[28 July 2011]
This is not to be confused with Sharktopus. Or with Mega-shark vs. Crocasaurus. This is a somewhat more recent entry into the SyFy channel’s flat-out warped resurrection of the creature feature. Guided by the old master of escapist fun Roger Corman, this demented mess deserves at least a tub of popcorn from monster lovers and people who have had a stressful day. “Giant scary things mixed with other giant scary things, take me away. “
OK, so here’s how this latest big reptilian/sea creature/dinosaur mash-up plays out. There’s a genetically enhanced gator and a primeval croc that also is the product of mad science, somehow. The late David Carradine (in, wow, his last role) plays some kind of corporate science type who is responsible for these monsters. Carradine’s “Drake” seems to have been receiving federal funding to grow giant Frankenfood (great big CGI mushrooms). But, because of some nefarious military reasons that are apocalyptic and also hilarious, he’s decided to make giant reptiles in Hawaii where there is a secret government lab and lots of hot blondes wearing bikinis.
But director Jay Andrews doesn’t weigh us down with the silly narrative. He knows we just want to see some people get eaten and a battle between a couple of giant things. Its here that you really see the Corman touch. There is a bit of slowdown about halfway in, but for the most part this is a movie where giant alligators eat jerk boyfriends, nature photographers, mercenaries and various extras, one after another, in quick succession. I had to rewatch the scene where, maybe it was Super Gator, eats some annoying tourists and then chases a whole gaggle of the survivors screaming through the woods. Wait, I want to see that again.
OK I’m back, so lets talk about the special effects. The monsters are horrific and by that I mean the CGI is just awful. And yet, not. Never does it look seamless but, for some reason, when the monsters show up they look shiny and cool. The SFX is early 2000s video game but a damn good one where you sit back and just think, “wow, look at that animation. It just bit that girl in half. I wonder when these giant scaly animations will finally fight!.”
And there are some LMAO lines. Bikini models wonder why photographers get eaten because “they are just so cute.” In a self-deprecating nod, there is a dirt bag movie director who makes B-Grade horror for cable (nudge, nudge). He gets eaten in a hot tub. And of course, there is the “heartbreaking” scene where the father-daughter law enforcement team (don’t ask) say their goodbyes right before dad becomes reptile food. This bit seems unintentionally funny though, knowing Corman, I suspect it was intentionally meant to be unintentionally funny.
I never exactly figured out which scaly beast was Dino-Croc and which was Super-Gator until we had the CGI images fighting on the same screen. And, of course they fight. Unfortunately, the battle is much less awesome than we are led to believe it will be. Honestly, its mostly a lot of head-butting and then, suddenly, there’s a clear winner. But I wont give that away. I forgive Corman everything for the scene where the tourists die.
I guess that the old saying applies here: if you are into this sort of thing, this is exactly the sort of thing you’ll be into. But you know what, stop making fun. Corman’s been making movies a long time and his partnership with the SyFy channel has been good for him, for them and for the creature feature—a genre that doesn’t get too much attention from Hollywood these days (except for the distasteful and wonderful Piranha…a Corman remake of course).
There has been a kind of Corman renaissance lately with many of his now classic works released in spiffy Blu-Ray editions. The continued popularity of these things on SyFy shows how much we still need Corman’s cheesefests, complete with their often subversive humor and equally subversive political subtext. And sometimes, you just want to watch a monster fight.
If you cant enjoy this on some level, you’re kind of hopeless.