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Russian Drugs Are Even Worse Than Meth

You know you are in for a rough time with Red Krokodil when the introductory text screen about Russian drugs is probably its most intriguing moment, when you still have some hope this is a decent indie thriller or psychodrama. Director Domiziano Cristopharo’s film is a tedious and hallucinatory exploration of a man trapped in the throes of addiction. The director of movies like House of Flesh Mannequins, Cristopharo constructs the graphic delusions of a man badly hooked on the Russian street drug nicknamed krokodil.

The drug is an opioid derivative of codeine. Homemade versions of the drug start with codeine and can be ‘cooked’ similar to illicit meth production. Solvents such as gasoline, paint thinner, lighter fluid, iodine, hydrochloric acid, and red phosphorus are used in its homemade synthesis.

Those who inject these caustic agents into their veins develop extreme skin ulcerations, infections, and gangrene. The drug often produces a discolored, scale-like skin that resembles a crocodile, hence the street name krokodil. That is shown in the film to gruesome effect. Krokodil also refers to chlorocodide, a codeine derivative in the synthetic pathway to desomorphine. Krokodil is called “Russian Magic” in some countries.

The script tosses in a number of strange allusions that don’t make a lot of sense

Red Krokodil doesn’t have much of a narrative and only has one character. It’s the story of a hopelessly addicted man finding himself alone in a filthy apartment, living in utter squalor. He’s the movie’s only character, trapped in a fever dream between his old life and the wretched condition of his current existence as a strung-out junkie. He never speaks, hearing some of his thoughts only by way of internal narration (voiced by Brock Madson). The lack of dialogue forces you to pay close attention to the man’s every moan and groan, which becomes increasingly tedious after a while. Odd glimpses of the man wandering in exotic locales such as the desert occasionally break up the monotony of his suffering life.

The setting is a desolate Russian city, possibly after a nuclear apocalypse. Nothing is ever made particularly clear in the hazy and sparse narrative, which leans toward pretentious and boring arthouse fare most of the time. There isn’t much craft in its editing or direction.

This is a movie that will test your patience, even as it barely runs over eighty-three minutes. If your idea of a good time is seeing the graphic destruction of a junkie’s body on krokodil as his mind slips further and further in bizarre fantasies and delusions, this is made for you. The script tosses in a number of strange allusions that don’t make a lot of sense, including Jesus and his crown of thorns. Did I mention the nudity? The male junkie is naked most of the time.

If you ever want to scare your teenagers off from doing drugs, force them to watch Red Krokodil. That is the only redeeming thing about what is otherwise a boring, graphic look at the physical and mental breakdown of an addict.


The 2011 production (shot in Russia?) was made on older digital cameras and shows a heavily desaturated palette in most scenes. The 83-minute main feature is encoded in adequate AVC on a BD-25. Some banding is evident. It is presented at a 1.85:1 aspect ratio in 1080P resolution. It is claimed this is the director’s cut of the film.

Hints of aliasing pop up with digital textures common to cheaper DSLR film cameras popular on indie productions a decade ago. The shadows are murky with scant detail. The contrast is slightly blown out with clipped highlights. The cinematography differs depending on lighting conditions, from the few exterior shots to the grungy interiors of the junkie’s filthy apartment.

Distributed by MVDVisual for Unearthed Films, Red Krokodil has a serviceable Hi-def presentation on Blu-ray for a low-budget indie production. It’s rough at times in picture quality and that appears to have been the intention by its filmmaker.


The English 2.0 PCM soundtrack offers intelligible dialogue (there really isn’t much included) and adequate fidelity for the original score by composer Alexander Cimini. It’s fairly ordinary in sound quality with a limited stereo mix.

There are no subtitles included.


Alternate Music Ending (02:30 in HD)

Deleted Scenes (08:43 in HD)

Photo Gallery (02:47 in HD)

Nuclear CGI Test (01:14 in HD)

Trailers for Various Unearthed FilmsRed Krokodil (01:02 in HD), American Guinea Pig: Bouquet of Guts & Gore, AGP: Bloodshock, AGP: Sacrifice, Dreaming Purple Neon, Atroz

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Red Krokodil: Director's Cut
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras


Few will last through this overly graphic examination of a Russian junkie physically breaking down as his mind wanders off into bizarre realms.

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