Cast & Crew
Botanist Dr. John Rollason, his wife and colleague Helen and his assistant, Pete Fox, venture into the rugged Himalayan mountains in search of rare plants. One day, after they establish camp at a village, the Lhama, the spiritual leader of the village who possesses extrasensory perception, forecasts the imminent arrival of a climbing expedition and asks John if he intends to join them. When Helen learns about the expedition, she fears that John plans to hlep them search for the mythical creature known as the Abominable Snowman. Soon after, Tom Friend, an American adventurer, arrives with his guide Kusang and his colleagues, Jacques McNee and Ed Shelley, and a band of porters. When Helen denies the existence of the creatures, known as the "Yeti" by the natives, McNee rebuts that he has seen their footprints in the snow. As proof of their existence, Friend produces a stolen silver cylinder bearing an inscription about "powerful beings." Inside is a giant tooth, allegedly belonging to a Yeti. Friend then explains that he plans to lead a small party of five men into the heights of the Himalayas in search of the Yeti, and invites John to be their fifth member. When they present the tooth to the Lhama, however, the holy man claims that it is not real, but carved from ivory. Disregarding Helen's objections, John joins Friend's expedition, and the next morning, they begin their trek into the treacherous snow-covered peaks. That night, as they camp, John hypothesizes that the Yeti may have developed in parallel to mankind. When the crude, unthinking Shelley displays a trap he has brought to capture the creature, John is distressed to discover that he has been enlisted in a hunting party. The mercenary Friend then admits that his goal, far from being scientific, is to catch the Yeti and then make money by exhibiting him on television. In the village below, meanwhile, the porters that Friend left behind clamor for their unpaid wages. The next day, the expedition continues their trek, and McNee confesses to John that he has been obsessed by the creatures ever since spotting their footprints in the snow. Soon after, McNee, an inexperienced climber who has paid Friend for the privilege of joining the expedition, falls into a trap set by Shelley and injures his foot. John denounces the use of traps until Shelley claims that he has caught one of the creatures. When John examines Shelley's catch, however, he identifies it as a Himalayan monkey. As they pitch their tent that night, a radio broadcast warns of an approaching blizzard. Later, the monkey, locked in the cage outside, begins wildly chattering, and is accompanied by snarls and growls. When Kusang, Shelley, John and Friend run out to investigate, they find a huge footprint in the snow. McNee, left behind in the tent, sees a huge, hairy claw slip under the tent flap. Returning to the tent for his rifle, Kusang spots the Yeti and goes berserk, streaking down the mountain to the village below, while McNee, hypersensitive to the creature, goes into a trance. Firing at a figure fleeing on the ice, Shelley wounds the creature and they follow a trail of blood to find the fallen Yeti, dead. When Kusang returns to the village, Helen, fearing for her husband's safety, requests an audience with the Lhama, who confirms that John is in danger but pronounces that his outcome will be governed by his own nature. Determined to find John, Helen offers to pay the porters' back wages if they will lead her into the mountains. At the camp, meanwhile, McNee regains consciousness and questions John about the dead Yeti. After John reports that he saw sadness and wisdom in the slain creature's face, McNee sneaks out of the tent. Continuing his quest for the Yeti, the weakened McNee strikes out through the snow and plunges to his death from a precipice. After Shelley is attacked by two other creatures, Friend hits upon the idea of using him as bait and instructs Shelley to sequester himself in the cave while Friend watches from the tent, gun in hand. In a blinding blizzard, Friend and John hear the snarls of the creatures, and Shelley, confronted by the charging Yeti, aims his rifle, but the weapon fails to fire. By the time John and Friend reach the cave, Shelley has died from a heart attack. When the creatures return for the body of their compatriot, John surmises that they are more civilized and intelligent than man, and sense they must hide from man, the destroyer. Soon after, Friend, hallucinating, hears Shelley calling for help and runs out of the cave, firing his gun, thus triggering an avalanche that buries him alive. John remains in the cave, and when the two creatures come to claim their friend's body, he stares into their faces and then passes out. In a tent nearby, Helen hears the creatures' cries and runs out into the blizzard, where she finds John unconscious in the snow, and a giant footprint near his body. After John is rescued, he meets with the Lhama and affirms that the Yeti does not exist.
The working title of this film was The Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas, the title under which the picture was copyrighted. The opening and closing cast credits differ in order of appearance. Although the opening credits list Exclusive Films, Ltd. as the production company, the Hollywood Reporter review notes that the film was commissioned by the American company Regal Films, Inc. which had an agreement with Twentieth Century-Fox to produce low-budget black-and-white films. The SAB also lists Regal as the film's production company. Although the copyright listing for the film states that the production company was Buzz Productions in association with Clarion Films, it also calls it "A Regal Films Production." Onscreen credits note that the format of the film was "Hammerscope," but all reviews list it as "Regalscope," the process used by Regal Films. According to the Hollywood Reporter and Motion Picture Herald reviews, location filming took place in the Pyrennes Mountains in Switzerland. Peter Cushing, Wolfe Morris and Arnold Marle also appeared in the original BBC telecast of Nigel Kneale's story.