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Saturday, June 25, 2011

DINOCROC VS. SUPERGATOR -- DVD review by porfle

Roger Corman strikes again with another mutant monster fest that's actually a cut above the rest.  The rest, that is, of these bizarro beast brawls that the venerable producer has been churning out for the SyFy Channel lately.  While DINOCROC VS. SUPERGATOR (2010) never strives to be more than the addlebrained B-picture that it is, it's still better than the likes of SHARKTOPUS.  And, for once, the CGI is pretty darn good.

In his final film appearance, David Carradine plays Jason Drake, a shady millionaire who commissions some scientists to develop techniques for growing oversized food, then orders them to apply the same science to living animals so he can sell the results to the military.  Two of the results, a dinocroc and a supergator, escape from the secluded lab and gobble up all the scientists they can eat before heading off to more populated areas.  This opening sequence is pretty cool and lets us know right away that the SPFX in this movie aren't going to be all that painful to look at.  In fact, they're rather impressive at times.

Not so impressive are the acting and dialogue, but in a movie called DINOCROC VS. SUPERGATOR I don't exactly expect to see Sir Lawrence Olivier doing "Hamlet."  Carradine, who does most of his scenes lounging in a chair by the pool, is there to grab a paycheck and soak up the Hawaiian scenery.  Rib Hillis is adequate as crossbow-slinging tough guy "The Cajun", whom Drake hires to kill the escaped monsters, and Amy Rasimas is suitably plucky and hot as Cassidy, who is some kind of game warden or something so she gets to wear a skimpy uniform.

Corey Landis plays the role of FBI investigator Paul Beaumont, assigned to collect evidence against Drake, with an enjoyably light touch.  (His hideous Hawaiian shirt is a nice running gag.) I especially liked Lisa Clapperton as Drake's bad-girl assistant Victoria, a heartless hitwoman who likes to kill people.  Former Penthouse Pet and softcore sex film star Delia Sheppard appears as a scientist who escapes the initial carnage and tries to warn the world of the impending lizard attack.

It's all very tongue-in-cheek, with director Jim Wynorski (as "Jay Andrews") giving it all a dynamic visual quality that includes some really nice camerawork and a fairly brisk pace despite some draggy spots.  Shot mostly on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, the scenery is often spectacular and there's no shortage of bikini girls running around serving themselves up as reptile treats.  Quite a few people get eaten, in fact, including some mercenaries sent in by Drake to kill the escaped animals and finish off the surviving scientists.  Two of them have a dialogue exchange I found amusing:

"Man, I don't think I could stomach shooting civilians like that."
"Don't think of it as civilians.  Think of it as dollar signs."


In most shots the creatures' movements are relatively fluid and natural, and they seem to have weight and substance.  A sequence with the supergator chasing a speeding jeep down a dirt road (a la JURASSIC PARK) features some outstanding CGI and is just one of many effects scenes that I found particularly well-done for a film of this kind.  The final battle between dinocroc and supergator is handled nicely as well, although this title altercation comes as a brief, one-sided letdown.

The DVD from Anchor Bay is in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound.  Subtitles are in English and Spanish.  Extras include a laidback commentary track with Roger Corman and Jim Wynorsky, and the film's trailer.

Unlike some of the other films in this oddball sub-genre, DINOCROC VS. SUPERGATOR actually feels sort of like a real movie that you can enjoy without lowering your expectation level to rock-bottom.  Still, it never takes itself seriously enough to try and be anything more than what it is--a competently-made and fairly enjoyable junk film.    

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