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Crocodile (Synapse Films) Blu-ray Review

    Ian Jane

  • Crocodile (Synapse Films) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Synapse Films
    Released on: July 8th, 2023.
    Director: Sompote Sands
    Cast: Nat Puvanai, Tany Tim, Angela Wells, Kirk Warren
    Year: 1979
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    Crocodile – Movie Review:

    The Jaws rip-offs that followed in the wake of the success of Spielberg’s hit were many and varied drastically in quality. The majority of them weren’t very good but a lot of them were pretty fun. Case in point, this Thai film directed by Sompote Sands that basically takes the plot of Jaws and replaces the shark with a crocodile.

    After a nasty typhoon rips through a coastal Thailand town, people start mysteriously disappearing. As luck would have it, a super-sized salt-water crocodile is on the prowl and all too keen to make the town’s citizens into snack food. After the beast eats a few random Thai people, it soon begins to rain down some Godzilla-sized destruction, taking out entire buildings and bridges with one fell swoop of its mighty tail.

    After a few top scientists get together and ascertain that the creature has mutated because of some nuclear testing of some sort (they never really go into detail, we just have to accept the fact that this crocodile is a nuclear mutant), the authorities more or less give up. It seems they don’t have anything powerful enough in their arsenal to take down the monster.

    Luckily for Thailand, but not so lucky for his daughter, Dr. Akom is on the job. It seems the monster chomped down on his kid so know he’s seen fit to quit his job at the hospital so that he can devote his life to destroying this unholy monster. So Akom does what any self-respecting Jaws rip-off movie hero would do, he hires a guy who is basically Quint to help him hunt down the monster once and for all.

    The most ridiculous aspect of the movie is the way that the stock footage of real crocodiles is mixed in with the fake crocodile that trashes the extremely low-budget looking miniature sets. Seeing as this stock footage was shot from various angles and from various distances, every time we see the beast he’s a different size. Sometimes the monster is big enough to be able to destroy a bridge with his tail, other times he’s only big enough to fit your leg in his mouth. If the cover art is accurate, which it is not, the monster should be able to mess up literally nineteen people and a rowboat at a single time. One thing is for sure though, no matter what size this guy is, at any given time he’s bound to be hungry for Thai food.

    At any rate, the movie is ridiculous but also a whole lot of goofy, B-movie fun. The cast members all seem a bit stunned, everyone seems to wander around with the same vapid look on his or her face until the crocodile attacks, and then everyone has the same look of panic happening, but this adds to the film’s wonky charm, as does the obvious English dubbing which adds a little bit of unintentional comic relief. The crocodile itself gets plenty of screen time hear, chomping away at swimmers on a pretty regular basis, and the movie goes at a good clip. Previous versions of the movie on home video have been very dark and taken from ruddy looking prints making it a chore to take in some of the darker scenes but this restored version corrects that, showing that the filmmakers actually have a decent sense of composition and of color. So yeah, it’s a compete rip off of Jaws, there’s no question about it, but so long as you don’t need too much originality in your monster movie mayhem, you can definitely have a good time with Crocodile.

    Crocodile – Blu-ray Review:

    Crocodile arrives on Blu-ray from Synapse Films in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 2.35.1 widescreen taken from a restoration of the original English 35mm camera negative. Taking up 26.5GBs of space on the region free 50GB disc, the picture on this edition leaves the older VCI DVD release from years back in the dust. There’s virtually no print damage to note here, and the colors look excellent. Those darker scenes that were previously murky and tough to make out are now quite clear and watchable but it never feels like the image has been overly brightened and the transfer always looks like proper film. There’s impressive depth, detail and color reproduction here as well as strong black levels. Compression artifacts, edge enhancement and noise reduction are never a problem. Crocodile looks great!

    The only audio option on the disc is a 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track in English with optional subtitles provided in English only. There are no problems to note with the audio, the track is clean, clear and properly balanced without any hiss or distortion to note.

    Extras start off with an audio commentary with writer and film historian Lee Gambin that puts it into context alongside other eco-horror and animals attack movies, providing mostly analysis of the picture rather than a production history. He goes over the themes of the film, talks about the musical motif used in the opening scene, thoughts on the characters in the film, the depiction of the "natural order" in the, the real-life animal cruelty on display in the movie, the effects work in the film, how the movie compares to Dark Age (another killer croc movie), the different versions of the film that exist and quite a bit more.

    The disc also includes a video interview with original Crocodile Fangs director, Won-se Lee. This thirty-two minute piece covers when the movie was actually shot, how the movie was financed and where the financing came from, the involvement of a Korean production company, working with Sompote Sands, what it was like filming in Thailand, what it was like on set working with the cast and crew, his thoughts on how the effects work in the film turned out, differences in the multiple versions of the film that exist, how filmmaking has changed so much since this movie was made and if he'd like to make another genre film like this in the future.

    Finishing up the extras on the disc are some deleted and alternate scenes (we get the original Thai ending and then a few alternate scenes like The Monkey And The Little Boy, Extended Town Attack and Crocodile Cruelty as well as the Alternate Spanish Release Ending and the Alternate International Opening), a theatrical trailer for the feature along with menus and chapter selection options. This release comes packaged with some reversible cover sleeve art.

    Crocodile - The Final Word:

    Crocodile is good, dumb fun. It isn’t an especially original film but it moves quickly and offers up plenty of onscreen mayhem and quirky, cult movie entertainment. The Blu-ray release from Synapse Films looks and sounds very good and it contains some decent extras, highlighted by a very illuminating interview that sheds a lot of welcome light on the film’s interesting history. Recommended!

    Click on the images below, or right click and open in a new window, for full sized Crocodile Blu-ray screen caps!

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