Some Italian genre directors, like Fabrizio De Angelis (under his favorite pseudonym Larry Ludman, here) fully realize that inanimate-looking prop sharks and grainy stock footage aren't the only homicidal animals they can sculpt a horrendous Jaws rip-off around, as the international title of tonight's review, Killer Crocodile (Murder Alligator, too, I shit you not), would lead you to believe. To fabricate Fabrizio's raucous rampaging reptile, none other than the gore FX maestro, Giannetto De Rossi, was called upon, and you can see what the results looked like for yourselves, below. Not quite as jaw-dropping as his work on Living Dead at Manchester Morgue (1974) or Zombi 2 (1979), but the croc's signature wheeze (Go easy on the 'Ports, big fella?) sounds an awful lot like one of De Rossi's flesh-eating ghouls from the latter film, to me.
"Questo ragazzo sapore come pollo!"
It all kicks off when two night fishermen are interrupted by a legendary killer crocodile. How do we know this? It must be the dramatic titles hastily slapped over a freeze frame of the attacking beast, around one minute in. No tension-packed slow build to a shocking final reel reveal here, no sir. Enter a vanilla assembly of would be environmentalists, as led by Richard Crenna's son, who unwittingly stumble upon several fifty-five gallon hand-painted drums of toxic waste sloppily dumped along the river's edge, then lean on a very sweaty and very irritable local judge (Van Johnson) to, you know, clean it all up, maaaaaan. Only he's pals with a cat named Foley (Bill Wohrman) who can't wait to dump his next big shipment of waste in the river. The group's token black girl, Conchita, gets chewed up and spit out first, leading her mourning friends to, you know, side with the croc, maaaaan, instead of the local croc hunting son of a bitch, a scarred up adventurer in a panama hat named Joe (Ennio Girolami), who shares a roomy shack of corrugated cardboard and plywood with his pet snake. "C'monnn Joe. You aren't afraid of a...killer crocodile, are you?", one of the kids actually asks him at one point. Seriously.
How could we have guessed she wasn't gonna be the "final girl".
It seems that Foley's careless dumping of toxic waste has mutated the prop-odile into monstrous (and varying, depending on the shot) proportions, and after comically terrorizing a little girl on a sinking chunk of pier, it starts picking off our young peaceniks, who camp out on the shore of the river in a show of support for the misunderstood monster, who's gotta endure being harpooned and ridden like a surfboard by the relentless Joe. Once their male buddies become the croc's dinner (and not the black girl with two lines, and her dog), the formerly environmentally conscious survivors naturally declare war on the amphibious beast and team up with Joe, who's prone to carrying his shotgun everywhere he goes, and also dramatically admiring his scarred reflection in the mirror in his shack. Foley reassures the judge that he can handle the animal himself, and by "handle", he means "get his arm chewed off after leaving the sweaty adjudicator to drown in a dastardly double cross". Sound ridiculous? Just wait until a bloodied and battered Joe miraculously pops out of the trees and throws one of the boys his cheesy hat, no doubt inspiring the young man to blow the beast up by chucking an outboard motor into its open yap. He repeatedly screams, "Yeah! Yeah!! YEAHHH!!" like a fanatical maniac, while being showered in raining blood. I had to laugh, and you might, too.
"I was in 'The Caine Mutiny' with Bogart, and now I'm doing fucking 'Murder Alligator'...", laments Van Johnson.
Even maestro Riz Ortolani, how can I put this... borrows generously from John Williams' groundbreaking 1975 score in creating one that befits such an unapologetic low budget rip-off of the Spielberg film. De Rossi's animatronic crocodile, on the other hand, almost looks too impressive for the cheap affair, or at least, it might have, if they didn't show so much of it and so damned often. De Rossi himself would direct the sequel, Killer Crocodile 2, which happened to be shot at the exact same time as it's predecessor, using the same cast. While the gore here is ample and of passable quality, the (non-)acting, editing, and script are all unintentionally laughable, dragging the whole scareless, tension-free production into single Wop territory, as one might have expected.
Joe, the crocodile hunting son of a bitch-1, Quint-0.