Sabretooth (2002)

Sabretooth (2002)

Be prepared to be ripped apart!

Using fossilised DNA, a scientist resurrects one of nature’s most fearsome predators – the sabretooth tiger. But the test subject escapes during transportation and heads into the woods where a bunch of campers are spending the weekend.


It seems like an eternity since Sabretooth was released and during that time frame, I’ve just lost count of the sheer number of ‘monster on the loose’ films that have been made, mainly by the Sy-Fy Channel and The Asylum in which ever more ludicrous and contrived monsters run amok in fishing villages, small forest towns or jungles the world over. Back in 2002, Sabretooth almost seems like a forerunner to the mayhem that would ensue.

Before sharks that could walk and fly or humungous genetically-engineered snakes were used as military weapons, the idea of using a sabretooth tiger as the monster-of-the-week seems, well, a tad quaint. But cloning sabretooth tigers hasn’t been overdone like the idea of farming sharks for brain protein (even if the reasons for cloning the tiger here are far-fetched) so Sabretooth at least gives the illusion of presenting something different, even if it quickly resorts to the usual formula we’ve seen countless times.

Sabretooth’s problem isn’t that it’s formulaic – it is that its script is idiotic. Characters do things to be a convenience to the plot. Take for instance the opening scene in which a janitor goes inside the cage of a sabretooth tiger to clean the windows. I don’t really need to explain any further. Later in the film, the hunter character gives the female scientist a gun, despite knowing that she wants the tiger taken alive. When he takes the gun back a few minutes later to shoot the tiger, he finds that she has taken out the bullets. Well d’uh! There are a lot of unashamedly poor decisions made throughout the film which are all there for the sole purpose of giving the lazy script an easy ride.

The film may run like clockwork, with a list of characters you can arrange in ‘menu order’ at the start, but Sabretooth runs at a quick pace, getting right down to the action as soon as possible to avoid pointless exposition. The title monster isn’t very believable though I didn’t expect it to be anything less. The special effects are a mix between CGI and an animatronic head with the clear result that neither effect works very well. The CGI looks ropey and, whilst the animatronic head fairs a little better, it’s still not very effective overall. The tiger looks like it stumbled off the set off a cartoon, never mind onto an action-horror. The result of the bad combo of special effects is that the tiger changes shape in different scenes, depending on which effect is being used.

The cast is solid enough for this B-movie. David Keith (not to be confused with the black guy from The Thing and They Live, that’s Keith David!) makes a believable hunter, John Rhys-Davies lends his usual reliability to the film as the scientist and Jenna Gering provides the hotness factor as one of the campers. She does not get naked though which disappoints considerably given the amount of screen time her tight t-shirt receives. Also of note in the cast is Josh Holloway, who would shoot to fame shortly afterwards as Sawyer in Lost.


Sabretooth is enjoyable enough if you don’t take stuff like this seriously and some bad special effects aside, it’s about the best you could expect from such a film. There are worse ‘monster on the loose’ films out there and I’m sure there are a lot more to come.





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