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Director Andrew Traucki’s (The Reef, Black Water) ferocious crocodile nature attacks horror sequel Black Water: Abyss is currently doing the rounds in select UK cinemas and last week hit VOD and select theaters Stateside. The film was actually one of the very first to lead the pack of new movies swimming to the big screen, as some cinemas re-opened early in July. Arguably, a croc croc horror horror, is one of the best kinds of films to re-open cinemas with, as it is an experience well suited to cinema. Black Water: Abyss sees a team of friends exploring a hidden cave system, only to be trapped inside by unexpected rising floodwaters from a storm that is wreaking havoc above ground…and worse still, they are not alone down there. So, as this film circles the crowds who have ventured back into the cinematorium, we have taken a look at six other horror flicks featuring big hungry crocodiles or alligators, that are well worth hunting down.
From his 1977 Joe Ball-inspired video nasty Eaten Alive, to this 2000 oddity on his directorial CV, it’s clear that the late great filmmaker Tobe Hooper certainly enjoyed himself a bit of the hungry crocodile action. Crocodile gets a bum rap as an inferior entry next to some of the bigger budgeted similar fare but this simple story of some students on spring break who gain the ire of a mother Nile Crocodile has fun with its chosen tropes. The CG effects are undeniably ropey 20 years on but some practical effects are actually quite underrated here, and there’s even a good ol’ disaster movie style fearless death-proof dog thrown in for good measure. Meanwhile, the silly as a dancing sausage sequel Crocodile 2: Death Swamp (first released as Death Roll), with its bank robbery plane crash plot, is pure B-Movie barminess.
Wolf Creek’s Greg McLean used the true story of saltwater crocodile ‘Sweetheart’ to some degree, when making his film Rogue, which stars a string of future stars like Sam Worthington (Avatar, Terminator Salvation) and Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland) and delivers a mightily enjoyable big crocodile tale, that many ought to consider revisiting. Detailing a journalistic assignment which goes wrong in the Australian outback, thanks to a killer croc, this film is actually a member of the rare 100% club on Rotten Tomatoes. Despite that though, it has sadly gone under many people’s radars for some time. Admittedly it isn’t perfect but it’s a heck of a lot of fun and very well made. Worth snapping up if ever you see it a shop (or should that be VOD nowadays?).
Lake Placid (1999)
Steve Miner’s horror/comedy Lake Placid about a group of people who must stop a 30-foot Saltwater crocodile from terrorising a lake in Maine and its locals, is without doubt the biggest ever franchise in the croc/gator sub-genre. To date 4 sequels have been made, with an added crossover film with the equally unfurling Anaconda franchise. However the original cinema-released film, is still by far the best (as is the same with the Anaconda series). A cast of notable faces have a clear blast with the material, none more than the legendary Betty White as Delores, who is on the side of the croc! From Stan Winston’s crocodile effects (used alongside less well ageing CGI, but still better CGI than the straight-to-disc sequels) to some cracking action and laughs, this one still entertains, and comes with a refreshing end of sorts.
Alexandre Aja’s Crawl is another fantastic natural horror film from the talented filmmaker who unleashed the mightily effective grindhouse-esque Piranha 3D on audiences. The film sees a young woman go check on her father, as a storm brings in the floodwaters, only to become trapped with her injured dad and trusty dog, in the family home, which is increasingly being overrun by alligators. Crawl is a great example of how brilliant jump scares can still be applied in cinema, here working so well because of the intensity of the film as a whole, and because of how they cap off the building suspense in a genuinely satisfying way. The CG alligators look fantastic but it’s the cinematography that impresses most, as you feel you are there in the stormy, flood washed, gator strewn setting. Aja crafts some great seat-edge set-pieces in a story with heart and characters you care about, who are put through a wringer, as the film gets increasingly quite wild in the latter stages, but unlike this year’s wholly unsatisfying and unpleasant The Pool, it knows when to ease that pedal.
In the wake of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, every animal from bears (William Girdler’s Grizzly) to Piranhas (Joe Dante’s cult classic Piranha) to even bees (Irwin Allen’s The Swarm), seemed to receive a horror story of their own but director Lewis Teague’s Alligator is among the best. A baby alligator is bought by a teen as a pet but angrily flushed down the toilet by her incensed father. However, over the years in the sewers it comes to survive and grow to huge lengths, by feeding on discarded carcasses dumped by an animal experimentation facility. A satire on the “gators in the sewer” urban legend, and with damning statements on tourism and animal testing industries, Alligator has a ferocious social bite accompanying its monster story. The effects combine real alligators on plywood sets with practical work, both of which has aged quite well, and there are good performances from a strong cast...just don’t bring up the inferior in every way 1990 sequel Alligator 2: The Mutation.
Black Water (2007)
This true story based Australian exercise in suspense from directors Andrew Traucki and David Nerlich is an often nail-biting tale of survival, which went ridiculously unappreciated when it hit cinemas, despite some impressive reviews. The story sees three people go on a boat trip, which tours the Mangroves, when they are attacked by a crocodile and left stranded atop the branches of a tree, as the croc stalks and awaits them in the murky waters below. There are great performances from a confined and minimal cast, and they make this underrated gem absolutely excel further. The genre rulebook is refuted at certain points too, as the film toys with some expectations and keeps a handle on its concept. Also the film boldly refrains from excessive CGI, in favour of some rather excellent practical work combined with real footage integrated into this narrative. It’s never a bad time to check this one out but as the sequel has surfaced in cinemas, now is a better time than any to show appreciation to the best crocodile film out there.
Well that’s our list, hopefully you can sink your teeth into some of these, however if you think we missed any major choices or overlooked some under-appreciated classics, let us know in the comments below...see you later alligator!
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