Saturday, June 25, 2011

Crocodile (1981)

If you wanna gaze into the face of insanity, Sompote Sands has the eyes to look into. Mr Sands had a dream, a dream to introduce Tokatsu and Kaiju to Thailand. He started of with a couple of crazy-ass monster movies, some of them with “stolen” footage from Kamen Rider and other Japanese TV-shows. These movies are a chaos of wild action, strange comedy, blood and rubbermonsters. The complete lack of storyline is actually relaxing and you don’t even need subtitles to be entertained. Somehow, in the end of the seventies, he decided to shoot a more serious monster film, Chorake (IMDB states that this was a south Korean monster movie, Agowa gongpo, directed by Won-se Lee – but I doubt that, but who knows?). This was later bought by the infamous Dick Randall who did a re-edit, dubbed it to English and slapped some generic western names on the poor Thai actors. The result became… Crocodile!

Nat Puvanai is hunky Dr Akom, who loses his whole family in a brutal crocodile-attack. He soon focuses his entire existence on finding the crocodile, finding a friend in Tanaka – a rough fisherman and hunter. At the meantime the crocodile grows larger and Larger and LARGER and soon he’s almost some damn Godzilla-version of a croc, literary crushing a couple of tourist-infested villages! Akom, Tanaka and a irritating journalist goes out at sea for a final showdown…

The story is very thin and it’s hard to understand what the fuck is going on. From the beginning it feels like a typical giant monster movie with a high body count and lots of action. The last half is almost identical to Jaws, with the three men against the shark… eh, crocodile. It took me a while – around seven to eight years – to actually watch the DVD, mostly because the quality was less than stellar. During these years I’ve seen movies in almost unwatchable quality, so this time it felt like Avatar in comparison! I haven’t seen Sands original cut, but I think this could be the better version, because I have a feeling the original movie probably was a bit longer (and believe me, this movie does not have to be longer) and with more focus on melodrama, and it already have enough of that.

The highlight is of course the monster action, and the two big set-pieces (probably shot at the same time, because the same people are showing up as victims) are two villages getting torn apart by the huge croc. This is entertaining as hell, with nice and primitive miniatures getting crushed and blown to pieces, lots of extras trying to escape collapsing buildings and more than a few western tourists spitting blood while trying to get out of the water. The effects might not be of the highest quality, but the energy is there and those scenes are filled with action and stunts!

One fun detail is that legendary ADR editor and voice actor Nick Alexander can be heard as one of the characters. I think this is the first time I've heard him in a movie outside Europe.

Crocodile was a lot more fun than I thought all those years ago when I began to watch it and I’m happy that I finally got the idea to give it a new try. Fun creature feature for us fans of Thai trash!


Giovanni Susina said...

I agree with you here that this film’s story is very confusing and the scenes in between the entertaining croc attacks are extremely boring. But the croc attacks are a lot of fun when they do happen and a scene involving a poor kid swimming with friends being pulled under water resulted in the most under water bloodletting I’ve ever seen and actually felt a little disturbing. Great Review! Glad to see some positive things being said about this movie which had an impact on me as a little kid. I actually did write about that in detail on my blog.

Jesper said...

Great review! Now I gotta see it!

HFL said...

Actually there is only one village attack in the Thai version, the US distributors re-edited it to make seem like they were 2 scenes, which is why can you can see the same actors over and over. This is the original scene: