DirectorFabrizio De Angelis/Giannetto De Rossi
Release Date(s)1989/1990 (September 24, 2019)
Studio(s)Fulvia Film (Severin Films)
- Film/Program Grade: C-
- Video Grade: B
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: B
It’s fair to say that Jaws is one of the most imitated successes of all time. Countless films from the 1970s onward have attempted to rip it off completely or simply ape it in a multitude of ways. By the time Killer Crocodile and its sequel Killer Crocodile 2 rolled around in the late 1980s, the nature bites back milieu had mostly run its course with entries like Piranha, Alligator, Slugs, The Food of the Gods, and Kingdom of the Spiders—amongst many, many others.
Never before released in the U.S., Killer Crocodile and its sequel were shot back-to-back by Italian distributors Fulvia Film, who produced a number of Italian genre films throughout the 1980s. In Killer Crocodile (which was helmed by Fabrizio De Angelis, who produced several Lucio Fucli films), a group of environmentalists visit a backwater swamp locale and discover that the area has been used as a dumping ground for barrels of toxic chemicals, which in turn, creates a giant, murderous crocodile that feeds on anybody that wanders downstream. Once these atrocities are exposed and the croc is killed, the sequel, Killer Crocodile 2 (directed by makeup effects maestro Giannetto De Rossi), sees an avid reporter returning to the swamps in an effort to confirm that a company building a resort nearby isn’t telling the truth about the amount of radioactivity in the area, which leads to another deadly encounter with an oversized predator.
If it isn’t painfully obvious by now, these films are far from works of art, but they’re highly enjoyable nonetheless. From the clearly derivative score to the performances to the monster itself, there’s plenty to appreciate (including a Quint type character thrown in for good measure). The crocodile, a massive mechanical creation (reminiscent of Bruce himself), is not all that menacing, but is used effectively in a couple of spots—particularly during a scene in which it crashes through the side of the hut, which looks more like a pick-up truck driving through a house (easily the best laugh in both films). While there are occasional bits of blood and nudity, there’s also plenty of unintentional humor. Killer Crocodile has much more bite (pun intended) than its sequel, but both movies make for an uproarious double feature. Just add pizza and beer.
Severin Films debuts both Killer Crocodile and Killer Crocodile 2 on Blu-ray for the first time with new 2K scans of the original 35mm camera negatives of both films. Neither really lend themselves to amazing cinematic visuals, but each presentation offers clean and stable images with heavy grain but decent encodes. 4K scans might have been more ideal, but as such, the images are not wasted. The color palette features lush greenery and high detail on the crocodile itself, further enhancing its lesser qualities, while presenting relatively natural flesh tones. Blacks aren’t always as deep as they could be, particularly during nighttime shots, but contrast and brightness levels get the most out of them without appearing severely cloudy or blown out.
The audio for both films is presented on English and Italian 2.0 mono DTS-HD tracks with optional subtitles in English SDH for the English track and English for the Italian track. Both films were post-dubbed, so sync is a little loose against the picture, but fidelity is good throughout. The English tracks are cleaner and quieter while the Italian tracks are a littler fuller, but with slightly more hiss. Sound effects have decent impact, though the scores are lackluster (aside from the obvious aping of the score for Jaws). Dialogue is always clear and discernable, and no major instances of dropouts or distortion are detectable.
Both discs offer a few extras as well. For Killer Crocodile, there’s In the Jaws of the Crocodile, a 14-minute interview with makeup effects artist Giannetto De Rossi; The Fearless Crocodile Hunter, a 23-minute interview with actor Pietro Genuardi; It Crawls, a 15-minute interview with cinematographer Federico Del Zoppo; Of Crocodiles and Men, a 15-minute interview with actor Richard Anthony Crenna; and the original trailer for the film. For Killer Crocodile 2, there’s The Prince of Plasma: The Giannetto De Rossi Story, an 83-minute documentary about the director and makeup effects artist; four minutes of deleted scenes; and the film’s original trailer.
The three best items of interest is the first film itself, the interview with Richard Anthony Crenna, and the Prince of Plasma documentary, the latter of which offers a fascinating look at a man who has worked on a myriad of different projects over the course of his life and has captivating stories to tell, including the fascinating tale about his contributions to Rambo III. There’s also a single disc version containing the first film only also available as well, but this Limited Edition is really the release to own.
– Tim Salmons