Laelaps Movie of the Week: Supercroc

I knew this movie was going to be painful, but Supercroc makes last week’s film (Raptor Island) look like classic American cinema by comparison. I’m actually surprised that the film was not called “The Thing That Ate Los Angeles,” although the film’s super-sized antagonist seemed to accidentally step on/fall on its victims rather than consume them. At least it was short; mercifully, anticlimactically so.

Playing with relative sizes of organisms to make human beings helpless is a classic technique in science fiction and horror films, most notably seen in pictures like 1957’s The Incredible Shrinking Man and 1966’s Fantastic Voyage. Supercroc operates on a bit of a different assumption, however, mainly being that if crocodiles are scary when they’re 13-21 feet long, a 100 foot monster must be at least 5 times scarier. Plenty of monster films give rampaging animals a bit of a size boost to make them more threatening, but in Supercroc the filmmakers figured that a city as big as Los Angeles would not a pretty sizable monster to threaten it. A croc of such tonnage needs more explanation than “It’s just a big one,” though, and hence one of the most mind-numbing paleontological explanations I’ve ever heard was written.

Giant crocodilians have been known to paleontologists for some time, Deinosuchus and the more recently uncovered Sarcosuchus being prime examples. Despite common comments that crocodilians as we know them today predated the dinosaurs and haven’t changed at all during their tenure on this planet, both monstrous ambush predators were Cretaceous in age, their ancestors being primarily terrestrial and looking little like living Nile or Saltwater Crocodiles (the extinct related group the phytosaurs filled the crocodilian niche far earlier than Deinosuchus or Sarcosuchus during the late Triassic, although most did not attain the huge size of their ecological successors). The team that came up with Supercroc was not aware of any of this, though, as we are told that the gargantuan killer that gives the film its name is a Triassic holdover with near impervious armor that has escaped the extinction at the end of the Cretaceous by living underground. To put it in the words of the film’s “forensic paleontologist,” it was a “tank with an appetite” that’s “impervious to modern bullets.”*

*I would wager that by this she didn’t mean that musketballs would prove to be extremely effective against the creature.

How did such a large animal end up in southern California in the present day? No one really seems to know, and the movie starts off by having us tag along with a man and woman betrothed to be married that decided to play “army men” with some friends in a national park. The film might try to convince you that these people are soldiers on some sort of cryptic mission, but it’s starkly apparent that the couple that was due to be wed decided to pick up some M-16’s and camouflage pants so that they could stroll through the woods and discuss wedding arrangements while pointing their weapons at god-knows-what. The playdate doesn’t go well, however, Mama crocodile showing up to polish off everyone except the bride-to-be (although they could still be alive; all the deaths were off-screen). How do we know that this was a Mrs. rather than a Mr. Crocodylus? A ditch full of half-exposed eggs is discovered, although it takes until the end of the film for anyone think of making omelettes for 12 out of them.

The military, confined (as always) to a small control room with lots of flashing lights, seems awfully confused by the situation; it takes a while for them to realize that they’re dealing with a giant crocodile even though they appear to have had some notion of its existence previously (“Oh, that giant crocodile?”). Once they get their brains in order the beast is on the doorstep of Los Angeles, the mysterious paleontologist character recommending that they give the man-eater a huge dose of “Flaxodil” in order to incapacitate it. Flaxodil sounds like a drug that has more to do with erectile dysfunction than the ever-present problem of marauding archosaurs, and the plan seems to be forgotten as the creature encounters little resistance from soldiers as it slinks across the city limits.

The crocodile isn’t as hungry as it is concerned about its babies, however, as there is some implied conspiracy involving taking DNA from the eggs to create a new kind of biological super-weapon for defense, our forensic paleontologist even receiving orders from the president (I don’t think that this would fall under “Faith Based Initiatives”). As per horror movie rules, though, our “mad” scientist meets her end when she decides to send a text message to Dick Cheney and crashes into the leg of the croc, but only after she tossed the egg she was carrying into a dumpster so that one day Supercroc 2 would hatch out of its shell.

While the various military officers are hemming and hawing in their cramped control room, the aforementioned woman who’s fiancée became Purina Croc-Chow decides to take matters into her own hands, although she’s teamed up with another solider who seems more concerned about finding the nearest case of Pabst Blue Ribbon than the toothy terror. Ultimately her “backwoods croc experience” (as it is referred to in the film) comes in handy as she recalls that if you want to open a huge croc for dinner and the electric can-opener (i.e. chainsaw) is broken, the best way to get the job done is by placing a bomb underneath it. Mama croc experiences a bellyache even Pepto Bismol can’t cure, surly solider is treated to a beer by the available heroine, and the abandoned egg hatches right on cue, the fade-to-black clocking in at just under 1 hour and 20 minutes. What the flood of croc-skin belts and luggage did to the local economy in the following days is left to the imagination.

What I learned from this film;

Army officers cannot distinguish an engagement ring from a wedding ring, and their subordinates are sure to let them know this in no uncertain terms the moment a mistake in made in this area.

Before you break ground on a new construction project, be sure to check from giant, Triassic crocodilians hiding underneath the proposed property. You never know when there could be some fanged monstrosity hiding under the soil that could threaten to delay the building of a new set of McMansions.

Not to be confused with;
Supergator (Note: Buckets of blood are seen in the trailer, which appears to depict every cast member being eaten);

Supergator not to be confused with DinoCroc (despite the use of the exact same CGI model);

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