ABOMINABLE: REAR WINDOW Meets Man In Suit Monster Movie

Writer/Director Ryan Schifrin Takes A Bite Out Of Bigfoot [MVD Rewind Collection Blu Review]

Jimmy Stewart leers out of his window, immobilized, and possibly witnesses something horrible happen. What should he do? What CAN he do? Should he have witnessed in in the first place? Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window has inspired dozens of filmmakers to take these tropes and spin them their own way. Just this past year I saw a South African take on the formula called Number 37 from up and coming female filmmaker Nosipho Dumisa. D.J. Caruso took his turn in 2007 with Disturbia. In 2006, however, writer/director Ryan Schifrin (son of legendary Hollywood composer Lalo Schifrin, who did the score here) posited the following take on the formula: What if Rear Window, only Bigfoot?!

What came out of that filmmaking process is a fun experiment known as Abominable. The recently paralyzed Preston Rogers (Matt McCoy doing his best updated Jimmy Stewart) returns to his mountain cabin with a physical caretaker he can’t stand (Oscar nominee for best make up in Passion Of The Christ Christien Tinsley as Otis). Attempting to face his fears, grieve the loss of his wife in the accident that paralyzed him, and generally move forward as best he can, Preston soon finds himself observing a gaggle of young ladies partying in the cabin near his. Soon one of them is seemingly captured by a mysterious shadowy figure. It becomes clear that Bigfoot is on the loose, and Preston (trapped in his home and generally encumbered by his disability) must rise to the occasion and try to save the day before the malevolent creature makes a meal of everyone on the mountain.

When it comes to creature design and execution, Abominable really can’t be beat. A lumbering “man in suit” style creation, Bigfoot looks absolutely fantastic in this film, and generates quite a few kills done with practical gore effects that are charming and bloody. And in a fairly unprecedented move, this new scan and HD release actually redoes the few computerized effects that were in the original film, digitally enhancing the creatures eyes to make them glow and more closely match what the director had always intended. That’s not the only thing updated for this edition. The entire HD scan was re-edited from scratch (to match the original) and re-color timed as well. So MVD Rewind Collection’s loving release on Blu-ray of Abominable really is a totally different experience of the film than one might have gotten on DVD.

None of that means the film is perfect. The leering gaze and questionable ethics behind Jimmy Stewart’s plight in Rear Window is more or less absent here as the mythical creature begins wreaking havoc on our nubile young ladies. Those ladies also feel a little dated. Almost nothing more than a meal for Bigfoot, they’re hollow characters for us to observe through binoculars as they’re killed off in clever gore gags. Perhaps if made today the lead character could be a female, which would add a level of complexity that isn’t quite present here. The film nerd in me also can’t help but observe some of the “cheats” used to make the film tick. It is clear that sets and strategic cutting were used to make it feel like Preston really could see all the action we see from a couple of different windows in his cabin. Those tricks are effective enough and laudable for a low budget feature, but they were noticeable and feel a little cheap. The same goes for the sequence in a cave featuring some “name” actors in Lance Henriksen and Jeffrey Combs. Henriksen’s scene, almost totally detached from Preston’s story arc, and filmed later on in production, feels exactly like the kind of classic low budget scene devised solely to get a name like Henriksen’s on the cast roster and pad out the brief runtime.

But all those nits being picked, Ryan Schifrin does a good job of calling in every favor he could and creating one of the best Bigfoot movies of the entire subgenre. From a Drew Struzan poster to a Lalo Schifrin score, not to mention appearances by Henriksen, Combs, and Dee Wallace Stone, there’s a certain buy-in that those involved in the film gave and it adds to the long term appeal of the project. Christien Tinsley’s practical effects are a blast top to bottom, from the creature design and execution, to the gore gags that rival the best slasher films of all time. Abominable thrives when its monster is front and center. And at a tight 92 minutes, the Rear Window riff never overstays its welcome.

The Package

MVD Rewind Collection’s most exciting package yet, Abominable really gets the treatment it deserves with this Blu-ray release. Including an intro and commentary track, as well as archival SD bonus features from the original 2006 release (not to mention the original Drew Struzan artwork intact on the cover), there’s a lot of supplemental content that really draws out some of the special elements found in the film. Then there’s the aforementioned guerilla-style upgrade that Schifrin undertook to bring Abominable into the high definition age. It’s just charming to see a creative team come together with a distributor and lovingly restore a film that might have otherwise gotten lost to the ravages of insanely fast technological shifts.

Watching Abominable on this release actually improves the overall experience of the film, something simply not possible via streaming or VOD. From the packaging to the generous bonus features, this love letter to Abominable is so endearing it makes you look past some of the film’s shortcomings and celebrate its new life here on Blu-ray.

And I’m Out.

Abominable is available June 12th, 2018 on Blu-ray + DVD from MVD Rewind Collection.

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