Sunday Sesh: Let’s Get Abominable for Halloween!
“I’m gonna need a bigger knife.”
Do you smell that? That crispy, spicy scent of pumpkins and leaves and candles and gore floating in the air? It’s Halloween season, and there’s magic in the atmosphere. Magic so potent, in fact, that you might begin to notice all manner of strange things. More black cats under foot, grumpy squares dressing up in garish costumes, and objectively bad movies becoming not just tolerable, but downright enjoyable: all things are possible in the mystical spirit of Halloween.
And it is in that spirit that we continue our parade of (questionably) classic horror movies to help strengthen the manifestation of the Samhain ghost so that it can finally attain physical form and achieve its dream of an endless black night of tasteless pumpkin ales and Ugg boots. Yes, today we turn out eager eyes to Ryan Schifrin’s 2006 tour de force Abominable.
Abominable centers its plot on the return to the Flatwoods Mountain area by former rock climber and now paraplegic Preston Rogers (Matt McCoy) some time after the tragic death of his wife. Preston is returned to his old cabin by humanoid mustache Otis Wilhelm (Christien Tinsley), an unscrupulous nurse with a penchant for booze and sleaze. As Preston settles into his old haunts, now made new by his disability, five young women from the city raucously enter the adjacent cabin for a little weekend debauchery before one of their number ties the knot. Unfortunately for both the ladies and Preston, things quickly go awry as the sun begins to set behind the trees, and both parties soon discover that the phone lines are dead. Preston, however, senses something even more menacing afoot than downed cables…
The film starts a bit slow but moves mercifully fast once the carnage starts. Shortly after the cables go down, Karen (Ashley Hartman) disappears, leading us to one of several entertaining side stories to the central narrative. Local townies, spooped by recent animal mutilations, have taken to the woods to find the fiend responsible. A clearly jaded hunter named Ziegler Dane (played by cool as a cucumber Lance Henriksen) follows a series of strange noises into a cave where he finds Karen crying in agony as her guts spill out. Schifrin, to his credit, knows exactly what kind of film this is and allows Henriksen to deliver one of several instantly quotable lines from the film, “Wow! That’s gross!” Unfortunately for poor Karen (and all of the assembled hunters), the ravenous sasquatch lingers nearby.
From that scene on, the killings come rapidly. The remainder of the film focuses on Preston and vacationer Amanda (Haley Joel) as the skunk ape hunts and kills their compatriots one by one. These kills are all gruesome and satisfying, with preposterous contortions of the human form and a lot of schlocky blood spray. One of the absolute best in the film is when bigfoot literally reaches up through the ceiling of the room he’s in to rip an unsuspecting victim through the floor to his open maw. Other deaths are certainly up there with some of the best creature feature violence in B movies.
Thankfully, there is a bit of artistry to the deaths as well. Schifrin dabbles in the dual tension of severed communications (beyond the lackadaisical response from a disinterested police to Preston’s frantic email) and Preston’s disability. That vulnerability never feels cruel or spiteful; Schifrin allows Preston far more capability than most horror film protagonists, but the limitations definitely enhance some of the more taut scenes. As the bigfoot menaces Preston and Amanda, the film feels far more tense than something with such an abominable Rotten Tomatoes score should.
That said, Abominable is still very much a B movie. The titular monster looks as delightfully goofy as you’d hope. The acting feels amateurish, and the genuinely hilarious parade of one-liners don’t exactly create a tone of dread. There’s also something of a strange, anachronistic feel to the film, as if we’re watching a movie set in the 70s that wants to be released in the year 2006. Perhaps that was Schifrin’s intent, but the cinematography just feels cheap, I guess.
But, and this is a big but, if you’re anything like me, you probably enjoy cheap, especially around Halloween. Abominable is exactly the kind of goofy, violent, and hilarious (both intentionally and unintentionally) film that you just need to fill your hours this holiday. Make sure you check it out on your favorite streaming service.
So what horror movies have you been watching, Toilet people? Let me know in the comments below!