The Abomination (1986)

In some ways it's a pity the effect of Peter Jackson's Brain Dead being released was to create an overdose of humorous gore and mega-splatter, neutralising the impact of any gore films since. Sure, the "torture porn" subgenre brought some intensity and 'squirminess' back to depictions of on-screen blood, but it's hard to watch a nineteen-eighty-six film like Brett McCormick's The Abomination and be affected by the splatter alone. Maybe I'm just desensitised in my old age. It's not a huge issue for this bizarre little curiosity of a film, though. There are other odd quirks and joys to tide curious viewers over. Any film that opens with a five minute montage of all the gore scenes from it's running time is obviously eager to please any splatter enthusiasts, and certainly lets you know where you stand. You can always turn off at this point!

After our little run-through of cheap gore, we're introduced to the troubled Cody (Scott Davis) who is talking off-screen to a psychiatrist about a monster called the Abomination, who makes him kill. The Psychiatrist gets him to tell us all about it. So our film unfolds, as a flashback. Cody and his mother Sarah (Jude Johnson) live a humble life in rural Ameria somewhere, in a small shack-like house. It seems Sarah was a devout follower of a fire-and-brimstone TV evangelist known as Brother Fogg (Rex Morton). Cody was concerned about his mother retreating from the real world, and giving all their money to Fogg. Sarah was in contact with Fogg about a lung illness, and wanted him to miraculously cure her. When Sarah does actually cough up a bloody lung-oyster of a tumour, she thinks she's cured by the Brother, and throws the gruesome little mess into the trash. Later that night, the tumour crawls out of the rubbish and finds it's way into Cody's mouth! It slithers right into his stomach and dissapears. The hapless youth wakes the next morning as if from a nightmare, but his troubles have only just begun.

Cody works as a mechanic with his drunken boss who hassles him, and has a girlfriend Kelly (Blue Thompson) who he loves. They go driving their pickup around with friends, and get up to the usual youthful shenanigans. Still, the young man is starting to act strangely. He gets overly upset when one of his friends mentions his mother's bible-bashing ways. He becomes hostile and rude to Sarah, and locks himself in his room. He starts to cough incessantly, and eventually coughs up the thing living in his stomach! In a daze, he throws it under his bed. Once he's purged the creature from his body, Cody becomes fully under it's control. He now knows 'what to do'. He drives to a local cemetary, and slashes the throat of a girl laying flowers after a protracted chase. Washing the bloodied pickup down, he shoves the corpse under his bed. Later, the part of him that still feels things is shocked to find the body gnawed back to a skeleton, and that 'The Abomination' has grown into a slimy, toothy creature living under his bed! Somehow, the creature communicates it's endless need for food to it's host, and more murders ensue. A female friend of Cody's gets paid a visit and ends up with her throat messily slashed. His boss gets his head chainsawed off in a welter of gore. The creature grows larger, and splits into multiple entities which nest themselves in various parts of the house. A fanged mouth lives in the washing machine and in a pantry. Tentacles slither around cupboards in the kitchen.

Sarah discovers the Abominations infesting her house, and her son feeding them shards of human flesh and entrails. Crazed with fear and despair, she calls on God to help her. Cody stands emotionless, merely licking his lips, as one the Abomination's mouths attaches itself to her hand and bites it clean off. Strangely, the monsters will attack the person who is basically their mother, but they don't hurt their feeder. Sarah dissapears completely as the horror devours her. Later, wanting revenge against Brother Fogg, Cody plants one of the young creatures in Fogg's bathroom before he takes a dump. We've already seen that the old man practically lives there, in one of the film's few comic scenes. The hunger of the monsters increases and we see Cody pitchforking in great armfuls of bloody flesh and entrails into the chewing maw of the Abomination that lives in the pantry. Over and over we hear when he's stalking someone the chant in Cody's distorted voice ... "The Abomination, which makes all things desolate", inspired by the Bible. Finally a concerned Kelly wants to find out what her lost boyfriend has been up to. She enters into a charnel house from Hell as she views the human fragments left around the kitchen, and the many-toothed things bloodily gaping for more. Cody enters the room and attacks his once-lover, barely recognising her. Kelly finds a shovel and attempts to defend herself. What will this gruesome battle reveal about Cody and his evil spawn, and will Kelly survive in one piece or be sucked into the abyss? Beyond the horror that we see, is it all happening in Cody's mind as his tale concludes with the Psychiatrist?

Okay, that was the basic treatment of the plot that may, or may not, spark your interest. Where The Abomination gains some momentum is in the treatment. Under the pseudonym Max Raven, McCormick, with his 16mm camera, has created an eccentric little work that with it's post-synch sound, is as much an audio experience as a visual one. The music's pretty basic but the sound effects, indeed all the sound, created after the fact, is strange indeed. Every footstep is magnified. Every paper rustling is amplified. The chanting of the "Abomination, which makes all things desolate ..." becomes surreal as McCormick experiments with audio manipulation and distortion. Oddly enough, the creatures themselves are completely silent. Characters lines are often delivered in an monotone which only adds to the weirdness. Beyond the audio and onto the negative side, there's a bit of padding here and there, as we watch Cody driving his pickup truck, washing the truck ... and driving it again. It doesn't sink the film, though, as plenty of low-budget films that are genuinely entertaining have the odd section padded out. The acting is exactly what you'd expect from a budget that would barely cover the coffee ration of a Hollywood production - wooden personified. It didn't matter. The creature effects also suffer from the minscule funding, coming across as gore-coated, slimy sock-puppets as much as anything else. They're kind of cute, but I can't imagine they were really meant to be at the time. It's obvious McCormick had access to a local - and generous - abbatoir or butcher as the film drips with animal entrails and organs. It's certainly gruesome when Cody shovels great chunks of bloody, hanging flesh into the Abomination's chomping maw.

So taking the good with the bad, is The Abomination worth tracking down in the end? It's quite a memorable little oddity with it's bible-infused weirdness, rivers of blood and odd sound effects. Only low budget film-making can play with the sort of stuff we see, so we have to be prepared to live with the inevitable shortcomings of such a fringe production. At the very least, it's a memorable, distinctive effort so I'd say give it a look if you can. Probably after twenty-two years you won't be knocked over by the splatter, but that allows the other oddball qualities that McCormick has created to come through.

© Boris Lugosi, 2008.


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