MARCH 5, 2011
I bet if Croc was the first RHI/Maneater film I had seen, I wouldn't think much of it, but it's a lot better than some of the others (though not without some major issues), so I'm willing to give it a pass. Plus it delivered the only thing I can ask for in a killer water monster movie - the consumption of a small child! And it did so after teasing us with a little girl who gets away early on, making me think the movie had no balls. Well played, movie.
I was also relatively impressed with how they got around a potential plot hole after the opening scene kill (which is surprisingly bloody). Part of the plot involves the local heavies trying to run our hero's low-rent Sea World type place out of business, and one thing they do is let out three of his crocodiles, so of course everyone blames him when someone turns up dead. But what about the guys in the opening scene? They died before his crocs were set loose! But they were also douchey fishermen who used dynamite to make their job easier. Thus, no one probably knew they were out there at all, and/or gave a shit about them. If they went the usual route and just had the croc kill a couple of teenagers screwing around in the water, they wouldn't have been able to give the hero this extra bit of investment into finding the croc. Again, for a Maneater movie, this is fairly decent plotting.
And again - a kid gets munched! And in fairly spectacular fashion too; the kid is swimming and a cop comes by and tells everyone to get out of the water. However the kid refuses, saying he wants to keep swimming. So his white trash-y dad, beer in hand, mutters "Fine, let the croc eat him!" - and the croc instantly surfaces and swallows the kid whole! And before I had even stopped clapping, the dad jumped into the water still holding his beer!!! Classic! I was a bit confused why two white trash looking folks had a little Thai kid, but whatever, I can overlook puzzling family trees when a giant croc isn't playing it safe.
Speaking of Thai folks, I also liked seeing the Thailand scenery. You'd think after watching 1600 movies in a row that I'd be seeing quite a bit of the world, but sadly I can probably count the number of Thailand-shot films on one hand. Oddly enough, one of those would be Crocodile, which is still the killer croc movie to beat in my opinion (unless you're counting Alligator, like Wikipedia is for some reason). Whatever drawbacks there might be to doing HMAD, at least I can say that I've now seen Thailand come under siege by killer crocodiles twice.
Which still isn't as often as I've seen Michael Madsen pop up in a low-budget horror flick, sadly. Not sure what happened to his career, unlike his screen "cousin" Tom Sizemore, he never got into any trouble with the law, nor did he star in a bunch of duds like other DTV "legends" like Seagal or Cuba Gooding. And his few theatrically released films of the 00s (Sin City, the Kill Bills) were big hits. So why is he constantly appearing in junk like this? Hilariously, it takes literally a half hour for him to appear (pretty much EXACTLY at 30:00 on the timecode), and another 25 minutes for him to actually speak, since he just plays his first couple scenes looking around with a knowing look on his face. And even after that there are still lengthy scenes without him (particularly a rather silly sequence where the croc finds his way over to the villains' swimming pool and eats them both). Yet he gets top billing.
Now, when I say villains I mean the local heavies who are trying to buy out our hero's land - they had nothing to do with the croc. In fact, another thing I dug about Croc was the lack of a human-based explanation for the thing's size (which is only a couple feet over the average) or appearance (someone suggests global warming made him swim further away from its native area). No toxic spill, no crazed scientist creating a mutation, none of that shit. Like Jaws, it's just a hungry animal. Why it left the water to crawl along on land for a while and then hide in a swimming pool to kill two assholes, I have no idea, but at least it didn't seem to be revenge-motivated (like in Alligator).
But, you know, it IS an RHI movie. There's a lot of dull spots, the effects aren't very memorable, and everyone except the one name draw is kind of bland. It probably could have used another kill in the 2nd act somewhere, and it DEFINITELY could have used a more exciting climax. With only 12 minutes to go including credits, the heroes are still in search mode on their boat, and worse, the way they actually kill the thing is incredibly dull - Madsen just shoots it with a sub-machine gun from like 100 feet away (and above!). There's more tension AFTER the thing is dead, in fact, because right before it died it clamped down on the hero's foot, so they had to decide whether or not to cut off his leg before he drowned. I would have preferred another death here (surprised Madsen survived, honestly) as well - no one dies in the last 15 minutes or so.
So while it's not up to Sea Beast levels of quality, it's a lot better than Blood Monkey, Shark Swarm, and even the namesake entry Maneater. Hell it's also better than Jaws 3, because at least they had an excuse for the bad effects AND didn't spend too much time on shit that couldn't involve a killer water monster (i.e. interior scenes, which are rare in this movie).
What say you?