Killer Crocodile (1989)

So you’re in a swamp (on some unspecified tropical island) which is strewn with drums of toxic and nuclear waste, and you find a monstrous crocodile which is probably some sort of mutant…

And your immediate response — after it eats one of your friends — is to try to keep everyone from killing the beast.

After all, it is unique — and definitely an endangered species, as everyone wants it dead..

You’ve got to admit, as environmentalists go, that is hardcore.  Even by movie environmentalist standards.  Although, to be fair, it does make more sense than that environmentalist character who tries to stop the hunters in Jurassic Park: The Lost World and gets everyone killed.  After all, those dinosaurs were freakish Frankenstein’s monster frog-dinosaur hybrids and not something as much a part of nature as a radioactive mutant.

But don’t worry: after their second friend gets eaten, they become just as enthusiastic about killing it as the crazy local crocodile hunter (or, as we’ll call him, Italian Robert Shaw — on a budget) who becomes their best pal.

After all, nothing brings environmentalists and hunters together like killing giant reptiles.

If you haven’t guessed by now, Killer Crocodile was one of the many Italian Jaws ripoffs of the era.  It’s all here: the Mayor (played by an unrecognizably old Van Johnson) who refuses to help, locals getting eaten, and budget Robert Shaw going out more or less the same way his American counterpart did.

We’ve even got Richard Crenna’s son as the hero (mind you, it is a bad sign when your movie couldn’t meet Richard’s price).

This one proved better than I expected.  Now I’ll admit that I didn’t expect much from a late-Eighties Italian Jaws ripoff, but the monster itself is surprisingly good, the editing makes its attacks effective and frightening (and keeps their crocodile prop from looking too fake), and the cast does a better job than you’ll find in most Italian films of the era.

And for goodness sake, the way they killed the beast left me laughing hysterically.  Good grief, who came up with that?

Just beautiful.

I will note however that the stated rating of “PG-13” is just plain wrong.  This one should have been “R” rated.  You almost have to wonder if the rating went with an edited American version.  That happens now and then, with the most egregious examples I’ve seen being the Video release of Barbarella with what looks like the Australian opening credits and the “PG” rating from the heavily edited post-Star Wars re-release .

So file it under “better than it should be,” ignore the occasional lapse in the dubbing, and don’t look too closely at the fake crocodile.  It’s one of the better Italian Jaws copies and not too shabby as Italian films of the era go, either.  It would be a fine addition to any midnight movie horror marathon.

And it certainly makes you look at outboard motors in a new light…

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