ABOMINABLE Distributed by: Anchor Bay Entertainment Film Year: 2006 Film Length: 94 minutes Genre: Horror/Thriller Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Colour/B&W: Colour Audio: English 5.1 Surround English 2.0 Surround Subtitles: none Film Rating: Release Date: October 03, 2006. Rating: / Scare Factor: / Matt McCoy (Preston Rogers), Haley Joel (Amanda), Christien Tinsley (Otis Wilhelm), Lance Henriksen (Ziegler Dane), Jeffrey Combs (Buddy, the Clerk) Written by: Ryan Schifrin Directed by: Ryan Schifrin THINK BIG. When creating his first feature film director Ryan Schifrin took the advice of many in order to succeed. He crafted a script that could be shot with a low budget and borrowed elements from other successful films to make the story interesting. This allowed him to get the financing for Abominable as well as the ability to shoot the film in a short period of time. Imagine the classic film Rear Window starring James Stewart meeting Bigfoot & The Abominable Snowman. Throw in a bit of The Twilight Zone as well and Schifrin has a film – and it’s an entertaining one too. The film begins in the wilderness. We know an inhospitable creature is roaming the forest ripping up the farmers’ animals. We know the town and the cops think it’s a big joke. All may seem well to them, but for Preston Rogers, a recently paralyzed mountain climber suffering from delusions and meds, he’s about to see that the joke is unquestionably real. But will anyone believe him? Bound to his wheelchair and only able to see out of the window from his cozy cabin home, he watches a group of five girls getting mauled one by one on their weekend getaway in the cabin across from him. He’s scared to death of what he sees and is locked in so he can’t warn the girls, and they can’t grasp what is going on! It becomes a story of strength and survival. Who will make it to the end without being chewed? Schifrin’s first film is a success if you ask me. It’s not a creepy one but it will make modest horror viewers jump. McCoy steals the film with his performance and Schifrin even got a bit lucky to bring in a few other well known actors such as Lance Henriksen and Jeffrey Combs (even though their scenes were shot well after the film was done). It was a good afterthought. I liked this film and would recommend you to view it…there’s nothing better than some low budget horror. But where this DVD suffers is in the presentation. My comments of that are below. The disc is packaged in a keepcase tucked in a cardboard sleeve that sports a more attractive reflective look than the matte cover. A 6-page booklet can be found inside with notes from the director. VIDEO QUALITY / Awful. Awful. Awful. Awful. Where is Anchor Bay’s quality control? How did this DVD ever get sent to retailers like this? From my point of view, this transfer is defective. My Denon DVD-3910 was going wild when trying to figure out if this DVD was video or film based material. My assumption is that the 2-3 sequence is continually interrupted and the resulting picture quality exhibits severe amounts of combing artefacts. In fact, the effect was so bad I couldn’t read any text on the screen because of the lines streaked through it. Jitteriness to the image was also noticed: not a single camera pan or zoom was smooth…it looked more like ‘steps’ then a smooth camera move. Moiré was also a concern as well as an unacceptable level of blurring that gave every single image on screen a ghost. Let’s see…what else is wrong here…? How about excessive edge enhancement, compression artefacts, and a bit of film grain? (the latter being acceptable in my opinion because it is film.) Did I mention the video was so warm that skin tones looked too orange/brown and all other colours were tinted warm? The colours don’t even look good either. The leaves of the trees looked like a sick green edging towards brown. Contrast and black level is acceptable although I know it can be better. There is a haze over the image that seems to limit the brightest whites as well as plaguing shadow detail. The only good thing about this picture is that it is correctly framed at 1.85:1. Most of the black bar appears at the top of the picture. AUDIO QUALITY / The 5.1 soundtrack, encoded in Dolby Digital, presents itself better than the video but could use a little work. Since I’m on a rampage with this title I’ll note the bad things first: the center channel sound is too forward. Dialogue can be distorted but most of the time it’s clear. There is a harshness to it I didn’t like plus most sounds including dialogue are not always spatially integrated. The opening scene actually has some directional dialogue. The voices are phantom-imaged directly over the actors’ faces on the left and right side of the screen. I think this is great and wished more films incorporated directional dialogue. Oddly the fidelity of the dialogue changes with the directionality – it sounds muffled compared to when its placed only in the center channel. It also has nothing to do with the fact that it’s phantom-imaged between the center channel and the left-right channels. My Dunlavy SC-I and SC-IVs sound almost identical except for the lowest registers and the effect is still present when using no center channel at all (letting my SC-IVs do all of the work.) The information sent to the main channels is somewhat strange. As mentioned before, the center channel does a lot of work on its own and when that happens, the surrounds and fronts do provide some ambience at a lower level. But that is not to say they are not active. In fact, all channels can get very loud and very active with music and effects. The music builds and builds and gets very loud when a scary part in the film is expected. It’s very effective and helps with the scares but the quality of the recording is only mediocre. It’s bright, loud, and not very comfortable on the ears. Surrounds are used for loud creaks or the shuffling of the bushes when “Bigfoot” is sneaking around. The sounds in the four main channels create a good sense of space and liven the soundtrack up quite a bit. For those of you who are bass-hungry, Abominable will satisfy your appetite. The thumping of Bigfoot’s feet and the suspense-building music pulsates at lower registers in all channels. The LFE channel is used to emphasise this a bit more. TACTILE FUN!! / TRANSDUCER ON/OFF?: ON Using a tactile transducer is recommended with this film. The stomps of Bigfoot can be felt more when it shakes the sofa or the floorboard beneath you. It gives the “you are there” experience” as you want to run and hide from this hideous creature! SPECIAL FEATURES / This DVD is not shy of special features. Below is a list of what you’ll find included on the disc: Back to Genre: Making of Abominable (37.26): This 4:3 feature features the director and actors talking about the film and the extent of their involvement. Its interview clips mixed in with sometimes rather lengthy clips from the film to enhance what the discussion is about. An audio commentary with Director Ryan Schifrin and actor Matt McCoy do most of the discussion. There is some screen specific commentary with actor Jeffrey Combs and film editor Chris Conlee. Combs scenes are fairly short so Schifrin and McCoy do a lot of the talking. It’s quite obvious as to what they are going to talk about: everything they can recall about the project and about specific scenes in the film. It’s entertaining. This disc also includes six and a half minutes of deleted and extended scenes. They are widescreen enhanced although the framing isn’t perfect. There is a black bar along the left edge of the screen but most won’t notice this because of overscan. The scenes don’t add much to the film and I think they were better left on the cutting room floor. The funny part of this disc is the outtakes and bloopers. It runs just over four minutes and is 4:3. Much of it is the laughing for one very specific scene they just couldn’t seem to nail. Still, it’s a bit of a hoot. Interestingly, Ryan Schifrin chose to include his USC Student Film titled SHADOWS. I always like watching these shorts and it’s good to see Schifrin include this on his disc. I think more directors should include their early works on their DVDs, no matter how cruddy it may be. Generally, they are very creative. I liked this one…it reminds me of something I’d make. This DVD also has two trailers (16:9), 65 frames in a still and poster gallery, 48 frames in a storyboard gallery and the screenplay on DVD-ROM. IN THE END... What a shame. I enjoyed this movie but since this is a DVD Review based on the quality of the presentation I can’t recommend this DVD. The image quality is completely unacceptable. I don’t think the film was the source for this disc…it looks more like a broadcast tape of some sort. If the video quality isn’t scary enough, the movie punches some good scares making it worth watching… if you can see past abominable mess in front of it. Mike Osadciw October 04, 2006.