Once again, I get to watch one of my favorite series of sci-fi/horror movies; the Maneater series. Now I will be honest, when I first heard the premise of this movie, my immediate thought was that this was some poor attempt at remaking Tremors. Now I know that this is not actually a remake but come on; giant prehistoric worms that hunt by sound/vibrations is sooo Tremors. Regardless, since this was one of the Maneater series, I was going to watch it and ended up buying it as part of a three pack of those movies. So let’s see how good today’s movie is as I watch Sand Serpents.
The plot: In Afghanistan, Lt. Richard Stanley and his team are escorting military observer Jan Henle through the desert towards a mine, which was under Taliban control a month ago but now appears deserted. As they check out the mine, they are suddenly ambushed by Taliban fighters and two of the team are killed while the others, Richard, Jan, Sgt. Wilson, and Privates Andrews, Eno, and Kaminsky, end up captured. The soldiers are blindfolded and tied up and as Richard tries to bargain with them, the Taliban ignore him and begin discussing what to do with the soldiers. Suddenly, an earthquake occurs and the Taliban fighters leave the Americans inside the building as they rush outside, and Richard and his group suddenly hear shooting, screaming, and a monstrous roaring sound. Eno manages to free herself, then Richard, and he goes to check outside while she frees the others. Outside, Richard finds that all of the Taliban, as well as the two bodies of his men, have all disappeared. The group spread out to search the area for any weapons, food, water, or radios they can use and while they are looking, Andrews thinks he see something moving but Eno and Jan think he just saw a mirage. Unable to find a radio, they decide to head to their rendezvous point for extraction and begin walking when they suddenly feel another earthquake. They see a helicopter coming but suddenly, a giant worm-like creature appears out of the ground, grabs the helicopter in it’s mouth, and destroys it. The soldiers head back to the mine and Wilson gets the worm to chase after him in order to give the others time to get back into the building, but he is killed before he can get inside himself. As they catch their breath and regroup, Richard tells them that the worms can feel the vibrations through the ground so they have to be quiet. Spotting a truck nearby, Eno tells Richard that she should be able to hot-wire it and they slowly make their way towards the truck. As the worm heads towards them again, Andrews, Jan, and Kaminsky race for the truck as Eno gets it started and they drive off. The group make their way down the road when suddenly, a little girl, Isla, runs in the road and waves them away and Eno swerves the truck to avoid hitting her, causing the truck to flip over and Eno’s legs end up pinned underneath the truck. Richard and Kaminsky try to free Eno as Amal, Isla’s father, explains that Isla was trying to warn them that the road ahead was mined. As the worms come towards them, Eno tells them to run for it and they reluctantly leave her behind to be eaten by the worms. Reaching the refugee camp, they find it mostly deserted and Amal explains that most of the people left and those that stayed are there because the Taliban took their sons. Richard and the others arm themselves with the weapons and explosives the Taliban left there while Jan checks on the radio. She tells them that she can’t fix it but might be able to use it to fix the one back at the mine Using a truck that Amal has there, Richard and the others head back to the mine, taking Amal and Isla with them as Amal wants to try and find his son in Kabul. Along the way, they learn that there are four worms and as they run on foot after the truck runs out of gas, Richard manages to kill on of them with a grenade. Back in the mine, Jan gets to work on the radio while the others stand guard but Andrews grows distrustful of Amal. Jan finally manages to get a signal and calls for an evac, which initially is denied but when she lies and says the mine was operational and she had some sapphires from it, the base commander says he will send a helicopter for them in 30 minutes. Suddenly, a grenade is tossed into the building by Taliban forces, critically injuring Kaminsky. Richard, Jan, and Andrews begin fighting them off and Andrews is shot in the arm but the worms show up, attracted by all of the explosions, and begin attacking and killing the Taliban. Richard and Jan try to tend to Kaminsky’s injury and Richard asks Amal if there is another way to get to the evac site. Amal says they can use the tunnels in the mountains to cut through and get there and Andrews says he is leading them to a trap but Richard says that he trusts him and they leave, with Richard and Andrews helping Kaminsky. As they make their way to the tunnel, a worm chases after them and they are forced to leave Kaminsky, who had died by this point, behind to be eaten by the worm. Inside the tunnel, they find a Taliban weapon’s cache and re-arm themselves with some more explosives and Amal leads them to the way out. When they approach a blast door, they make their way through it but Andrews lets it close behind him, locking them in that part of the tunnel. Amal goes on ahead but ends up stepping on a landmine, causing the tunnel to collapse on the exit. They believe they are trapped at first but Richard notices a small air vent that leads to the outside and has Isla head through there so she can circle around and open the door for them. Isla makes her way through the vent to the surface but discovers the Taliban outside and tries to hide but she is soon captured. They ask her where the Americans are and start to take her with them to find them but the worms attack and she is able to get away. Isla makes it back to the blast door and is able to open it but Andrews is killed by a worm that was attracted by the land mine’s blast. Richard, Jan, and Isla reach the surface and see the worms killing the last of the Taliban and make a plan to head towards a nearby mine elevator, thinking it is tall enough to keep them out of the worm’s reach. Using grenades to mask their footsteps, they run for the elevator but are surrounded by the worms when they run out of grenades. Thinking it is the end, Richard readies the suicide belt and gets close to Jan and Isla, wanting to take the worms out when they try to kill them. Suddenly, a missile strikes one of the worms, driving them off and they see their evac helicopter arriving. When it lands, they quickly climb on board and the helicopter takes off but a giant worm suddenly bursts from the ground and attempts to grab the helicopter. Richard, still wearing the belt, jumps out of the helicopter and into the worm’s mouth, where he detonates the belt, killing himself and the worm, while Jan comforts Isla as the helicopter takes them to safety.
As far a a wannabe Tremors goes, this movie is so-so. Some of the acting was good, particularly Sebastian Knapp (Kaminsky) and Jonas Khan (Amal), but the two main leads were not that good while Chris Jarman was just too over-the-top to the point of being absolutely terrible. The story was interesting, making use of the current Afghan War for a good setting and plot device, while adding the giant monsters to spice it up. The special effects were decent and I liked the worm design but some of the scenes with the worms interacting with the people didn’t look that good. To be honest, you will get more enjoyment in watching Tremors but this is a decent killer worm movie to watch if you are bored.
Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5