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DVD Review: DinoCroc (Roger Corman Classics)

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By Iloz Zoc

How does one describe a movie that's bland? And believe me, I'm fighting the temptation to go off on a tangent with sentences with the word 'crock' in them. While that might help spice the review, it's an obvious but cheap shot. Oh, hell…

This movie is a crock. What makes it a crock is its bland by the numbers characters and action, superficial dialog that's by the letters, and less than stellar computer graphics work that reminds you how bland everything else is. It also has that annoying kid from Lizzie McGuire, Jake Thomas.

Thomas actually does as good a job as any of the other actors, but he's not given much to do. At least they didn't spike his hair. But now that you've got me started, what about his dog, Lucky? Yes, that dog, the one with three legs called Lucky. Will someone yell at the scriptwriter for me please? Thomas spends the movie — mostly riding around on his bike — looking for Lucky, the three-legged, runaway dog.

DinocrocIf that weren't bad enough, there's the evil corporation, Gereco — stop me if you've heard this one — conducting secret genetic experiments on man-eating monsters. What, rabbits too hard for them? So these experiments blend the genes, by accident of course (wink, wink), of a Sarcosuchus (don't even go there) and a dinosaur. It promptly escapes its holding pen because an idiot scientist walks right in – as it's killing everything else in the pen – leaves the door wide open, and gets her throat ripped out as she tries zapping it with a pocket-sized stun gun.

Hey, you, stop that groaning, I'm not done yet — there's more.

Joanna Pacula plays the usual 'evil mouthpiece' for Gereco who denies everything while they send their top man-eating monster hunter to recapture it. Using Lucky, the three-legged dog for bait — oh, so that's what happened to Lucky — Lucky really is lucky, and high-tails it just as the hunter gets eaten, leaving only his legs behind. The CGI blur happens so fast, I can see why they spend more time just doting on those legs.

Anyway, one of the highlights in this film, and that's stretching it a mile, is what unexpectedly happens to Thomas as he goes searching for Lucky late at night in Gereco's wildlife preserve.

They spent a little more time on the CGI with that one, but it ends pretty abruptly. What really should have ended abruptly were the dialog exchanges between the crocodile hunter they bring in (Costos Mandylor), the Grant's Lake Animal Shelter control officer (Jane Longenecker), and Thomas' brother (Matt Borlenghi). The action, what little there is of it, bogs down when an old romance — queue the piano tinkling — is rekindled, and the croc hunter tries some really bad pick-up lines.

A predictable, insert scene here, time-killer has two drunk hunters poaching on the Gereco wildlife preserve; scratch two poachers. To speed things up, the Gereco scientist hunting the monster spills the beans about the whole mess to Longenecker and Borlenghi, and they quickly volunteer to help him. As they search in the preserve, they come across a pile of man-eating monster doo-doo and the scientist quips "Holy sh*t." I swear I'm not making this up. If I were making this up it would be a hell of a lot better, I can tell you that.

Dinocroc Vision kicks in as the monster gets hungry. I don't mind monster-point-of-view shots — I loved the Snake 'o Vision in Snakes on a Plane – but here it's not very inspired and overly budget-conscious. Why bother? Another thing that annoyed me was how all these would-be hunters carried single-shot rifles. What, automatics would've blown the budget? The thing's as big as a mobile home, you know.

The scientist goes down for the count when the group crowds a skimpy motor boat and tries to hunt Loch Ness' land-legged cousin with single-shot rifles and tranquilizer darts. More people get eaten, too, as people crowd the water's edge for some relaxing horror movie victim involvement.

The local sheriff's Keystone Kops deputies get eaten, too. Lots of people get eaten, mostly off-camera or in "shaky-cam" CGI blurs, but there's no suspense, no tense build-up to a climactic ending that brings the beads of sweat to your brow or mine. Like I said, it's a bland movie.

I really really wanted to see Lucky either get eaten or save the day. Instead, they use other dogs to lure the now dog-eating monster into a trap. The animal-loving Longenecker doesn't go along with that so she's cuffed along with Borlenghi after he tries to help her.

Lucky for them Borlenghi's character is a metal-sculpting artist. He lights up the acetylene and before you can say "I should have watched Phantasm," they're racing ahead of the dog-eating monster to release each and every stray dog that's chained between the monster and the trap.

You'll have to take my word for this next one. I know you won't believe me, but just take my word for it. As they race against time to free the dogs, and get closer and closer to the trap, the croc hunter finally does something and jumps in to lure the monster away from them. They start yelling "Dick! Dick!" as the monster gets closer, in passionate close-ups of concern. I had to replay that one over again.

The trap is sprung, but since they only have one bolt cutter — there's that low-budget again — to release the chains holding the doors, it's rather funny watching the sheriff race from one end of the long trap to the other to lock the monster inside.

But that's not the end end! The monster gets out and chases Longenecker and Borlenghi some more. It finally gets run down by a train and Borlenghi determinedly walks over to its stunned, prostrate body to poke it in the eye with a metal rod. Finally, the end.

There are no features or commentary on the DVD, which is probably a good thing.

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