I have a bit of a soft spot for the so-bad-it’s-good genre. Low budget, usually horror or action movies, generally starring one actor that you know who must have needed the money and a supporting cast of “oh, it’s that guy” types. I have a whole shelf of these groanworthy classics, most of which I haven’t even opened, let alone watched.
Among these dusty treasures sits a good number of “four-in-one” collections. You’ll have seen these if you ever bought a cheap DVD player or have at any time entered any charity shop, anywhere. A few enterprising souls gathered together a bunch of the worst that cinema has to offer, stuck four of them on two double-sided discs and shipped them with titles like “Action Films 3” and “Creature Features 2”. In fact, the latter offering is the inspiration for this entire series and this first post in particular.
This particular fearful foursome includes Crocodile, seen in the trailer above, as well as Crocodile 2, Shark Attack and Shark Attack 2. I think a little part of me died when I picked this one up, but I made a promise to myself to finally watch all of these additions to my ever growing DVD library (and possibly burn them afterwards) and that’s a promise I mean to keep. I made myself a cup of tea, swallowed a couple of sedatives and settled in to watch my first Hollywood DVD epic, Crocodile.
I actually began with some hope as Crocodile was directed by the late Tobe Hooper, writer/director of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and director of one of my all time favourite horrors, Poltergeist, among others. Unfortunately that hope soon faded as I realised that Crocodile features a veritable who’s who of who-the-hell-are-you actors, a budget of around £4.62 and a script that some producer found scribbled on a napkin in his coat pocket after a night on the sauce. I could already tell that I was in for a rough ride.
The opening scene introduces us to Douche 1 and Douche 2. They’re together in a car, talking about pizza. Douche 2 announces that pizza is just like sex because “when it’s good, it’s good and when it’s bad…it’s still pretty damn good!” and instantly I feel my soul struggle to escape my body and flee into the night. These two are the absolute epitome of late-nineties, early-noughties arsehole from the vest top and cargo shorts to the frosted tips with red bits in the hair. I hate them on sight.
The rest of the cast is made up of similarly recognisable stereotypes. The Promiscuous One, The Party Dude, The Sensible Dad Type, She Who Is Pure, it’s trope after tedious trope. I did try to take note of their names but the exposition is so lousy that you don’t get introduced to them properly for some time and when you do, the audio work is so bad that it’s hard to hear what they’re calling each other anyway.
Let’s talk about sound, actually. The music for this film is surprisingly good, if you enjoy “self loathing complaint rock you can dance to” from the nineties. By the way, if you tweet me and tell me what that “complaint rock” line is from, i’ll award you 10 shiny cool points. As mentioned, the music is OK but it’s too loud and I don’t mean that in a “you kids keep your darn hippedy hop down!” kind of way. The audio levelling seems majorly off in this film and as such I found myself sitting with my Xbox headset on to watch it, straining to make out certain sections of conversation.
The plot, such as it is, winds on. As the Cool Young People (TM) party on their boat that looks a lot like a floating portakabin, two fishermen are wandering along and complaining about the tannery closing down. As they walk and whine, they stumble upon a nest of very large eggs and as any normal person would, proceed to throw the eggs into the lake and smash them against each others chests. All very normal.
This summons Crocodile (which we later learn is called Flat Dog and god only knows why) which eats Fisherman The First, chases Fisherman The Second to his car, murders him and then pushes the car into the lake. I think I just witnessed a crocodile trying to cover it’s tracks and at this point, around twenty minutes into the film, i’m done. All I want to do is turn off, walk away and cry for six or seven hours.
I won’t run through the entire plot of the film. Not because I fear spoiling it for you, but because I really don’t want to relive it. What I will do is run through the legend of Lake Sobek (which I initially thought was called Lake So Bad and that did give me a chuckle or two) and the tale of how Flat Dog came to be.
One of the characters, Kit (Sensible Dad Type) regales the assembled morons with a tale that he swears is absolutely, one hundred percent true. He tells them about the spooky old hotel which we now and only now see looming over the landscape behind them. According to Kit, the owner of the hotel imported a Nile crocodile, like you do, which he then built a shrine to and began to worship. Establishing a crocodile cult of sorts, the hotelier wanted to use the croc to summon the powers of the Crocodile gods of ancient Egypt, which seems entirely reasonable to me. Oh, I forgot to mention that Flat Dog is said to be the descendant of one of the War Crocodiles (TM) which the pharoahs would ride into battle. History is really coming alive!
From then on in it’s a standard monster movie. Big bitey thing chases idiots, picks them off one by one. Crotchety sheriff enlists hillbilly/gator farmer to hunt the croc. There’s an attempt at some more story building here as we discover that Shurkin, the gator farmer, believe it’s his birthright to hunt Flat Dog. He claims it killed his father one morning, that he saw it once when he was a child and it’s twenty feet long and bulletproof. Shurkin is scarred to hell, spits constantly and carries a ridiculously large gun on his belt and all I want in this life is for a spin off series called Shurkin & The Sheriff where they fight crime and live in a wee flat over a chip-shop.
There’s one other character we meet at the same time as Shurkin and this is something I really need to pick apart. As the Sheriff enters Shurkin’s Gator Farm (it’s on a sign, right above the door, I shit you not) we’re introduced to Lester as he walks into the building behind the sheriff, calmly saying hello as he stands with blood pouring from the ravaged remains of his left hand. When the Sheriff tells him he should get it seen to, he replies that the ‘gator’s “don’t like it when you brush their teeth” and immediately, Lester is the best thing about this entire film.
We see Lester once more while the Sheriff is off with Shurkin, a-huntin’ cwocodiles. He’s pushing a wheelbarrow full of chickens and calling out to Flat Dog, who he finds and attempts to reason with. It becomes clear that Lester has some kind of relationship with the gargantuan croc and by clear I mean i’m guessing that’s what they were aiming at but it’s such a clumsy attempt at exposition that who honestly knows? Lester implores Flat Dog to lay low and eat the barrowload of “stinky chickens” he’s brought, as he wants the croc to wait for the right moment to attack Shurkin & The Sheriff. Then Lester says something which stopped me in my tracks and i’m going to drop in a comment direct from my notes which I think sums it up perfectly:
“Get ’em both. I’m sick of Shurkin. I’m sick of all his buggerings.”
The croc eats Lester. Probably a kindness.
Three of the kids eventually escape and it’s exactly the three you’d expect to live when the film starts. The film ends with the three of them stood on the shoreline, wounded and probably bleeding out, as soft music plays and the camera pans out to the water. I hope they died there, I really do.
Right, that’s the film done so let’s look back over the good and bad points.
1) It’s only 90 minutes long
Ok, on to the bad.
1) The CGI crocodile is absolutely horrible. It moves like a marionette being operated by someone on one of those wobbly weight loss machines and it’s a completely different colour to the model croc uses in close ups. Speaking of which…
2) The practical effects aren’t much better. Flat Dog turns in the water like he’s on a central pivot point and the mouth flaps up and down like Pinocchio doing the actions to Baby Shark (Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo)
3) The acting is a little wooden. A lot wooden, actually. I did a quick IMDB dive and there’s a lot of “(Short)”, “Man With Hat” and “Uncredited” to be found and that’s completely understandable, everyone starts somewhere. Unfortunately for some of this cast, that’s where there careers finished and a good few years ago too. I like to take jabs at films for a little hyperbolic humour but I wouldn’t actually want to crap on anyone, the acting isn’t horrendous by all parties and it looks like the couple who aren’t naturally talented performers have bowed out of the life, so i’m guessing the Hollywood consensus on their skills matched up with my appraisal. I hope they’re doing grand, wherever they are now.
4) The script… oh my god, the script. Again, it’s harsh to dump on someone else’s art but by Flat Dogs mighty roar, there is so much in here that both sucks AND blows. Here’s a few notable lines and moments which I think say more about this film than pages of my scrawlings ever could.
SHURKIN: “This aint no gator egg, Sheriff. Sumthin’ much worse.” *dramatic pause and musical stab* “Crocodile.”
When they’ve floated off to the middle of nowhere and one of their party is missing, Party Stoner Dude (TM) says he’s probably walked back to town, drunk, in the middle of the night. Why? So he can “bone some skeezers”
When Brady and Claire are at odds, she says “It’s not just about us anymore” and there is definitely a vibe that suggests she’s pregnant. She does not elaborate, we never return to this, I have no idea why it’s in the film.
Every single time that Brady and Claire talk, soft romantic music plays. At this point, I began to refer to this film as Dawson’s Croc.
That is the best joke I have ever written.
Duncan, the biggest douche in the douche brigade, gets swallowed whole by the crocodile. He sprays bug repellent down it’s throat and forces it to regurgitate him. He flops out on to the ground unconscious and as Claire SAVES THE DAY BY HANDING THE GOD DAMN CROCODILE ONE OF IT’S GOD DAMN EGGS, AT WHICH POINT IT CALMLY LEAVES, Brady attempts to revive poor Duncan. How? By repeatedly punching him square in the face.
There is one good line in the entire film, which was “OH SHIT IT’S A FUCKING DINOSAUR YO!”, which is screamed by Party Stoner Guy (TM) right before he takes an axe to the crocodile. Which eats him.
If you put a ridiculously oversized flintlock pistol to my head (Shurkin carries one. Seriously.) then I guess i’d give Crocodile two bloody chunks of Lester out of five. I’ve definitely seen worse movies, although not many. It’s the kind of film which would be a lot of fun to watch with friends, maybe while enjoying a delicious just-like-sex-pizza and a tasty beverage. It’s much less fun to watch at 2am, completely alone and with not a slice of rumpy-pumpy-pepperoni in sight.
Oh dear gods, i’ve got to watch the sequel for next Monday. Flat Dog, take me now.