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)

The Edge

From downtown…from Mitch & Murray, Mr. Steak Knives himself, Alec Baldwin, stars alongside with Sir Fava Beans, Anthony Hopkins in The Edge — in this, another David Mamet-penned joint (as talky, though not as memorable as Glengarry Glen Ross).

Hopkins plays a polymath billionaire, an almost Victorian era-styled adventurer named Charles, who is accompanying his age-inappropriate wife on a photo-shoot in Alaskan back-country (actually, western Alberta, Canada).

Charles, along with his wife’s dashing photographer (Baldwin), and their pal Stephen (Oz/Sons of Anarchy mainstay, Harold Perrineau) find out just how dangerous nature can be right off the bat when a bird strike downs their small plane, after some foreshadowing.

Stuck in the remote bush, the trio has to fend for themselves and make it to safety while a mammoth Kodiak bear is in hot pursuit.   

What good is a survivalist tale without a healthy dose of bickering? With Mamet in charge, this takes the form of pretty welcome, wry stuff like:

“You can season meat with gunpowder. Did you know that?
…Wish we had some gunpowder.”

With a love triangle as text, not subtext, we know that it’ll take everything these people have to get out of there alive without tearing out each others’ throats before ursa does.

When it comes to genre films, 1997 was a pretty great year: LA Confidential, The Fifth Element, Starship Troopers, Donnie Brasco, Jackie Brown, etc. Yet The Edge remains decidedly under the radar, despite a top-drawer cast that also includes Peckinpah regular L.Q. Jones and leggy Down Under model, Elle Macpherson.

The Edge asks the question, what personality style prevails in the bush? Is it Charles’ placid hubris, Bob’s impulsive hotheadedness, Stephen’s clarion calls? (the latter even spins a Voltarian variant of “the best is the enemy of the good” with, “A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.”)

A genre film with smarts, The Edge loses its namesake with some coda-sagging. Still, a pretty fun nature-run-amok flick, and a great bear to boot.

*** (out of 5)