Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Under-Utilized Nightmares: The Mongolian Death Worm.

In this shockingly irregular feature of ANTSS, a concept swiped from the brilliant mind behind the I Love Horror blog (see sidebar, then visit, then shower him with praise), your 'umble 'orror 'ost will 'ighlight a few baddies that the fright biz has woefully neglected. In the hopes of ending our ruinous dependence on zombies and slasher retreads, perhaps one of these under utilized nightmares will spark the imagination of a budding filmmaker. Fingers crossed.

Today's 2UN: the Mongolian Death Worm. From the Environmental Graffiti website:

Reported to be between two and five feet long, the deep-red coloured worm is said to resemble the intestines of a cow and sprays a yellow acidic saliva substance at its victims, who if they’re unlucky enough to be within touching distance also receive an electric shock powerful enough to kill a camel.

Given the latin name Allghoi khorkhoi, the Mongolian Death Worm was first referred to by American paleontologist Professor Roy Chapman Andrews (apparently the inspiration for the Indiana Jones character) in his book On the Trail of Ancient Man, in 1926 but he didn’t appear to be entirely convinced about the whole idea. Even though locals were desperate to relay events of when the dreaded worm struck, Andrews writes: “None of those present ever had seen the creature, but they all firmly believed in its existence and described it minutely.” But it wasn’t to stop other inquisitive adventurers taking up the investigative mantle when Andrews was no longer interested, or able to pursue the matter.

Death-worm obsessed Czech explorer Ivan Mackerle gave an even more vivid description of this never-documented cryptid in a 1991 article for Fate Magazine.

Sausage-like worm over half a metre (20 inches) long, and thick as a man’s arm, resembling the intestine of cattle. Its tail is short, as if it were cut off, but not tapered. It is difficult to tell its head from its tail because it has no visible eyes, nostrils or mouth. Its colour is dark red, like blood or salami… It moves in odd ways – either it rolls around or squirms sideways, sweeping its way about. It lives in desolate sand dunes and in the hot valleys of the Gobi desert with saxaul plants underground. It is possible to see it only during the hottest months of the year, June and July; later it burrows into the sand and sleeps. It gets out on the ground mainly after the rain, when the ground is wet. It is dangerous, because it can kill people and animals instantly at a range of several metres.

While the acid-spitting, lightning-bolt throwing worm gets some love in pop culture – the beast was mentioned in William Gibson's recent novel Spook Country and was the central baddie in a comic short story in the Brit sci-fi antho series 2000 AD - it has not, to my knowledge, been used in a horror flick yet.

Syfy Channel, I'm lookin' at you.


Sasquatchan said...

Doesn't DUNE kinda already do that ? (admittedly, I haven't read the books, and am only vaguely aware of the blue-eyes, mine the spice, movie from the 80s..)

zoe said...


CRwM said...


The sand worms in Dune don't spit acid or shoot out lightning bolts. They're just really big and wormy.

Not even the sand worms in Beetle Juice could do that! That's all Mongolian Death Worm, baby!

CRwM said...



Ms Harker said...

That's messed up 'the colour of blood or salami'! I just watched an episode of Fringe where a gentleman got impregnated with worms, but they were not the size of a mans arm! Ewwwww!

Heather Santrous said...

Didn't SyFy (stupid spelling of it if you ask me) go in search for this worm on one of their reality shows? The name of the show escapes me now, but it used to be on after Ghost Hunters.

This team of "investigators" would go to some country, spend the night just to find nothing, and head home. Maybe they spent more than one night in search of whatever they were looking for, but they often said it was just one night.

Anyway, I seem to remember going to Mongolia in search of the worm. They did find something inside a hole, not a very big hole, but since it was dark out, they had no idea what it was. That was the extent of their findings there if I remember right.

Adam said...

"Sandworms, ya hate 'em right?"

Wow this thing looks great, lightning and acid? Syfy isn't worthy.

Zane Grant said...

ummmmmmmmmm... Tremors 4: Evolution