Croc is a made for TV film, (it’s one of Syfy’s Maneater series) which basically retreads the plot of Jaws substituting a huge crocodile for the huge shark and the East-coast tourist destination of Amity Island for a tourist location in Thailand, oh, and Robert Shaw for Michael Madsen. Croc begins with Jack (Peter Tuinstra), an American struggling to afford to keep a zoo open in Thailand, being harassed by the local nefarious business tycoons the Konsong brothers who plan to seize possession of the zoo and replace it with a road for their new property development nearby.
Since Jack’s sister Allison (Elizabeth Healey) keeps paying off the zoo’s debts, the Konsong brothers use their leverage to force a health inspection on the zoo, but given the flirty rapport between Jack and animal welfare official Evelyn Namawong (Sherry Phungprasert), that isn’t going to cut it. When Andy Konsong hears of a possible crocodile attack on a swimmer at the beach, he arranges for Jack’s crocodiles to be released from the zoo, to have the blame for the attack fall on Jack. Meanwhile, Jack’s nephew Theo (Scott Hazell) begins a relationship with local girl Chompoo (Duangduean Kumphasee), whose sister was one of the first killed by the crocodile. Soon attacks by the huge and aggressive crocodile add up (including smashing into Chompoo’s family home!), and a bounty for the beast is posted, attracting dozens of would-be Steve Irwin’s, including the scowling, laconic Croc Hawkins (Michael Madsen), a crocodile hunter with a prosthetic leg and a score to settle…
Soon Croc, Jack, Evelyn… actually pretty much the entire cast, excluding the Konsong’s, set off on Croc’s boat to find the Crocodile’s lair (the cool-sounding “rot-pit”) and end it’s reign of terror.
Overall, Croc has a lot going against it, and it’s tough to really pin down why it’s enjoyable. The general plot, recycled as it is, is fine, but some of the individual scenes are frankly baffling. The most egregious offender, but the one most worth highlighting, is the scene in which a 20-foot long killer crocodile remains undetected in a 30 or 40 foot swimming pool, when you can still see the tiles on the bottom of the pool, right up until someone dives into said pool. This sort of ridiculousness really hurts the film, but you’ll not find this sort of mood-shifting hi-jinks particularly unusual, the film doesn’t really have thematic cohesion.
The characters are generally pretty thin, the Konsong’s especially are almost cartoon-like (and bizarrely young, I kept expecting their father to turn up and shout at them for their failures), and the performances are generally pretty bad, luckily Peter Tuinstra has decent charisma and is really trying here. Micheal Madsen turns in the sort of performance that says “Thanks for the free trip to Thailand”, and a lot of the Thai actors probably come across worse than they are by the simple fact they are acting in English.
The Crocodile itself is also a mess, using a combination of a large, un-moving prop, some poor-quality CGI, and a lot of footage of a real crocodile, but which is obviously far smaller than the one in the film and really doesn’t sell the scale, I’m not even convinced it is the same saltwater crocodile species as the CGI or model crocs.
So with a bad crocodile, mediocre acting and some terrible script failures, what is there to enjoy in Croc?
I think that I like the situation that the film starts in, the carefree early scenes in the zoo (including elephant football, that’s worth half a star on its own), and the cartoonishly villainous Konsong brothers trying all sorts of wily schemes to buy the zoo. Theo sneaking into the building site, snapping some spy pics of their nefarious plans and fleeing, chased by 30 workers, to Jack’s passing car. Chompoo’s family causing a bar disturbance to allow Jack to flee from the taxman, and maybe Peter Tuinstra’s earnest performance as the roguish zoo owner.
There is the vaguest hint of Loony Toons about Croc, and that charm (combined with some stunning natural scenery in Thailand) is what I think I enjoy about this. Maybe I just need to find a soap opera to follow… soap operas have killer crocodiles right?