Dinocroc (2004)

Dinocroc (2004)

It feeds on fear.

Scientists at the Gereco Corporation discover an accelerated growth hormone in the fossils of a prehistoric super-crocodile and extract the DNA to create new prototypes of the dinosaur back in the lab. However one of the infant crocodiles kills an employee and manages to escape into a local lake where it begins to eat anything and anyone in its path. The corporation hires a famous reptile hunter to bring it back but he isn’t the only one who is out to stop it.

 

It seems like an eternity since Dinocroc was released in 2004 but that’s been mainly down to the ridiculous number of ‘prehistoric creatures on the loose’ films that have emerged from the Roger Corman stable since. Dinocroc was one of the ‘pioneering’ efforts that paved the way for such classics as Dinoshark and Supergator and then the inevitable Dinocroc Vs Supergator. It sees that Corman struck straight-to-DVD gold when he began producing these cheap modern monster movies and has been mining it dry ever since.

This doesn’t mean to say that Dinocroc is in any way, shape or form an original film. To say that there’s been nearly ten years between it being released and this review, the formula has not changed one bit. So much so that you could quite easily swap out the dinocroc creature here and place in a giant snake or other carnivorous monster and there would be no difference to the overall narrative. The only reason any sane person would tune in to watch is to see what a giant prehistoric crocodile that can walk on two legs actually looks like. I was half-expecting some animatronic puppetry but Dinocroc joins the twentieth century by bringing its monster to life in CGI. It comes off looking like a low-rent version of the 1998 Americanised Godzilla. It bugs me that the monster is so alike – could effects man-turned-director Kevin O’Neill not have thought of anything more original? I mean he’s got a blank slate to design a cool-looking dinocroc and just wastes it by creating mini-Godzilla. There’s not a hint of crocodile in here at all.

Even with a generic look, the effects are really poor and there’s not too many variations on the animations. So whilst you see a lot of the monster, it’s always the same shots of it rampaging through the swamp. The CGI effects also lend it ridiculous speed and agility, a common fault with many modern monsters. Surely something this big and cumbersome would be slow and stealthy? But it can swim faster than a speed boat when it needs to and can outpace a jeep when on land. It is also given some silly Gregorian chanting music theme so whenever it appears on screen, this unholy demonic choir begin singing. I don’t know what the intention was with this but I’m pretty sure the resultant effect on the film isn’t what they wanted it to be. With severed heads and bloody limbs flying around and at the camera, the death scenes are at least gory and some come out of nowhere. It’s a shame that the effects don’t stand up to much scrutiny when they do happen.

Whilst Dinocroc wracks up the clichés and rigidly sticks to the rules for the most, there are odd moments where it threatens to break free of its shackles and become entertaining. It never does however, despite graphically feeding a young child to the dinocroc in one shocking scene. It gets well fed too with the amount of non-characters that find themselves trapped between its jaws. There are plenty of stereotypical characters on display but as they’re all sort-of essential to the story, there’s no chance of them getting harmed until the finale. From bitchy corporate villains, to no-nonsense local sheriffs, scientists appalled with how their creation has turned out and a local animal control officer who will no doubt find love with the hero of the piece by the time the credits roll (who also happens to be her ex-boyfriend).

Costas Mandylor, who went on to greater fame as Jigsaw’s protégé in the Saw films, stars in the lead role as the token ‘great white hunter’ character who is tasked with tracking down and killing the creature. Mandylor plays the Aussie role like a more jacked-up version of the late Steve Irwin. But whilst the role cries out for a tongue-in-cheek parody performance, Mandylor, and the film for that matter, keeps things all serious and dull. Veteran character actor Charles Napier is on hand as, surprise surprise, the local badass sheriff. Napier can do these roles in his sleep, which is most likely where you’ll be after an hour or so of this.

 

Dinocroc is what happens when Roger Corman decides to blend Jurassic Park, Godzilla and Alligator together. It’s pretty worthless overall but I know some of you out there won’t be able to resist the lure of another prehistoric creature feature flick.

 

 ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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