Killer Crocodile is an inept Italian curiosity that, were it not inept, no one would talk about at all. For a while now, distributor Severin Films have excelled at releasing befuddling Italian horror cinema from the ‘70s and ‘80s, including the high watermarks of Italian stupidity, Zombie 3, Zombie 4: After Death, and Shocking Dark. Some horror fans, especially gore hounds, tout Italian horror above all others, citing it’s willing to go to places others aren’t willing to go. I agree with this, but with one caveat: no one does “oops, it’s stupid!” horror better than the Italians. Between the before mentioned Zombie sequels, or titles like Demons, Burial Ground: The Nights Of Terror, and Stagefright, Italian misfires are magically, stupidly delicious, and, to borrow the current Internet catchphrase, I’m “here” for it.
I, badly, wanted Killer Crocodile to follow along in this same vein. The makings of it were there, waiting to be plucked: first, it’s Italian; second, the villain of the piece is a gigantic crocodile that’s barely articulated, never blinks, and for the most part, just kinda floats along in the water; and third, it’s still Italian. (It’s worth repeating.) And like all killer animal movies Italian and non-Italian, it’s clearly been made in the shadow of JAWS, right down to the character dynamics and archetypes. You’ve got your Quint, your Brody, and your Hooper. You’ve got your giant-teethed villain. And to borrow from JAWS 2, you’ve got your young people in peril (natch). What you don’t have is a memorable experience, whether or not you’re here for the irony.
To critique Killer Crocodile in any meaningful way is silly. It’s not trying to be a real film, nor should we treat it as such. Whenever the titular beast isn’t on screen chomping victims with its gigantic plastic dummy jaws, Killer Crocodile is a slog, consisting mainly of people standing around, sweating, and sharing completely unrealistic dialogue with each other. This happens a lot in Italian horror of the stupid kind—moments of glory are often ruined by too-long scenes of people sharing in tepid dialogue and pretending that they’re making a real movie, and not one, say, where Hugo Stiglitz throws a TV at a zombie head and said TV explodes like a fucking bomb. (Nightmare City for the win!)
To circle back to the killer crocodile creation, it’s actually pretty impressive, considering the amount of money that was afforded to the flick’s production. Does it look “real?” In sustained shots, no, it doesn’t, but to be fair, neither did the shark in JAWS. The level of detail in the crocodile is meticulous, from its scaly skin to its conical teeth. (But still, it never blinks, and the longer you stare at that unblinking eye, the funnier it becomes.)
That’s how Italians do it, baby.
Killer Crocodile ultimately proves to be a frustrating viewing experience: not consistently stupid enough to be entertaining, and nowhere close to being a legitimately good film, it’s just kinda there, bobbing up and down in the water like a kinda top. (If you’re feeling adventurous, you can purchase the 2-disc limited edition directly from Severin's website that also includes Killer Crocodile 2.)
(I’m not feeling particularly adventurous.)