Tag Crocodiles/Alligators

Blood Surf (2000)

Blood Surf (2000)

Ride the next wave in terror

A camera crew travel to some remote islands to make a make a documentary about the new craze of ‘blood surfing’ in which surfers cut themselves and start surfing in shark-infested waters. However they soon find out that it’s not the sharks that they have to worry about, it’s a giant saltwater crocodile which likes the taste of human flesh.

 

Blood Surf contains a half-decent premise (I’m wondering whether anyone has actually picked up on blood surfing for real as an extreme sport) but expectedly the execution has a lot to be desired. Coming hot on the heels of big budget crocodile flick Lake Placid, Blood Surf tries it’s hardest to become a similarly fun creature feature film. But despite its best intentions and blatant pandering to a certain male demographic, quality always tells and sadly there’s a distinct lack of it here.

Blood Surf is a horror film for surfers. The theme song sounds a lot like the Jaws theme, only done in surfing-style music. The two male leads are dumb surfer ‘dudes.’ There’s a lot of surfing dialogue and terminology. And of course, there is plenty of surfing at the start of the film. The actual ‘blood surfing’ of the title is over and done with pretty quickly and then the film drifts straight into creature feature mode, doing its best to channel Jaws complete with a salty sea dog character who is obsessed with killing the croc whatever it takes. Within the first ten minutes, it’s easy enough to decide which characters will become croc chow and when they will bite the dust. They’re all generally unlikeable which makes the process of elimination even more painful. Can’t they all just die at the same time and be done with it?

The crocodile doesn’t really make an appearance until half-way through and when you eventually see it, you know why they kept it hidden. The special effects, not just for the croc, are unimpressive. Watch, laugh and groan as super-imposed sharks swim towards the surfers or see speeded-up (and very brief) shots of crocodiles moving through undergrowth. Worse yet, watch possibly the most fake-looking crocodile ever conceived leap out of the water with absolutely no body movement, grab someone by the head and then drag him into the depths. Miniatures were obviously used in some shots. CGI in others. Stock footage at others. In some scenes it looks as if a giant model is being pulled along on a wheelbarrow. The theory of creating good special effects is to blend different techniques together in order to give on-screen monsters the greatest reality possible. Blood Surf just botches everything together and hopes that it will stick. Unfortunately for the viewer, it doesn’t. Attack scenes are over and done with quickly, lacking any sort of realism or explicit violence. Crocodiles eating meat should never be this tranquil – they’re violent ordeals with twisting, turning and lots of teeth-clenching. The most glaring issue with the crocodile is that the saltwater species are not known for their activeness – they prefer to lay in wait for their prey and strike hard and fast., not leap around and stalk across land like it does here.

The film makers must have thought that gratuitous (and in this case, completely unnecessary) sex and nudity would have made some people forget about the other problems. Wrong. Despite the fact that nearly every female character (and they’re all hot in their own way) get their kit off (or wears revealing swimwear), it is clear pandering. The sex scenes are extended and overlong, bordering on soft core at times. I’m all for a bit of nudity to liven things up but this is shameless!

 

There’s a good ‘bad’ movie lurking around in the shadows of Blood Surf somewhere and, despite the blood and boobs on show, the script is too lightweight for its own good and there are too many inept special effects to consider this anything other than throwaway junk.

 

 ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

Croc (2007)

Croc (2007)

It’s Hunting Season and You’re the Prey

A greedy landowner has been trying to get rid of Jack’s crocodile farm near his building project for months and has tried everything to run him out of business and secure the land for himself. So a couple of his cronies break into the farm and release the three larger crocodiles into the wild thus framing the farm for the death of a teenager. However it turns out that a giant 20ft crocodile is the real culprit and Jack needs help in catching or killing it. A $50,000 reward is put up and in steps Croc Hawkins to find and kill the monster.

 

Oh boy where do I start? There’s no way that God put me on this planet to suffer through ninety minutes of turgid crap like Croc. It’s such a waste of time I might as well have gone out and chased a slug around my back garden. Films about killer crocodiles seem to be the rage this past year (Primeval, Lake Placid 2, Dino Croc, etc) – I guess that’s because someone overstayed the ‘killer shark’ phase a couple of years back and they needed a new aquatic menace. The problem with all of these films is that they don’t offer anything different to the previous film. Once you’ve seen one killer crocodile film, you’ve seen them all and it’s just a matter of comparing them to see which one sucks least.

Shot completely in Thailand, it’s inevitable the film would feature plenty of Thai actors and actresses. Where the hell did they find these people? They’ve got to be the worst people ever to butcher the English language. I’ve seen some bad acting in my time but the Thai cast here are just murder to the ears. Is this the best they could find? Some sound British. Some sound Australian. Some sound American. But everyone in this Thai village speaks English in one form or another which is convenient. Some sound as if they’re actually learning to speak English during the film with robotic, expressionless delivery (they can’t see the cue cards very well then). When a growling, slumming Michael Madsen (clearly not giving a toss about the film and only here for a free holiday to Thailand) gives your best performance, you’re in big trouble. He plays the generic Quint role – you know, the salty sea dog character from Jaws who pops in every film about a killer animal.

The crocodile itself looks inexcusable at times. For most of the shots we get, the filmmakers have visibly trawled through hours of stock footage of real crocodiles. So this invariably means the crocodile looks bigger in some scenes than it does in others. It also means that the water colours are different (one laughable shot of a child swimming in crystal clear water is then followed by a shot of a crocodile in water looks to be a swamp) and there’s some day/dusk continuity problems with the lighting. It also behaves a lot more like a shark, swimming towards it’s victim with POV shots galore and then dragging them screaming quickly through the water.

There’s plenty of blood and lots of limbs floating around during the attack scenes but they are edited so badly that you haven’t got a clue what is going on. Giant models, CGI and stock footage – you can’t tell which one is doing the damage. There’s also a laughable scene in which the crocodile has slipped into some schmuck’s pool and he doesn’t notice when he dives in for a swim. A twenty foot crocodile swimming around in your 30ft pool and you don’t notice? On a positive note, the crocodile does eat a kid! A real bonus for those of you who think children are immune from danger in these films.

 

Quite clearly the most appalling killer crocodile film ever made. Only three little words can sum up this film: Croc of s**t.

 

 ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

Supercroc (2007)

Supercroc (2007)

It’s 50 feet long… It’s 25 feet tall… And in 14 hours it will be HERE!

A military unit is sent to stop a giant crocodile before it reaches Los Angeles.

 

That’s the best plot outline I can give for this piece of absolute dreck. From the front cover which looks like you’re getting some Godzilla-like monster movie where the crocodile is smashing cities to the exciting tag line and promises of ‘non-stop action’ on the back, Supercroc promises the world. What it delivers is less exciting and more disheartening than waking up on Christmas Day to find a pair of socks and a pink t-shirt waiting for you from Santa. This is a film where nothing happens for eighty five minutes and you’re expected to class it as ‘non-stop action.’ This film is made for a very specific audience – the likes of me who thrive on these creature features. So when the makers of these films flip off their target audience by defrauding them with promises they can’t keep, well that’s not good business is it? Well we are not entertained or amused in the slightest…..

This is supposed to be a film about a 50ft crocodile that is heading on a rampaging path to Los Angeles. What you get is about seventy minutes of the crocodile skulking around near a lake and some woods before finally heading into LA right at the end of the film for some token ‘monster on the loose on the streets’ shots. Actually when I say the crocodile spends seventy minutes skulking around near a lake and some woods, I mean it’s supposed to be skulking around near a lake and some woods…..you don’t get to see a lot of the crocodile so you just assume that’s what it’s doing. Either that or it’s talking to it’s agent to try and get it booked in Crocodile 3. Stare at the cover for a few minutes or just read the title aloud a couple of times and that’s more crocodile action than you’re going to get here.

The film spends the bulk of it’s time building up this unseen menace, clearly prepping it for the inevitable carnage when it finally reaches LA. Hang on a minute: didn’t they do this in about half an hour in the American Godzilla? And hang on a minute: I thought it was supposed to go on a rampage when it got to LA, not just plod around the back streets for a few minutes without anyone noticing? The crocodile just doddles along, slowly walking from  one place to the next and then occasionally hiding in the ‘dense’ woodland outside LA whilst gun ships and helicopters fly overhead looking for it. They can’t find a 50ft crocodile? Did it suddenly turn into a 50ft chameleon? (note to self – don’t give studios any ideas)

As for the non-stop action, well I think I have found it. Oh there’s plenty of thrilling scenes of people back in the headquarters AGGRESSIVELY talking into their headsets. Or even better there are plenty of shots of characters STANDING around looking like something is about to happen. I mean you just can’t beat the tension! I can’t honestly even name one character from this film – they’re more like narrators than actors as they continually divulge the apparent location of the crocodile and organise units to intercept. We even get to see some of the soldiers SHOOTING at something but most of the time what they are shooting at is off-screen. It’s a film where the soldiers are told that the crocodile’s skin is so thick that bullets won’t pierce it so said soldiers spend the next half of the film pumping it full of lead. Having said this, the crocodile does take out a chopper in the film’s only highlight right at the end. But even then the scene is so badly put together and blurry that it may be the crocodile taking it out or it may just be a really fat seagull, I’m not quite sure (note to self – stop giving studios ideas please!).

 

Supercroc is a giant monster movie without any of the giant monster in it. It’s a film that instead of putting padding around a giant monster, it throws in some giant monster around a lot of padding. In fact this film is the most padded film ever and could easily sustain being squashed underneath a giant 50ft crocodile and survive intact. If you know where to find one or even a 20ft crocodile, please let the makers of this film know so that they can put some footage of it in. And to think I could have fed a family of five in Africa for a month instead of wasting £8 on this inane nonsense!

 

 ★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

Xtinction (2010)

Xtinction (2010) (aka Alligator X)

They said it was extinct. They were wrong.

When her father goes missing, divorcee Laura LeCrois returns home after a twenty year absence. She takes over the family business of providing boat tours of the Louisiana swamp in order to keep prospective realtors from snapping her father’s land. But she finds out that the swamp is now home to a terrifying prehistoric dinosaur which has been cloned and released into the swamp by an unscrupulous scientist who is trying to get it to adapt to both fresh water and salt water.

 

Though it premiered straight on their network, Xtinction is a Sci-Fi Channel Original in all but the fact that it wasn’t made by them. With a plot lifted out of the basement book of monster movies, a budget which matches the pittance that Sci-Fi usually gave their films (about $2.5 million I read) and about as much originality as a piece of blank paper, Xtinction promises nothing and delivers the same. You know I wish Sci-Fi had made this made mess because at least then it would have some sort of excuse in that it’s just another one off the production line. The fact that someone else made this just shows you how miniscule the effort needed to make this type of film really is. Give me $2.5 million and I’ll do a better job! Perhaps the standards set by the Sci-Fi Channel are now so low that anyone with a camera and a CGI monster can make something which fits right at home with their output over the past few years.

The trouble with conveyor-belt films like this is that no one cares. From the main stars to the director to the guy standing by with the bottles of the water – it’s just a pay cheque to them. They know that in another few months another such film will come along. Everything about Xtinction just seems lazy, half-assed and, ultimately, pointless. Also known as the slightly-better Alligator X, the film runs like clockwork…..but it’s a clock which needs winding up. One of the first things you’ll notice whilst watching is how slowly everything drags. Characters don’t seem to be in much of a hurry. The film just shuffles along aimlessly.

You’ll spend more time predicting what is going to happen with a whole barrage of creature feature clichés. Opening attack sequence – check. Stock characters with history with each other – check. Local authority figure – check. A couple of dim-witted backwoods hunters – check. Slimy, discredited scientist – check. A handful of pointless secondary characters ready to be monster chow – check. Said monster, feebly rendered in CGI – check. Slew of unexciting, overly predictable and ultimately shallow attack scenes – check. I could keep rolling with this all day long. Xtinction shows no ambition, no attempt to do anything different and adheres to the play-by-play book almost word for word. It’s the sort of film you can put on in the background whilst you do something else and rejoin it at a later point without missing a beat. Even the look of the film is very dreary and soulless- surely the cinematographer could have put some life into the picture. Whilst it does give the swamp more of a dangerous and intimidating atmosphere, the same colours and tones get tiresome quickly. You wish the sun would just come out and brighten everything up.

The monster is typical of modern day CGI creature features. I’m sure it sounded interesting on paper but such is the nature of the film, you could easily exchange it for a similar aquatic menace without making any major alterations to the narrative. The monster plays second fiddle to the trio of human villains for a great deal of the running time like the majority of these low budget films. I came to see a prehistoric dinosaur killing people in an American swamp. I came to see what damage a prehistoric dinosaur could day in a modern day environment. I didn’t come to see some twisted backwoods goons menace the main characters instead. It’s a cop out – understandable from a budget perspective – but I wish they’d write more of this human drama into any plot summaries.

I’m sure that the back of the DVD or the ad in the TV magazine failed to mention that the rednecks seem to do more damage than the monster. They get more screen time anyway. It’s maybe for the best as I lost track of the same shot of the monster being re-used time and time again. The CGI is rubbish and the dinosaur has some stupid grin on it’s face, especially during the finale as it’s about to be blown up. It’s also got an uncanny ability to snatch people off boats without so much as damaging the craft in the slightest. Human-monster interaction is not the film’s strongest point. Cast wise, the film serves it’s purpose though you could have Al Pacino and Meryl Streep in the lead roles and the result would still be the same. Mark Sheppard has played villains plenty of times before so it’s not a big stretch to get him to play another. The same goes for Lochlyn Munro as the local sheriff – he’s played this role a few times as well. The only cast member with any ounce of energy is Elena Lyons but the role hardly requires the performance of a lifetime.

 

Sometimes I get sick of flogging a dead horse with these creature features reviews and I tend to just moan on about how unoriginal and derivative they are. Well as long as people are making trash like Xtinction, I’ll continue to make my voice heard. If they can keep producing conveyor belt creature features, I can keep on doing conveyor belt reviews. And rest assured, my reviews don’t cost $2.5 million a pop to do!

 

 ★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

Lake Placid 2 (2007)

Lake Placid 2 (2007)

You’ll never know what bit you

When a giant crocodile kills a man fishing in Lake Placid, it’s down to the local sheriff to track it down and kill it before anyone else gets hurt. However there is more than meets the eye to the whole situation and it turns out that there is not one but three giant crocodiles terrorising the lake.

 

When the words ‘straight-to-video sequel’ and ‘Sci-Fi Channel’ were joined together in an unholy union, Hell froze over, the heavens opened and the world descended into the Apocalypse. In all honesty, I don’t think there’s any worse combination for a horror fan like myself to stumble across. Straight-to-video sequels blow most of the time with a poorer cast and lower budget usually trying to better the original with disastrous consequences. And the Sci-Fi Channel has an appalling record of these killer monster flicks: Pterodactyl, Attack of the Sabretooth, Hammerhead, Kraken: Tentacles of the Deep, Cerberus – need I go on? Like a marriage made by the Devil himself, Lake Placid 2 lives up to both of these admittedly low expectations about it sucking balls for being a straight-to-video sequel and er, well sucking balls for being a Sci-Fi Channel flick.

Lake Placid was a modest hit. It played to its strengths, featured some (for the time) decent special effects and was fun to see some reasonably big names (Pullman, Fonda, Platt) enjoying themselves in a monster flick. But it was hardly worth a sequel, was it? Call me cynical but I’d hazard money on this being written as a stand alone crocodile flick before someone decided to slap the Lake Placid tag on it and re-write a few parts to tie it all in. The problem is that every character here seems to be based on watered-down versions of characters from the original. The sheriff here is the equivalent of Bill Pullman’s Fish and Game warden. The Fish and Game warden here is the equivalent of Bridget Fonda’s scientist. And Oliver Platt’s crocodile lover from the original is replaced by a hunter. Throw in some unnecessary teenagers and you’ve got a horrid mix of clichés, stereotypes and re-hashes.

I’ll at least give the film credit for some mild gore (a few dismembered limbs but you’ll probably find better props at a Halloween party) and some hot skanky teenagers whipping their tops off (three of them no less). In another film, I’d maybe have given more of a damned about that but here it just seems to be lazy pandering to people like me ie. their target audience. Give me some decent killer croc action before you even think about getting the slutty blonde chick to show us her rack! Mind you at least you could see why she was cast.

One of the strengths of the original Lake Placid was its special effects. Granted you’re never going to get a 100% believable CGI crocodile but it was as near as you could get for the time it was made. The scene where it leapt out of the water and attacked the bear was worth the price of viewing alone. Given that they were making a film about a killer crocodile and not trying to win an Oscar, you knew where their priorities lie. But here they seem to have forgotten how to make special effects, let alone convincing ones. The CGI is horrible and the shots of the crocs swimming through the water are simply poor models floating along. The model reminded me of the one they had in Italian hack-job The Big Alligator River.

Thankfully there’s not actually that much croc action until about two-thirds of the way in so the trashy crocodile effects don’t get to see much light of day. Even then most of the munching take places with poorly acted characters pretending to writhe around whilst they are attacked by CGI. Don’t let the cover box fool you because at no point do I remember any death scene being as remotely interesting as that!

 

Lake Placid 2 is just another cheap cash-in on a relatively successful and entertaining film. It has nothing worthwhile to watch it for. If you’re going to watch a film about a killer crocodile, why not just watch the original again? Someone who made this should have done to see how it was done!

 

 ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

Supergator (2007)

Supergator (2007)

A genetically-enhanced prehistoric alligator escapes the confines of a bio-engineering research centre and heads into the jungle on an island in Hawaii. Unfortunately for a team of geologists monitoring a local volcano, the “supergator” begins to kill them and other tourists off. The survivors team up with an alligator hunter in an attempt to stop the beast before it reaches a luxury holiday resort packed with tourists.

 

With a clichéd story, hokey CGI monster and a cast of has-beens and never-wills, Supergator could have been the next film off the production line of the Sci-Fi Channel. A sequel in all but name to Dinocroc, Supergator bares all of the hallmarks of a dead-on-arrival Sci-Fi Channel original but it isn’t one! In fact, Roger Corman wanted to produce a sequel to the pretty awful Dinocroc but the suits at the Sci-Fi Channel said they didn’t like sequels (with the exceptions of sequels to Pumpkinhead, Return of the Living Dead, Lake Placid, House of the Dead, Anaconda and Python – clearly they hate sequels) and passed up on the opportunity. Not one to shirk making another rubbish low grade romp, Corman went ahead and produced the sequel and used the moniker of Supergator to differentiate the two films. Unfortunately for him (and even more unfortunately for us), there’s no way you can differentiate between the two films. What’s next? Dinocroc Vs Supergator? (oh wait that actually happened)

Anyway, on to the film itself. And let’s get to the only reason you could possibly want to subject yourself to this – the gator. Believe me, it looks as bad as you’d expect. It hardly looks ‘super’ in any sense of the word and just looks like a run-of-the-mill dinosaur. And it isn’t even that big. For attack scenes, a fake head is used for the close-ups when it’s biting into limbs. But it’s hard to see what is going on as the attacks are edited so rapidly that you just see teeth and blood. What happened to seeing someone being bitten in half or swallowed whole by the monster? Pretty much every attack on land is filmed in this way so there’s plenty of bone-crunching and chewing but you don’t get a good look at what is going on. I think they just used the same footage over and over again.

The gator is very well fed I might add but there are that many random people just falling over in front of it waiting to be eaten, it gets a little boring after a while. I’d rather see less people and more developed characters running around which mean that when they do meet their fates, it’s just that little bit more emotional. But the film is just a basic cycle of talking, feeding time, talking, feeding time, etc. And I didn’t think that gators needed to eat every five minutes but this has an insatiable appetite. But then I forgot, this is no ordinary gator, it’s a supergator (I can just see the monster ripping open its chest to reveal a large ‘S’ on its chest ala Superman).

Clearly based on the Jaws character model, we have three main characters in pursuit of the beast with the gator specialist, the gator hunter and the ordinary guy dragged into an extraordinary situation. Only Brad Johnson, Kelly McGillis and John Colton are no Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss or Robert Shaw! You’ll know what to expect from each of them – the hunter taking a personal vendetta against the gator, the scientist wanting to preserve it and the other guy just wanting to get the hell out of there. There are a lot of hot chicks in this film but alas none of them get naked. There is (presumably) a running gag about one of a pair of supermodels who escape from the supergator only to spend the next half of the film running around the jungle in one of the smallest bikinis known to man. She doesn’t do anything except run around until finally the gator catches up with her. It’s clear why she was cast in the role but I much preferred her attractive friend who was killed a few minutes earlier whilst holding the world’s smallest twig in an attempt to fight the gator off. Anyway these hotties in bikinis more than made up for their lack of acting talents with their ample charms. Exploitation at it’s finest!

Unfortunately their pointless characters are recreated throughout the film with other groups of random people who are wondering around the jungle for no reason other than to feed the beast. There’s a group of stoners looking for some miracle plant who have a few lines and then get devoured. There are a couple of other chicks walking around the jungle who say a few lines before being gator-chow. There’s the guy who runs the local tourist complex who is, shockingly, given a few lines of dialogue before the gator catches up with him as well.

 

Supergator is precisely what you will expect from Roger Corman so your tolerance for this will depend on your tolerance for the man himself. The film is competently made for its low budget but its lousy CGI effects, its lack of any real story, it’s terrible acting and it’s all-round cheesiness mean that this is one gator you’d rather be wearing as a handbag than watching on the big screen.

 

 ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

Dinocroc Vs Supergator (2010)

Dinocroc Vs Supergator (2010)

One escaped. The other is about to be unleashed.

A genetics lab in Hawaii has been injecting crocodiles and alligators with a new growth serum which they hope will benefit mankind’s inevitable future food shortages. However the two test monsters escape from the facility and go on a rampage. A highly skilled hunter is called in to deal with the situation but after exhausting all of his methods, he realises that the only thing left to do is allow the monsters to fight each other to the death.

 

Another of those almighty ‘monster versus monster’ films that have sprung up of late, it’s no surprise to find out that Dinocroc Vs Supergator is no better nor worse than any of them. Taking the title creates from the separate Dinocroc and, er, Supergator films and pitting them against each other in a totally unrelated standalone film is hardly going to be a cinematic goldmine.

Low and behold, the film is little more than another sorry excuse for CGI carnage with the same predictability as the sun rising and setting every day. When legendary B-movie maestros Jim Wynorski, Fred Olen Ray and Roger Corman get their heads together like they did here, the results should be a lot trashier, sleazier and entertaining than Dinocroc Vs Supergator.

Dinocroc Vs Supergator is a film which is all about the beginning and the ending and little in between. Talk about an opening, Dinocroc Vs Supergator has the monsters breaking out of the facility within the opening minutes. Who needs back story or any explanation of what is going on when a blonde scientist badly butchers the English language by telling her co-workers to escape right before two giant monsters burst their way out of captivity? Said monsters then make short work of many extras before escaping into the jungle. Then we’re bombarded with overly serious music to give everything some extra significance and contrived dialogue to makes things sound a lot more complicated than they are. It’s the sort of film which feels the need to say things like “we found them in Sector Two” (not actual quote but I don’t want to have to re-watch to find what the army guy said) which has no relevance to the audience whatsoever because we haven’t the foggiest clue what is going on and who these people are.

Then we come to the ending which is otherwise the norm for this sort of film apart from the fact that it’s the only time during the entire course of the film where the two monsters actually fight each other! They finally start duking it out with only five minutes left of the running time so you know it’s going to be a short fight. Even so, the fight is hardly shown as the footage is of the human characters conjuring up an ultimate plan to defeat both monsters. So in all, you’ll get maybe thirty seconds of fight time. I don’t know about you but when I see a film called Dinocroc Vs Supergator, I want to see a fight damnit!

The monsters are well fed but as is always the case nowadays, the attack scenes are done using CGI which looks rather ropey at best. Most of the attack scenes consist of the same thing where someone stands too close, or in, a large body of water and then are promptly devoured by one of the title monsters. There is a nice Jurassic Park-style moment in which a couple of characters on an escaping jeep are pursued by one of the monsters but most of the CGI scenes look to be the same footage over and over again. In fact it’s hard to tell which one is supposed to which. I don’t suppose it matters much when they eat bikini-clad honeys (sadly this is Sci-Fi Channel material therefore the women remain clothed) but knowing which, if any, monster to root for during the finale would be nice.

Even the human food they’re constantly fed consists little more of people only introduced early in the scene and are literally pointless and add nothing to the story except show a few kill scenes. Those who get more screen time are equally as uninteresting. David Carradine stars in one of his last roles before his death and it’s not the sort of film you’d want to be remembered for. He doesn’t even chew the scenery as the slimy mogul behind the experiments, he just looks bored. Amy Rasimas is the token blonde who, rather inappropriately for a Fish and Game warden, wears some teeny shorts and has her top unbuttoned down to the chest. It provides eye candy to the audience but if all Fish and Game wardens dressed like this, they’d be unable to do their job for the amount of males gawping around them all of the time.

 

With a feeble one-sided fight right at the end of the film, Dinocroc Vs Supergator at least puts up more of a fight than the majority of heavyweight boxing matches nowadays. But it’s more like two CGI monster films running alongside each other with a token fight thrown in at the end. Disappointing but I hardly expected a Godzilla-style rumble match.

 

Mega Python Vs Gatoroid (2011)

Mega Python Vs Gatoroid (2011)

Screaming, Scratching, Biting… And that’s just THE GIRLS!

A nest of pythons is freed into the Florida Everglades by a group of animal rights activist. But these snakes soon grow larger than normal and begin killing off the local alligator population. Determined to stop the threat of the snakes and maintain the natural balance of the everglades, local park ranger Terry O’Hara hands out permits to allow hunters to shoot the pythons and keep their number down. When the ranger’s fiancé is killed by the snakes, she obtains an experimental serum, injects it into dead chickens and then starts feeding them to the gators to increase their size so that they can fend off the snakes. But with the pythons happy to eat gator eggs, the serum finds its way into their system too. Soon both the pythons and the gators are growing to gigantic size, threatening everyone.

 

It’s a ridiculous plot but barrel scraping springs to mind when I think of the two giant monsters that do battle in this one. Fresh from their antics with mega sharks, giant octopi and a crocosaurus, The Asylum are back for another contrived, unashamedly awful and ultimately pointless ‘versus’ film. In fact the title should be pluralised as there’s not just one mega python and gatoroid but a whole score of them on either side. It’s a clash between two genetically-enhanced reptilian armies and only two washed up 80s pop stars can save the day!

There’s little to differentiate Mega Python Vs Gatoroid from any other CGI-monster fest of late. The CGI gets worse as each new film is made and you’d get more bang for your buck out of a PC game. Not only do the snakes and gators look really fake, they recycle the same animations time after time. CGI blood is used. Human actors tangle with themselves as they wait for the computer guys to do their thing in post production. You know the score. CGI overkill has gone to the extreme in these low budget efforts and most of the time, effects seem to be implanted into the film simply for kicks when physical practical effects would have made more sense (such as the scene in which a guy is trapped underneath the dead body of a snake – watch as his hand glides through some poorly-rendered CGI when a rubber prop would have been much more believable). A slew of minor characters are fed to the monsters and the repetitive nature of each death only adds to the tedium.

Remember when the shark in Jaws only killed a handful of people? Or Michael Myers killed four people on-screen in Halloween? Less was more and you always felt more threatened. Now it’s just a race to get as many people eaten in as little time possible. Surprisingly enough, I was going to comment on the DVD cover which shows a city being destroyed by giant monsters. Unlike the other CGI monster versus films of late, Mega Python Vs Gatoroid actually does contain footage of a city being attacked by the monsters. It’s literally only a minutes worth of screen time but at least it shows them doing a little bit of damage to Miami. There is also an in-joke thrown here somewhere as one of the monsters takes out a blimp with The Asylum written on the side – it’s probably the highlight of the film in an amusing way.

Hold up though! Giant monsters beware because on hand to save humanity are a pair of 80s pop stars. Deborah Gibson and Tiffany, both teen idols in the 80s, each takes the side of one of the monsters and thus the film turns into some sort of bizarre tag team match with Gibson protective of her snakes and Tiffany desperately trying to help the gators. They both try and one-up each other which leads to the eventual catfight between the two and then realise that they need to stop their bickering and join forces to stop both sets of monsters from running wild. Dialogue throughout the film references both of their singing careers which will either leave you cringing if you know the words or completely in the dark if you’ve never heard of them before. But in a film where the actors should be winking at the camera at the silliness of it all, they play it straight. The tongue-in-cheek catfight between the two is arguably the highlight of the film, rather pitiful when you consider it’s supposed to be some giant monsters duking it out.

The scene resembles everything that the movie should have been – silly, daft and with a knowing sense of humour. Instead, it feels like an isolated scene. When all is said and done, it’s nice to see two older women playing the lead roles in a film like this instead of your typical twenty-somethings. And in a film that is scattered with moments of oversized CGI monsters, it’s sad that the biggest things on display are Tiffany’s silicone-enhanced breasts which attempt to escape her top at every opportunity. Just when things couldn’t get any more bizarre, there’s a really random cameo from Mickey Dolenz, formerly of The Monkees. See, the film doesn’t just cater for the 80s market but the 60s market too!

 

Mega Python Vs Gatoroid is yet another awful CGI monster mash-up which scrapes the bottom of the barrel for scraps left behind after the recent onslaught of rubbish ‘versus’ films. The sight of former pop stars Tiffany and Deborah Gibson (who apparently had a real life rivalry back when they were in the limelight) taking each other on and then teaming up may have some appeal to former fans of their music but for any lovers of monster movies, stay well clear of this mess.

 

 ★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

Crocodile (2000)

Crocodile (2000)

Ever Feel like Something is Watching You?

A group of teenagers taking a boat trip along the a remote lake in Southern California disturb a batch of oversized crocodile eggs only to then encounter the full wrath of the giant crocodile that laid them.

 

Tobe Hooper is familiar with the tale of killer crocodiles as he followed up his remarkable debut in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre with Death Trap, the not-too-dissimilar tale of a psychotic redneck who murdered guests at his hotel and fed them to his giant crocodile pet. That was back in 1977 when Hooper was still considered to be a major talent in the genre. His stock has fallen considerably over the years and despite decent genre offerings such as The Funhouse and Poltergeist, his career has been on the slide for a long time. Crocodile is not going to change that opinion.

Quite why someone with the background in the genre as Hooper has would direct something as low grade and pedestrian as this is beyond me. Literally any second rate hack director could have taken the hot seat here and put out the same end product. No doubt rushed into development to cash in on Lake Placid, Crocodile is not a classic. But it’s not a total stinker either.

If you’ve seen one of these ‘monster-on-the-loose’ flicks then you’ll have already seen Crocodile. Focusing on a bunch of characters stranded in the middle of nowhere with a big, angry and hungry monster after them, they’re the sort of film that studios love to make. Safe bets. No risks taken. They’re simply recycling a formula which worked for other films in the past and will continue to work for films in the future. Filling the film with teenagers is always a good commercial move (since they’re appealing to the film’s target audience) but it’s a downright horrid critical move. Every clichéd character in the book is here from the dumb jock, the prankster, the slut, the arguing couple, the snobby one, backwoods hicks and an incompetent sheriff who is there to warn everyone of the dangers of the lake only to find himself standing a little close when the time comes.

To be fair, the teenagers look like they’re have a good time to start with but they soon use up their quota of charm quickly and you’ll be wishing they’d feed themselves to the croc sooner rather than later. Thankfully most of the people are here to act as croc fodder and the croc doesn’t go hungry for one minute. It’s just a pity it takes the croc a bit too long to get snacking.

Hooper takes a leaf out of Spielberg’s book early on, only showing us the croc in small glimpses: an eye here, a glimpse of tooth there. This works well, creating a reasonable amount of tension early on and at least getting the audience to anticipate the eventual full body appearance of the monster. The end result isn’t as underwhelming as you would expect. The croc looks pretty good in some scenes when the real-life animatronic model is used. You get a nice estimate of its actual size as it eerily drifts along the lake just under the surface. It’s when the croc is required to do sudden movements and turn from side-to-side quickly where the CGI takes over and the effects lose their way. Its size is constantly fluctuating depending on whatever the story requires it to do next which, for the most, is for it to eat the cast one-by-one. There’s not an amazing amount of gore but there’s enough to keep bloodhounds satisfied.

 

For the horror genre overall, Crocodile is a waste of time. It’s a slasher film with a crocodile instead of a masked maniac and not a very good one at that. However as far as killer crocodile flicks go, Crocodile must rank up there quite highly. The realistic croc, high body count and smatterings of blood raises the rating a little more than it should.

 

 ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

Rogue (2007)

Rogue (2007)

Welcome to the Terrortory

An idyllic wildlife cruise turns into a fight for survival when the tourist boat responds to a distress flare further down the river. Heading into unexplored territory, the boat is struck by something big and is forced to beach on a small island in the middle of a lake. With the tide rising and darkness closing in, the tourists soon realise that they are at the mercy of a giant rogue crocodile which is ready to hunt and protect it’s turf to the very end.

 

After what seems like an eternity of terrible straight-to-DVD and Sci-Fi Channel original films about killer crocodiles and alligators, the monster-on-the-loose public finally gets the film they have been waiting for so long to see – Rogue. It seems so incomprehensible that this film could have almost the same idea as Lake Placid 2 or Primeval yet be on the opposite end of the spectrum in the ‘worst films of all time’ stakes. Directed by Wolf Creek head honcho Greg McLean, you know from the start that this is going to be gritty, brutal and a tense affair and he delivers exactly what you would expect and more. In fact I just wasn’t expecting Rogue to be as good as it was…….I’m so used to just seeing crappy crocodiles munching through teenagers and token characters that I’d forgotten what exactly makes a good monster flick.

For a start, the cinematography is awesome and really captures the raw, brutal nature of the Australian wilderness. You do get the feeling that these people are miles away from any help and they need to look after themselves because rescue is a long, long way away. You get lulled into a false sense of security during the opening twenty minutes as the tour boat heads through some gorgeous territory and you forget what you actually wanted to see. But fear not as danger isn’t too far away. Once the croc makes it’s presence felt, the film shifts up a couple of gears and really kept me on tender hooks. The film does an awesome job of ramping up the tension to heavy breathing levels once the daylight starts to fade and the water levels begin to rise. There are some absolutely gripping scenes including the one where the tourists attempt to escape the island by letting one of them swim across the other side of the lake with a rope and suspending it in mid-air. Watching each person attempt to shimmy across the rope with the still water below them clearly hiding a fate worse than anything you could imagine.

The crocodile looks terrifying and is arguably the best CGI crocodile I’ve seen. The animators were clearly not wanting to make it super-agile like so many other crocodiles on film seem to be. They have obviously studied footage of real crocodiles to see how they move and behave and have attempted to replicate this to perfection. This one glides through the water with deadly silence, slowly drags its heavy body across the ground when it’s on land and yet is still capable of lightning-fast reactions when it needs to have them. It’s not on screen a lot until the final third but such a good job is done of creating its unseen menace that you don’t need to see it because you know it’s hanging around, watching the tourists from below the surface and waiting for the moment to strike.

The final third is arguably the film’s weakest point with one of the survivors attempting to go one-on-one with the crocodile in its lair. It felt a bit unnecessary and almost obligatory when arguably the most logical conclusion was to have the survivors just escape and leave the croc to protect its turf from anyone else that tried to cross it. Also the survival of a previously missing character is a real Hollywood-esque addition which it could easily have done without. We don’t always need to see happy endings (look at poor Samuel L. Jackson in Deep Blue Sea for crying out loud!). It’s a bit of a cheap cop-out and a kick in the teeth when the rest of the film had pretty much panned out against type.

But at least the characters aren’t just partying teenagers out for sex, drugs and drink. These people are just a random bunch of tourists with some back story or traits to make them stand out a little. There’s even a family thrown in for good measure with their young daughter so at least some bets will be off by the end of this one. On the acting side, Radha Mitchell is always good value for money and there’s a chance to see a pre-fame Sam Worthington as one of the tourists. Worthington is now better known as an action hero in the likes of Clash of the Titans and Terminator: Salvation. Check him out here before his pay demands sky rocketed. Across the board, the cast do their jobs well even if some of the characters they portray are minor sideshows to the main focus.

 

I honestly can’t recommend Rogue highly enough. Maybe it’s because my standards have been destroyed by the slew of crocodile flicks that have been hammering my DVD player for the past few years or maybe it is actually a decent flick. The finale ruins the film but don’t let that it bother you. Just sit back and enjoy the best killer crocodile flick since….well ever really!

 

 ★★★★★★★★☆☆