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The Abominable Snowman:
Was Film's Creator Aware of Paranormal Bigfoot?

The other day, I caught the last thirty minutes of the 1957 film The Abominable Snowman, with Peter Cushing and Forrest Tucker. I had seen the film a few times over the years; I remember seeing it when I was a little kid; back then it scared me. My childhood memory of the movie has little to do with any plot; just a big black and white memory of people cooped up in the snowy mountains and a big claw-y kind of thing ripping them to shreds.

But this time, I was surprised by what I noticed concerning the Yeti. Even though the promos for the film are typically theatrical and focus on the idea of Yeti as a big evil monster ("The world's most shocking monster!" "What men must not see!" and my favorite "A dark new hellish half-world of horror!") the movie seems to be aware of the so-called paranormal aspects of Bigfoot/Yeti.

For those who aren't familiar with the movie: a small group of people go looking for the Yeti in the Himalayas, including Peter Cushing as mild mannered botanist, Dr. Rollason and Forest Tucker as the brash American Dr.Tom Friend. When I tuned in Friend and Rollason are in the Himalayas at their camp; another character is with them but he ends up dead pretty quickly, having died of a heart attack or fright upon seeing a Yeti.

At one point, Rollason says to Friend that the Yeti are "very strong, very intelligent, and have powers we aren't even capable of having yet." I'm paraphrasing here, but that was the gist.

Blizzards, avalanches, death, all in all not a good day. Equipment is lost and smashed. Things look bad. In the cave, Dr. Rollason hears a radio transmission: "Abandon camp immediately! Leave your equipment, and report back to base immeidicatley!" Dr. Rollason asks Friend if he hears that; Friend says no, of course he doesn't, the radio is destroyed. He holds it up; it's broken and obviously incapable of receiving or sending transmissions. It becomes clear that the Yeti are communicating telepathically with Dr. Rollason, attempting to trick him into leaving the mountain.

Soon after, Friend hears the cries of the dead companion. Rollason tries to warn him that it's a Yeti trick; Friend, consumed by guilt for the death of his colleague as well as the inability to accept that the Yeti have preternatural powers of telepathy and manipulation, goes out to search ,gets caught in an avalanche, and is killed. Dr. Rollason just barely escapes the avalanche, making it back into the cave at the last second.

Exhausted, Rollason is alone - or so he thinks. He sees two giant shadows on the wall; and sits, stunned, as two Yeti come walking slowly towards him. The camera closes in on the Yeti's face; it is very human like. Far more human like than not. The rest of his face in shadow, the eye area is illuminated. The Yeti look into Rollason's eyes; they cause him no harm but continue to stare as the camera dissolves into a murky misty whirl then fades out.

The next scene, Helen, Rollason's wife, who is back at the main camp in the village, wakes up abruptly from sleep, jumps out of bed, and races through the snow. She runs, making her way through wind and snow, climbing precariously along a ledge, where she finds Rollason, who is frozen stiff and propped up against the wall, tied up with rope. It becomes clear that the Yeti communicated with her while in the dream state.

Well, that's it, I think, while watching this. Yeti killed him or he ran out in fright and froze to death. (Clearly I'd forgoten how the movie ended.) The next scene is of Rollason and Helen sitting in the monastery in front of the Llama, who asks Rollason if he still believes the Yeti exists. Rollason answers that he does not, and it's clear that everyone knows otherwise. "The Yeti doesn't exist" Dr. Rollason says, and the Llama nods in agreement and says "There is no Yeti," but clearly the Llama, as well as Rollason, believe that the Yeti is a reality.

What I found surprising in this were the references to the Yeti's telepathic and other "paranormal" abilities, as well as the eye illumination. There's also the implication of Yeti living in caves and within the earth; for example, in the previously mentioned scene, the Yeti arrive from the rear of the cave. The film was made in 1957 which means that awareness of "paranormal Bigfoot" was out there in the literature even back then. Hairy bipedal encounters, from the Yowie to Bigfoot to Yeti, include story after story of these beings having telepathic abilities, appearing not only on, but inside mountains, traveling via caverns, caves and underground tunnels, eyes that glow from within, playing with the mind, visiting humans in the astral realm and dream state, and other preternatural traits.

The movie was written by British sci-fi author Nigel Kneale. BOA columnist Richard Thomas' Ghosts, Aliens, Yeti and the Late Great Nigel Kneale( January of 2008; Room 101) credits Kneale with being a "great televisions pioneer" and comments that, without Kneale's contributions, we wouldn't have had shows like The X-Files, Doctor Who, etc. When I read Richard's column here on BOA back then, I wasn't that familiar with Kneale, but I did remember the Quatermass movies; and the feeling I had decades ago watching those movies, something resonated within me, as if Kneale were on to something. (Giant, technoligically advanced insects living on other planets as well as within the earth just rang an uncomfortable bell. ) As Thomas describes the plots in The Quatermass Experiment trilogy:

In The Quatermass Experiment, we go to the aliens and bring them back, in Quatermass II the aliens come to us, and in Quatermass and the Pit we discover that the aliens were here all along.

(See also Richard's interview with UFO researcher Nick Pope, where they discuss sci-fi, including Dr. Who and the X-Files.)

Nigel Kneale was in touch with our connection to these things that surpassed the superficial level of sci-fi and related themes. I don't know much about Kneale; was he aware of the "paranormal" aspects of Bigfoot/Yeti encounters? It turns out this is a vast area to explore, one I'm pretty new to. It seems that there's a deeper connection between the "sci-fi" (fiction) writer and the estoeric reality than thinking it's simply "coincidence" or the use of literary devices.

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