Case Number 11020: Small Claims Court


Buena Vista // 2004 // 85 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Mike Pinsky (Retired) // March 16th, 2007

The Charge

"Crocs are cunning creatures. They can turn the tables on ya right quick." -- Dick Sydney (Costas Mandylor), giving a nature lesson

The Case

My daughter knows a lot about dinosaurs for a four-year-old. The other night she told me that the dinosaurs lived a long time ago, then they all became "ecks-ink" (extinct) when the weather got bad, then they "turned into all the animals," then they turned into people. Ok, so she's four, but she is still further along than, say, that moron in Florida who opened his own creationist dinosaur theme park.

Now I have to tell my daughter that the dinosaurs are back. And they are cheaper and shoddier than ever.

The evidence: Dinocroc. The monster in question is a genetic crossbreed, the horrific result of a mating between Jurassic Park and Jaws. This is the sort of thing that gives mad science a bad name.

Gereco Corporation (pronounced like the Biblical city Jericho) has developed a new rapid-growth hormone called AGT. AGT is the precise sound that I made watching the stupid scientists incompetently release their genetically engineered freak into the wild -- by opening the door to its sealed biohazard environment to check and see if it was okay. Take a guess as to whether the corporation tells the police that a monster just escaped their lab. Take another guess as to whether they will try to take credit later in the movie after the monster is defeated.

B-movie stalwart Charles Napier, looking jowly and rather tired, plays the sheriff. Joanna Pacula (The Kiss) is the bitchy corporate villain whose job is to officially deny any involvement. Scientist Bruce Weitz knows the truth, though he spends his time on screen visibly pining for the days of Hill Street Blues. (He should commiserate with Max Perlich (Homicide: Life of the Streets), who gets special billing in a bit part as Napier's deputy.) The real hero is the sensitive and blonde animal control officer Diane (Jane Longenecker). She has a toothy smile, but -- surprisingly given that this is a Roger Corman production -- she keeps her clothes on. She's in love with a sleepy-eyed blacksmith (Matt Borlenghi, who knows his way around giant reptiles from Krocodylus) who has the personality of a pair of wet one-dollar work pants. Together, they catch the monster loose in their small resort town.

How do you catch a giant mutant crocodile that looks like Sony's Godzilla? Hire Steve Irwin, of course! No longer available? Then you get his slower and hornier cousin, Dick Sydney (Costas Mandylor, who in spite of actually being Australian can't seem to maintain a convincing accent here). Try not to giggle when somebody says "Dick Sydney is a herpetologist." (Could he use some Valtrex?) Or when Diane defends him by announcing to her boyfriend, "I like Dick." Did twelve-year-olds write this screenplay?

Dick isn't much of a tracker. He walks into shadowy spaces, waves his gun around, then announces all clear. He likes to use his own blood to lure in the prey. How manly. So you just know that our pretty blonde hero is going to have to save them all. For monster movie fans, there is a bit of low-budget gore: severed legs, a severed head flying at the camera -- I understand much of this was trimmed when the film ran on basic cable. It really doesn't make much of a difference. You can be sure though that Diane will save the cute puppy dogs threatened by the monster at the film's climax. Can't hurt cute puppy dogs. That would be bad.

The transfer is shockingly grainy and flawed, especially in the first reel. You won't think about it much though. You'll be too busy noticing how the CG lizard doesn't match up to the live action. In one shot, the monster leaps out of the water, swallows a water-skier in broad daylight, then lands back in the water -- without a splash. No wonder Dick feels safe jumping in the water after it: how can anybody feel threatened by something so fake looking? Freshman director Kevin O'Neill (a visual effects designer by trade, which makes you wonder why the effects are so bad here) uses a lot of handheld camera shots and night shooting to generate thrills. But you are usually so busy trying to shake off the effects of whatever weak expository scene just came before the action that it rarely works.

While I was watching this movie, I looked over the DVD packaging to see if maybe there was something I was missing, some clue to unlocking the meaning of this film's existence. I noticed that it was endorsed by the "American Science Fiction Society," who awarded this their "Golden Galaxy Award." I cannot find any information about this group at all. In the end, all you really need to know about this movie is that the producers made up a fake award to lure you into buying it. That, and they save the cute puppy dogs.

Review content copyright © 2007 Mike Pinsky; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 45

Perp Profile
Studio: Buena Vista
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

* English

Running Time: 85 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks
* None

* IMDb