“Abominable”: Ryan Schifrin’s directorial debut was a Hitchcock-inspired Bigfoot scarefest

By on July 31, 2018

Ryan Schifrin’s 2006 directorial debut Abominable — which despite its title is not about the Ambominable Snowman, it’s about Bigfoot! — was partly inspired by Alfred Hitchcock‘s voyeuristic thriller, Rear Window.

Abominable – which the monthly horror magazine Fangoria reportedly once claimed was “the best serious fright film ever made about Bigfoot!” —  recently made its Blu-ray HD debut on the MVD Rewind imprint, and you can now find this newly-enhanced version streaming in our Horror section on Night Flight Plus!

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The film  features an an all-star cast that includes Matt McCoy (who you may remember from L.A. Confidential, HBO’s “Silicon Valley” or NBC’s “Seinfeld”); Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator, The Frighteners); Paul Gleason (The Breakfast Club, Die Hard); Rex Linn (“CSI: Miami,” Django Unchained, A Million Ways To Die in the West), Haley Joel (Tony ‘n’ Tina’s Wedding); Phil Morris (“Seinfeld,” Black Dynamite); Dee Wallace Stone (E.T., Cujo); Tiffany Shepis (Tales of Halloween, Victor Crowley); and last, but certainly not least, the great Lance Henriksen (Aliens, Hard Target).

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Abominable kicks off with a farmer (“Billy Hoss,” Rex Linn) and his wife (“Ethel,” Dee Wallace) who hear unusual noises in the middle of the night.

They go out to investigate and find an eviscerated horse, the victim of a violent death by some kind of savage animal. Their dog Sparky ends up being attacked too.

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They also find large footprints in the snow, which means no doubt there’s some kind of cryptozoological creep in their woods.

(Apparently there were frequent blizzards going on during filming that created problems for the director, who had to then find ways to shoot around the now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t snow-enhanced scenery).

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Then, we’re introduced to an emotionally-troubled paraplegic mountain climber named “Preston Rogers” (Matt McCoy), who is recuperating at a cabin located deep in the woods in Northern California.

He’s paralyzed from the waist down, wheelchair-bound and still trying to heal emotionally from the trauma of seeing his rock-climbing wife plunge to her death six months earlier.

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Preston spends a lot of time sitting on a second-floor balcony with a pair of binoculars, just like Jimmy Stewart’s character in Rear Window.

He’s helped by a male nurse he really can’t stand named “Otis Wilhelm,” played by SFX wizard Christien Tinsley (an Oscar nominee for best make-up on Mel Gibson’s Passion Of The Christ).

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it turns out there have been a series of killings blamed on a Bigfoot-type creature, and most of the time when we see the creepy hominid onscreen, he’s pretty easily identifiable as an actor inside a big ape-type suit with nasty, pointed teeth.

Imagine, if you will, a really mean Harry and the Hendersons-style ape monster. Just how mean? We get to see our not-so-friendly Bigfoot snapping people in two, splintering wooden floorboards and dragging his victims through jagged, broken windows.

Best of all, he likes to bite human faces off.

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More trouble comes when a jeep load of cute twenty-something girls — “Karen” (Ashley Hartman), “Michelle” (Natalie Compagno), “C.J.” (Karin Anna Cheung), “Tracy” (Tiffany Shepis), and “Amanda” (Haley Joel) — rent out the cabin next door for a weekend retreat, totally unaware of the danger lurking in the woods.

Even after the nubile co-ed bodies begin to pile up, Preston still has a helluva time trying to convince skeptical “Sheriff Halderman” (Paul Gleason) there’s something sinister going on in the local woods, and more lives will be lost if they don’t do something about it.

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Henricksen and Combs play a couple of hunters who become the hunted.

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Read more about Ryan Schifrin and Abominable below.

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Ryan Schifrin

Writer-director Schifrin — who has since directed Tales of Halloween (2015), and Rush Hour 2 (2001) and Rush Hour 3 (2007) — is the son of Oscar-nominated and Grammy-winning composer Lalo Schifrin, who provides his son’s directorial debut with a truly memorable monster-ific musical score.

Lalo Schifrin’s most notable credits include the famous “Mission: Impossible” TV theme.

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Originally lensed on 35mm, this all-new 2K scan of Schifrin’s low-budget cult hit was color-corrected (it looks gorgeous) and transferred from the original camera negative, and features improved CGI-effects overseen by director Schifrin and the film’s editor, Chris Conlee.

Schifrin also spent six weeks at George Lucas’s Skywalker Ranch working on the film’s sound design.

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Schifrin’s Abominable joins several other hominid monster movies we’ve got on Night Flight Plus — the others being Charles Pierce’s The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972), Bigfoot: The Mysterious Monster (1975) and Yeti: Giant of the 20th Century (1977) — and if you’ve seen any of these then you know they’re almost always visually-engrossing scarefests, even when their narrative storylines don’t always balance out with the real thrill of the legendary sightings that have taken place over the last few centuries.

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We’re told in this theatrical trailer, by the way, that there have been “42,000 sightings in 68 countries” of the elusive woodland creature known variously as Sasquatch, Yeti, and Bigfoot… not to mention more regionally-known ape-like monsters who have been given names like the Fouke Monster, Skunk Ape, Grassman and Skookum, to name just a few.

“We’ve hunted it for years,” we’re told. “But what happens when it decides to hunt us?”

Abominable premiered on April 10, 2006 in New York City.

Sadly, Schifrin’s director of photography, Neal Fredericks, was killed in a plane accident shortly after the completion of the film.

Watch Abominable on Night Flight Plus!

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.