July 2, 2024

Craptastic CROCODILE

1979 / 92 min
Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat🙀

Of all the Jaws rip-offs that oozed into theaters for a slice of the killer critter pie (and there were a ton of ‘em), 1979’s Crocodile is a strong candidate for the crappiest, kookiest and most comical of them all. Considering how many hailed from Italy alone over the years, that’s really saying something…

…which means, for some viewers, this flick will be irresistible. You know who you are.

A Thai-Korean co-production, Crocodile opens with an ominous voice-over about nature striking back, followed by about five minutes impressively apocalyptic hurricane footage that’s clearly lifted from another movie. However, this disaster actually has nothing to do with the story because the giant title creature is the result of nuclear testing. 

Now when I say “giant,” it actually depends on the scene. Sometimes this ravenous reptile is as large as the awesome cover art depicts, other times he’s the size of a kayak. Either way, he indiscriminately chows down on tourists and villagers alike, including the families of a couple of doctors, who vow to destroy the beast themselves. That’s the nutshell plot, with a final act lifted right out of Jaws...the protagonists charter a boat owned by a hunkier version of Quint, leading to a similarly explosive (yet baffling) climax.

"We're gonna need a bigger budget."
But that isn’t what makes Crocodile comedy gold. As they say, the journey is more important than the destination. Along the way, this journey serves up a smorgasbord of endearing ineptitude. This is the English language version, meaning we’re treated to some truly daffy dubbing. In a scene featuring ducks in a pond, even the ducks are dubbed! And not only can this croc change size at-will, he can change eye color, too, even turning them into hellish red headlights in a night scene. 

Elsewhere, there’s plenty o’ stock footage, histrionic performances, borrowed music, weed-whacker editing, underwater sequences obviously shot in a swimming pool, and the piece de resistance, a ridiculously abrupt climax that leaves the viewer wondering what the hell just happened. I could go on, but poking fun at a movie like this is like shooting fish in a barrel, with the fish already dead. What matters is that the serious tone and sincerity of its filmmakers makes Crocodile more consistently entertaining than the smarmy self-awareness prevalent in today’s nature-run-amok cheapies.

But the fun doesn’t stop at the film itself. This disc features a 30-minute interview with director Won-Se Lee, whose recollections of the film might be a little hazy, but we're certainly convinced he thought he was making a good movie at the time. What makes the interview priceless is, when asked how he felt about his name being replaced by Sompote Sands in the credits of foreign releases, Lee was completely unaware this had happened. Upon hearing this - 45 years later! -  he’s genuinely surprised and vows to “look into this.” Poor bastard.


INTERVIEW WITH WON-SE LEE - Lee is director of the original version, titled Crocodile Fangs.

AUDIO COMMENTARY - By film historian Lee Gambin



No comments: