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The Monster From Jaws Survived – To Become a Giant Croc in Italy

by Tony Nash

(A [Belated] 45th Anniversary Celebration of Jaws Part 1)

(All Opinions are of the Author Alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

(Review is of the original Italian language version)

Killer Crocodile (1989) - IMDb

Killer Crocodile (1989) R *** ½

Richard Anthony Crenna: Kevin, Ecologist Team Leader (as Anthony Crenna)

Sherrie Rose: Pamela, Ecologist Team Member

Pietro Genuardi: Mark, Ecologist Team Photographer (as Julian Hampton)

Ennio Girolami: Joe, the Croc Hunter (as Thomas Moore)

Van Johnson: The City Judge

Ann Douglas: Jennifer, Ecologist Team Biologist

Bill Wohrman: Mr. Foley, Businessman (as Wohrman Williams)

John Harper: Bob, Ecologist Team Member

Franklin Dominguez: The City Pathologist

Written by: Fabrizio De Angelis (as Larry Ludman) & Dardano Sacchetti (as David Parker Jr.)

Directed by: Fabrizio De Angelis (as Larry Ludman)


Synopsis: A team of environmentalists somewhere in the Caribbean jungles discover crooked businessmen have been dumping toxic waste material into a local river, threatening the ecosystem and the livelihoods of the local communities. When locals encounter a crocodile that has mutated from the spill the environmentalists put aside their ideals to team with the local croc hunter to stop it from harming anymore people.

Top 10 Killer Crocodile Flicks! | Arrow in the Head

From the mid-1970’s to 1990, the Italian film industry had a period of killer animal films inspired from the 1975 blockbuster film Jaws. Along with sharks, the Italians also told stories of killer fish, bugs, amphibians, and crocodiles. Tobe Hooper’s Eaten Alive had come out around the same time as Jaws and equally ushered in an interest in Thrillers about the elusive creatures, and the Italians found crocs to be the most doable for their special effects teams. The genre fizzled about 1989, but producer Fabrizio De Angelis decided to send the craze out with a bang in the form of Killer Crocodile. Environmental Activism had taken hold around the world as illegal dumping of hazardous and dangerous materials were being uncovered, and De Angelis, along with regular Lucio Fulci collaborator Dardano Sacchetti, crafted a screenplay with these real-world happenings as the backdrop for the tale. By having the main group of ecologists come into conflict with preserving their ideals and protecting the environment in all its forms vs the loss of human life that will definitely happen if action isn’t taken makes for very interesting drama.

Killer Crocodile (Fabrizio De Angelis, 1989) – Offscreen

Composer Riz Ortolani does the closest thing to a direct rip-off of John Williams’ classic theme of the shark from Jaws with his primary piece that shows when the croc is around and/or ready to strike. The theme is still very good, and is in reality done as a sincere form of flattery, and Ortolani’s overall score is very effective in supplying atmosphere and tension. Special Effects man Giannetto De Rossi is very inventive and creative, and comes up with a fairly realistic looking crocodile for the film. While the obviousness of the croc being animatronic is visible via the eyes not moving at all, De Rossi’s magic touch made the crocodile one of the better practical effect animatronic animals in an age when Italy had a lot of low budget fare coming out in terms of genre cinema.

Killer Crocodile | Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

Cool Ass Cinema: Killer Crocodile (1989) review

Richard Anthony Crenna, son of character actor Richard Crenna, got one of his rare opportunities at a starring role in the part of ecologist team head Kevin. Adopting the stage name Anthony Crenna to distinguish himself from his famous father, Crenna plays Kevin as the typical activist in that he has high moral ideals, very little time to see that both sides have a point, and is take charge. While he’s very right in that the pollution of rivers by less than honest business type people must be put to an end, he learns the hard way that not all victims of such atrocities are innocent and worthy of protection. It’s not very long before he must decide where and when to use his ideals, and when it is time to fight for the good of the people. Van Johnson, an iconic leading man of the 1940’s and 50’s in Hollywood, plays a small, but still important role of the authoritative head of the village. Known only as The Judge, Johnson’s character is the quintessential corrupt and crooked politician who has sold his soul and integrity for money. His conscious does get the better of him when he learns the dumping of the waste has caused a crocodile to become massive and size and begins to wonder what else has affected the area. Whether he can be redeemed is left uncertain.

Killer Crocodile (1989)

Ennio Girolami, credited under the Anglo pseudonym Thomas Moore, an actor noted for both his work and being the brother of famed director Enzo G. Castellari, plays Joe, the local croc expert. Joe is a little like the Quint character from Jaws in that battling crocs is his passion, almost at times bordering on an obsession, and has the scars to prove he’s tangoed with the apex predators and lived. Unlike Quint, he’s sane and more humane in his actions, only killing the beasts when absolutely necessary, and never in any excess that would be considered dangerous to nature and the ecosystem. He respects the law of the jungle and does his best to keep everything in balance.

(Author’s note: I actually preferred Girolami’s character over the group of ecologists as he made far more sense than they did, and came off right away as far more likable.)

Killer Crocodile Blu-ray Review with HD Screenshots

The film’s location scenes were done entirely in the region of Santo Domingo in the Caribbean islands, and show off both the beauty of the area and the local flavor that’s rarely shown in other films. The majority of the extras were played by citizens of the area, so the viewer knows they’re exactly in the Caribbean and the authenticity of the setting is preserved.


A times cheesy given some of the acting, the film is genuinely entertaining and offers quite a bit of unique thrills. While the toxic waste dumping part of the story takes secondary precedent once the croc comes into play, it does serve as the catalyst as to how the beast came into being.

(Believe it or not, I do recommend give this croc flick a try as despite its low budget, has really good production qualities, didn’t take any short cuts to make things safe, and has a good set of character performers, including Hollywood icon Van Johnson. Even De Rossi’s croc is really well done in spite of the eyes being plastic and never moving. The film has two Blu Ray releases, one from the US company Severin and the other from the UK’s 88 Films. The 88 Films release wins out here as it has much better visuals and audio, and offers both the original Italian language as well as the English dub. The special features are virtually the same, save for Severin getting to interview star Richard Anthony Crenna, but what really clenches the deal is the price. 88 Films has both Killer Crocodile films on Blu Ray in a nice set for 25 GBP while Severin only has the rights to the first film with the sequel as a limited offer for $30 plus depending on where you purchase it from. This isn’t to say Severin doesn’t do a good job with their releases, but 88 just had a little more to offer. It’s all a question of which you the viewer prefer.)

All images courtesy of Images and their respective owners

for more information

buying options

Killer Crocodile / Killer Crocodile 2 Collection – The Italian Collection 50 / 51

Killer Crocodile [Blu-ray]

Killer Crocodile [2-Disc Blu-ray Feat. Exclusive Slipcover]

Filed under: Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics

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