Killer Crocodile

You know you’re in trouble when your POV killer croc title sequence is juxtaposed with the phrase, “the crocodile was created and built by _________.” Please, for the sake of whatever smidgen of suspension of disbelief we still have left, hold off until the closing credits, will ya?!

Killer Crocodile’s title (if not reputation) precedes it. As you might have guessed, it’s yet another um, killer crocodile movie with the distinction being that it’s got the best Search Engine Optimized name. And delivers on its title promise.

We meet an amorous couple in the tropics, the male half of whom must be some kind of magician as he gets high notes to come out of the bass string of his guitar as he gently plucks sweet nothings to his paramour. Within seconds she interrupts this intimate moment by doffing her top  and charging the beach like its Normandy. She frolics about, then waves, coaxing him to join her.

Next thing you know, she’s dinner.

An ecologist (who resembles Greg Sestero from The Room), his lab assistant, a local guide, a photographer (and their little dog too) are paddling through a swamp that’s apparently been poisoned by the local plant. One of them dons a bio-hazard suit and jumps into the muddy river, Geiger counter in tow, apparently to see if metal barrels clearly marked “radioactive,” are indeed so. Gotta admire their due diligence.

Radioactivity is the springboard, for, I don’t know…a thousand creature feature movies? And it’s a pretty good, if incredibly lazy conceit for screenwriters to fall back on.

From there the natural horror devolves into, “has anyone seen __________?” and the time-honored, “you don’t think something’s happened to her, do you?” Don’t worry…”

And there’s lots of speculation about why people are going missing, and washing ashore. At first the carnage is mis-attributed to a boating accident, which is extremely weird unless the coroner is a graduate of the Dr. Nick Riviera School of Medicine.

Killer Crocodile is another hilariously inept Jaws variant, this time Italian, so ergo the bonus of awkward, stilted ADR. Director “Larry Ludman” sounds suspiciously like an Alan Smithee alternative, but it’s really the pseudonym of Frabrizio De Angelis, Umberto Lenzi/Lucio Fulci collaborator, best known for the Karate Kid knock-off, Il ragazzo del kimono d’oro (The Boy with the Golden Kimono).

Chomp down on this one. It’s kinda fun. And tune into our discussion on the Really Awful Movies Podcast.

*** (out of 5)

Suspiria 2018

When The Rite of Spring premiered in 1911, Parisians cat-called, protested and even brawled in the audience. It’s hard to think of something as genteel as the ballet eliciting such reactions today. But here we are with Suspiria 2018, the balletic ballet horror film which has bifurcated gore-hounds. Luckily,  nobody’s come to blows.

Oscar Wilde often warned against the permanence of truth claims in art, which has been borne out when you see how the likes of jazz and impressionist paintings are received today compared with their debuts: casual indifference. They’ve faded into bourgeoisie acceptance.

While its detractors feebly point out that its cinematography is out of date and its story-line, quaint, the original Suspiria is still held in very high regard (not the least of which by us here. It’s in our Top 10 Horror Films of all Time). So, when Luca Guadagnino came along with the brass balls to remake the beloved Argento masterstroke, the pre-reception to the announcement foretold a Stravinsky-type blowback.

And so it goes. You’re damned if you do, in these circles.

But IF you do, do it Guadagnino style and go for broke. Unlike David Gordon Green’s beat-for-beat retread of Halloween, which, despite getting the Carpenter imprimatur remained “stuck in the mud” as Conor McGregor might say of his opponents, Suspiria 2018 is VERY DIFFERENT from its predecessor. And hell, that’s half the battle right there. Halloween 2018 is “everything to all people,” but ultimately signifying nothing. And for all its many faults, Suspiria is a force to be reckoned with, and deserves treatment as an independent entity.

Gone is the simple witch story, as well as the luscious pinks, reds, and blues you get from a Dario vision (instead, the film’s starkly bi-chromatic…with a palette not unlike The Witch, speaking of covens). Gone is Suzy Bannion’s teen innocence. In its place, oodles of backstory, gobs of historical context, lots of internecine witch squabbling, and most noticeable, dancing aplenty. The role of the psychiatrist is amped up, and like its forebear, there is spectacular (and hugely memorable) violence.

Dakota Johnson is gorgeous, game, and physical. And Tilda Swinton outstanding. Still, there are bits of howler dialogue where you half-expect Dieter from Sprockets to pas de chat across your screen. The Red Army Faction / Baader-Meinhof Gang + Nazi subplot is confusing, and tethers the film glumly to history (compared with Argento’s uniquely otherworldly sense of place, inspired by Snow White). And if it’s one thing both detractors and boosters will concede, this one’s criminally overlong.

Still, there is just too much funky weirdness and atmosphere to dismiss it. Time will tell how Suspiria will be remembered as we sit back, enjoy, and digest.

*** (out of 5)

[Listen to our discussion of the new Suspiria film on the
Really Awful Movies Podcast!]