When you’re dealing with the enigmatic ringmaster that is Roger Corman you’re inevitably dissecting a multi-hyphenate of the highest order. Corman has done it all over his 40+ year reign as the impresario of an anti-establishment celluloid carnival. For years Corman has run a throng of successful B-movie houses and over that time he has amassed some 400 films. As fate would have it, Roger Corman, the king of independent cinema, has set up shop with the most unlikely powerhouse of conventional family entertainment – The Walt Disney Corporation.
Surely, old Walt’s severed head must be spinning in circles somewhere under Cinderella’s castle like some lost set piece from The Brain that Wouldn’t Die. Just considering a world where the sultan of schlock has taken up residence inside the Magic Kingdom must threaten to turn the house of mouse into a 1970’s style 42nd street rattrap in minds of old school filmgoers everywhere. To the faithful few who see Corman as some underground legend, this type of mainstream sellout may seem a shock to the system that could only afford one possible upside – high quality mass production of Corman classics. Buena Vista Home Entertainment’s first batch of Corman classics include a roster of some of his more accessible later works, including Death Race 2000, Big Bad Mama and Rock n’ Roll High School. Also included in this batch of neo-classical cinema is a lone new release, and perhaps a herald for things to come.
Dinocroc, like a dearth of Corman films before it manages to splice together a reasonably entertaining movie out of some Frankenstein amalgamation of cribbed plotlines. This time the elements of Jurassic Park and Jaws clash head on with the recent discovery of the “Supercroc”. For those of you who don’t spend your lonely nights glued to the National Geographic Channel, the Supercroc, also known as the Sarcosuchus was discovered about 6 years ago in Africa. A full-grown specimen weighed in at a hefty 8 tons and grew to an adult length of 40 feet making it the perfect terror of both man and beast. So, what does all this mean for horror fans? For starters you can just go and forget about Lewis Teague’s wussy little New York City sewer alligators, they look like Paris Hilton’s latest pet compared to the Supercroc. What it really comes down to is that it was only a matter of time before Hollywood jumped on this bad boy and rode it ragged to cinematic glory, and no one jumps faster and more furious than the machine that is Roger Corman.
Corporate greed and “because I can” science are the backbones that cause a local genetic lab, Gerico, to begin experimentation with resurrecting a enormous breed of crocodile that has been extinct for millions of years. As one might expect, this idea is about to turn in to one big bitch of PR headache when the nasty little beast kills a lab tech and heads out to the animal reserve for a little free range feeding. Drug right into the fray are a local wildlife ranger (Jane Longenecker), her old high school crush (Matt Borlenghi), his younger brother (Jake Thomas) and a 3 legged dog named – if you guessed “Lucky” give yourself a prize. What remains sets the scene for a bloodbath of severed limbs and stepped on dialogue as Dinocroc chews up as much scenery as co-star Costas Mandylor, who plays the Mick Dundee-esque Australian Crocodile hunter, (complete with hat and knife). As a side note, Mandylor, actually being an Aussie, may go down in history as the source of one of the least believable Australian accents I’ve heard in recent memory. In fact his accent is so laughable that it borders on camp and his “I’m hunting crocs” speech made me fear that I had accidentally flipped over to some heretofore-unknown outtakes from the latest Steve Irwin crapfest.
Dinocroc is a cut and dry sci-fi flick, full of psuedo-science, evil corporate entities, and an 8-ton biped crocodile monster that has only one goal, feed, and feed often. Director and former Visual Effects maestro Kevin O’Neill (Dungeons and Dragons, Blade) does an adequate job behind the lens on his debut feature, and my biggest beef with O’Neill is that, as a effects man, he must have realized in the editing room that several of the in motion shots of Dinocroc were really substandard. O’Neill should have had no difficulty in creating tension by implying the creature instead of showing it, although at its heart, a Corman production rarely considers poor visual effects to be a hindrance. Regardless, since they left it all in, we as the audience are forcefully subjected to watching sporadic moments of CGI technology that looks at least 15 years old.
Like all great and not so great B-movie masterpieces, the attention paid to such trivial things as plot and plausibility is stretched near invisible lengths, but that too is hardly the issue here. Running at a thankfully scant 85 minutes, Dinocroc had the potential to be something more than Corman’s usual 3rd rate cinematic collages, but this time even the campy performances, inane dialogue, passable action sequences and some prize winning scene stealing from Corman vet Charles Napier are not enough to overtake the violent thrashing this film receives from a 17,000 pound CGI nightmare.