Alligators and Crocodiles make for great movie monsters. Why? Because they’re the closest thing left on earth related to dinosaurs that absolutely will eat you if the mood takes them. Oh yes, that and they’re badass. Deadly Movies has a bit of a penchant for the crocodilians family (that’s the grouping that both gators and crocodiles belong to, Fact 1) but it’s harder than you’d first think to assemble a good group of crocodilian movies where the greeny-brown fellas take the lead. Here’s Deadly Movies top 5 Alligator/Crocodile movies:
5. Black Water (2007), Dir David Nerlich and Andrew Traucki: Australian outback horror is a fairly healthy export these days with far reaching mainstream success compared to most of the low, low budget stuff from the 70s and 80s. Black Water essentially belongs in the mould of ‘reality danger’ films such as Open Water (2003) and Adrift (2006) whereby tourists/travellers find themselves in a battle for survival against the horrors of nature. Here a man-eating crocodile. No mutation or back story, just pissed off hungry animals. The entire movie is essentially a fraught and tense game of cat and mouse as the survivors of a capsized boat try to keep out of the water by clinging to swamp growth (Swamps: Crocodiles like low lying shallow water, being a cold blooded species and all, a fact these wayward anglers should have been aware of. Fact 2). The tension is over played and does get repetitive but none-the-less is effective.
4. Eaten Alive (1977), Tobe Hooper: Real dirty grindhouse stuff from Tobe Hooper. This has all of the grime and handheld gorilla style that TCM (1974) had, but none of tension and wit. However that doesn’t mean it isn’t funny, it is, but maybe not intentionally. It’s basically a re-hash of popular horror themes of the time (innocent outsider types stumble across backwater redneck(s) who enjoy a little brutal murder here and there) mixed in with the growing creature feature success of the post Jaws (1975) era. You know some producer somewhere had a hard-on when he thought TCM meets Jaws in a motel.., How can it fail?! Basically it’s about a hick who likes to kill-off locals and tourists with a scythe and feed the leftovers to his pet croc. All of this and an early turn from Robert Englund as curb crawler obsessed with anal sex. You’ll love it or hate it.., no you’ll love it.
3. Rouge (2007), Greg Mclean: This one’s here as much for the Cinematography as it is the monster action. Director and Cinematographer paring Greg Mclean and Will Gibson photograph the Australian Northern Territory sumptuously. Rogue is successful in sticking to the simple B-movie formula of stranding victims in an inescapable situation and letting the monster pick them off one at a time. The victims are a mixture of tourists on a river boat cruise captained by Pitch Black (2000) and Silent Hill (2006) star Radha Mitchell. Also keep an eye out for a pre Terminator Salvation (2009) and Avatar (2009) appearance by Sam Worthington as statutory asshole. The CGI titled rogue croc (not really a rogue as both salt and freshwater crocs inhabit the N Territories. Fact 3) is well realised and there’s some cool deaths reminiscent of the ‘first girl’ in Jaws (1975). Worthwhile stuff.
2. Lake Placid (1999), Dir Steve Miner: Fantastically watchable cinematic b-movie effort from horror journeyman Steve Miner. Miner retreads 50’s b-movie narrative territory with giant crocodile (slightly boxed nose for a crocodile, crocodiles having more of a pointed snout when compared to the broad faced alligator, Fact 4) terrorising a small town community with genre characters ‘the local sheriff’ (Bill Pullman) and ‘big city scientist’ (Bridget Fonda), who are of course, out to fall in love and save the town while they’re at it. Actually AT IT. The film goes for standard genre scare tactics and kills, and there’s plenty of both, with an eccentric comedy turn by Oliver Platt. There’s also a great ‘reveal’ as to the creatures origins that lovingly avoids the clichéd pitfalls of mutation by atomic blast, toxic spill, prehistoric awakening, etc etc. Daryn Okanda adds a real sense of grandeur with his loving photography of the Main landscape.
1. Alligator (1980), Dir Lewis Teague: For me the best of this bespoke sub-genre, Alligator unashamedly takes its cue from the other beast films of the 70s but does it well and with a healthy level of wit. Baby Alligator (a hatchling, Fact 5) ‘Ramon’ is flushed down the toilet and banished to a life in the sewers. The brilliantly named youngster then grows exponentially over time due to hormonal experimented dog carcasses he’s been feasting on. The special effects are pretty good and it’s genuinely awesome when Ramon breaks through the asphalt and takes a stroll around town eating whoever he wants (awesome use of a real alligator and miniatures at this point). The best monster films often work when you have an Ahab to your Moby Dick (the Shark and Quint in Jaws 1975, King Kong and Carl Denham 1933, the Alien and Ripley 1979, Michael Myers and Doctor Loomis in Halloween 1978) here we have Robert Foster’s excellent Police Detective David. Foster gives a brilliant dead pan down-beat-down-on-his-luck performance that compliments the silliness of the story perfectly.
What do you think? Disagree?
Other’s that narrowly missed out: Il Fiume Del Grande Caimano (1979), Dark Age (1987), Killer Crocodile (1989), Blood Surf (2000).