Killer Crocodile (1989)

Killer Crocodile (1989)

A group of environmentalists discover that someone has been dumping radioactive drums along a Santa Domingo river which in turn has also mutated a giant crocodile. As attacks begin to happen along the river, the company responsible for dumping the material blames the environmentalists for the spate of deaths in order to cover their tracks.

 

The Italians used to make rip-offs better (or maybe that should be worse) than anyone else. Two of their favourite films to rip-off were Dawn of the Dead and Jaws, both of which are the recipients of many terrible attempts to cash in on their success and popularity. One of the more infamous copies of Jaws (the ‘pretty watchable in a bad way’ The Great White) was even banned in America for being such a knock-off. So it’s quite surprising to see such a blatant Jaws clone come out around fourteen years too late, especially when the idea is to cash in on a popular film as soon as possible. But then whether it is four months, fourteen years or forty years, Killer Crocodile was never going to be anything but a dud.

Many of the same problems that face these Italian films are evident from the get go. Extremely bad dubbing, a terrible script, some poor actors, a complete lack of atmosphere and suspense and an over-reliance on cruder shock methods like more gore are the film’s problems, not to mention some totally obvious copying from Jaws. Taking into account the obligatory monster POV shots, there’s plenty of other ripping. The opening scene is almost a like for copy of Jaws, with a lone female swimmer going out for a swim, being attacked in the water whilst a guy sits on the shore. The music is very John Williams-esque and it’s easy to spot his signature ‘shark’ motif in there, albeit it twisted around a little bit to avoid copyright problems!

After the first third, the copying seems to cease and the film veers off on its own random tangents, only to crank back up again with the introduction of the token ‘Quint’ character who wants to hunt down and kill the crocodile. Not once does the film manage to create any shocks or tension though, instead creating plenty of unintentional laughs with the situations the characters find themselves in or just the actions of the characters themselves. The characters are idiots – every single one of them. They just find more stupid ways to get into trouble near the water. If there’s a killer crocodile on the loose in the swamp, what’s the best way to avoid getting eaten? Avoid the swamp entirely! But here we have people who hang over the edges of boats waiting to be knocked into the water. We’ve got guys who venture out in the smallest, cheapest boats possible. Everyone seems so aggressive too and they’re always barking their lines out in anger. I know it’s the badly botched job on the dubbing but it adds a comic effect to the tone which it doesn’t need. The hunter character even resorts to calling the crocodile names in an attempt to hurt its feelings. I’d much prefer a shotgun myself. Despite shooting it many times with an elephant gun and making little difference, he decides to leap onto its back and stab it repeatedly with a boat hook. The scene is totally absurd but at least it raises a chuckle.

I’m not sure what to make of the crocodile but at least I can see where a lot of the budget went. It certainly looks fake but it’s big, pretty fearsome in close-ups and you get to see a lot of it. At least there is an animatronic crocodile which is used for interaction during attack scenes so you see characters being bitten and dragged underwater by the crocodile. These are not victims of stock footage attacks like many of it’s genre ilk opt to display and it was made in a time before CGI come to prominence. It’s an old fashioned mechanical monster and it earns brownie points for that. The crocodile doesn’t do an awful lot though except swim around in a straight line, bump into boats and roar and growl a lot.

Being predominantly water-based, obviously the crocodile needs people to come to it and so takes to smashing into boats to knock people overboard. The crocodile would have worked a lot better had the film actually kept it hidden away for longer to build up the anticipation of its first appearance. But you get to see it early on so there’s no big pay-off towards the end. Once you’ve seen it attack once, you’ve seen the rest of the attacks as they’re all pretty much the same.

 

Killer Crocodile isn’t as bad as it probably deserved to be. There are a few decent moments, the crocodile at least looks real enough and it gets reasonably well fed, it’s just that the film is so dumb, so derivative and so badly made. If you’re a fan of these Italian exploitation films then maybe Killer Crocodile would appeal but to the rest of us, this is one crocodile that needs turning into a fashionable pair of shoes ASAP.

 

 ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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