Cast: Mark McLauchlin, Caitlin Martin, Chris Solari
There are many talented directors who, in their careers,
have made one or a few cult movies, yet little to nobody knows their
There are also directors with little to no talent who have made one or
a few cult movies, yet everyone knows who they are, even when the
other movies are mostly or completely bombs. For example, take John
After making a few cult movies like Animal House and An
American Werewolf In London, his filmography subsequently added
movies like The Stupids, Beverly Hills Cop 3,
and Blues Brothers 2000. And even some of the successes
his career, like Kentucky Fried Movie and Amazon
On The Moon, could have been made by anyone,
such projects relied more on the script and the actors. In fact, all of
the Landis movies I have watched could have been made by anyone; Landis
doesn't seem to have a trademark style, and he seems to have relied
of his success using the input of others.
Tobe Hooper is another such director. After stunning the
world with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, his subsequent
seem to suggest that Chainsaw's success was a freak, or
Hooper ran out of ideas after his debut. How many of Hooper's other
do you like? How about Eaten Alive? Invaders From
Combustion? The Mangler? Lifeforce?
Well, I admit that was fun, though on a so-bad-it's-good level. There's
also Poltergeist, but I think we can agree Steven
had at least substantial influence over Hooper during the shoot. And
is Crocodile, Hooper's latest effort, and it should come
as no surprise that it's just as forgettable as almost all of his
with no sign that it was directed by the man who made The Texas
Massacre. Actually, if you consider the uniform bad quality of
movies of his he subsequently made, maybe you can see signs that it was
Hooper after all.
It's true that the premise of this movie is thin, where
any director might have had trouble stretching the little material in
script into an entire movie. The premise: Several college students on
spring break go up to Lake Sobek, a giant lake located somewhere in the
southwest. While cruising on the lake, a crocodile, whose eggs gets
sets her eyes on chomping those students and anyone else that gets in
way. And aside from the expected screaming, running, and chomping that
follows, that's about it. Though a script of this nature is challenging
to any director, it's not impossible to do. Just look at Ticks;
the difference with that movie to this one was mostly in the location
the type of menace. Ticks worked, because it had, among
things, talented actors playing likable characters, production values
squeezed more of of a dollar than other movies, numerous and bloody
sequences, and the fact it was made by people with a sense of humor, so
that there was a sense of fun in every scene.
It's fortunate that a movie like Ticks exists,
because it really helps to point out why a movie like Crocodile fails,
even though it appears that Crocodile had a bigger
and more resources. Actually, Crocodile does manage to
over Ticks in the technical department in the
There is a sunny and sharp look to everything that makes this part of
movie look like a major studio production. That's because the movie
has crowds, buildings, and other objects in front of the camera.
once the youths leave civilization a few minutes later, the movie
immediately looks cheap, because there is nothing of interest to see.
we see for the most part subsequently is a drab landscape, which not
the sunny and sharp photography can make pleasing for the eye. Ticks
not have had professional photography, but the carefully chosen
made the movie look colorful all the same.
Since there is nothing interesting in the background,
it means more of our focus is on the cast and characters - much to our
regret. if any of the actors playing these youths actually has any
they either couldn't or weren't allowed to show it in their parts.
are the most annoying and uncolorful youths since Hollywood
High. The fact that I couldn't remember most of their names
- if they were even mentioned at all - is the least of the problems I
with them. They are a uniform pack of foul-mouthed, back-stabbing,
idiots that typically spout off inanities like, "Are you bozos down for
a kegger?!" In the second half of the movie, they become even more
with their screaming and shrieking at each other, almost as annoying as
the eardrum bursters in Carnival Of Blood.
I think you might see where I'm going with this - namely, why should we
feel anything except pure hatred for these arguments for birth control?
Instead of wondering with fear if any of the characters would be
or would survive, I was internally pleading for the crocodile to
them for good.
The crocodile is portrayed both with animatronics and
computer graphics. The effect of the former is pretty pathetic; moving
in the water, the crocodile looks extremely stiff, and it seems its
pulled by someone underwater a la The
Lake Monster. The scenes where it pops its open mouth above
the water surface in the exact same way reminded me of the shark doing
the same kind of thing in The Last Shark.
When depicted by computer animation, it doesn't look too bad - when
dark. Near the end of the movie, when we see the beast in full
it's an embarrassment to see - it's impossible to be scared or jolted
something that looks so fake.
Actually, the real problem with the beast isn't just
the crocodile usually doesn't look very convincing, but
that it has no
personality. Yes, it's an animal, but he could be creepy, almost human
in its thinking, or simply a vicious bastard that bites down hard and
his victim around. When this crocodile gets hold of a victim, we simply
see it move its full mouth up and down, with one or two cups of blood
its lips (if crocodiles have lips.) The one big attack sequence this
gets near the end of the movie is actually a pretty blatant rip-off of
a very memorable moment from Anaconda's climax.
That makes six (so far) other movies I've brought up to
compare with Crocodile, though I don't think a movie
so tired and unoriginal deserves a review that doesn't compare it to
movies. There is no sign that Tobe Hooper is even trying to make this a
movie, instead of a product that relies on sizzle instead of the actual
steak to attract customers. The origin of the crocodile is very poorly
done, leaving a lot of obvious questions conveniently unanswered. The
has no feeling of fun or terror, just exuding (and generating)
It's not just that there are no feelings of fun or terror, but that
seems reluctant to do so. A chainsaw is brought up at one point, but
is no indication that Hooper is even making a reference to The
Chainsaw Massacre (that makes seven). And though early on
mentions a derelict location that seems intended to make an in-joke
to Eaten Alive (eight), the location is never mentioned
again. Hooper's contempt for the audience is so big, he doesn't even
to get separate stock shots representing the sheriff's helicopter to
It always amazes me whenever I see a movie done with
so little passion. Aside from making a buck, I can't understand why so
people would go to so much trouble to make a movie that even they
probably wouldn't want to see. We are expected to go for a movie with
unoriginal premise, executed with no passion, and constantly reminds us
of not just better movies we've seen (which is bad enough), but reminds
us of the many other bad rip-offs we've seen. What a crock.
for availability on Amazon (Download)
book "Eaten Alive at a Chainsaw Massacre: The Films of Tobe Hooper"
See also: The Crater Lake
Monster, The Last Shark, Ticks