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Crocodile 2: Death Swamp


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🎙️ EPISODE 391: 12.10.21

Crocodile 2: Death Swamp begins with a bank robbery and a freeze frame on the title card (see gif below) and said title card has a different title (Death Roll) than its 'official title' ... basically, everything here immediately screamed, "No. NO. Nope. Go back. Not this. Why. Don't do it. You don't have to do this to yourself, Jeff." But, alas, I DO. I do have to do this to myself. What is life but a series of self-imposed burdens and obligations. That these sometimes might feel "good" or "fun" or "enjoyable" is — in the eyes of this weird and withered 40-year-old man — an ever increasingly random affair. But you wake up and it's the next day, and so you get up and put Crocodile 2: Death Swamp Death Roll on your 2017 Kindle Fire as you ascend the gym's stair master FOR YOUR HEALTH.

When I started #GatorVsCrocVember, which is definitely a thing (?), I didn't have high hopes for this one. So I am as shocked — shocked I tell you! — as anyone that it landed the very top spot of the MovieJeff.com's OFFICIAL #GatorVsCrocVember Ranking....

4. Alligator II: The Mutation
3. Crocodile
2. Alligator
1. Crocodile 2: Death Swamp

And I swear I'm not being contrarian here. This is without a doubt, BY A MILE, the most coherent, most cohesive film of the bunch. The story might be dumb but it flows and has an arc. The characters have clear motivations. It has setups and payoffs. In spite of all of its (occasionally entertaining) bad dialogue/acting and its (surprisingly entertaining/shockingly OK) blend of CGI and practical FX which is fun (to me, at least) in that early 00s way, what holds this thing down is a screenplay and storyline that — I can't even believe I'm writing this — makes sense.

It begins with a first act which feels like an entirely different movie. (We don't see a croc and there is no mention of crocs until 30 minutes in.) So, Mr. Movie Critic, you ask... how does the juxtaposition of a bank robbery/plane hijacking transitioning directly into a monster crocodile movie without warning work in the cinephilic sense? Uh, they crashed in a damn swamp and the swamp has crocs in it? Why do I have to spell this all out for you. That's sound logic in my book, moving right along...

Some of the best So Bad They Are Good moments happen onboard this plane, when we are introduced to some loathsome and vile characters...


That guy is not a good actor. At least, I don't think he is. But he is so creepy and puts of such creepy vibes, I think it worked. The flight attendant he is terrorizing is our protagonist and before boarding this final flight before her vacation, she received a gift from her boyfriend. A zippo lighter that she has trouble lighting. Hmmm. Strange gift, right?


Also, come again now who gives her the gift? The airport shuttle driver??...



Anyhoot, basically the four bank robbers from before are trying to escape to Acapulco with gold and cash and a bunch of guns which they just got on the plane no problemo, please — again — don't question this logic. In the big picture, this logic is not the logic you want to question when it comes to movies of this ilk. Trust me. Bad weather hits and they have to turn the plane around but of course that don't jive with the criminals who then hijack the plane, shoot a hippie in the head, kill the co-pilot and make the pilot crash-land into the aforementioned swamp. And the crash sequence? It doesn't look that bad at all...


As mentioned on the pod, my brain is fully damaged at this point in terms of assessing these B-movies. An unhealthy of combo of Breen and Kaufman recently and all these monster reptile flicks. So maybe that scene isn't 'good' in the classic sense, and maybe this entire movie is actually 'bad'. I can't say for sure. I hope you will at least respect me for being honest.

So they land and there are 8 survivors...

1. Main Character Flight Attendant
2. The Other (Pill-Popping) Flight Attendant
3. Super Creepy Bad Guy
4. Safe-Cracking Kinda Nerdy Bad Guy
5. Partying College Kid Who Is Also a Savant Who Won a Trivia Contest and the Prize was a Trip to Acapulco With All His Friends Only All His Friends are Dead Now
6. The Pilot
7. Martini-ordering Pervy Business Man...


8. The Seat Partner of Martini-ordering Pervy Business Man Who is Gravely Injured and Immediately Shot in the Head by the Bad Guys...


Whoops. Make that 7 characters...

Like I mentioned, 30 minutes in here, and The Pilot is our first croc casualty. BUT! not before he sneaks out the black box (which emits a tracking signal) into the main girl's bag. (That's a'plot, baby!) This particular croc kill is abrupt and 100% out of nowhere and is basically a jump-scare. I liked it...


They actually end up shooting and killing this particular (regular-sized) croc. Setting up a quasi-crocodile revenge subplot involving the massive giant croc that starts hunting them down.

Meanwhile, the boyfriend character learns of his GF's plane crash at an Acapulco bar and the lazy cops won't do a thing about it! Luckily, there is another American at bar, and that guy is played by The Karate Kid's John Kreese (Martin Kove) and he just so happens to A) be an expert tracker, B) own his own helicopter, and C) have a secret hut full of boats and supplies right in the remote area where the plane went down. Again: that's just who he is. That's his truth. Don't worry about it. Oh, I forgot to mention he's also really really drunk...


And the next day when they're in the helicopter and he's flying the helicopter, he seems just as drunk?


Ah, nevertheless! And that's that, really. The rest of the movie plays out exactly as you think it does. The bad guys try to navigate getting out of the swamp with their plane survivor hostages and big bags of stolen gold and cash. Kreese and the boyfriend try to locate the main girl. And all of them (mostly unsuccessfully) try to avoid getting eaten by the giant crocodile.

Some highlights include:

...The pill-popping flight attendant AND the flight recorder getting swallowed by the croc (this sets up a nice "tracking the croc not the plane" plot device)...


...the aforementioned "tracking the croc not the plane" plot device...


...a swamp gun standoff -> nerdy bad guy cool kill....


...RIP martini perv...


...the head bad guy has a great response to Kreese's legend tale 1...


...a scene where the creepy/crazy bad guy 2 acts super creepy/crazy before attempting to rape the main character...


....the college kid gets it but there is some legit interesting stuff here and camera work / tweaked perspective from the croc POV (they actually sorta get into some science of how an actual croc would act/react, which I don't believe any of the other movies attempted to tackle whatsoever)...


...some really bad CGI and green screen as the building they were just in collapses (because giant crocodile) but also some fun work with miniatures...


...creepy guy's death, which — though underwhelming — was still kinda amusing...


At this point, it appears as though Kreese (the tracker) has turned on our happy couple, finally reunited. He accepts 50% of the stash to chopper out the head bad guy. Only, in the words of Lee Corso, NOT SO FAST!


He makes a bee-line back to save the boyfriend and flight attendant but the damn croc snatches his freaking helicopter out of thin air...


Let's check this out again, on repeat....


This sets up the perfect ending. Remember that zippo lighter from the beginning of the movie? Well, they also mentioned that the swamp is crawling with flammable methane gas earlier in the movie. 2+2=4, folks. And they even incorporated her inability to get it lit, which seemed like such a stupid detail at the time...


And a hilariously cheesy line taboot! That's called sticking the landing (even if the actual CGI fire / the croc's death wasn't too rewarding). The movie ends with one final "OK, I see what you did there! Not bad!"....


And one last final cherry on top? The most 2002-sounding alt rock song accompanying the end credits, which apparently was written by the soundtrack composer I believe...

Look. Look. This one doesn't belong in a museum, but after a month of Breen and Tobe Hooper's original film and fucking Alligator II: The Mutation, it was a breath of fresh air in the "Oh this kinda resembles a competent film and isn't that boring" department. It really is that and can't even necessarily be classified as Bad Movie or So Bad It's Good Movie (although I am beginning not to be able to tell the difference). And that was probably the most surprising thing of all.



FOOTNOTES:

1. This trope involving the local legend / tracker character is literally the only thing present in all four movies (in some way). There isn't a single through line or thread connecting either of the two sets of sequels, plot-wise. But each one has a tracker-for-hire guy and/or local legend mythologizer guy. [BACK]

2. Quick s/o to this actor Jon Sklaroff. Like I mentioned, not sure this is a 'good' performance but at one point I was so skeeved by it that I wondered if they just pulled him off some back alley street. He seemed legit fucked up and evil! So, I'm leaning towards 'good acting performance' lol. [BACK]

CHRONOLOGICALLY
EPISODE 390 - (YOU ARE HERE) - EPISODE 392 ⫸

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