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Dinocroc vs. Supergator DVD Review

Dinocroc vs. Supergator DVD cover art - click to buy DVD from Amazon.com Dinocroc vs. Supergator

Original Air Date: June 26, 2010 / Running Time: 87 Minutes / Rating: Not Rated

Director: Jay Andrews / Writers: Jay Andrews, Mike MacLean

Cast: David Carradine (Jason Drake), Rib Hillis (Bob "The Cajun" Logan), Amy Rasimas (Cassidy Swanson), John Callahan (Charlie Swanson), Corey Landis (Paul Beaumont), Lisa Clapperton (Victoria Chase), James Burns (FBI Agent Mark Conrad), Delia Sheppard (Kimberly Taft), Jeff Rector (Stewart Taft), Eddie Spivak (Bruce), Jenny Leigh Robinson (Katie - Girl at Beach), Carrie Stevens (Drake's Nurse), Michael Bernardi (Chaz Kingsley), Aurelia Scheppers (Chaz' Girl #1 - Vicki), Brandi Williams (Chaz' Girl #2 - Monica), Adrian Alverado (Lerner), Terril Hardaway (Mercenary Leader), Matt Riggle (Monroe), Travis Richey (Marsden), Ryan Satin (Patterson), Eduardo Rojas (Weeks)

1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish; Not Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
DVD Release Date: July 12, 2011 / Suggested Retail Price: $19.98
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5)
Black Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available on Blu-ray Disc ($24.97 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video

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Is it even possible to keep Syfy's recent TV movies straight in your mind? I've reviewed three of them in the past four months
and they're all already blurring together. It doesn't help that each centers on one or more man-eating monsters given a compound name, a crude CGI existence, a standard-issue coastal vacation destination to threaten, and some vaguely familiar entertainers standing up to them.

Dinocroc vs. Supergator is the latest production in this mold to come to DVD. It's not the latest to be made; it debuted just over a year ago and it had to be made over a year before that, since it features David Carradine, who died in June 2009. That makes this the final collaboration of Carradine and famed schlock producer Roger Corman. Carradine starred in two of Corman's best-known movies of the 1970s, Boxcar Bertha (directed by a young Martin Scorsese) and Death Race 2000, whose recent remake gave credit to both men.

In one of his last movie roles and the final in a 40-year collaboration with Roger Corman, David Carradine plays ailing, unscrupulous businessman Jason Drake. The man known as both "The Cajun" and Bob Logan (Rib Hillis) multi-tasks, taking a phone call while waiting for a reptile to respond to the blood he just shed in the Louisiana bayou.

Back in the day, Carradine and Corman were like De Niro and Scorsese, except their movies earned little acclaim and didn't seek any. After closing out the '70s teaming up every year (other works included Cannonball!, Thunder and Lightning, Deathsport, and Fast Charlie... the Moonbeam Rider), Carradine and Corman went their separate ways,
only to reunite ten years later in the little-seen modern equivalents of B-movies (things with such generic titles as Kill Zone and Battle Gear).

Carradine worked endlessly, racking up dozens of movie and television credits almost every year. Aside from his signature franchise, the 1970s TV series "Kung Fu" and its 1990s revival, his most notable gig was playing the title character in Quentin Tarantino's two Kill Bill movies in the middle of last decade. Carradine followed up those highly-regarded, high-profile films with appearances in everything from Epic Movie and National Lampoon's Stoned Age (a.k.a. Homo Erectus) to Crank: High Voltage and the Rob Schneider prison comedy Big Stan. Clearly, he wasn't lowering his standards to appear in this near the unexpected end of his life.

Dinocroc vs. Supergator is a sequel to both 2004's Dinocroc and 2007's Supergator (which began as Dinocroc 2). Our story takes place in Kauai, Hawaii, where a top secret lab has its two big genetic experiments break out of containment in succession. You can guess what they are. To understand them, perhaps you must see their origin movies, because this one doesn't bother to detail them or articulate their differences. Does it matter, anyway? The point is you've got two giant, bloodthirsty reptiles on the loose.

The movie pays more attention to the humans determined to track them down. A fleeting Carradine plays Jason Drake, the wealthy head of the company that engineered the deadly duo. Most of his lab's scientists were killed in the breakout and he hires a team to do in those who weren't. One who wasn't (Delia Sheppard) becomes targeted by Victoria Chase (Lisa Clapperton), Drake's reliable, elusive English enforcer. Meanwhile, Paul Beaumont (Corey Landis), a nerdy spy from the government agency investigating Drake's unauthorized doings, teams up with sheriff's daughter and conservation officer Cassidy Swanson (Amy Rasimas) to pursue and eliminate the creatures. Hired by Drake but joining forces with them is "The Cajun" (Rib Hillis), an unaccented man from the Louisiana bayou who is devout in his practice of killing hazardous reptiles.

Conservation officer Cassidy Swanson (Amy Rasimas) and government agent Paul Beaumont (Corey Landis) become sort of lovers and definite allies in the hunt for genetically-engineered creatures. These two insignificant friends (Ashley Murphy and Katy Magnuson) offer to pose in their bikinis for a nature photographer. You can guess how that works out for them.

Every so often, the movie takes a break from these assorted exposition-driven dynamics to give us kills. It introduces characters and quickly chips away at their sympathy, so that viewers might cheer when these annoying folks soon meet the sharp teeth of the Frankensteinian gator and croc. One man shows little respect for his girlfriend. A movie star is very arrogant on his post-wrapping getaway with two women. A middle-aged woman keeps asking about where Elvis stayed on a tour of an historic abandoned Hawaiian hotel. That kind of behavior doesn't just rub you the wrong way; it seems to entice the weightless computer-animated beasts like chum attracts Jaws. Surely, a movie called Dinocroc vs. Supergator on Syfy has certain expectations of carnage to meet and it does that with unrealistic disembowelments and the like.

The combination of Syfy, Corman, and that absurd "vs." title should be enough for you to anticipate this being a stupid movie. And indeed it is. But it's also a notch or two above some of the basic cable's other recent movies. It realizes its main attraction is camp value and thus it has a sense of humor about its brainless monstrosity and the humans combating it; Paul, for instance, spends much of the movie defending the loud aloha shirt he chose for his day of fishing. Still, it doesn't push too hard on the comedy (there are no '80s pop stars wrestling in food here), allowing you to take the story with a modicum of seriousness and never mind that you're not entirely sure whether you're laughing with or at the movie.

Like Corman's other Syfy creations, this one carries an air of lechery in its gratuitous use of women in bikinis and also seizes an opportunity for self-homage. It's easy to belittle Corman's work for its thrifty inanity, but halfway into his eighties, he seems to be having fun still.

You'll have to know your reptiles to know whether this is Dinocroc or Supergator munching on a scientist as part of his laboratory escape. For no good reason other than to recall "Predator", marines take on the creature in the jungle, a scene featured in the DVD's main menu montage.

VIDEO and AUDIO

Like Corman's other Syfy movies, this is shot on film and maintains a low-budget, poorly-lit look in the DVD's 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation. The picture is clean, making the subpar visual effects all the easier to deride, and marred only by some mild edge enhancement. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack remains very anchored in the front channels, neglecting opportunity to generate any atmosphere in the rear. It does expand to them with its score, which has a MIDI quality to it half of the time. Though not always crisp or matching mouth movements, the dialogue is audible throughout and also transcribed and translated in English SDH and Spanish subtitles.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

Anchor Bay treats Dinocroc vs. Supergator to two standard bonus features: an ordinary video trailer (1:34) and, from the Set Up menu, an audio commentary by executive producer Roger Corman and writer/director Jim Wynorski (who for some reason is credited on the movie as Jay Andrews). Corman and Wynorski are both questioned by independent producer Perry Martin.
If you've heard one of Corman and Martin's recent commentaries, you've heard them all (even if he's spoken over every recent Syfy movie he's done). Oblivious to the way in which their films are enjoyed, they talk seriously about location filming, casting, visual effects, getting featured on "The Soup", fudging things as they go along, Carradine's death, and, one of Corman's favorite subjects, the significance of movie titles. Corman's longevity and philosophies are distinctive enough to make this more interesting than the average track, but I don't see many who aren't thorough home video critics making time for it.

The DVD opens with trailers for Sharktopus, Dinoshark, Cyclops, and Roger Corman's Cult Classics.

The scored main menu places listings over a widescreen-filling montage of action clips.

The disc is packaged in a black Eco-Box keepcase, which holds no inserts but is topped by a selectively textured and otherwise redundant cardboard sleeve.

In light of the title, it wouldn't be right if Dinocroc and Supergator did not eventually square off.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Dinocroc vs. Supergator doesn't depart from the methods Roger Corman and Syfy have favored on their other collaborations. The no-name acting and effects are weak, the writing is clunky and meaningless, and watching it play out probably kills some brain cells. Corman wouldn't have it any other way and neither would his fans, assuming there are some out there. Supporters will defend this as harmless, mindless fun, as would Corman, who'd also point out that it's improbably profitable as well.

The DVD and, currently selling for $1 less on Amazon, Blu-ray are useful for those who enjoy this kind of thing but don't watch enough TV to justify the high costs of cable. It's not something you'd want to see more than once and it's probably not something you'd want to see even once. If I'm wrong about that, go ahead and add it to your Netflix queue along with the likes of Sharktopus and Dinoshark.

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Reviewed July 10, 2011.



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