Dinocroc (2004)
By: Devon B. on October 24, 2005  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
DVD
Aztec International (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1. English Subtitles. 87 minutes
The Movie
Credits
Director:Kevin O'neill
Starring:Jane Longenecker, Jake Thomas, Costas Mandylor, Charles Napier, Bruce Weitz, Joanna Pacula
Screenplay: Frances Doel, Dan Acre, John Huckert
Country: USA
Dinocroc starts out in the Northern Territory, where crocs attack. I know this very well, because when I went travelling, I foolishly chose to head towards Cairns in search of dangerous reptiles. Almost as soon as I got back down south, crocs began taking people near Darwin. How unfair.

The character in Dinocroc kicking it old school in Oz is croc hunter Dick Sydney, who leaps in the water with large reptiles and actually says "crikey," but that's not the silliest thing about him. No, far sillier is that he hails from the NT, but when he goes to the US, he seems to acclimatize very quickly. In scenes where the locals are wearing coats, this guy's walking around doing a bad Mick Dundee impression in a sleeveless shirt. Even the WARMEST parts of the US don't generally get as hot as the NT does, he would have been freezing!

Anyway, after meeting our croc hunter, the film gives us some headlines about the discovery of dinocrocs, which are evidently some 40-foot long reptile. They aren't really very croc-like, so should probably just be called dinos. The dinocroc headlines are mixed in with headlines about some advanced growth treatment. Obviously the two are linked. I'm not sure if dinocrocs were found alive, but I got the impression it was fossils that were discovered, so I don't know how the captive breeding program got up and running or, for that matter, why the program felt the need to augment the dinocrocs' growth. One dinocroc attacks it cellmate, then runs off. The attack is viewed on an infra-red monitor, so I guess dinocrocs are warm blooded.

Charles Napier plays the local sheriff where the dinocroc's escaped, and his daughter runs the pound. The daughter's ex, who mispronounces "Aussie," goes looking for a missing dog with her, and the escaped dinocroc shows up. The exes end up meeting a doctor working with the dinocroc engineers, and he fills them in on what's happened. Why he can do this when the janitor isn't allowed to talk the police truthfully about the escape is never explained. Evidently, while the sheriff himself is on a need to know basis, the daughter of the sheriff is fine to bring into the fold. The daughter forces her way on to the dinocroc containment team like she was Jane Fonda in Lake Placid. Then things really continue to be uninteresting.

Dinocroc borrows liberally from Lake Placid; Godzilla (1998); Jaws 2; several of Roger Corman's other reptile rampage flicks; and, most amazingly, Tobe Hooper's Crocodile. Dinocroc's director, Kevin O'Neil, worked on Crocodile, so maybe that's why he felt it would be a good movie to rip off. He must never have seen the final product. One of the leads also stared in Blood Surf (AKA Krocodylus) so it's kind of like old home week for the cheap giant croc sub genre here.

Dinocroc's dialog is insipid, and the two main characters deliver their lines like they're saying something noteworthy. This just draws even more attention to how flat the script is. The bonding scenes are painful, as are any scenes requiring any emotion that might elevate these characters from their one-dimensional trappings. The film occasionally tries to be funny, as in the "spider on my dick" scene, but the humour is pretty 32nd rate. However, there is one funny moment involving one of our heroes bumbling with tranq darts. Even with all that crap, the movie still does hold one surprise you wouldn't find in a mainstream film, so at least it's got that going for it.

The film might've been salvaged by a good monster, but the design here is shithouse. The monster is overly toothy, and looks more like something that should be chasing Matthew Broderick around a sports centre than a crocodile. It walks on its hind legs, and the CG used to bring it to the screen is inconsistent. To be fair, the FX, aside from some really shoddy CG gore, are above standard for a Corman produced flick. It's miles past a sea monster being portrayed by a hand puppet in a bathtub, at any rate.
Video
The Aztec International Entertainment disc presents Dinocroc at 1.77:1, but the matte looks weird to me, and the lower one shifts slightly midscreen. It's a new film, so the image is sharp, and the colours are well balanced and vibrant. Unfortunately, for some reason, there are lots of specks and blemishes. Grain is occasionally noticeable but not distracting.
Audio
The audio track is a Dolby Digital 5.1. The dialog is clear, but the score is perhaps a little dominating in the mix. Except for a rock band's live show, which is oddly muffled. The score itself would be more suiting for a religious flick like The Omen.
Extra Features
Despite being the world DVD premiere of Dinocroc, evidently no one saw the need to make this disc a special edition. All that's included is the film's trailer and one for the Tour de France doco, Höllentour (Hell Tour). I thought the best thing about the disc was that one chapter stop was titled "Let's kill the fucker!" However, don't go looking at the scene selections to check that out until you've watched the film, because the animated menu ruins the film's one true surprise.
The Verdict
Dinocroc is not slow, yet still manages to seem overlong at 87 minutes. It's never terribly engaging, and that's really saying something because I don't require much to become engaged in a monster on the loose movie. Dinocroc is too slick to be so bad it's good, but not good enough to overcome its muddled, derivative, and often nonsensical script. To place it in the Corman cannon it would lie somewhere between Carnosaur and Humanoids from the Deep in quality. What Corman needs to do is bring back John Sayles, who turned knock offs into works of…well, not art, but entertaining cinema.
Movie Score
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