Crocodile (2000)
By: Craig Villinger on August 16, 2008  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
DVD
Hollywood DVD (UK). All Regions, PAL. 4:3. English DD 2.0. 90 minutes
The Movie
Credits
Director: Tobe Hooper
Starring: Mark McLachlan, Caitlin Martin, Chris Solari
Screenplay: Jace Anderson, Adam Gierasch, Michael D. Weiss
Country: USA
External Links
IMDB YouTube
For Tobe Hooper it's a case of "Who will survive and what will be left of them?" all over again as the Texas Chainsaw Massacre director thrusts another group of young characters into a situation where they are stalked by a flesh hungry being whose skin can also be used to make fashionable footwear. However, this time the taker of lives is fatter, hungrier, and doesn't need any power assisted devices to separate limbs from bodies!

It's Spring Break, and a group of eight college students of varying intelligence have chartered the smallest houseboat they could possibly find (seriously, it looks like a floating laundry!) for a river swamp cruise filled with tomfoolery, boozing, and pre-marital coitus, but unfortunately the less astute members of the group (i.e. the men) stumble across a nest of oversized eggs on their travels and are silly enough to mess around with them. Not a clever move. Why? Well, you see, the eggs were actually laid by a giant Crocodile which, according to local campfire legends, has been keeping a low profile in the watery backwoods area for decades, emerging only to snack on wayward tourists every now and then after originally being imported by a local Croc worshipping nutter in the early 1900s, and now that our intrepid holidaymakers have gone and done scrambled its latest batch of eggy weggies they have set themselves up to incur the full extent of its mighty reptilian wrath!

Exactly what will be left of this lot? Not much at all if the croc gets its way…

Hooper's return to the scaly reptile sub-genre, released some twenty three years after he followed-up his chainsaw wielding debut with Eaten Alive, wasn't a successful one according to most fans and critics who were quick to dismiss it as nothing more than another in the long line of sub-par offerings from a once promising filmmaker whose career has been going down the crapper since 1986 or thereabouts, but if you want my opinion (and if you don't, then what the fuck are you doing reading this review?) the film does have a certain charm. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't go as far as to actually say it's a good movie, because it isn't, but by killer croc standards Crocodile is a moderately entertaining effort.

Plotting and dialogue are woeful - most of the movie features nothing more than the walking croc bait arguing and bickering as they traipse through the boggy backwoods environment after their houseboat is destroyed, with the creature appearing at random intervals to thin their numbers - and the acting from the young and inexperienced cast is either dreadfully hammy or just plain shithouse when shows of emotion are required (although the old timers do provide some entertainment value - particularly TCM 2003's legless grouch Terrence Evans as a perpetually spitting backwoods hunter) but when it comes to the moments when the croc is doing its thing (and by that I mean eating people) Crocodile does manage to keep the viewer engaged. The old school croc effects from the guys at KNB are realistic enough to add a degree of tension to the film, and even on the occasions when the croc is brought to life by CGI it doesn't look too bad. The croc attack sequences do seem a little rushed and aren't particularly gory, save for a few tomato sauce bottle like squirts of blood, but on the plus side they occur regularly, and Hooper does at least appear to be trying his best to appease the creature feature enthusiasts out there. A couple of early kills where the croc is glimpsed only briefly, ala Jaws, worked particularly well, and there is at least one agreeably neat surprise attack as the croc pops up when we weren't expecting it to. You may find yourself covering your ears at times though as the croc makes a really loud, bass heavy croaking sound when it attacks, which become just a tad monotonous as the sound guys appeared to use the exact same effect over and over again! I don't actually know what a croc sounds like when it goes the fang, but I suspect the noise created for this particular movie was not entirely accurate.

Ultimately Crocodile is a film that has its fair share of weaknesses, but many of these can be attributed to its low budget and rushed production schedule (No doubt it was produced quickly to cash-in on the success of Lake Placid). It's all a bit daft to be honest, and is certainly not the sort of thing you'd expect from a guy who once made "serious" box-office genre movies, however Hooper clearly isn't trying to replicate the success of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre here (though he does manage to throw in a sly reference to his most famous power tool cum murder weapon towards the end, and also includes a nod to Steve Irwin) - Crocodile is nothing more than an unabashed creature feature, and while it's certainly not in the same league as Lake Placid or Alligator it is better than stuff like Lake Placid 2 or Alligator II. It's cheap, but every now and then it's also fun.
Video
Crocodile is presented not-so-lovingly in 4:3, which is not the films' intended aspect ratio. 1.85:1 or thereabouts does appear to be the way this film was meant to be watched, however, on the bright side, ample head and leg room in many shots does suggest that this 4:3 presentation is "open matte" rather than "Pan & Scan" (a disgusting phrase if ever there was one) so picture information may not have been cropped. In fact, I watched the whole movie in 16:9 zoom mode to remove the black bars on the left and right of the 16:9 screen and the framing looked almost spot-on.

Aspect ratio quibbles aside, the transfer quality isn't too bad. The picture is surprisingly sharp and colourful, and film artefacts like grain and print damage are non existent.
Audio
Again we get the short shift here with a simple 2.0 track our only audio option, despite the fact that the film has been given the full 5.1 treatment on other discs. Overall the sound quality can't be harshly criticised – it's clean and easy to understand at all times, although directionality is lacking – but surely a rampaging croc would sound much better in 5.1.
Extra Features
Just a trailer, which, like the feature presentation, is 4:3.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
It's a long way from the career highs of TCM and Poltergeist, but even so, Crocodile is, in my humble croc loving opinion, one of the more unfairly maligned movies on Tobe Hooper's resume. I don't want to sound like some sort of Tobe Hooper apologist as the man has churned out some crap movies over the years, like Mortuary, and The Mangler and Night Terrors, and… well, a few others, but this isn't quite one of them. If you dig movies where big scaly reptiles chow down on hot women and dumb testosterone fuelled jock types without things like plot or characterisation getting in the way, you could do worse.

The DVD under review here is certainly not the best option for prospective buyers however. The Region 1 release by Lions Gate, which features an anamorphic widescreen transfer, 5.1 sound, and a making-of featurette, appears to be the way to go.

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