Killer Crocodile (1989)


Italy. 1989.


Director – Larry Ludman [Fabrizio De Angelis], Screenplay – Larry Ludman [Fabrizio De Angelis] & David Parker Jr [Dardano Sacchetti], Photography – Frederick Hail, Music – Riz Ortolani, Special Effects – Roberto Ricci, Crocodile/Makeup Effects – Giannetto De Rossi, Art Direction – Elisabeth Stuart. Production Company – Fulvia Film Srl


Anthony Crenna (Kevin), Thomas Moore (Joe), Julian Hampton (Mark), Van Johnson (Judge), Wohrman Williams (Foley), Sherrie Ross (Pamela), Ann Douglas (Jennifer), John Harper (Bob)


A group of environmentalists discover drums of radioactive waste have been dumped along a river in Santo Domingo. This has spawned a giant crocodile that emerges and starts devouring the local villagers. A crooked judge in the pay of the company that dumped the waste instead tries to have the killings blamed on the environmentalists.

There is nothing in the world like the Italian exploitation industry. They keep on making them like they were going out of fashion and manage to keep going at it longer than anybody else. This Jaws (1975) ripoff was made fourteen years after the initial success of Jaws and even managed to inspire a sequel (see below). It is a shameless ripoff of Jaws – it steals John Williams’s der-dum-der-dum-der-dum score outright.

The results however are incredibly dull. The plot has been indifferently slung together. The acting is unconvincing. Fabrizio De Angelis’s direction fails to generate any worthwhile suspense – hardly anything happens throughout. To add insult, the show is run over by typically bad Italian dubbing of this era – in many scenes, the dubbing fails to match what the actors are mouthing in closeup. The special effects work is merely adequate – rather amusing is the titular beast which mostly appears to be six to eight feet long but can range anywhere up to forty feet in length – in one hilarious scene, it manages to go from its standard six feet in length to open its jaws and somehow enclose a twenty-foot tall cabin cruiser. Like any Italian exploitation film, Killer Crocodile has a fairly high gore quotient – at least, these effects are reasonably convincing. The most memorable moment is the climax, which features Anthony Crenna taking on the crocodile, shoving an outboard motor down its throat, causing it to spray gore everywhere and then for some reason to blow up.

The film features the recurrent theme in Italian exploitation of nature taking revenge for civilisation’s exploitation of the wild. Killer Crocodile also has the interesting footnote of being the first Jaws clone where the heroes are environmentalists whose first reaction is to regard the monster as an endangered species and try to stop it from being killed.

The sequel was Killer Crocodile 2 (1990).

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