Review: Crocodile Fury (Hong Kong/Indonesia 1988)

Easily the most entertaining Godfrey Ho movie I’ve ever seen, Crocodile Fury is a almost non-stop parade of ludicrous reptilian carnage, interrupted only for nonsensical interludes with hopping vampires. The crocodile special effects in particular are mind-blowing. The crocs on display look like they were built out of papier-mâché by an artist who had never seen an actual crocodile.

The crocs mostly lumber around, eating anyone dumb enough to come close, even though they also apparently nimble enough to leap into the air and snatch people out of trees or boats. Fortunately, when the crocs are feeling lazy, the local villagers are more than happy to cavort and frolic in the crocodile-infested waters, as if daring the crocs to eat them. One enterprising villager even does a lovely swan dive into a croc’s open mouth. It’s the damndest thing.

Godfrey Ho is notorious amongst those familiar with his bizarre oeuvre. The man made well over a hundred movies, most of which had the word “Ninja” in the title, and is famous for his <ahem> unique directing style. Basically, Ho bought (or otherwise acquired) footage from cheapo Indonesian and Filipino actioners, and then spliced in footage of Caucasians running around with guns and ninja costumes, along with chunks of hopping vampire films (the only thing he liked nearly as much as ninja were hopping vampires). He would then try to make sense of everything in post, looping in dialogue to try to connect the disparate narrative threads – not that this worked very well, or that he ever seemed to try all that hard.

When done badly, as it usually was, this technique resulted in nigh-unwatchable tedious messes, like Robo-Vampire (Robocop plus ninjas, plus hopping vampires) which nearly killed the CSB team. But in Crocodile Fury, instead of working with boring Filipino gunfights, Ho got hold of some truly insane Indonesian footage, and that makes all the difference. The source film appears to be one of the many Indonesian “Crocodile Queen” films, but Ho removed most of the footage that didn’t involve crocs eating people and replaced it with hopping vampire spy intrigue.

He also replaced the soundtrack with an English dub that, decades before Mad Men, coincidentally has Indonesian villagers named Don, Peggy and Mr. Cooper, as well as a witch named Monica (or, as the dubs pronounce it, Monicer). In a lot of ways, the soundtrack is one of the most important characters in the film, full of screaming, growling and ‘80s-style laser noises.

I caught this at the Alamo Drafthouse NYC, and unsurprisingly, the source material is not great. And by not great, I mean a bootleg tape with burnt in Greek subtitles. I honestly can’t imagine a better way to see it. Crocodile Fury is immensely stupid, but also the best time I’ve had at the movies in months. Watch out for the re-used footage from The Ten Commandments.

2 1/2 out of 4 stars (Good).

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One Response to Review: Crocodile Fury (Hong Kong/Indonesia 1988)

  1. David says:

    This appears to be one of the sources, thanks to CSB’ Jeff for the detective work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1-eNPzG91Y

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