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Popcorn Fall

Popcorn Pictures

Reviewing the best (and worst) of horror, sci-fi and fantasy since 2000

  • Andrew Smith

Mammoth (2006)

"We hunted it into extinction... Now it's hunting us."

Plot

When a meteor smashes into a local museum, a partially frozen 40,000-year-old mammoth is possessed by an alien, thawed out and unleashed upon a small town where it uses its trunk to vampirically suck the life out of its victims. Two special agents are drafted in to work with local authorities to kill the mammoth within seventeen hours or else the whole town will be decimated by the army in a bid to stop the full alien invasion.

 

I was expecting another of the generic monster-on-the-loose flicks that the Sci-Fi Channel has wheeled out every week but Mammoth really goes the extra mile to make sure its not so generic after all. Not in a good way either. It's goofy and over-the-top, a far cry from the usually serious and stoic late night creature feature TV movies. I know that the idea of a mammoth on the loose is ridiculous (though no more than sabretooth tigers, giant anacondas or sharks with five heads!) and there's no way that even the best script writers could try and turn a turkey-laden plot like that into something to be taken seriously but at least make an effort! After all, we've had killer sheep in Black Sheep so it's not like there's a shortage of people attempting to turn stupid plots into reasonably believable films.


Instead of playing it straight, Mammoth goes for the camp approach, which was definitely needed with the subject material, but it tries way too hard to be funny. And I mean way too hard - it ends up being totally the opposite. The jokey tone of this film kills it off from the opening credits. The one-liners and gags are absolutely terrible and some of the exchanges between characters go on a bit too. I know Mammoth is not meant to be taken seriously but when films try to mix comedy and horror or science fiction, they really need to nail the comedy bit or else the film bombs. Well this bombs in a big way. It's not funny, the forced humour is constantly irritating and very annoying. Clumsy characters aren't funny unless you're doing slapstick and there are also plenty of inapt sound effects strewn throughout the film to remind you that no one really took this seriously. One can’t help but wonder whether this script was originally designed for a kids TV movie such is the juvenile nature of the humour on show.


I don't know why a mammoth was chosen as the star attraction but it's not in the least bit scary, threatening or even exciting. It's hardly even the star of the show and you don't get that much in the way of mammoth action. It just plods around the town and does an occasion bit of damage but nowhere near enough rampaging for my liking. There's also the fact that it always manages to hide away after attacking someone - this is a huge monster in a small town for crying out loud. How can something so big be able to hide behind a tree or sneak up on someone without making the slightest bit of noise? It's clearly been trained in the art of ninja. I know its low budget but the mammoth looks rubbish. It was going to be impossible to create something that big with practical effects but the CGI does look really ropey. Alien spaceships, shady government agents and severed zombie hands all get thrown into the mixer at some point so there's not just a giant mammoth running around. This isn't Men in Black but it seems to be trying hard to capture the insane feel of it at times!


Tom Skeritt must fear the day that his royalties from Alien run out as he's looking pretty desperate for roles. His job here is to drive around the town as a slightly barmy grandfather and try and be as bland as possible and he succeeds in doing that. At least Vincent Ventresca is decent in the lead role, channelling a sort of Bruce Campbell-like heroism into his almost mad-scientist like role as an anthropologist who suddenly goes from looking after a mammoth exhibit to trying to stop the real thing. Summer Glau from Firefly is also one of the leads and her role seems to be purely to sucker nerdy fan boys into watching this dreck with the thought of seeing her again. Either that or The Sci-Fi Channel tied her down to a really terrible contract. The pairing of her and Skeritt does have some throwback vibe to the 80s but its not developed enough to keep the story engaging.

 

Final Verdict

Mammoth tries to be different from the other creature feature films but it doesn't know whether it wants to be a monster movie, a comedy, a homage to the 50s b-movies, or a spoof of them - at least I'm agreed that it's a dud. It's just way too corny and goofy to work.



 

Mammoth


Director(s): Tim Cox


Writer(s): Don Guarisco (story by), Sean Keller (written by), Tim Cox (written by), Brook Durham (written by)


Actor(s): Vincent Ventresca, Summer Glau, Tom Skerritt, Constantin Drăgănescu, Cole Williams, Charles Carroll, Mark Irvingsen


Duration: 90 mins






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