primeval_movieHotel Rwanda? No, it’s Anaconda!
Hotel, Rwanda? No, it’s Anaconda!

Fine, so the SF Gate pointed out Primeval bears superficial resemblance to both those films, but they didn’t make their lede a rhyming chant.

The year 2007 was a banner one for killer croc movies, as the Aussie creature feature Rogue was released that very year as well. That one wasn’t half-bad, but then again, it wasn’t half-good either…but it was a reasonable time-waster and looked decent enough, kinda like throwing on a blazer over jeans to dine out somewhere fancy. And it followed the cardinal rule of killer critter movies: if you don’t have much $$$, for the love of all things holy, don’t show much of the creature.

Primeval was “inspired by the true story of the most bloodthirsty crocodile ever.” (don’t you love it when billion-year old instincts are anthropomorphized? Maybe he’s not really bloodthirsty, but just hungry? After all, it’s a 25-foot apex predator…you try filling that gut to satiation)

However don’t let that poster tag line throw you. This is a movie with aspirations.

Primeval is set against the backdrop of the Hutu and the Tutsi ethnic strife that’s more commonly associated with neighboring Rwanda, but which caused the death of one-third of a million people in this small East African nation of Burundi.

A New York news organization, sends a TV journalist (Tim, Dominic Purcell) to the region to report on the yes, real-life attacks by one Gustave, a septuagenarian croc with a body count that’d shame Jason Voorhees (For a little context, please see the ominously-voiced documentary Gustave – The Giant Crocodile of Burundi). Along for the ride, a reporter, Aviva, best-known for doing cat expose stories. But hey, we’re fans of Italian cannibal films and the motivations those characters have for traipsing around the bush in the middle of nowhere, are far more nebulous. And if NY news outlets have such deep pockets that TWO journalists are required for this mission, in the height of the decade that nearly sunk the journalism profession, who are we to question the dedication to their craft?


The crew’s cameraman is Steve (Orlando Jones) and Aviva (Brooke Langton) runs around with her tummy showing, demonstrating the nearly hard-and-fast rule that anyone named Brooke is good-looking. The jury is still out re: “good-acting.”

A group of surly hunters (one of whom is played by Jürgen Prochnow of the indelible Das Boot) try to bait the ‘gate, er, croc, with a dead goat hanging in a giant cage. But after dining on live humans, it hardly seems fair that Gustave would have to lower his standards to the Hamburger Helper of predation, a smelly, decaying ruminant.

The crew has to deal with something nearly as sinister as giant, hungry, scaly, bullet-ridden Gustave roaming Lake Tanganyika. And that’s Little Gustave, a sadistic warlord.

At the end of the day, this is tepid stuff but hey…this might be the best Burundi-set feature this reviewer’s ever seen.

**1/2 (out of 5)

The Hills Have Eyes II

hills_have_eyes_2If you wanna see a bunch of National Guardsmen in peril, go watch Walter Hill’s outstanding Southern Comfort where warriors come out to play-ee-yay with your emotions in a sinister, underappreciated horror you’ll definitely appreciate more than The Hills Have Eyes II.

The first Hills remake had its detractors (not here), but Alexandre Aja (High Tension director, Maniac writer) crafted a capable film — as the Washington Post put it, “even as he reinvents, Aja invents…”

That one was way better than it had any business being, given the woebegone state of horror movie re-dos.

Here, we have Martin Weisz on the directorial stool, a man whose experience derives predominantly from music video shoots for Sisqo (maybe he does know a thing or too about horror? “Thong, thong, thong, thong, thong” is pretty darn horrifying).

What he brings us in The Hills Have Eyes sequel though, is all the annoying quick cuts from his day job as well as a bunch of truly terrible CG blood (for a movie featuring some terrific viscera from Greg Nicotero, why’d they even go there?)

hills_have_eyes_2_movieWe’re back in the unforgiving desert, in New Mexico’s Sector 16 rather than the Simpsonian Sector 7-G, and a bunch of carbon blob, er, National Guard soldiers are being put through their paces in a training mission replicating the rugged geography of Kandahar, Afghanistan.

The setup involves standard military movie-issue intra-ethnic tensions, cussing, dim banter, a hard-nosed sarge and the inevitable ball-busting: “One good thing about being dead. Wouldn’t have to listen to all your bullshit!”

All of a sudden a distress call comes through, and the team has to rescue some researchers. An easy-breezy training exercise becomes deadly serious.

Emphasis on deadly.

That’s when “you know who” pounces – those cannibalistic A-Bomb mutants lurking in desert caves.

Who knew Wes Craven’s incomparable creation would be reduced to this overly slick, jump scared-filled mess? (Craven shares the blame for co-writing this fiasco, one of the more poorly written horrors you’ll ever see.)

One thing that can be said about The Hills Have Eyes 2 (or II): You’ll never look at a porta-potty the same way. Guess it is an accomplishment to make them even MORE disgusting…

** (out of 5)