What do you get when you take the most esoteric of cryptozoological monsters... er... unknown animals... Canada's majestic verdant farmland masquerading as the upper Mongolian desert, and Sean Patrick Flannery looking like he's trying to digest freshly sauteed skunk musk glands or overcome an Everclear hangover via peyote mushrooms and Burger King value menu items? By God you get Mongolian Death Worm! Brought to the world, i.e. SyFy Pictures via Cinetel Films (uh oh) Mongolian Death Worm joins their recent release The Behemoth in their sub-slate of giant monster such as The Behemoth and Ice Spiders.
Like The Behemoth, Mongolian Death Worm ignores the absolute inherent idiocy of its basic plot (giant man eating worms eat man) for deadpan serious acting with oscar-caliber awfulness from a cast of almost all unknowns, and Sean Patrick Flannery who literally looks like he's going to walk off the set the second his check doesn't clear or kung fu fight his way through the grips, gaffers, and catering table workers if it does.
Set around a mysterious Canadian power plant masquerading as a shale-oil drilling operation in the Gobi desert whose operation causes earth tremors, frightens off workers who either run away or get eaten, and affect the local villages where a mysterious illness claims dozens of lives, a team of twenty-something doctors on a mercy mission hire former Young Indiana Jones star playing an old Indiana Jones knock-off to drive them to one of the villages most in need of help. The idealistic doctors, Alicia (Victoria Pratt) and Philip (Nate Rubin)
The stage is set for several CGI Mongolian Death Worms to launch themselves out of the ground and eat every single non-white actor in the movie at least once. Rounding out this rather straightforward plot are some fun subplots about the search for, and finding of, Ghengis Khan's tomb (played here by a Canadian power plant basement), and the arrival of a new plant manager Mr. Bixler (Matthew Thompkins) that throws a wrench into the plans of the current manager Patrick (Drew Waters) to loot all of the Khan treasure for himself. In a completely non-ironic twist, Daniel (Sean Patrick Flannery) has been seeking the Khan treasure for years now. Sadly he never thought to look in the basement of the giant power plant. There is even a subplot about the smuggler Kowlan (Billy Blair) and the overworked Mongolian sheriff Timur (George Cheung) who dresses like Walker: Texas Ranger and sounds like Kenneth Mars' Inspector Kemp from Young Frankenstein trying to disrupt his business.
These subplots are played out with all the skill and drama of a lesser episode of Scooby Doo, but they all converge, finally, on a CGI worm rampage that ends with a superimposed explosion over the shale drilling operation (wink wink).
The CGI worms look kind of cool the first ten times you see them, after that they lose some of their Playstation 1 cut-scene quality luster. Part of the problem, unlike say The Behemoth, is that we see way too much of these things way too often, and while the slug-like worms have some menace being five feet long and three feet high they are still worms.
Directed for TV by the talented director (as far as his remake of I Spit on Your Grave goes) Steven R. Monroe, Mongolian Death Worm never pushes the boundaries of the TV style moviemaking, all of the action is dead center and the camera is mostly stationary. The script is devoid of swears, sexual tension, and nudity. I don't even know if this is good or bad anymore. There wasn't any handycam stuff that I remember so that is always a plus in my book. Monroe allows a few long scenes of Sean Patrick Flannery staring silently out at the audience, which suggests that the director was allowing him to blink an SOS and their GPS coordinates in Morse Code.
The acting is universally awful, even from actors that should know better. The music is stock from the vast Cinetel vault (same score as Ice Spiders and The Behemoth). The DVD from Lions Gate comes with no extras, not even a protective, embossed, cardboard slip case that would have made this a total one-hundred-star movie. Look for the upcoming Special Edition though where aside from chapter stops and trailers, Sean Patrick Flannery comes to live in your garage and sort your recyclables and recount his ordeal in the harsh Canadian farmland of Mongolia.
What makes Mongolian Death Worm totally worth watching at least once is the complete and utter earnestness of the cast in delivering what may be one of the goofiest scripts to come along in a long time. Funnier though is their inability to acknowledge that:
1 – Almost the entire movie is shot on the same dirt road
2 – The traditional Mongolian yurts (round huts) are actually badly assembled canvass tents
3 – The power plant employees' cars and fleet of cherry-picker trucks are visible in several establishing shots of the Shale Drilling operation
4 – A really big farm appears in the background, silos and all, along with phone lines, cell towers, and houses, whenever the characters are shot from inside a vehicle
5 – Everyone shoots in different directions when they are fighting the Mongolian Death Worms at the end because no one thought to tell the cast where they might be in relations to the CGI monsters
So, Mongolian Death Worm – Another for the SyFy Fridays collection.