Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Vamp or not? Mammoth


Okay, before you wonder whether I have gone completely barking mad, last year I spotted this film and mentioned it in an August 2007 post. It was on the Sci Fi Channel and I couldn’t resist watching it. Then I thought I’d best look at it here in order to bring closure to my previous statement “a film that would seem open to a 'Vamp or Not?' and probably isn’t.”

The film starts off in a museum in Blackwater, Louisiana. Frank with the scoutsTwo boy scouts separate from their group and sneak into an area under preparation. There they find a Mammoth still in ice, being set up for display. Also there is Dr Frank Abernathy (Vincent Ventresca), who has been doing research on the preserved corpse for five years. He has an x-ray and has noticed something odd. After the scouts leave he gets out his drill so that he can drill through the ice and retrieve what seems to be a foreign object inside the Mammoth. As he removes it, it seems to emit a pulse.

UFOThe pulse escapes through space where it is retrieved by a flying saucer that releases a probe. The probe shoots off through the credits and during the credits we see an animated scene of cave paintings, humans hunting mammoth, mammoth chasing humans and then flying saucer appearing shooting humans that are hunting the mammoth. If you think all this will give you an insight into the story you are sadly mistaken – but we will get to the wtf aspect later.

alien oozeBack on Earth Frank is about to settle down to work when he realises that he is late for his daughter’s birthday, he rushes off to be with Jack (Summer Glau) – as his daughter is called. He gets in his car but the car cuts out, what he doesn’t realise is that every car in town has suddenly shut down. Then, overhead, a ‘meteor’ swoops by and hits the museum. The meteor is in fact the probe and slime comes out of it and crosses the floor towards the mammoth, reanimating it. The concept of an alien slime or ooze taking over a body, controlling it and making it a vampire has been seen before in the genre picture Goke, Bodysnatcher from Hell.

feedingThe mammoth’s first victim is the security guard. He is thrown by the trunk, after unloading his gun into it, and then drained of his life energy – via the trunk. So we have an animated corpse (okay that of a Mammoth) sucking life force and, later, it is directly referred to as a feeding process.

Jack and SimonFrank investigates his destroyed museum but just as he gets to the probe he is pulled away by the Sheriff (Charles Caroll). He heads off home to his disappointed daughter who is with her grandfather, Simon (Tom Skerritt). Simon is a UFO nut and seems to be the stable factor in Jack’s life along with her almost boyfriend Squirrelly (Cole Williams). Frank is a scatterbrained scientist who has never really been together since his wife died. Jack sneaks off to a party and Frank is about to go for her when the men in black appear – okay a man in black, Whitaker (Marcus Lyn Brown), and a woman in black, Powers (Leila Arcieri).

Eventually it is up to Powers and the Abernathys to stop the mammoth before the Government nuke the town (alien incursion doesn’t sit well with the voters).

reanimated handSo what is going on? In truth we don’t know. This has happened before and the Sheriff and coroner (Andrew Peter Marin) have a reanimated hand on ice from thirty years back. The hand is frozen, but that just makes it dormant. 1 minute in a microwave and it is tapping out a signal (subtitles tell us that, whatever the alien force is, they shall rule the planet again). As a result of this they know the mammoth can not be killed only put on ice.

the mammoth comethHowever the concept of a rescue mission is also mentioned. Yet it can’t be a rescue mission, the dead mammoth was not animate until the alien ooze reached earth. If it is an invasion why haven’t they invaded already? You know what, despite being the wtf aspect, it doesn’t really matter - this is a creature feature and one very referential (purposefully so) to other films. Be it visually to Jurassic Park or in dialogue – they try and work out if their situation is closer to War of the Worlds, Invasion of the Bodysnatchers or The Blob – the references come thick and fast.

Leila Arcieri in tight white blouseThere are many other aspects of the movie that make no sense. How would a block of ice stay frozen exposed in a museum, why would an undead mammoth drop a pile of dung and why do the MiBs have energy guns are just three out of a plethora. Again I say it doesn’t matter, it is just good monster movie fun. All the performances are enjoyable everyone seems to be having a great time, especially Skerritt who seems to be having a little too much fun if you ask me! Mention should go to Arcieri who, be it in a too tight blouse or jiggling as she ran around in a black vest top, looked absolutely fine. I have no shame what so ever.

Leila Arcieri in black vestIs it Vamp? I am tempted to say no. Okay we have a reanimated corpse sucking life force but it isn’t bipedal. Yet the essence that animates it can be passed on and is reminiscent of Goke. Goke is an accepted genre film and this movie owes a lot (in respect of ooze and flying saucers at least) to the Japanese flick. The jury is out folks… answers on a postcard.

The imdb page is here.

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