Two fishermen sit in a boat in the pitch black doing a spot of night fishing chatting to keep their spirits up. As their pointless back and forth continues the camera pans past them and their meager lantern into the inky blackness beyond, obviously telegraphing that some bad shit is about to go down. And go down it does, as a massive crocodile lunges out of the night, roaring like maniac, as the fishermen scream in terror. We freeze frame mid-roar so we get a real good look at the rubbery behemoth, and then the opening title Killer Crocodile appears inside it’s yawning maw.
Yep, that’s right, this is only the opening scene of campy Italian gut cruncher Killer Crocode, yet another European rip-off of Jaws that follows in the claw steps of other originality-free enterprises such as the squishy Tentacles and the lawsuit baiting The Last Shark. Like those other “epics”, Killer Crocodile seems to forget to copy other things from Jaws, like including any tension whatsoever or characters that have the ability to make rational decisions, and yet unlike those other two, this particular romper chomper (made as late as 1989!) manages to provide cheap Z-movie thrills and spills on a limited scale.
We join a group of young, idealistic, do-gooding environmentalists as they head up a Swamp in Santo Domingo in order to expose the illegal dumping of radioactive waste in the area. Using their laughably pitiful safety equipment of what seems to be a button up white onesie and gas mask (it’s ok, they totally pull the drawstring tight on his hood so he’ll be totally safe), they uncover numerous barrels and and high readings of radioactivity in the area (“It’s like leftovers from Hiroshima!” Is the bone headed exclamation of one of the group). However, a clicking giger counter and a low sperm count are the least of their worries when they find out the hard way that the waste has turned a crocodile in the area into a 30 foot torpedo of teeth and binge eating and it starts gnawing it’s way through the cast in order of skin colour. As the gaggle of naive scientists stubbornly strive to keep their bodies unchewed, they discover that there may be a conspiracy at hand involving a shifty journalist and the judge of a local town that may have something something to do with the waste dumping that’s led to the super sizing of this super predator.
As the beast continues about it’s daily business of carnage, the environmentalists join up with a grizzled crocodile hunter known as Joe in order to stop this thing’s rampaging Atkins diet and make these inhospitable swamps a slightly less lethal place.
Directed by Fabrizio De Angelis, the producer of some of Lucio Fulci’s most notorious classics, it’s fair to say that this particular type of Crocodylidae likes to mix a little dairy with it’s meat intake, as it’s kill scenes include hell of a lot of cheese with it’s fake blood. It’s one of those films that if everyone involved just hopped in a car and fucked off a hundred miles inland they’d be just fine, but instead everyone melodramatically flings themselves screaming into the water every time something jars the boat they’re standing in. It’s amazing how far out of it’s way the movie goes when it comes to getting people unnaturally into the croc’s natural habitat but the most audacious surely has to be a scene where it attacks a dock which leaves a little girl dangling above the snapping jaws of death but instead of hauling her back up to safety from the top, her father hurls himself into the water and attempts to push her up from below. The film has many similarly bizarre moments of darwinian levels of idiocy but it oddly gives the film a crappy level of fun it probably doesn’t deserve; which coincidentally fits right in with the utter rubbish that tumbles out of the mouths of the cast…
“You, know, I don’t think I’ll ever he able to forget about what happened to Conchita…”, bluntly states one of the group, barely 20 minutes after watching a coroner pick at her chewed corpse with a pair of tweezers. She goes on to further prove her point by later stating “If we hadn’t asked her to come she might still be alive!” – Still? Are you suggesting that a 30 foot Crocodile might have eaten her if she’d stayed at home? However that particular utterance plays like Oscar fucking Wilde compared to the panic stricken photographer who, in a moment of terror screams “I’m gonna photograph the fucker!” and has to be restrained from dangling over the edge of the water with his camera – way to play to your strengths, pal.
The actors are the usual, forgettable assuming of badly dubbed croc fodder whose leader, the immaculately haired Kevin, is played by the son of Richard (First Blood) Crenna, but it’s crusty croc hunter Joe, steals the show. Looking like Lee Van Cleef and Tommy Lee Jones both went through the teleporter from The Fly at the same time, this scarred war horse provides the movie with the greatest Quint-from-Jaws rip-off I’ve ever seen when the determined hunter actually hops on the carnivore’s back and stabs it repeatedly with a spear and sinks with it as slowly starts to dive! Say what you will about Captain Ahab and the gruesome fate his obsession with Moby Dick earns him, but this old timer surfs a fucking crocodile! Joe the hunter also manages to provide cinema with it’s greatest hat toss (sorry, Oddjob) as he flings his manly headgear to Kevin in epic slow motion in order to give him the stones to maul the titanic lizard with a boat propeller with explosive results.
The effects are by the maestro of spaghetti gore, Giannetto De Rossi, and while the big rubbery lizard is as manuvarable as giant lump of paralyzed dogshit, it’s giant teeth and big red eyes still make it a descent enough cinematic predator that thankfully chews with it’s mouth open.
For all its faults, Killer Crocodile is an enjoyable croc of shit.