Friday, May 13, 2005

Crocodiles, Pedophiles, and the Magic of Juxtaposition

1981, Thailand
Sompote Sands

Before we get too far into this critique, I’d just like to state for the record that this is not the recent Tobe Hooper film of the same name. That film does not deserve a review, let alone all the work I’d have to do looking through an internet thesaurus for synonyms of ‘odious’. Hooper has made some great films in the past, probably by accident, but Crocodile is not one of them. I’d say that he phoned in the direction of the film, but I’m fairly convinced that he’s gone far too insane to work the complex mechanism of a touch-tone phone, preferring instead to show up on set, gibbering like a retarded infant while some production assistants run around with the camera shooting bad special effects and cobbling the footage together on a lap top. We all though he’d hit rock bottom with The Mangler, the terrifying tale of a killer washing machine, but apparently he’s got quite a ways to go yet. And it’s not like this is virgin territory for Hooper. Not only is he an old hand at horror films, having created such classics as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Funhouse, and Poltergeist, he’s already directed a killer crocodile movie, 1977’s Eaten Alive. I can’t stress how strange I find it that someone would make two unrelated crocodile movies, and yet manage to have learned nothing from the experience. And why am I writing about Tobe Hooper’s Crocodile, mere sentences after decrying it as unreviewable? Honestly, it’s because I now realize I’d prefer to think about that than to dwell on the Sompote Sands movie. Sand’s film starts off with a bang, literally, as a nuclear bomb test causes a hurricane, which in turn destroys a vacation island, which naturally leads to an enormous crocodile eating a bunch of Thai villagers. None of this, of course, makes any sense whatsoever, except for the part about eating Thai people. I’m a big fan of coconut, and I’m willing to grant that feasting on a passel of poor Southeast Asian fishermen might be akin to a very large serving of that beef red curry you can get on the lunch special at Souvenir de Bangkok. The crocodile in question is comically massive and, a la King Kong, seems to change size radically depending on script needs, but this doesn’t seem to bother the characters as much as the fact that the crocodile is hiding in the ocean. This is quite a mysterious plot twist, unless of course you know anything whatsoever about crocodiles, in which case you might remember that they usually live in salt water. Regardless, the main characters, a university professor named Dr. Akom and a villager named Tanaka, are quite baffled by this turn of events, and consult a crocodile expert, who muses over the question for quite some time before not answering in order to get out of the way of an incredibly boring climax ripped off from the end of Jaws. But the real question is not why the crocodile was living in the ocean, how it got so big, or what exactly the hurricane had to do with anything, but rather who would win in a fight, Sompote Sands, or Tobe Hooper. Normally, I would pick Hooper, because films like Night Terrors and Spontaneous Combustion prove that he’s got insanity on his side, but one must remember that Sands is no stranger to lunatic filmmaking himself, having directed both The 6 Ultra-Brothers vs. The Monster Army and the original version of Space Warriors 2000, the latter of which makes a negligible amount of sense. So, in terms of the wiliness of dementia, they’re both evenly matched. Sands is Thai, which means he can probably fight just like Sagat from Street Fighter 2, and Tobe, as an American, is probably only well-versed in the art of brawling, though Rocky 5 has taught me that with enough heart, that’s all you need. Hooper is getting on in years, however, though Sands may very well be dead, having not made a film since 1985, though judging by Crocodile there may be other reasons for that.

The Woodsman
2004, USA
Nicole Kassell

The Woodsman, a newly released film starring Kevin Bacon as a sympathetic pedophile, is certainly not your run of the mill Hollywood blockbuster. Every once in a while, a film comes across that deals with subject matter so controversial or so sacrosanct that no reviewer, regardless of how jaded or cynical, can feel comfortable making light of it, or even pointing out its obvious faults. This occurrence is rare, but all too familiar to modern audiences. It happened with Schindler’s List, it happened with The Passion of the Christ, it happened with every damn Holocaust documentary, and it’s happening again with The Woodsman. Even I, with my predilection for off-color comments and humor based entirely on scatological functions and racial stereotypes, have difficulty bringing myself to make light of this film and its content. After all, fun is fun, but even in this age of American Pie-level raunchiness and Howard Stern, there are subjects too taboo to mock, too sensitive to broach in polite company with a grin and a flippant attitude. Kevin Bacon’s convicted pedophile Walter has entered this near-fabled sublime territory of untouchability, and with good reason. What reviewer would dare to risk the wrath of film fans and concerned citizens the world over by making light of Kevin Bacon? After all, the man has a career so accomplished he’s got one of those annoying film games only video store clerks and game show contestants can play named after him. He’s played against Meryl Streep, Jack Nicholson and Gary Oldman. He’s been directed by Oliver Stone, Rob Riener, and Clint Eastwood. He was in Animal House, for crying out loud! How could me or any reviewer make light of such a respected thespian, even if he’s in some half-baked movie about cherry-popping coasting along on shock value. Kevin Bacon is an institution, a legend, and I will not have his name sullied in a film review, even if I do have to tear the film apart. First of all, the movie is simplistic and childish. It tells the tale of Walter, a newly released, unrepentant pedophile who is on the verge of returning to his own ways until he gets told a nursery rhyme by a rapper and makes an 11 year girl by being creepy. Secondly, we don’t get to see any diddling, which though morally wrong and rightfully illegal, would have been a prime opportunity to make use of one of the Olsen twins’ newly reached age of maturity.


Anonymous EGG-BERT TURDBUM IV (captain of the household cavalry) said...

mr. karreau, is it true that you still have a dark and brooding obsession with a certain miss "HEATHER O`ROURKE"??? and is it also true that you still watch "POLTERGEIST III" at least 3 times a day, and that you have an incredible feeling of envy and jealousy for "LARA FLYNN BOYLE" every time you see the scene where she embraces miss o`rourke, if these things are true i would`nt worry to much because it simply means that you are the man of the future, just as charles darwin represented the future for mankind 150 years ago.

8:44 a.m.  

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