Leftovers from Hiroshima
There’s no avoiding that Killer Crocodile rips off Jaws. To discredit Killer Crocodile for that means wiping out a slew of movies doing the same thing. Piranha, Tentacles, Orca; that’s a mere three of likely 50 or so during the ’80s alone.
Knowing that means taking Killer Crocodile at face, and even with the obvious similarities, it’s an Italian spin doing something different: It’s a film taking environmentalists to task for their pacifism. When a group of them discover toxic waste being dumped in a Dominican swamp, they turn to the local mayor. Politics take time (more so when said mayor is in on the dumping). Killer Crocodile then brandishes a shotgun to solve this problem.
Kevin (Richard Anthony Crenna) leads this liberal crew, protesting, yelling, and begging for a solution. A local journalist won’t bother with the story, this despite the 20-foot croc’s appetite. Seems like a Pulitzer in the waiting, but never mind that. The screen is more concerned with body count.
Killer Crocodile stands out from its class
Killer Crocodile stands out from its class
A familiar dialog about saving the creature for study versus killing it off pits ideologies against one another. Local hunter Joe (Ennio Girolami) berates the kids, chastising them for looking down on him (and their no-kill stance) while victims keep involuntarily feeding the mutant critter. Derivative, but of the late ‘80s, Killer Crocodile jumps on the growing climate fears, and for exploitation purposes, borrows the nuclear monster angle straight from 1953.
And where due, the crocodile looks fantastic, rising up and charging at full scale. The real animals hardly move and that helps, but that doesn’t diminish the craftsmanship or effectiveness. Legitimate terror occurs as a small girl holds on to a sinking doc, the croc in view with the camera on its back for perspective. Killer Crocodile had talent behind the scenes.
Then again, this comes across as high praise; it’s not like Killer Crocodile is imbued with A-grade performances, and the script fills with dopey exchanges. Joe makes an idiotic statement that crocs hate being insulted, stated with absolute sincerity. A few female characters never matter to the story, left on a shoreline before the finale so they don’t get in the way. Without development, Killer Crocodile runs long with plenty of slop gunking up the pace.
When everything is working through, Killer Crocodile stands out from its class. Certainly, it’s more entertaining than Tentacles, and with some camp value mixed in with genuine horror, Killer Crocodile is a blast.
Brought to Blu-ray by Severin Films with a new 2K scan, this presentation is not without problems. First is compression which, while not consistently a bother, leads to detail-sapping artifacts. Fast action visibly turns blocky, and grain never looks like authentic grain, rather digital aftereffects.
Depth suffers too with nominal black levels robbing Killer Crocodile of density during all night scenes. Under daylight, images fare better, although a handful of shots pump things up to what should be. Why those few is unknown.
Taken as a whole, with splendid color saturation included, the image fares well. Location shooting naturally creates texture, and when in close, facial definition breaks out. With the camera pointed at the croc prop, scales and other touches show in full.
The source print shows various vertical scratches. Nothing severe, and never do they stick around long, but they become prominent when visible.
The dubbed over dialog is difficult to miss, and that goes for either English or Italian tracks (both DTS-HD). A Jaws-like score drums up a decent beat and passable fidelity.
Like the video, some source degradation does happen. Static creeps in on occasion. That’s always brief. Scratchy dialog matches the expectations from something like this.
Severin tracks down a few key people involved for interviews. Gianetto De Rossi, makeup artist, speaks for 14-minutes. Cinematographer Frederico Del Zappo chats for 15-minutes. From the cast, Pietro Genuardi and Richard Anthony Crenna tell their stories near 15-minutes each.
There’s no hiding from Killer Crocodile’s knock-off quality, but the Italian flick stages a fun social dynamic between environmentalists and hunters.
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