Producer: Phil Botana, Scott E. Vandiver
Director: James D.R. Hickox
Writer: Tom Woolsey
Cast: David Keith, Vanessa Angel, John Rhys-Davies
Year of Production: 2001
Territory: US & Canada
Rating: R For creature violence and language
Format: Spanish Subtitles
DVD Running Time: 90 minutes
DVD Audio Status: Dolby Digital
DVD Special Features: English and Spanish Subtitles, trailer




Ever suspected some kind of weird Social Darwinism at work when it comes to horror movies like this?

First, the plot: a Sabretooth tiger manages to escape into the Californian woods when the truck driver transporting it falls asleep at the steering wheel.

Before that, said killer tiger devours the janitor at a secret research laboratory where they have some brightly coloured test tubes. One just knows the janitor is going to get it because (a.) janitors and other working class stiffs always get it in movies like this, (b.) he acts stupidly when he tries to retrieve a can of window cleaning liquid from RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE TIGER'S CAGE KNOWING WHAT IS IN THERE and (c.) he wears his baseball cap backwards.

Soon the tiger is stalking a group of ethnically diverse campers, who probably wished they were in The Blair Witch Project instead. Even Friday the 13th will do I suppose!

There's the group leader (buxom blonde, Farrah Fawcett hairstyle and Lara Croft's fashion sense), her ex-boyfriend (spiky haired hunk), obligatory media-saturated Black dude (who makes Raiders of the Lost Ark cracks which must have struck the screenwriters as clever at the time - read on to see why), geeky asthmatic computer hacker, and dumbshit tattooed girl of vague Latino extraction (with ?bad kitty T-shirt?, ho-ho).

Also in pursuit of the weak CGI effect, but decent close-up animatronics: the billionaire (John Rhys-Davies, best known to movie fans as Sallah in two of the Indiana Jones movies) who funded the entire project to resurrect the tiger, the bitch (Vanessa Angel of Baywatch fame), a nerdy female expert on extinct species (her T-shirt reads: ?Extinction sucks!?) and the professional big game hunter hired to hunt down Diego, er sorry, the killer tiger (David Keith, most recently seen as Daredevil?s dad).

Recently I read in Bill Bryson's excellent Notes from a Big Country that America is, well, pretty big, and that it often happens that small aircraft would crash in woodlands, never to be found again.

Not these woods: they seem pretty crowded and busy - almost like your average shopping mall on a Saturday morning. People keep stumbling into one another and the sabre tooth tiger, a GGI special effect that makes Diego from Ice Age look photorealistic, doesn't have to go far to find any victims to rip apart in gory fashion.

Why exactly and how the tiger is resurrected is never really explained. At least Jurassic Park had that whole bit about the mosquito being caught in amber. Not this movie! A lot of other things are also never explained, like why the people in it act so stupidly.

"Hmm, let's see: we're in the woods at night hunting a vicious killer tiger that was extinct for extinct for thousands of years. So let me wander off here, after all, it could standing right behi- aaaAAARGH!"

Also never explained is why the billionaire funding the project is such an extreme cheapskate ? the costs of sets and locations probably had something to do with it I suspect.

Or how Vanessa ("my collagen injected lips are bigger than Angelina Jolie's") Angel became a scientist in the first place.

Why everybody still has perfect makeup on first thing in the morning after roughing it in the great outdoors? Or why everybody sleeps in their own luxurious four-man tent at night, but doesn't seem to carry anything in their rucksacks at day?

Back to the social Darwinism thing.

Ignoring the normal horror movie rules such as the couple having on-screen sex getting it, you get no prizes for guessing who will survive this particular ordeal in the woods. Somehow, not the proletariat, nor the brainy, nor the ethnic minority groups, but the good-looking Aryan types damn it!

Maybe this ties in with some perverted idea Hollywood has of why it is necessary to spend all those hours in the gym. I don?t know. However, at the end of Sabretooth the good-looking couple survive to, er, mate and propagate the species I suppose. (Hope I didn't spoil that for you.)

THE DISC: Apparently, this movie was made for the Sci-Fi Channel. Production values such as sound, image and even music (I just love those tablas used in one track!) are surprisingly high for what was definitely a low-budget affair. Image quality is good, even in the night scenes (then again these have to be the most brightly lit forests at night I've ever seen).

The image on the disc looks mostly crisp and the sound is clear. The movie is presented in its original 1:33 aspect ratio. No problems there.

When it comes to the extra features though, the disc has as little meat on it as any of the sabretooth's many ripped bare victims. There're two trailers ? one for this movie and a teaser for what looks like a really sicko horror movie titled May, which is also distributed by Lion's Gate pictures.

These you access by clicking on the icon of the lion at the bottom of the screen ? not very helpful that. There are English & Spanish subtitles and scene access. As you might have guessed, the advertised ?interactive menus? do not present you with much to interact with.

WORTH IT? I don't want to brag, but I've seen worse movies than Sabretooth. The clichéd plot may not give viewers much more to do than predict the order in which victims will by picked off by the movie's monster, but at least it moves at a brisk pace. There's nary a dull moment.

While the acting is mostly bad, the cast is at least game. But forget about genuine chills or scares. Also, the CGI rendered tiger looks terrible. At one point, (I swear!) a stick swung at it GOES RIGHT THROUGH IT!

I know one shouldn't always knock bad special effects in a movie ? after all, Ginger Snaps remains a great movie despite the hokey werewolf at the end ? but this kitty made me long for Ray Harryhausen's stop-motion Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. That's how bad it was!

RECOMMENDATION: We had a few beers before watching it and had a hoot pulling a DIY MST3K session of our own. However, if you're the type who must have Mike and his bots, then avoid it . . .



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