfoot’s on the prowl”
Those lyrics are the chorus to an obscure 1976 novelty song entitled “Bigfoot” that rather fitting describes the current boom in Sasquatchploitation flicks, particularly Abominable, the latest salvo in Bigfoot’s newly launched assault against mankind. Abominable is not only the best of this current crop thus far, I’ll go so far as to say that Abominable is the best Bigfoot movie ever!
Let’s just cut right to the chase. Writer-director Ryan Schifrin gets it. He gets it! Schifrin gets right the one key ingredient that the majority of today’s monster moviemakers either fail to realize or simply fail to achieve – the monster has to have personality. I don’t know why so many other monster filmmakers don’t grasp that the monster in a monster movie should be treated as a full fledged character, the star no less, not just a plot device or an obstacle for the protagonist. Abominable has quite possibly the most charismatic Bigfoot creature ever put to film brought to life via a traditional man in a suit with some animatronics for its often exaggerated facial features. Abominable forsakes the usual over reliance on computer effects, opting to get the job done with old fashioned, practical, and, quite frankly, more effective effects work. If only more monster moviemakers would follow suit; no pun intended.
The real unsung hero of Abominable is creature FX artist Christian Tinsley for coming up with such a fantastical Bigfoot design that manages to be both cartoonishly over the top yet still a legitimately menacing presence, perfectly capturing the film’s tone in the process. Tinsley’s psychopathic Sasquatch looks like someone mixed together Bigfoot from Harry & the Hendersons, Sweetums from The Muppets, and a really pissed off Wilford Brimley. Just don’t expect to see this hairy behemoth bond with John Lithgow, joke around with celebrity guest stars, or give you a good deal on diabetic supplies. No, this Bigfoot is a big hairy Jason Voorhees that’s more likely to stomp your guts out and bite your face off, and when I say stomp your guts out and bite your face off I mean that literally. The film features a five star facebite that’s going to go down as one of the all-time great movie kills.
Schifrin also resists the urge to just mimic Alien, Predator, or Jaws – the three films that without which I don’t think 90% of the monster moviemakers these days would know how to make a creature feature. Unlike your typical modern monster movie, there are no subplots here about corrupt scientists, military industrialists, or crooked corporate schemers. There isn’t even a romantic subplot or the clichéd estranged husband and wife/boyfriend and girlfriend leads we’ve all grow to hate. Virtually everything that happens here revolves around the monster and its actions. Everyone’s either a potential victim or a disbeliever whose obstructionist attitude only makes the situation worse.
Abominable is essentially a creature feature variation on Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller Rear Window. Matt McCoy, best known as the husband in The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, does a fine job playing wheelchair bound everyman Preston Rogers, a man returning to his woodland home in the tiny town of Flatwoods (An obvious nod to the famous Flatwoods monster of cryptozoology fame even though that was a famous alien in the woods sighting and not Bigfoot related) for the first time following a mountain climbing excursion gone tragically wrong that claimed the life of his wife and left him a paraplegic. Preston soon begins seeing and hearing strange things in the woods around his home and the house across from his that a group of nubile young women are staying at.
After witnessing one young woman fall victim to a Sasquatch snatch and grab, Preston struggles to get anyone to believe him while trying to find a way to warn the other women across the way even as he fears for his own safety. Calling for help won’t be so easy since the creature has taken out the telephone poll and cellular phones can’t get a decent reception. His only lifeline to the outside is his satellite internet connection and the town sheriff ignores his e-mail pleas for help because word around town is that Preston went loopy in the head following the accident.
Just for good measure, Abominable features the venerable Lance Henriksen as a disbelieving hunter that comes to learn the truth the hard way and Jeffrey Combs playing yet another oddball character as only he can. Both Henriksen and Combs are only in the movie for a few minutes but they make their extended cameos count. On the other hand, Dee Wallace Stone’s appearance is nothing more than a cameo before the opening credits. Tiffany Shepis once again proves that when you need a B-movie actress that can do a great job providing gratuitous nudity and dying a spectacular death, she’s your scream queen.
Following an effective pre-title sequence that sets the mood for the film to come, I must confess that things do get off to a slow start and I felt there was a little too much angst ridden Matt McCoy staring at things and way too much Otis, Preston’s caretaker/friend, who just happens to be played by FX artist Christian Tinsley. This Otis character comes across as a total creep to the point I wondered at times if he had a hidden agenda, possibly plotting against Preston himself.
But a slow burn is not necessarily a bad thing, because as things build so does the tension, and along the way we get a few scares that’ll make you jump. Preston’s first sighting of the creature’s evil eyes staring back at him from the trees is a genuinely creepy moment. The majority of the gory mayhem is saved for the third act and well worth the wait. When you watch a rampaging monster movie you want to revel in sight of the monster rampaging. On that, Schifrin most definitely delivers in an almost giddy fashion.
Abominable does have an Achilles heel by occasionally relying on convenient stupidity designed to keep the plot going in the desired direction. Case in point: the girls in the house find their missing friend’s cell phone on the ground outside with a text message on it from Preston trying to warn them that their friend has been abducted and taken into the woods. They freak out, yet minutes later are back inside enjoying loud rock music and taking relaxing showers.
Speaking of Achilles heels, Bigfoot’s is an eye roller to say the least. I guess the bumper sticker should say “Honk if you hate Bigfoot”?
Those complaints aside, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Abominable goes on to become something of a minor cult classic. Unfortunately it’s making its premiere on the Sci-Fi Channel in May. The reason I say unfortunately is because that channel’s original movies have built up so much ill will I fear the stink that emanates from most of them will prejudice many from ever giving this deserving monster mash a fair shake. Watching Abominable you’d swear you were watching the kind of genre film that New World Pictures released back in the 80’s, and I do mean that as a compliment in this case. Abominable has an almost old fashioned monster movie mentality at times, one truly tremendous movie monster, some great death scenes, and is just ferociously fun. This Bigfoot is definitely worth sighting.