AUGUST 18, 2011
Apparently, Dinocroc Vs. Supergator is a semi-sequel to existing standalone films, but I haven’t seen either of them (Dinocroc was off my radar entirely). But my brief inspection of their IMDb pages doesn’t reveal either David Carradine or anyone else playing Drake, who is responsible for them being created according to this movie, so I’m guessing that this is an in-name only affair, or they ret-conned the mythology. However – who cares? If I reached a point in a movie called Dinocroc Vs. Supergator where I couldn’t follow the plot, I’d just shoot myself and you wouldn’t be able to read this review anyway.
Honestly though, this one’s actually pretty fun. There’s a curious shortage of monster action (only like 5-6 attacks), but they make up for it with better than usual (but still bad) FX and a few characters I actually enjoyed, particularly the main “couple”; an average Joe kind of guy who was investigating Drake and a female game warden, played by the ultra-fetching Amy Rasimas, who is not only tall (yay!) but a decent actress as well; after the blocks of wood in those Shark Attack movies I would have been satisfied with one who could say her lines properly, but Ms. Rasimas makes for a good heroine – kicking some ass and actually seeming like a real person. Some of the extras/bit players are atrocious (at least one – Jerry the Pool Boy - has become a running gag on The Soup, in fact), but having charming folks in the leads goes a long way, and of course Carradine is always fun. He’s not in the movie too much, and has the least satisfying death in any Vs. movie ever made (he has a heart attack and dies without ever even SEEING the damn things), but adds a touch of flavor and old-school Corman charm to the proceedings. If only he could get off like a normal person...
Another thing in its favor is that most of the victims actually appear prior to their death scene. For example, early on we meet a film producer who is taking a quick break in between installments of a horror franchise that releases a movie every October (gee, wonder who they’re mocking here?), and of course he’s heading to the same island where the title characters are running amok. Now, you know he’s a goner, but the fact that they introduced him and told us a bit about him can suggest that maybe he’ll play an important role in the plot. Maybe he will try to get footage of the monsters for his next movie, or stick around with our heroes as a comic relief character. So when they do cut to him again, and Dinocroc bites his goddamn head off a few minutes later, it’s actually a bit of a surprise (they also use a giant croc head in close-ups instead of a full CGI creature, making it even more fun), because he was given more of an “arc” than most of these things offer.
Of course, that’s what happens when you get someone like Jim Wynorski directing. He’s hardly a great filmmaker, but he at least knows what he’s doing and has an appreciation for this sort of material. When you get some hack like Declan O’Brien shooting the movie, you end up with repetitive, boring shit like Sharktopus, where the film’s entertainment value starts and stops with the monster. Here, I was entertained even when they weren’t on-screen, thanks to the goofy "FBI takes down evil scientist" plot and fun chemistry between the two leads (the movie gets a lot of mileage out of the hero’s ugly Hawaiian shirt). And I also liked that they gave us two male heroes; our FBI guy and also a hunter known as The Cajun, who is brought in to aid the human villains cover up their mess but ends up being an actual hero. Not only does the script give them about equal screentime (making it harder to tell which one will die, if at all), but it also makes them fast friends instead of the usual sort of “Don’t get in my way/You stay out of MY way!” type shit.
The only area it really drops the ball is the promised title fight. Not only does it take forever to even get the two things in the same spot, but when they finally do start fighting it’s over less than two minutes later. Worse it’s not even that awesome; Dinocroc just sort of bites Supergator on the side and he dies, and then Dinocroc gets blown away by an explosion. This moment is actually kind of great, as he’s outside the building that blows up so he just sort of takes the brunt of the blast on his side and dies from that, but still – I wanted a real fight to the death between them. I don’t like Freddy vs Jason much at all, but at least they deliver an epic fight at the end; this one was literally over in seconds.
The rest of the action is more satisfying. Supergator racks up 2-3 kills in the first 90 seconds of the movie, which is a record (and Dinocroc then flattens a guy as he breaks free a few seconds later). There’s a fun Jurassic Park ripoff chase scene (yellow jeep and all), though they add a boat and rockets to the mix, and I also loved when Supergator just walks up to a tour bus and then jumps on top of it and flattens it (and its driver). As usual there’s not a lot of logic to their ability to get around (at one point Supergator somehow manages to swim up to and under a guy that’s only in about a foot of water), but there’s a variety to the scenes instead of the usual “guy is water-skiing/surfing/swimming and then gets sucked under by the monster” stuff. And again, most of the victims are people we’ve met more than 30 seconds ago, so there’s a bit of a quality over quantity aspect to it that you don’t often see, and I sort of appreciated that. Maybe it means the usual drunken audiences for these things found it “boring”, but I prefer it to the typical “every 10 minutes we meet someone new and then they die” approach.
As usual, there’s a commentary with Corman and the director, which is a bit unusual in this case since the movie is directed by “Jay Andrews”, a pseudonym for Wynorski that the back of the DVD is forced to explain – gotta be a first for a modern film (it’s a bit common with special edition DVDs of old Italian horror films that were originally attributed to fake names). It’s a bit more specific to this film than usual, though Roger does offer some general insight, and tells a pretty funny anecdote about how an old SAG rule required an actor to be paid daily from the first until the last day that they were used (even if they weren’t actually working in the days between). Apparently Jack Nicholson used to take advantage of this rule, purposely choosing roles where he’d have to only work on say, day 1 and day 15, collecting fifteen days’ worth of SAG pay instead of two. Awesome. They also reminisce a bit about Chopping Mall, which is always a good thing. Definitely worth a listen if you enjoyed the flick and/or just like to hear two old-school guys shooting the shit. The trailer for it and a bunch of their other films are also included (and on the commentary Corman promises Piranhaconda is on its way).
Eventually they will run out of monsters to combine or add adjectives to and this “series” will die, but it’s good to know that they still haven’t run it completely into the ground already, and are still managing to make something worth a damn. Not a good film by any means, but one I can at least watch without hating myself/what I do.
What say you?