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Mel ambushes Comanche with 'Apocalypto'

September 23, 2006 |  9:33 pm


"Everybody who saw 'Apocalypto' seemed to like it," KSWO-TV reporter Monte Brown told GoldDerby about the secret screening Mel Gibson held in Lawton, Oklahoma for about 50 members of the Comanche tribe. "Nobody I talked to had anything negative to say."

The past Oscar winner and recent Hollywood penitent was so nervous about seeing audience reax to his big cinema gamble — a bloody, $50 million epic about the decline of the Mayan empire performed in Yucatec dialogue (that's right — no English!) — that Braveheart-turned-wimp arrived at the screening wearing a mask and fake beard. Watch a video of Gibson giving one of the most hilarious, hambone and hairy perfs of his career, at least up until he whips off the disguise once the screening seems to go well CLICK HERE — look for the link for "Featured Videos." Please note that while the video depicts one local resident proudly showing off a photo and autograph she got from Gibson (after he took off the fake beard and plastic mask), most locals said he was very uncooperative about sharing same with them.

"About 50 people saw the movie — all members of the Comanche tribe," Brown added. "Gibson's rep said that they wanted to get the reaction of native Americans, but that doesn't make much sense because the movie isn't about Comanches. It's about Mayans. But the lead star is Rudy Youngblood, a local Comanche who probably wanted to show it to family and friends, so Rudy and Mel came to Oklahoma to show a rough cut. They also showed it over in Goldsby" at the Riverwind Casino.

Considering how squeamish academy members can be, could "Apocalypto's" excessive violence snuff out its Oscar hopes?


"It's nonstop action from beginning to end," one audience member told KSWO. Other viewers made it sound more like nonstop bloodshed, which is typical of many Mel movies, especially that devout Christian one.

"Braveheart" was really just three hours of flying severed body parts, lots of loud grunting and bad dialogue plus Mel acting out another and another crucifixion scene. But it swept the Oscars of 1995 and now reigns on many lists (certainly mine) as one of the worst best picture choices in Oscar history. At least "Braveheart" was in (grunted) English. "Apocalypto" is in an obscure dialect of a dead tribe.

So more Oscars for Mel, let's face it, are unlikely, especially since he's hanging on a PR cross these days. But Disney chiefs claim (now) that they didn't position "Apocalypto" as an Academy Awards rival. It's a mere coincidence that it has an Oscar-friendly release date in early December (the 8th). Originally, it was set to come out in August, they claim, but production got delayed due to heavy rains in Mexico. Do do think that washes?

But, hey, wait, maybe I'm wrong . . . . Harry Knowles of has seen "Apocalypto" twice and calls it "fantastic," adding, "This is a B-movie with the soul of a great artist and the production values of the best of Hollywood. The film received a standing ovation from the audience and it was absolutely earned." Read More - CLICK HERE

Meantime, behind the scenes, Time and Newsweek are competing to put "Apocalypto" on their cover. Read Nikki Finke's report — CLICK HERE!

Check out "Apocalypto" yourself. To view the trailer, CLICK HERE!

Top photo: If Nicole Kidman can win an Oscar for donning a little plastic nose, shouldn't Mel get one for sporting a whole, big (and ugly) plastic face in Lawton, Oklahoma? Bottom photo: As a disgraced celeb and a producer/director risking more than $50 million on a bizarre-lingo blockbuster, Mel traverses troubled waters in "Apocalytpo" in which he does not appear as an actor.
(Disney/ KSWO-TV)