• Abominable



    Released by: MVD Rewind
    Released on: May 11th, 2018.
    Director: Ryan Schifrin
    Cast: Matt McCoy, Jeffrey Combs, Dee Wallace, Lance Henriksen, Paul Gleason, Tiffany Shepis, Haley Joel
    Year: 2006
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    The Movie:

    Sort of a cross between Rear Window and The Legend Of Boggy Creek, Ryan Schifrin's Abominable is a fun, drive-in style monster movie with gore galore, gratuitous nudity, a fun b-movie cast and a goofy creature at the center of all the mayhem.

    When the movie begins, a farmer and his wife (Dee Wallace Stone of The Howling) head outside to see what's causing a disturbance. They find a dead horse and soon enough come face to face with a giant furry monster. From there we meet Preston Rogers (Matt McCoy of Snapdragon) who lost his wife and the use of his legs when a mountain climbing expedition went awry. Six months later, after physical and emotional therapy, Preston is returning to the cabin up in the mountains that he once shared with his wife, this time accompanied by Otis (Christen Tinsley), his male nurse.

    When Otis heads out to get Preston some soy milk (it's seems he's lactose intolerant), Preston sees a group of five young ladies descend upon the cabin next door. Soon enough, one of the girls goes missing and the beast who killed the farmer's horse starts looking around Preston's cabin and the cabin next door for a snack. He emails the police (lead by Paul Gleason of Van Wilder) when the phones go out but they figure he's a nut and don't pay him any mind. To make matters worse, the girls next door don't realize that he's trying to help them, they figure he's a peeping tom.

    While all of this is going on, the farmer has gathered up two of his pals (Jeffrey Combs of Re-Animator and Lance Henricksen of Pumpkinhead) to do a little recon work in the woods. They're out there to find the creature and put a stop to him and soon enough they come across the missing girl from the cabin next door – of what's left of it. Their attempts are in vein and soon enough the monster is back, making life very difficult for Preston and the girls. Otis returns, but he thinks Preston is making it all up and so he doesn't prove to be any help and it looks like it Preston wants to save his skin and help the girls next door it's going to be all up to him.

    Despite the fact that it's a completely ridiculous premise, Abominable turned out to be a whole lot of fun. The acting is a little on the hammy side but it fits the movie nicely and the creature effects are pretty cool as well. Towards the end of the movie there are a few really strong gore scenes that will take most viewers by surprise (these were likely cut from the original Sci-Fi Channel broadcast along with the nudity and the profanity) and that make the movie more intense and surprising. The action moves along at a pretty brisk pace and Matt McCoy manages to make Preston a fairly likeable lead character. The cameos from genre legends like Combs, Henricksen and Stone add to the fun and while the girls who rent the cabin next door don't have much to offer the story, at least they make for pretty monster bait.

    The film isn't particularly scary (though there are a couple of decent jump scares) but it is definitely an entertaining throwback to the kind of drive-in movies that were so popular in the seventies that so many of us remember nostalgically. It's nice to see a movie that doesn't take itself too seriously and that isn't ashamed to be nothing more than a fun monster romp with some nice exploitative qualities and some interesting character actors.

    Note that for this release of Abominable is an “All-new cut of the film with improved CGI-effects overseen by Director Ryan Schifrin and Editor Chris Conlee with enhanced color timing and correction.” The effects haven’t been changed drastically but you will notice, when compared to the older version, that the monster’s eyes look a bit different here. The color timing is also improved, as noted. Schifrin explains why this was done in his intro to the movie

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    MVD Rewind brings Abominable to Blu-ray on a 50GB disc in a ‘brand-new 2K high-definition transfer from the original camera negative’ framed at 1.78.1 and presented in AVC encoded 1080p. This is a nice step up from the old Anchor Bay DVD release, both in terms of detail and in terms of color reproduction. Black levels are pretty solid and there are no problematic compression artifacts to note. The image is remarkably clean – almost a little too clean in spots, making you wonder if some light DNR has been applied here. Overall, however, the movie looks quite good in HD. Detail could maybe have looked a little tighter and some scenes look a little softer than others but there are no problems with any compression artifacts nor are there any issues with edge enhancement.

    The DTS-HD 5.1 surround sound track on the disc sounds quite good. An optional English language 2.0 Stereo track is also included on the disc. There are no alternate language options or subtitles of any kind provided on the disc. The 5.1 mix is a good one, using rear channels well to build tension in some of the film’s more active scenes. Dialogue stays clean and clear, there are no problems at all with even a trace of hiss or distortion and the score sounds crisp and deep throughout.

    First up as far as the extra features is concerned is a full-length commentary track with writer/director Ryan Schifrin, who is joined by Jeffrey Combs (who really only speaks during the scenes that he appears in) and Matt McCoy. Carried over from the old DVD release, this isn't a bad discussion despite Combs' minimal involvement as Schifrin takes control of the conversation from the get go and proves to have a lot to say about the project. He talks about some of what influenced him to make the movie and the difficulties that arose working with some of the effects sequences. He covers casting and what it was like on set and working with some of the actors in the production while McCoy covers what it was like working in front of the camera while McCoy covers working with the wheel chair and acting opposite a guy in a giant monster suit. Schifrin also provides an all new, nine-minute video introduction to the feature wherein he explains a bit of the movie’s backstory and then goes on to talk about what was involved in bringing the picture to Blu-ray for the first time.

    Also carried over from the Anchor Bay DVD is a pretty decent thirty-seven-minute making of featurette entitled Back To Genre which is a nice mix of interviews and behind the scenes footage. Pretty much everyone involved in the project, save for Lance Henricksen, is interviewed here including the director and almost all of the actors. They talk about the location shooting and some of the effects work and generally just do what they can to explain their experiences on this production and it's all fairly interesting stuff.

    The disc also includes 'Shadows, which is director Ryan Schifrin's black and white USC student film as well as a sixteen-minute short film that he made entitled Basil & Mobius: No Rest For The that features a score by composer Lalo Schifrin and stars Zachari Levi, Ray Park, Malcolm McDowell and Kane Hodder. It’s a quirky little heist/gangster film involving some equally quirky characters made with an impressive cast – a fun addition to the disc. Basically, a tough guy named Basil (Park) and a suave cat burglar named Moebius (Levi) take a job from The Collector to steal and artifact from a mob boss named Bloome (McDowell) – it doesn’t go as planned.

    Preserved for posterity’s sake, in standard definition unfortunately, is the original 2005 version of Abominable that is devoid of the digital effects that were used to ‘update’ the picture. It actually runs approximately two-minutes longer than the HD version but it seems that the difference is made up by the fact that this earlier version of the movie includes longer end credits. The colors don’t look as good here as they do in the feature presentation of the movie. The framing is also slightly different as this version is 1.85.1 compared to 1.78.1 on the HD version.

    Rounding out the extra features are two trailers for Abominable, a gallery of promotional artwork and behind the scenes photographs, a four-minute blooper reel, six-minutes of fairly inconsequential deleted scenes, menus and chapter selection. There are also bonus trailers here for Return of Swamp Thing, Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes, Savannah Smiles and Black Eagle.

    As this is a combo pack release, we also get a DVD version of the movie included in the clear Blu-ray keepcase that also holds a mini-poster and comes packaged with a nice slipcover.

    The Final Word:

    MVD has given a fun monster movie a really nice presentation with plenty of extra features that are the icing on the cake. Abominable isn't a modern classic by any stretch but it's a fun, entertaining and surprisingly gory little monster movie that's nothing less than completely entertaining. Recommended.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!