Crocodile (1981)

JUNE 10, 2008


Longtime readers (or new readers who went back and read all the old reviews) know how much I love the New Beverly Cinema, particularly the “grindhouse” nights (now twice a month!) hosted by Eric Caidin and Brian Quinn. For those uninitiated among you, this is simply a pair of older films (usually 70s or early 80s) that have a ‘drive-in’ appeal, are often cheaply made, terribly written/acted, etc. Of course, some actual classy productions are snuck in as well (they are the ones behind the annual screening of Black Christmas, for example), but the real joy comes from movies like Crocodile (aka Chorake), which are so inept and hilariously cheap that nearly even minute of the film provides at least one laugh out loud moment.

The other day I slammed a movie called Sight for its poor editing – well I take it back (somewhat), because THIS movie should win some sort of award for its baffling editing style. Scenes often include cutaways to things which are seemingly not part of the scene (my favorite: they suddenly cut to a drink on a table on some sort of patio, zoom out to reveal several tables, and then the scene - which takes place inside - resumes), scenes that are noticeably out of place in the narrative, ridiculous attempts to cut real footage of a croc with their animatronic/rubber/whatever the hell it was creation. Of course, this may be largely due to the fact that the film was a re-edit of another film called Agowa Gongpo, from 1978. I cannot find enough information to discern what was different/added. And I'm not sure I want to know, because I think that would ruin the sheer joy of the incomprehensible editing.

And the attack scenes are even worse (and thus, better). There are a few, and they are all pretty much the same (the fact that some shots are obviously recycled doesn’t help hide this fact): the real croc walks through a hilariously off-scale model of a village, dozens of Thai extras begin to scream, we see footage of a thunderstorm and what looks like those “whirlpools” you make with two Pepsi bottles, the croc blinks, then the extras fall into the water as red juice flows around them. Occasionally the croc’s tail will set off an explosion and knock out a few more buildings, which cause the instant diving into the water and subsequent eating of a few more villagers, and then we cut to Thailand’s sole hospital (and their sole paramedic team) bringing a body to the hospital. So it's like half Jaws, half Godzilla (the croc's always inconsistent size is another source of hilarity).

At least those scenes offer some on-camera carnage. The film’s alleged hero gets drawn into the plot when his family is presumably killed by the crocodile, but we don’t really see this. Without any sort of setup, his sister goes into the water and sees his kid’s floating tube, but no kid. She screams and then mimes being pulled under the water, at which point the guy’s wife runs into the water and the entire process repeats again. During this entire sequence we are never even given the usual shot of the crocodile’s eye blinking (or his suped up red eyes that appear in a few choice scenes) that is often used in place of any actual onscreen violence. It’s sort of like the opening scene of Jaws, except without even an underwater POV shot to help us out. Anyway, they’re all dead, and thus he does what any man would in that situation: reads some newspapers, looks at a map he drew himself, conducts some sort of experiment that involves brightly colored fluids being mixed together, and finally assembles a team that includes his buddy and a Quint wannabe with a penchant for taking off his shirt, and heads out to the open sea to exact revenge. They are inexplicably joined by a guy who just climbs on their boat and begins taking photos, and before long the croc is carrying out a personal vendetta against them.

And it succeeds! Evearyone dies. It’s fucking amazing. They take the croc with it, but it’s nothing short of awe-inspiring to watch the film’s final minute, which is a still shot of their wrecked boat sinking, a few pieces of debris, and the water returning to its usual flow after being disrupted by the explosion that took everything out. No Hooper and Brody-style swimming back to shore, no final one-liner, nothing. Just the ocean, silent and devoid of human survivors. Poetic, in a bad Thai Jaws knockoff sort of way.

I cannot recommend this movie enough.

What say you?


  1. Once again, another impulse buy inspired by your blog, sigh.
    Sounds awesome - perhaps even better than Alligator. Probably not as good as Frogs, though . . .

  2. Of all Jaws spoofed films (rip offs) this one's one of the best.


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