Coming April 26th: Mongolian Death Worm

Posted by: Loren Coleman on April 21st, 2011

Did you even know this was a forthcoming release of a recent film?

You are not alone, if this has not been on your radar. As it happens, I was interviewed by Huffington Post/AOL News about the cryptid of the same name on Tuesday, April 19th, and thus I alerted the interviewer to this release in the next few days. It is one of those intriguing coincidences, as this reporter Beau Bendler had independently developed the idea to do an article on the Mongolian Death Worm. The angle being taken by Bendler was rather unique. He said that he was interested in investigating whether the Olgoi-Khorkoi is “the Loch Ness Monster of our generation (based on all the documentary attention it has been getting with no real evidence of its existence),” as he put it.

Is the Mongolian Death Worm getting more publicity of late? Certainly, if it has not, it may be more discussed soon.

This new release’s overview is rather straightforward: “When an American oil company sets up an experimental drilling site in the desert of Mongolia, they awaken a terrifying nest of creatures. Having searched for the tomb protected by the once-mythical Death Worms his entire life, treasure hunter Daniel Upton (Sean Patrick Flanery, The Boondock Saints) and his team take on the task of killing the bloodthirsty monsters at all costs.”

The “Beast Hunter” took on the Mongolian Death Worm on NatGeo just a few weeks ago. Here’s how they characterized it: “Olgoi-khorkhoi, or the Mongolian death worm, is described as a red, 2-foot-long creature that burrows in the Gobi Desert, the vast Asian wasteland. Though reported as slow moving, it is said to be able to discharge electricity to shock its victims, spit acid or poisonous blood, and explode.”

So why not put out this new SyFy-Lionsgate film now? Actually, this is the general release of a film from last year. It was first broadcast by the SyFy network on May 8, 2010.

Coming April 26th to a DVD near you, yes, Mongolian Death Worm!

MPAA Rating: PG-13
Publisher: Lionsgate
Genre: Action
Disc Format: DVD
Release Date:
US: April 26, 2011.

Has there been a great use of the Mongolian Death Worm in current cryptofiction?

Here’s Wikipedia’s list of recent mentions and cultural appearances:

  • British zoologist Karl Shuker brought the animal back to the general attention of the English-speaking public in his 1996 book The Unexplained, followed a year later by a Fortean Studies paper on this subject, which was reprinted in The Beasts That Hide from Man in which it was hypothesized that the death worm was an Amphisbaenid.
  • Loren Coleman included this animal in Cryptozoology A to Z: The Encyclopedia of Loch Monsters, Sasquatch, Chupacabras, and Other Authentic Mysteries of Nature. (NY: Simon and Schuster, 1999; with Jerome Clark).
  • A joint expedition in 2005 by the Centre for Fortean Zoology and E-Mongol investigated new reports and sighting of the creature. They found no evidence of its existence, but could not rule out that it might live deep in the Gobi Desert along the prohibited areas of the Mongolian–Chinese border.
  • In 2005, zoological journalist Richard Freeman mounted an expedition to hunt for the death worm but came up empty-handed. Freeman’s conclusion was that the tales of the worm had to be apocryphal, and that reported sightings likely involved non-poisonous burrowing reptiles.
  • Reality-television series, Destination Truth conducted an expedition in 2006–2007.
  • New Zealand television entertainment reporter, David Farrier of TV3 News took part in an expedition in August 2009 but came up empty-handed as well, although managing to make a 90-minute documentary about his trip. He conducted interviews with locals claiming to have seen the worm and mentioned on his website that the sightings peaked in the 1950s.
  • The series “The Monster Hunter,” hosted by Josh Gates, had an episode on finding the Mongolian Death Worm, although they came up with nothing definitive.
  • The series “Beast Hunter,” hosted by Pat Spain on the National Geographic Channel, featured an episode on the disputed existence of the creature as well.
  • Animal Planet has produced a docudrama show titled “Lost Tapes.” Under Season 1., Episode 13 (first aired February 17, 2009), Titled “Death Worm.” The show has purported actual footage (which is fictional) of two men who were attacked and killed, one of which was bitten, burned with a Corrosive Acid [Greenish Yellow in color, and corrosive enough to corrode the metal of his bike], and both were electrocuted. Their claim of the docudrama is that the bodies were never found, yet their equipment was recovered.
  • The worm’s first literary appearance was in the short story “Olgoi-Khorkhoi” by Ivan Yefremov (1942–1943) based on Prof. Andrews’ descriptions. The short story’s first edition was called Allergorhai-Horhai, but later, after Yefremov’s visit to Mongolia, he changed the name to the original Mongolian spelling “Olgoi-Khorkhoi”.
  • It appears briefly in The Land of Crimson Clouds (1959), the debut novel of Arkady and Boris Strugatsky.
  • William Gibson‘s novel Spook Country (2007) has mention of a Mongolian death worm.
  • John Hodgman discusses the Mongolian death worm on page 467 of the paperback edition of ‘More Information Than You Require’ (2009).
  • The worm is the subject of a Vector 13 story in the British anthology comic 2000 AD.
  • In 2009, the short-fiction podcast The Drabblecast presented a humorous, multi-part audio story called “In Search of the Mongolian Death Worm”.
  • The anime series Guin Saga has several incidents where an expeditionary force from “Monghol” is attacked by a giant red worm with a corrosive touch.
  • In the TV show The Secret Saturdays, the main villain, V.V. Argost uses Mongolian death worm venom in many episodes.
  • In the Nickelodeon TV Show, The Troop, the pilot episode, “Do the Worm,” is about Mongolian death worms attacking the senior dance.
  • The novel Blood Oath (2010) by Christopher Farnsworth, mentions Allghoi Khorkhoi as “something blood-red and slimy” when describing an other-worldly creature in captivity.
  • Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
    Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

    4 Responses to “Coming April 26th: Mongolian Death Worm

    1. Southern Fried Bigfoot responds:

      As for more recent media appearances, Mongolian Death Worms also appear in Alex Grecian and Riley Rossmo’s cryptozoologically-themed series “Proof” published by Image Comics.

    2. greatanarch responds:

      And don’t forget Ivan Mackerle, who led the first expedition of recent times to look for the Death Worm (using a microlight, I seem to remember). The CFZ/E-Mongol expedition of 2005 and Richard Freeman’s visit are of course the same thing; on the basis of a number of congruent descriptions from a large area of Omnogov province, we concluded that it does exist, in the sense of being an unknown species of reptile, but has none of the alarming properties attributed to it. In shape and colour it seems to look like a large salami sausage, and is probably about as dangerous. I had heard about the poison, acid and electricity, but the ability to explode is a new one: just how effective is self-detonation as a defensive technique anyway?

      The film looks like a remake of Tremors. Nice image, but not as spectacular as the one E-Mongol prepared for us, which shows a group of Mongol horseman attacking a Death Worm which defends itself with a beam of death-rays.

    3. Adam Davies responds:

      I went looking for the Death Worm in 2003, and was contacted by the producers of the Beastmaster series for advice.

      Of course the expert on this is Ivan Mackerle, as Great Anarch suggests, and I agree with his synopsis.

      The idea of a Tremors like monster is great fun, and it would be great to do battle with. 😉

      But the reality is of course, very different to that!

      I hope all Cryptomundo readers have a Happy Easter!!

    4. springheeledjack responds:

      Hey, just the name is pretty snappy. And definitely horror worthy, well, the Sci-Fi. 🙂

      I think it’s an off kilter cryptid and gets a lot of interest just because it’s so odd and different than other cryptids. All of the mythology and history, hard to sort out the truth from the past.

      Actually the MDW reminds me a bit of old tales of dragons in the UK that supposedly spat fire or poison, things capable of killing from a distance by sight and so on. It’s an interesting theme that pops up from time to time and I wonder if there isn’t some factual basis that’s been twisted from the actual truth. There are definitely critters who can spit venom and so on. And plenty of things that can generate electricity.

      So all in all, I think it’s a cryptid that always generates interest, even on the big screen. Still, I can’t see anything will ever top Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward’s Tremors, still a top ten on my movie list.

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