Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Croc (USA, 2007)

A made-for-TV flick that got screened on the SyFy Channel in the US and had a DVD release in Europe (and maybe elsewhere), Croc is pretty much what one might expect from "award-winning" director Stewart Raffill, a man who once, briefly, in 1984, garnered some attention for two consecutive genre film home runs, The Ice Pirates (trailer) and The Philadelphia Experiment (trailer), before revealing his true super-minor-league proclivities with the anti-film Mac and Me (1988 / trailer), the psychotronically fun Tammy and the T-Rex (1988 / trailer), and the totally pointless Mannequin Two: On the Move (1991 / trailer). Croc's non-script was supplied by some guy named Ken Solarz, who roughly two decades ago seems to have blown his creative load with an interesting if unknown neo-noir, City of Industry (1996 / trailer), and has since then only dribbled disappointing, limp scripts for trash or TV shows — but then, he also seems to prefer the role of producer. 
Trailer to
Croc:
Set and filmed in Krabi, Thailand, the nominal plot of this white-savior flick — as the title infers — involves a huge, man-eating saltwater crocodile that starts chowing down the tourists and locals of the area. Jack McQuade (Peter Tuinstra), non-native resident who runs a local crocodile-farm tourist trap with his sister Allison (Elizabeth Healey) and nephew Theo (Scott Hazell), initially feels the heat of associated guilt due to the machinations of the two unscrupulous developers, Andy (Jibby Saetang a.k.a. Tawon Saetang) and Cao (Wasan Junsook) Konsong, who want Jack's land. Into the mix comes the mandatory eye-candy love interest for Jack, the babalicious Evelyn (Sherry Edwards nee Phungprasert of Beast Mode [2020 / trailer]) and the extremely pointless (and over-cool) one-legged hunter named Croc Hawkins (Michael Madsen), a character who, despite sharing his name with the film itself, is rather unneeded. Joining forces, they set out to save the people of Krabi — god knows that the Thai people themselves are incapable of saving themselves — and, after the croc munches on a few more natives and/or tourists and/or idiots, and as is always the case in real life, good triumphs in the end.
Croc is what we here at a wasted life sometimes refer to as a vacation flick. Not because it's a good flick to watch while on vacation, but because of the reason why the name actor involved (in this case, the almost eternally slumming Michael Madsen [of Voodoo Dawn (1998) & Canes (2006)]) took the job: it offers that person an excellent opportunity to go to a dream location for a few weeks and even earn money by doing a few days "work"; i.e., for a phoned-in performance. And face it, when Madsen phones in cool, manly and likable, he still remains more convincing than many an actor who tries to do so by means of serious method acting.
That said, Croc is a pretty brainless and pointless movie, be it on TV or DVD. The cheap CGI blood is unconvincing, as is expected of a TV movie, and the narrative padded and idiotic. For the most part, the acting is entirely adequate for a movie of its level, but it is not surprising that most of the young names involved have not developed a viable film career since this flick was made 17 years ago. It is the type of movie in which when, in one scene, a guy dives into the pool and goes headfirst into the gaping mouth of the huge croc* (which promptly chomps down on him), the very next scene shows the same guy trying desperately to climb out of the same pool. Along the same line, of the six "main" characters, not one of them dies, not even when bitten by the croc and dragged underwater back to its lair — they literally survive with less injuries than most people get when they stub a toe.
* "Saltwater crocodiles have the strongest bite of any living animal." 
So, is there anything good about the flick? Well, it is cleanly shot and the cinematography of the absolutely beautiful locations are of crisp, clear National Geographic quality, so Croc does sometimes have its travelogue appeal. Likewise, while Evelyn (Sherry Edwards nee Phungprasert) is perhaps the most babalicious of all the Thai nubiles that have a speaking part in the movie, the flick definitely pushes every exotic-fetish button that any straight (or bi) man or lesbian (or bi) woman might have. None get naked but they do get in an occasional bathing suit, so the flick does have a slight G-rated ogle-appeal. But aside from that, and a few flashes of usually unintentional humor, there is nothing memorable or worthwhile about Croc, so you really don't need to bother with it. 
Croc is the fifth of the Maneater series produced by RHI Entertainment, which no longer really exists, and was preceded Grizzly Rage (2007 / trailer), In The Spider's Web (2007 / trailer), Maneater (2007 / trailer), and Something Beneath (2007 / trailer). Later TV films of the series also include more genre-specific creatures like werewolves (Hybrid [2008]), swamp creatures (Swamp Devil [2008 / trailer]), aliens (High Plains Invaders [2009 / trailer] — plus points for being set in the Old West), killer scarecrows (Scarecrow [2013 / trailer]) and so forth.

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