Crocodile 2: Death Swamp (2002)
Cast: Heidi Lenhart, Steve Moreno, Jon Sklaroff, Martin Kove
Director: Gary Jones
Nutshell: Cheap, often tacky no brains monster movie is actually a bit of a riot!
This latest Creature Feature is broadly speaking a sequel to Tobe Hooper’s dire Crocodile of a couple of years ago. Straight to video fare with a cast of fresh-faced wannabe’s with no track record to speak of – and it shows. The fact that there has been such an avalanche of creature features over the last five years or so has to be largely credited to the worldwide success of Anaconda. The Luis Llosa Monster Snake film, itself a pretty cheap production, did have some fairly well known stars to boast of but was basically a cheap, b-grade creature feature and nothing more.
The killer anaconda itself was also a slight embarrassment as these were still the early days of CGI and the distinct shimmering effect that is such a clear side effect was very much in evidence. However, Anaconda showed that there was an eager audience out there for a good old-fashioned Creature Feature, however cheesy and implausible it may be. Not only did Anaconda have a successful run at the North American and European circuits but it held up very well worldwide – enjoyed by millions largely because it was a tale that could be understood without relying on the language as such. The film sizeable success has clearly paved the way for an assortment of nasty creatures emerging from the big (and small) screen in the shape of various Octopuses, Spiders, Arachnids, Boas, Crocodiles, Alligators, Pythons, Sharks and the like. CGI companies all over have been working overtime creating the real stars of these movies; the mutated, giant CGI monster on the rampage.
The setting for this particular slice of monster magic is supposed to be somewhere not far from sunny Acapulco………in some swampland where a plane headed for the resort crashes due to a savage storm which a gang of dastardly hijackers forced the crew to fly through. Then the horrors start to mount as it becomes evident that the swamp is inhabited by some very hungry and very nasty CGI crocodiles that crave human flesh like it was going out of style. The survivors from the crash are force by the hijackers to carry their stolen loot but one by one the crocodiles begin to whittle away the population in spectacular style. The film is totally cheesy, horribly acted yet thoroughly entertaining as it moves along at a cracking pace and the monsters attacks are plentiful, noisy, gruesome and sometimes quite unexpected – I leaped out of my chair on at least two occasions as the crocs jaws seemed to burst through the screen!
The dreadful acting by the no-hopers of a cast is totally appropriate for this kind of movie and enhances the cheese factor to delightful levels. The cigar chewing, whiskey chugging, muscle bound mercenary with a heart of gold is played to perfection and the heroic flight stewardess displays suitable gusto and verve. The villains are so bad they work as piss-takes of the genre and surprisingly none of them is of Arab origin. The first twenty minutes are so set the tone perfectly as the film sort of veers into Airport territory for a while. Our toy 747 hurtles through a gathering storm amidst much thunder and lightening while the passengers share bonding sessions. I always was a sucker for the Airport films and the first chunk of this movie is a delightful throwback to those wonders of vintage cheese. Then after the plane crashes in spectacular manner in the middle of the swamp (actually shot in Hyderabad, India) the horror takes over as our monster senses feeding time.
This is a pure unadulterated slice of b-grade monster movie hokum that works due to the pacing of the action and the hugely enjoyable if less than convincing attack scenes. The film is totally inane but the chemistry between the actors is just right and the attack scenes are handled so well that at times even a jaded monster movie viewer as this reviewer was shocked from inertia – a fair achievement. The reason for that probably was the huge blast of noise during the attack scenes, our new THX amp and also that the attacks were so outlandish and preposterous that nobody could have expected them. I mean do crocs leap out 200 ft from the sea in order pounce on their prey? This one does and so much more.
Crocodile 2 is a highly entertaining piece of instantly forgettable Monster Madness – great fun indeed, aided by the hammy dialogues, ridiculous characters and atrocious acting, and oh that fab one-liner reviving memories of days gone bye. For fans of the modern CGI driven creature feature – this should fit the bill very nicely indeed. A guilty pleasure maybe……..but pleasure is the key word here. Recommended for a good giggle and a real shock or two, but do turn that volume UP! Interesting to note that the film seems to have been made using American money, South Indian technicians, crew and locations as well as a team of Bulgarian animators (?) and technical assistants. The producers probably saved them selves a pretty penny or two working in India where labour is dead cheap especially when compared to the US or Europe – shrewd move.