Crocodile (2001)
Directed by Tobe Hooper

Starring Caitlin Martin Chris Solari D.W. Reiser Mark McLachlan

Whatever happened to Tobe Hooper? The man who directed "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," "Funhouse," "Poltergeist" and even the entertaining nudie romp "Lifeforce" has been crafting nothing but utter crap since the early '90s - and we are talking crap.

His latest, a direct-to-video film that borrows liberally from "Jaws," "The Blair Witch Project" and PG-13 dogs like "Lake Placid" is practically a poster child of almost everything that's wrong with horror today. Politically and environmentally correct and replete with some of the lamest computer-animation effects imaginable, this is definitely one for the books.

What's truly sad is that this is from Tobe Hooper, who made one of the truly seminal horror films of the 1970s. While his contemporaries - Wes Craven, John Carpenter, George Romero, Sam Raimi - are still cranking out at least a modicum of quality films, Hooper has truly fallen from grace. A previous movie, "The Mangler," was even worse than "Crocodile." Anyone hoping for a comeback from Hooper had their hopes dashed with this direct-to-video dog, which features a buxom woman being hunted down by a croc on the cover.

Hooper is retreading some territory that he covered in "Eaten Alive," a superior croc-related movie that served as his follow-up to "Texas." While that movie had great atmosphere, this film looks like a TV movie. The plot: A group of teens party on a house boat on a lake. They come across a pile of crocodile eggs. Naturally, they start playing with the eggs, destroying some of them. As a prank, one of the teens puts one egg in a backpack. All this does, however, is piss off the crocodile that gave birth to them.

Of course, the croc destroys the house boat (a la "Jaws") and kills a few of the teeny boppers, leaving the rest to fend for themselves in the wilderness. A couple of the killings are impressive, usually involving computer-animated effects of the croc suddenly snatching people with one bite. But much of the time, the creature looks like something out of an Al Adamson movie.

The teens' characters are flat and uninteresting. A redneck sheriff and a wacko alligator farmer give Hooper the opportunity to retread some of the "white trash" spirit of "Texas Chainsaw Masssacre," but it isn't enough to save this lifeless movie.

Seeing this movie, it becomes obvious why directors like Craven, Raimi and Carpenter have left the horror genre. Obviously there's a burn-out effect that can set in - something that's obviously happened to Hooper. It's a damn shame.

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-- Review by Lucius Gore


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