Tobe Hooper is a bit of a mystery. He burst onto the scene with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, made a couple of bad choices and then lucked out with the two Steves (King and Spielberg) with Salem's Lot and Poltergeist, and fell off the radar again with mediocre blips in the guise of TCM 2 and the oft-maligned Lifeforce. Now, after a decade and a half of working mainly in television, Hooper returns with Crocodile, a film that at first looks like an attempt to cash in on giant reptile fever (Anaconda, Lake Placid), but turns out to be something much different.
A group of college friends rent a houseboat for a spring break river boat trip. While the kids party, a pair of dim-witted fishermen stumble across a nest full of eggs on the river's edge, and proceed to destroy them, believing them to be the eggs of a bird who's ecological status closed down the local "tannery" and put the town into economic turmoil. It turns out, however, that the eggs belong to a 20 foot Nile Crocodile that was imported to the area 90 years earlier as part of a luxury hotel's (called The Nile) promotional campaign. The beast had apparently killed several people and dissappeared all those years ago and had become a bit of an old wive's tale. When one of the girls from the house boat unknowingly gains possession of one of the last remaining egg, the croc follows them, leaving a bloodsoaked wake.
Yes, Crocodile is a silly film, and it's meant to be. While it obviously shares a lot in common with Lake Placid, Crocodile has a few things that film lacked; gore, thrills, and genuine scares!! I found myself jumping in my seat more than a couple of times, and this film is VERY gruesome, with Hooper letting the red stuff fly. While the film's digital effects sequences involving the giant croc are a little weak, to be fair, they aren't much worse than those of the big-budget Lake Placid. Personally I think Crocodile is a far more entertaining and effective film, with more laughs, more thrills, and more grue (plus a few very hot girls in skimpy outfits!)
The DVD from Highlight Video features a very nice transfer and Dolby Digital 5.0 sound, as well as a short making of doco and a theatrical trailer. Not a wealth of materials, but this was a bargain bin disc, so I was surprised to see that much, really.
If I had to choose between Anaconda, Lake Placid or Crocodile, the latter wins hands down. The film is just a fun, brainless little ride, and, while this onewon't win any awards, it's nice to see Hooper's still got some thrills up his sleeve.