Tuesday, July 3, 2018

ABOMINABLE (2006) (MVD rewind Blu-ray Review)


Label: MVD Rewind
Region Code: Region-FREE
Rating: R
Duration: 94 Minutes 
Audio: English 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.78:1) 
Director: Ryan Schifrin
Cast: Matt McCoy, Jeffrey Combs, Paul Gleason, Rex Linn, Haley Joel, Phil Morris, Dee Wallace Stone, Tiffany Shepis, Lance Henriksen 

Bigfoot films have been around for a long while now, from The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972) right up to the found-footage Willow Creek (2013), unfortunately there haven't been a ton of really great ones, and while I'm not gonna say this one is a classic slice of Sasquatch-cinema as a millennial creature feature it's a fun watch. Like a lot of films it can be summed up thusly, Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window by way of... this time it's by way of The Legend of Boggy Creek, and to that end we have the wheelchair bound Preston Roger (Matt McCoy, L.A. Confidential) returning to his mountain home after a stay at the asylum following a tragic mountain climbing accident that claimed the life of his wife. The traumatic event not only robbed him of his wife but also the use of his legs, leaving him with deep mental scars. He's accompanied on this return home by a home care giver named Otis(Christien Tinsley), who for a health care professional is bit of a jerk towards his ward right from the very beginning, treating him like a child and  generally being dismissive of the man.

While holed up in his home Preston has nlot muc h else to do other than spy out his window with a pair binoculars, noticing that next door a gaggle of young women have arrived for a weekend, it's a bachelorette party. We have the bride-to-be Karen (Ashley Hartman) and her friends Michelle (Natalie Compagno), C.J. (Karin Anna Cheung), Tracy (Tiffany Shepis, Night of the Demons), and Amanda (Haley Joel). There a fun bunch, and not too annoying, plus we have scream queen Tiffany Shepis is kind enough to drop her clothes during a shower scene, so you can check that off the list of things you want from a low-budget horror movie, we have nudity. 

A third group come by way of a trio of locals, the oxygen tank sucking gas station clerk Buddy (Jeffery Combs, Re-Animator), rancher Billy Hoss (Rex Linn, C.S.I.: Miami) and big game hunter Ziegler (Lance Henriksen, Pumpkinbead) who all gather around a campfire in the nearby woods exchanging stories about the legendary wild-man creature said to be roaming the local forests. During an earlier pre-credit sequence we witness rancher Billy Hoss and his wife (Dee Wallace, The Howling) have their own encounter with the bigfoot, it slaughtering their horse before killing their golden retriever and stomping around their house scaring them out of their wits. 

With these three parties set-up the bigfoot menace can begin proper with some typical plotting and monster movie mayhem, Preston begins to take notice of the creature as it stalks around the girls place next door, eventually nabbing one of the girls while she's outside on her phone and taking her back to it's cave for a snack, which is  where the hunter Ziegler discovers her still alive, almost throws up at the gruesome sight of her abdomen having been torn open, before having his own scary encounter with the sasquatch. The beast then returns to Preston's neighbors home for some more bigfoot thrills, with poor Preston as a helpless witness the carnage happening next door. When he reports what's happening to his nurse Otis the caregiver figures him for a loon and pays no mind, forcing Preston to take matters into his own hands, sedating Otis and trying to alert the local cops, but as the bigfoot has knocked down the telephone lines he send an email to the cops, but even they think he's lost his mind.

The kills are fun with some decent practical gore, when the beast finally makes it's way into the girls house he grabs a girl through a window and pulls her out in such a way that she gets folded-up like a human lawn chair, and another girl is pulled though a floor when the bigfoot punches a hole through the ceiling to get at her. It's entertaining but also very silly, the cat and mouse game with the girls trying to hide from the Bigfoot throughout the house only needed the Benny Hill theme song to accompany it, but the best kill is reserved for dipshit Otis who gets his face chewed off.  

I liked steely eyed Matt McCoy in the Jimmy Stewart role, he has a passing similarity to the Hitchcock star and is likable enough, he gives this b-movie some good presence, but not everyone in the film is as good, the acting is spotty at best, when the girl gets pulled through the floor by the Sasquatch it looks like she's smiling the whole time, it's not surprising that of all the actresses here only Tiffany Shepis had any sort of career post 2007 that I could find. Shortcomings aside the film fun, Henriksen and Combs scenes together with Rex Linn around the campfire shooting the shit are fun, and Paul Gleason from Breakfast Club shows up as a skeptical sheriff (with a "don't mess with the bull" coffee cup). 

Audio/Video: Abominable (2006) arrives on a 2-disc dual-format release from MVD Rewind with a new 2K transfer from the original camera negative, in the intro the director speaks about how the film never was mastered in HD back during it's initial release, so this is the first time they've gone back to the negative, and in fact had to re-edit the entire film, though its stated that they used the old DVD as a reference for the edits and that they are identical, but did re-do some minor CGI elements including the eyes of the Bigfoot (as noted in the screenshots), and also re-doing the opening and ending credits sequences. The results are excellent, the image is more defined and crisp, and while it's still a cheap-looking film it's easy to appreciate the improved clarity and deeper blacks. There's also been some new color correction, adding a blue tint to the dusk and night scenes. If you look at the screenshot of the 2006 DVD and the new 2018 Blu-ray you can see the framing is slightly different and the 2006 releases was stretched.


Audio comes by way of an English DTS-HD MA Surround 5.1 and stereo track,  both are a solid track with some good atmospheric uses of the surrounds, the Lalo Schifrin score and animal/bigfoot sounds come through with some decent depth, optional English Subtitles are included. 

Looking at extras we get all the stuff from the 2006 Anchor Bay DVD including a vintage making of doc, an audio commentary, deleted scenes, outtakes, galley, storyboards, and the director's USC student film "Shadows", all presented in standard definition. We also get some new stuff, that being an informative 8-minute introduction to the film by the director, and the 16-minute short film “Basil and Mobius: No Rest For The Wicked”, a fin occult-heist film starring Zachari Levi (TV's Chuck), Ray Park (Stars Wars: The Phantom Menace),  Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange) and Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood), both of these new extras are presented in HD. Also included is the original DVD version of the film, for the sake of comparison the difference in video quality is mighty significant. The DVD that accompanies this set features the same extras and feature except for the 2006 DVD version of the film which is exclusive to the Blu-ray disc. 

The 2-disc release comes housed in a clear dual-tray Blu-ray keepcase with a one-sided sleeve of artwork featuring the original key art by Drew Struzan, a gorgeous illustration that harkens back to vintage movie posters. The discs themselves are basic white backgrounds with black logo-ed lettering, par for the course for MVD Rewind. This release also comes with a limited edition slipcover with the same Drew Struzan art featuring the usual worn look with video store-type stickers on the slipcover and the spine is numbered, this being number seven in the MVD Rewind Collection. Also included is a mini fold-out poster with the same key art as the sleeve and slipcover.  

Special Features: 
- Brand-New 2K High-Definition transfer from the original camera negative
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations of the main feature
- 5.1 Surround Audio (Uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
- Audio Commentary with writer/director Ryan Schifrin, Actors Matt McCoy and Jeffrey Combs
- Intro with director Ryan Schifrin (9 min) HD 
- 'Back to Genre: Making ABOMINABLE' featurette (37 min) SD 
- Deleted and Extended Scenes (6 min) SD 
- Outtakes and Bloopers (4 min) SD 
- “Shadows” Director Ryan Schifrin's USC Student Film (8 min) SD
- “Basil and Mobius: No Rest For The Wicked” Short film written and directed by Ryan - - Schifrin featuring a score by legendary composer Lalo Schifrin and starring Zachari Levi, Ray Park,  Malcolm McDowell and Kane Hodder (16 min) HD 
- The original 2005 version of “Abominable” (Blu-ray only) (94 mins) SD
- Poster and Still Gallery (4 min) 
- Storyboard Gallery (3 min) 
- Collectible Mini Fold-Out Poster
MVD Rewind Trailers: Abominable - Trailer 1 (1 min), Abominable - Trailer 2 (2 min), Return of the Swamp Thing (1 min), Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (2 min), Savannah Smiles (3 min), D.O.A.: A Rite of Passage, Black Eagle (2 min) 

As a Bigfoot film Abominable (20016) might be in the top third - the bar is set pretty low for these things, it's an entertaining creature feature with some decent kills, fun cameos, and a man in a Bigfoot suit that looks pretty darn good in my opinion. Not all the tension-ratcheting scenes work though and the film is heavily padded, so it definitely has it's ups and downs, but if you have a cinematic Sasquatch-itch this will probably scratch that itch for a bit. MVD Rewind's new Blu-ray/DVD combo looks and sounds way better than the previous home video releases, if you're thinking of upgrading this is well worth it, with new and old extras and great MVD Rewind collector packaging this is a tasty treat, glad to see them revisiting this millennial horror film, I don't think this one is as well known as it should be so I hope it finds more of an audience this time around.