Obviously, if you've been reading this blog at all you know by now that I can be a glutton for punishment. You also know that films about killer crocodilians are 95% awful and if you've heard of this film, I'm sure you haven't heard anything positive.
Well, there's a reason for that. However, that doesn't give you the whole story.
Oh, this film is very much not good. Don't get me wrong. However, that does not mean it is without merit. For one thing, it has John Carl Buechler on effects and we know how oddly fond of his work I am. For another, I always like seeing a monster movie that doesn't just take the lazy route of blowing up its menace.
That doesn't mean the rest of the film deserves any special credit, of course.
We open with a flashback / dream sequence as a man perched on the bow of a sinking boat watches as everyone else who all somehow ended up in the water are pulled under and replaced by spouts of blood. It's a very choppy sequence, full of quick cuts and an extreme close-up on an eye. It doesn't exactly endear one to the film to start off like this.
After the credits roll over tropical footage, a small sea plane flies in for a landing. Inside are Cecily Herrold (Kate Fischer!), Bog Hall (Dax Miller), Jeremy NoLastName (Joel West), and Zack Jardine (Matt Borlenghi). Bog and Jeremy are X-treme surfers, and Cecily and Zack are documentary filmmakers who are looking to film them doing something called "blood surfing." Apparently it involves surfing in heavily shark-populated waters while bleeding.
Two things pop out as interesting. First, Cecily and Zack are a couple but she's sitting next to Bog and talking flirtatiously with him, including Bog implying this whole dumb stunt was her idea. Also, despite the less ridiculous name, Jeremy is the typical surfer dude with blonde spiky hair, a space cadet attitude, and who has to reminded of what the title of Jaws is.
Upon landing, Cecily and Zack take the boat taxi and Zack tells Bog and Jeremy to wait for them to send the boat back, even though I see no reason they can't all fit in the boat. It's really just to set up a dick-measuring contest between Bog and Zack, though, since Bog clearly wants Cecily for himself. see, Bog and Jeremy decide to surf to shore and despite Zack's attempt to race them, they arrive first. Sure, Cecily notices a shadow in the water and we see a POV shot looking up at Bog's board from under the water, but it barely qualifies as a false scare because nothing comes of it.
Once ashore, Zack finds to his frustration that none of the local charter boats have ever been to the island they want to go, Lilo Kay, on account it being surrounded by sharks and dangerous reefs. However, there is one man who knows the island. That night at a local dive bar, while Cecily tries to fend off the advances of Bog and Jeremy spaces out, Zack tries to hire the services of one John Dirks (Duncan Regehr). Dirks is reluctant to go to the island, because he feels he'd be an accessory to murder. His much younger girlfriend, Arti (Taryn Reif)--whose relationship with him just constantly feels icky--is eager for them to take on the charter, however. When Dirks declines the offer, Arti objects that she'd like one night out occasionally, with a meal that isn't fish they had to catch and clean. This seems an odd objection to be raising when they're clearly already out.
Zack comes back to the group's table, defeated, but Arti decides to change Dirks' mind...by putting on music and dancing seductively. This gets the lascivious attention of every man in the bar, including Zack--to Cecily's great disgust. Look, I don't mean to disparage Taryn Reif in any way, but I have a hard time buying that a man dating a woman who looks like Kate Fischer would find her so much more enticing. I realize this is just one more way to show us that Zack is a self-interested creep, but seriously now--has he seen Sirens?! At any rate, Arti's sexy dancing somehow convinces Dirks to take the charter. Arti then goes and flirts with Bog, who flirts back but manages to completely whiff it when confronted by a woman who actually shows interest in him.
|"Yes, honey, you're incredibly gorgeous and all that--but she's dancing! To a boombox!"|
The next morning, Jeremy is rudely awakened in a hammock on the deck of a boat by someone slapping him the face with a wet mop. The mop belongs to Lemmya Lofranco (Maureen Larrazabal), who quickly begins to mutually flirt with Jeremy. Well, there's no accounting for taste. As it turns out, the group didn't actually hire Dirks to take them to Lilo Kay, he just told them how to get there and they went with their original charter, who are Lemmya's parents, Sonny (Cris Vertido) and Melba (Susan Africa).
|Precious Cinnamon Roll, Too Good for This World: Destined to be Eaten by Crocodile.|
Jeremy awkwardly flirts with Lemmya some more, and then they arrive at Lilo Kay. Melba leads a prayer circle, then Lemmya gives Jeremy a pendant she promises will protect him from anything. Well, except her father's stern gaze, of course. Then Cecily dons her chain mail diving suit as Bog dishes out chum. And before you know it, stock footage sharks are swarming in. Cecily hops into the water while Bog and Jeremy cut the tops of their feet. Bog has to psych Jeremy up, but they quickly get in the water.
|"Okay, now let's find out if you're The Thing."|
We then see Bog surfing at what appears to be sunset, but everyone else's footage is in full midday sunlight as Cecily wonders how he can go back out there after what they saw. Jeremy, meanwhile, mentions to Lemmya that her mother mentioned some ancient ruins on the island and they sneak off, while Zack and Cecily decide to start getting hot and heavy right there on the beach. Well, they talk about the footage first and then start moving on to the making out. At the ruins, Lemmya and Jeremy start making out until Lemmya jokes that she's 15--Jeremy freaks out until she takes her top off and assures him she's 19. This is the cue to him that it's okay for them to start having the kind of awkward, flailing sex in a pool of water that people only ever have in movies. I'm also not really sure where that particular shade of blue in the water came from, but sex in water isn't even a good idea when it's not a pool of water in ancient ruins on a tropical island.
Back at their boat, which is fittingly called The Picnic, Melba decides to take a quick swim over Sonny's objections. She doesn't notice the ominous shadow in the water, of course. Sonny feels something rub up against the bottom of the boat and hurriedly calls melba in just as the boat is rammed. She makes it safely aboard, but then the sinister POV cam grabs Sonny when he leans too far overboard. Dirks, overwhelmed by his conscience, chooses just then to radio their boat. Melba is a bit too busy just then to answer as she helplessly cowers in the boat just as it is rammed one last time. Did I mention that this was all intercut with Jeremy and Lemmya fucking? Yeah. It's about to get even more uncomfortable, because in the afterglow Jeremy asks Lemmya how old she really is. She casually replies she's 17, and he reacts with a pained groan--before perking up and asking, "Is that legal here?"
Gee, thanks, movie. Statutory rape jokes following a sex scene aren't incredibly discomforting at all.
Cecily and Zack never get past heavy petting because Bog comes back onto the beach from the surf and, rather than bugger off, sits a few yards away to visibly mope about how he isn't getting to bang Cecily. It kind of ruins the mood, as you might imagine.
The sun finally sets and Lemmya, still topless, goes to rinse her top in a nearby pool of water. Though, not the one she was just banging a surfer dude in. Unfortunately, she hears a sound and looks to her left to see an enormous crocodile watching her. We see her screaming face reflected in its eye before it eats her off screen. And let me just pause and say that this crocodile may just be the most adorable of John Carl Buechler's creations. Don't get me wrong, it's a well-made series of puppets, but this croc is, in no way, shape, or form intimidating. It looks like it ought to be playing the big jock antagonist in a Muppets frat house comedy.
|"You're never gonna beat Sigma Kappa Croc, dweebs!"|
Bog recovers the camera, but in the expected Jaws rip-off moment, he's startled by the gnawed remains of Melba. He gets back to the jetty and gives Zack the camera--but then the crocodile uses its tail to smash the the wooden supports. Cecily rescues Bog and Jeremy while Zack flees, and then the jetty explodes behind them as they run down it, intercut with shots of a small crocodile puppet destroying an obvious miniature. And, much like Carnosaur, the full-scale croc puppet is pretty impressive, if adorable, while the miniature ones are...not.
Impressive, that is. They're still fucking adorable.
The group flees the crocodile, somehow never cottoning to what it is the entire time because they just refer to it as "that thing." Maybe they just didn't see it, I don't know. They reach a clearing and the croc apparently stops chasing them, but they soon realize they're fucked. Ah, but Zack brought a satellite phone...which isn't working. And then they're captured by pirates.
Yes, Lilo Kay is not only surrounded by dangerous reefs, "infested" with sharks, and a place locals give a wide berth to--it's also home base for some pirates. The head pirate (Archie Adamos), after preventing Zack from walking into a booby trap that would have impaled him, steals the satellite phone and points his guns in everyone's face. He demands to know what they're doing on his island, and when Cecily explains they were trying to get off the island because "a creature" was chasing them, he incredulously replies, "A creature? Like Godzilla?" And then he...does a monkey impression? No, mister pirate, sir, that is not Godzilla.
The pirates all have a good laugh, then the lead pirate takes Zack's money when he asks if they have a boat. They're all marched to the pirate boat where, somehow, Zack is surprised to discover they're now prisoners and not passengers. Somehow Zack thinks that yelling, "I'm an American," will make the situation better. And then the head pirate's brother leers through the cage they find themselves in and the head pirate says his brother always wanted an American--though to Zack's relief, he meant Cecily. (Though I'm sure if he agreed to have sex with the pirte to save all their lives, the movie would find a way to spin that against him) She objects on the grounds that she's Australian, but that's close enough. Zack is perfectly okay with his girlfriend being raped by pirates if it keeps them alive. Bog, on the other hand, now starts behaving like less of a jerk as he tries to convince the pirates that Australian girls are awful in the sack.
It doesn't take. Cecily is dragged off to the top deck of the boat, where the pervy pirate rips her top open. (Her bra at least stays in place) Her decision to slap him results in her getting backhanded, but luckily this crocodile is no different from any other movie monster--and it hates rapists. After bumping the boat, the croc leaps out of the water (in a CGI effect that has, bizarrely, aged no worse than modern SyFy Channel movies) to grab the rapist and chomp him to death. And I have to say, this is maybe the least ridiculous scene of its type in a killer croc film that I've seen. It didn't leap over the boat, and most of its body was still in the water so I can buy that it was doing what's known as "tail walking."
|Crocodiles just love the fresh flavor of pirate flesh!|
On board Dirks' vessel, the others talk about what they've just seen. They agree the croc had to be at least 30 feet and Cecily declares that it clearly wasn't killing for hunger. Dirks takes a knowing swig of liquor and tells Arti to show them to their bunks below decks. Bog stays to thank Dirks, and also to see the sign for Dirks' old tour boat. He figures out that Dirks quit because of an encounter with an enormous saltwater crocodile, and Dirks confirms it. He also reassures Bog that he has no intention of trying hunt it down and risking all their lives.
Below, Arti is handing out dry clothes to Zack, Jeremy, and Cecily. She makes a snarky comment about her tank top likely being too small for Cecily. Zack's next jerk move is to get all excited about how they just survived an encounter with the Devil, and then he grabs a bottle of whisky nearby and toasts to their survival. The others take turns toasting to the memories of the people they lost to the crocodile, to make Zack feel like shit about being happy to be alive--even though it's not like it's his fault the Lofranco family are dead. Really, the only truly awful thing he's done in the film is not try and stop pirates from having their way with his girlfriend--I mean, that's a pretty shitty thing to do, but somehow the movie seems to gloss over that in comparison to the other selfish behaviors he's demonstrated.
Up on deck, Dirks feels the presence of the crocodile (um, sure) and decides it's time to go Ahab. Zack wakes up in his bunk, surrounded by nude pin-ups--which seems to be a set-up for a joke they don't make. Zack goes snooping and Arti catches him trying to open a chum container , so she sneaks up behind him and hands him a knife to pry it open. Inside the container is a sheep's head, which Zack reacts in horror to--but you really have to wonder what the hell he was expecting to be in there. "Salties love 'em," Arti helpfully explains, pointing out the porthole at Dirks tossing baited bouys over the side. Now Art lays out in detail what Bog earlier figured out partially.
Dirks was a tour boat captain, a very successful one, until one tour of Lilo Kay ended with his all of his passengers being killed by a 31-foot saltwater crocodile. He's been dreaming of revenge for years and now he has the opportunity. Zack points out that Dirks has four people on board who want no part of hunting the croc that nearly ate them. So now the film inexplicably rips off Anaconda as Arti questions Zack's talent as a TV producer. After all, wouldn't a documentary about a man catching and killing the biggest crocodile ever recorded be a huge deal?
Well, Zack didn't bother to share this new deal with the others so they are none too pleased to wake up in the morning to the sight of Lilo Kay. Well, as it turns out, Dirks isn't entirely in on it, either. He rants a while to the group about how the saltie "owns these waters" and must be destroyed. Zack then pitches his idea to the others, and Dirks is none too happy to hear that Arti told him all about the history between him and the croc. I'm not sure why it matters, but okay. Zack then goes on to say that they'll frame the story as a man seeking revenge on the biggest crocodile that ever lived, which he now christens "Big Mick."
Dirks is just as disgusted as the others, and gets in real close to Zack's face to tell him about the horror he witnessed of his passengers being torn apart in front of his eyes. He tells Zack to go ahead and make his stupid TV show out of it, but to stay out of the way. Bog confronts Dirks, but their tense stare down is interrupted by Big Mick taking the bait. As Arti drives the boat, Bog and Jeremy man the winch while Dirks lines up a harpoon shot.
|"Hey, what do you guys think of my new piercing? Too much?"|
Unfortunately for our heroes, Jeremy ends up trapped within inches of Big Mick's jaws when it comes up after Cecily. So Dirks...tosses Jeremy a knife. Jeremy then jumps onto the croc's snout to stab it repeatedly and ineffectually. As you probably guessed, this results in him getting flipped into the air like a snausage and devoured.
At any rate, Dirks takes the wheel, apparently intent on leaving--but then he decides to turn the boat around and speed toward the reef around Lilo Kay. Apparently, since they can't ourtun the crocodile he's decided suicide is a better option. Once they crash, Dirks tells Arti to lead the others to the ruins and fresh water--he claims it's full of alkaline and salties can't stand it because it burns their skin. I very much doubt that, given crocodiles are not known for having sensitive skin, but okay. What is Dirks doing, you ask? Why, staying to set the boat to explode and hopefully lure Big Mick to his death.
So the others walk across the reef, with Zack complaining the whole way, especially after he cuts his foot. Sick of hearing them berate him, he spies Bog's surf board floating nearby and decides to surf into shore on it. Except Big Mick is waiting for him and Zack surfs right into its waiting jaws. (This is a really awkwardly edited sequence) How do our remaining heroes react to witnessing another of their number be swallowed alive?
Bog: "Oh man. That has got to suck."And then they just keep walking like nothing happened. Jesus Christ. Cecily just watched her boyfriend die and that's how she reacts? I mean the other two have been assholes to him the entire time, anyway, so I can at least understand their reaction even if I still hate them for it. But Cecily? That's fucking callous. She reacted with more horror to watching the death of the guy who tried to rape her!
Cecily: [shrugging] "Couldn't have happened to a nicer person."
I realize that this entire bit is a casualty of the film coming out in the post-Scream, self-aware horror craze--but despite the many, many, many flaws of Scream it at least still made some effort to have its characters be human beings when confronted with the deaths of people they cared about.
Well, they make it to shore as Dirks is finishing setting up all his explosives. Unfortunately for Dirks, the crocodile bashes through the hull right in front of him. His pistol proves about as useful as the knife did for Jeremy earlier. He leaps up above its snout, grabbing hold of a pipe, to kick at it. That goes poorly. Big Mick gets Dirks' legs in its jaws and tears him in half. Apparently Dirk's is stronger than a 3,000 pound crocodile because he hangs by his arms, dripping blood from his severed torso for a bit before falling off. Back on shore, the others watch the boat sink with no explosion.
Arti wants to go back, but Bog tells her to take Cecily to the ruins and he'll go. He reasons that, Dirks or not, they need the explosives. So off he goes. Meanwhile, the pirate from earlier is watching the women from the woods. Oh, what, you forgot about that subplot, too? Well, the movie might as well have since it resolves it so perfunctorily. After Cecily saves the fucking insufferable Arti from walking into another spike trap, the pirate slaps Arti unconscious. Cecily manages to lead the comically inept pirate back to his own trap, via a sequence just this side of him chasing her around a table. She triggers the trap and he helpfully stands in place to swear and then get impaled. When Arti comes to, Cecily tells her that she was hit by "a bad joke."
You can say that again.
Bog recovers the explosives, meanwhile, only being startled by a severed goat head this time. Cecily and Arti somehow get lost on their way to the ruins, even though Arti suppoedly knows the island and Cecily was just there. They find a rickety bridge, but then they see Big Mick sunning itself on the stream bed below. It sees them and gives chase. They find the ruins just as Big Mick somehow ends up directly behind them, and they have to dive into the water to escape. And, sure enough, Big Mick reacts like he's a vampire who can't cross running water or was just denied invitation into a home. Of course, you'd think that if the water was so alkaline as to burn a crocodile's skin, it would be hellishly uncomfortable for a human, but the two women don't seem bothered by it at all.
Seeing that the crocodile can't pursue them, Arti and Cecily decide to...flash their breasts at it. Sure, okay. Well, Arti flashes her breasts, Cecily just pulls her top down a bit. I guess Kate Fischer either decided Sirens would be the only time she'd be getting naked in a film, or this movie didn't pay her enough. At any rate, when Big Mick roars angrily at them, they turn and run for the opposite bank of the pool while Cecily quips, "I guess that's what you call croc teasing!"
Dear God, I like Jim Wynorski movies and that's painful.
Night falls as the two sit on the ruins, watching the crocodile sitting across the pool from them. Why he's been waiting there for them now when he hadn't been just waiting around for prey before is beyond me, but whatever. Arti angrily wonders aloud if Bog will ever show up, then asks if Cecily really likes him. Cecily sort of defers the question, so Arti turns to talking about her fear that Dirks is dead. She explains that Dirks won her in a dart game and was the first man to treat her with dignity. So, yeah, the fact that the movie is now implying she was sold into sexual slavery makes me feel a little bad about calling her insufferable now.
Man, sexual slavery and statutory rape. This movie really wants you to feel icky about the characters who provide its nudity, doesn't it?
Bog returns with a big grin on his face, having somehow found a way to the ruins that did not take him right past the crocodile. He asks Cecily for a kiss, which I guess is supposed to be endearing, but it's really, really not. He breaks the bad news about Dirks to Arti, and then he looks at the crocodile and wonders aloud if it realizes it's about to be blown up.
Well, no, it couldn't, since the plan is to lure the crocodile into a passage in the ruins and set off the charges to collapse the structure on top of it and crush it. This seems needlessly complicated, since it requires Bog to lure the beast to where the women are waiting in a tiny space with no escape, in order to hopefully bring the ruins down on Big Mick before it can reach them. They could easily just walk over to the crocodile and toss one of the charges at it with a lot less risk at present. However, this is the plan they've chosen, so Cecily tells Bog to go do what he does best, "Piss things off." Yeah, like the reviewer!
Bog knocks part of the ruins over to form a bridge across the stream feeding the pool. Big Mick seems to get it's a trick, but Bog eventually succeeds in luring it across the patently foam bridge. The plan works and a few rocks fall on top of Big Mick, most certainly killing him forever and ever. "If that didn't do it, nothing will," Bog declares. He and Cecily begin to walk away, but Arti has to try and air her grievances by kicking the croc in the snout. You'll never guess what happens next.
|"Hey, baby, are you Captain Hook? Because you make my clock go Tick-Tock."|
Now that the movie's hero is dead, Bog pretends to pass out to trick Cecily into trying to do mouth-to-mouth on him. When she objects that wasn't a kiss, he basically forces her into one anyway. But it's okay, see, because she wants it. Ugh, Bog then wonders how they'll get off the island, but they both declare that they don't care. Good, they can starve there for all I care. The End.
|"It wasn't the spikes that got 'im. It was budget killed the hand puppet."|
Oh, but it did. It did.
For one thing, I had forgotten just how insufferable the characters are. While Cecily is almost likable, at least 90% just because Kate Fischer is an incredibly gorgeous woman, the most sympathetic characters in the film are definitely Lemmya and her parents--if we ignore the creepy running gag about her real age--and from the moment we see them we know they're only there to be croc bait. People of color in their native "exotic" land surviving a monster movie while the dumb white foreigners get devoured? Unthinkable!
So once they're eaten, we're stuck with a bunch of bad actors playing repulsive people. To be fair, Duncan Regehr, Kate Fischer, and even Joel West are mostly capable actors--but the others alternate between saying their lines flatly, inappropriate facial expressions, and that certain broad way of enunciating their lines that would make them feel like the worst actors in a high school play. I can't decide if I'm more eager for the actors or the characters to bite it.
(Er, not literally, so if one of the actors gets eaten by an actual crocodile, I am not going to celebrate)
That leaves the crocodile action, and while there is a lot of it, it's still pretty lacking. I've touched on the effects already but it bears further elaboration: the full-scale puppet head and front legs are quite good, but a lot of the croc footage is a plainly miniature prop and puppet. There's certainly something charming about the woefulness of those effects, but good they are not. And the filmmakers seem to have no idea what to do with the croc. Consider the introduction of the pirates, a plot thread that adds nothing to the film.
Not only do we only see one pirate get chomped by the crocodile when the heroes make their escape, despite having set up multiple potential victims, but the lead pirate doesn't even get eaten by the croc when he shows up again later. He just gets killed by one of his own traps and that's that.
Really, the film's story is it's greatest failing. Not just the fact that it has no idea what it's doing and throws in pointless plot cul-de-sacs. I mean the fact that it utterly fails to make good on the great premise it promises the viewer.
Consider two things: One, its title is Blood Surf; Two, look at that fucking poster! If the film was going to promise surfers getting eaten by a crocodile, it fucking failed to deliver in a big way. The titular blood surfing happens in one scene, and the only person eaten on a surfboard is Zack! His death should have happened to an actual surfer, way earlier. The title and poster belong to a movie that should have been about a whole bunch of expendable surfers trying to outdo each other in blood surfing at Lilo Kay, and then those who survived the initial attack trying to stay alive and kill the croc.
Instead we get two surfers, only one of whom gets eaten, and the film turns into an Anaconda rip-off midway through before abruptly abandoning that thread.
If they weren't going to realize the greatness of surfers being devoured by a giant crocodile, then they should have stuck with the original title, Krocodylus. Throwing a "K" onto "Crocodylus" is perfect for this movie--utterly stupid while thinking it's clever.
If you must watch this movie, do it for the adorable crocodile puppets. If you expect anything more, you will leave sorely disappointed.
Today's review brought to you by the letter B! Hit the banner above to see what the other Celluloid Zeroes chose for B!