Like the Teen Slasher genre, Creatures Attack movies have their own written-in-stone conventions. They are: the Evil Corporation that causes the problem by way of an illegal experiment; the Evil CEO that tries to hide the escape of said experiment; the Mad Scientist that eventually gets done in by his own creation; the ineffectual and brain dead local cops; a spunky and self-righteous heroine; an endangered kid; and a devil-may-care professional who must save the day. And if the writers are feeling a tad ambitious, they’ll throw the professional some pathos.
Our cautionary tale concerns a genetically engineered primitive crocodile called a dinocroc that escapes from the Evil Gereco Corporation and into the general population. How do we know Gereco is evil? Because their CEO is Paula Kennedy (Joanna Pacula) and all she’s concerned with is making money. (In Lazy Screenwriter parlance, corporate profits = Eeee-vil.) After the dinocroc snacks on a couple of Gereco employees, Australian hunter Dick Sydney (Costas Mandylor) is sent for. Sydney joins up with scientist Bruce Weitz (“Half Past Dead”), who manages to escape the Mad Scientist tag by being concern with re-capturing the dinocroc. Also lending support is local dogcatcher Diane (Jane Longenecker), who brings along high school crush Tom (Matt Borlenghi).
“Dinocroc” is such a generic movie that it borders on being condescending. All the cliché are up front and center, and if you’ve seen two or three of these movies you can pretty much guess the fate of every character. For instance, although Costas Mandylor (“Delta of Venus”) gets top billing, he’s not the love interest, which means he has a better than average chance of ending up croc food. On the other hand, dogcatcher Diane and sensitive artist Tom are guaranteed to survive. After all, you don’t spend half of your movie developing their romance (complete with lovey dovey soundtrack to boot) just to kill them off at the end.
If you like your monsters to come in the form of lame CGI, then “Dinocroc” is right up your alley. But if you’re still holding onto the old standby that monsters can only be plastic and some guy in a suit, this film will disappoint. The dinocroc here is completely CGI, which gives it the unbelievable ability to move at insane speeds. Despite being rather massive in size — and, one would presume, lumbering — the dinocroc can in fact swim faster than a speedboat and run faster than a hyena when on land. If there’s one thing to be said about the dinocroc, it’s that the filmmakers at least keep its abilities consistent throughout the film.
“Dinocroc” has about two things going for it: one, Costas Mandylor’s so-bad-it’s-good portrayal of an Australian most likely modeled after Steve Irwin. At one point Sydney even mutters, “Crikey!” I would even go so far as to say that Mandylor made up most of his lines as he went, probably in an effort to keep himself from being bored to death. The other reason to watch “Dinocroc” is a scene where Tom, while trying to load a dart gun for Diane (who, because she can’t bring herself to shoot the man-eating dinocroc, has brought a dart gun instead), Tom pokes himself with one of the darts and is knocked unconscious.
Alas, some minor funny bits aren’t enough to save this little ditty. “Dinocroc” is predictable, cheesy, and lazy to the core. The film borrows heavily from other, more successful Creatures Attack films like “Jaws” and “Lake Placid”. It’s not the least bit original and, one suspects, is not overly concern with its utter lack of originality. The movie even has one of the most obnoxious score to ever be put on a B-movie. The screen is constantly filled with loud Gregorian-ish chanting meant to convince us something worthwhile is happening onscreen. It’s more than a little pretentious to say the least.
The only other good thing I can say about “Dinocroc” is that it doesn’t really annoy as much as these generic films usually do. The only clich’d character that really comes close is the stubborn sheriff played by Charles Napier (“Rambo”), who predictably makes all the wrong decisions. While the movie is not nearly as irritating as it could have been, it’s still nevertheless not anywhere as average as it should have been. Of course the first thing to do to make “Dinocroc” better would be to jettison all the conventions of the genre and write, you know, something original.
Kevin O’Neill (director) / Yoram Astrakhan (screenplay)
CAST: Costas Mandylor ….Dick Sydney
Charles Napier …. Sheriff Harper
Jane Longe-necker…. Diane Harper
Matt Borlenghi …. Tom Banning
Bruce Weitz …. Dr. Campbell