If you saw the above image and thought to yourself, "Wow, that looks like a dude riding a flying crocodile," then you are indeed correct. Mostly anyway.
Crocodile Fury marks our third visit to the group known at Alamo Drafthouse as Video Vortex: VHS insanity from beyond the universe.
“VIDEO VORTEX unearths ultra-obscure, ultra-bizarre movies from the fringes of the universe. And beyond. Every movie is curated to potentially be the greatest thing that you've never seen. This is a showcase for movies that were only released -- or never released -- on home video. But here, they're blown up on the big screen and ready to annihilate reality in ways that aren't possible in the safety of a living room. From Turkish bootlegs to D.I.Y. goreblasts, these movies are surreal, hilarious, and admirable -- usually all at once.”
Each month, the group showcases a film, always prefaced by our hosts with fun behind the scenes info and trivia. Add to the experience fellow appreciators of the obscure as your theatre mates as well as some beer and popcorn, and you pretty much have the most amazing date night ever. You know. If you’re into that sort of thing.
This past visit, they even held a competition between two of the audience members. The prize? VHS copies of Crocodile Dundee parts I and II. Of course.
Our first foray to the event was The Brain followed by Things and now the bizarre Crocodile Fury. Next up is Desperation Rising for which we’ve already bought tickets. Suffice to say, we have loved every one and look forward to watching each new film to which we otherwise would have never been exposed.
I’d like to start chronicling these adventures to a) give mad props to the guys in charge of running Video Vortex without whom we wouldn’t have these oddities to enjoy, especially in Dallas, and b) spread the love of these wackadoodle films!
So where do we begin with a film that contains vampires, zombies, witches, and crocodile shapeshifters?
The Vortex team pitched it like this:
“No animals were harmed during the making of CROCODILE FURY, but many humans were. Deep within the jungle, raging crocodiles devour men, women, and especially children for no good reason. BUT ALL IS NOT WHAT IT SEEMS! The killer crocs are really the ghosts of reincarnated humans who battle for the fate of the universe against hopping vampires, martial arts zombies, and a witch with Freddy Krueger fingers. For real!! With generous helpings of deranged crocodile puppets, lo-fi gore explosions, and stolen Kraftwerk songs, CROCODILE FURY can best be described as JAWS meets WONDER SHOWZEN meets who-the-fuck-knows. Directed by Godfrey Ho -- the person responsible for over 140 ninja movies -- and screening from a bootleg tape with Greek subtitles for maximum confusion.”
Godfrey Ho apparently purchased the rights to previously made Thai films for a very cheap price, then expanded them into full-length features with added footage. He then marketed them with badass looking posters that made the films look way cooler than they actually are (well, I guess that's debatable) to get people in the theaters.
Based on this, we'd assume there's a Schwarzenegger type macho man and a super hot babe fending off deadly crocodiles with the help of special forces units in the expanse of an enormous body of water. There's guns and explosions and boobs. Right?
Wrong. Mr. Muscles is not even present (unless that's supposed to be the Master of the Sea), and if the babe is supposed to be Monica, the only Caucasian female in the cast, we're not sure why she's in the mouth of a croc on the poster since she has more to do with the hopping vampires.
Sound bizarre yet? All this combined with, as mentioned, Greek subtitles, makes the viewing experience completely insane. In a very good way.
The audio is dubbed. The scenes which were added to the existing footage have no real correlation to the rest of the film other than the random appearances of hopping vampires and zombies.
We follow a group of villagers who are plagued by crocodile attacks and Jack (it should be noted that all the main characters have bland white people names like Donald and Jack), "a man of faith," who is attempting to get to the bottom of all the craziness as well as a group of demonic crocodiles who shift between human and crocodile form and live in a den which seems to exist in some type of alternate dimension beneath the river.
There is also Monica, the "witch with Freddy Krueger fingers," whose primary spellcasting technique involves waving her hands in a ball-like motion while chanting, "hummahummahummahumma," and sometimes pointing her fingers with an added "dink!" sound effect to summon or dismiss her minions.
So, basically what I'm saying is I already know my Halloween costume for this year.
The crocodiles are of course incredibly fake looking puppets, and much of the time during attack sequences they don't even open their mouths but simply sway their noses toward victims who scream in chaotic terror. There are a lot of close-ups of croc teeth meant to instill fear. Or hilarity. Villagers seem to fall aimlessly into the water and yet manage to land precisely inside their assailants' jaws, but when rescued later they have no wounds or signs of bleeding.
One crocodile does steal a baby. Why, you ask? Why not?
So what the hell are all these crocodiles doing? Well, Monica decides to work with Cooper, the Master of the Sea World, to take possession of the villagers' souls. Monica reanimates the dead into her vampire minions while Cooper sends demonic crocodiles to make them into one of their own. For some reason we have Jack, too, because Ho needed to add enough extra scenes for a full-length film. And in the midst of all this mayhem is also some romantic drama.
Because let's be real: at the heart of this film is actually a love story. Yes, that's right. Crocodile shapeshifter and human forbidden love. And crocodile shapeshifter-crocodile shapeshifter love. Or something. We think.
If you can find a copy of the VHS somewhere, don't hesitate to snatch it up, no matter the subtitle language.
Video Vortex screenings are held nationwide, so if you're interested in joining the fun then check out your local Alamo Drafthouse.
Have you been lucky enough to see Crocodile Fury? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
As soon as I read the announcement this past Thursday morning, I immediately went in search of every detail I could possibly find about the new Jim Henson Company series coming to Netflix.
Every time I got sick as a child, we'd rent The Dark Crystal from the grocery store (because that's where you rented movies in those days) to make me feel better. We finally got it on VHS years later, and it was like finding the Holy Grail. I also remember getting my first VHS of Labyrinth from a family friend, who managed a Blockbuster, because in those days movies weren't as easy to buy. I proceeded to screw up the cover by actually trying to solve the maze with a pen. But anyway. That's another story.
For me, films like Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal fueled a huge and significant portion of my childhood imagination and fascination. The depth of the worlds, the memorable characters, creatures, voices, and music, the whimsical ornateness of the visuals, the adventure and even haunting, frighthening elements of the stories aren't just watched - they are experienced and cherished.
On the series' official website, the team has put together a beautiful timeline of the entire Dark Crystal universe, which you can fall in love with here.
Take your time exploring because there are some really amazing photo galleries of characters and Skeksis, urRu and Pod People artifacts as well as behind the scenes footage. There is also an informative timeline tracing the making of the original film from its origins in 1976 to its U.S. premiere in 1982 and UK/France premiere in 1983. If you need to cram for Dark Crystal trivia night, there is also an Encyclopedia and a Glossary.
Look at this awesome artwork!
So What do We Know so Far?
The 10-episode fantasy-adventure series comes to Netflix as a prequel, taking place many years before the first film, with release date currently unannounced. It will be filmed in the U.K. and will feature fantastic creatures by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop™ and the original film's concept designer, Brian Froud.
The series will be directed by Louis Leterrier (Now You See Me, The Incredible Hulk), a self-professed and passionate fan of The Dark Crystal universe. It will be produced by The Jim Henson Company and executive produced by Leterrier, Halle Stanford and Lisa Henson (Henson's daughter and acting CEO of the company). Writers include Will Matthews (Life in a Year) and Javier Grillo-Marxuach (Lost, The 100), among others.
The involvement of both Lisa Henson and Brian Froud is promising. We know that the Jim Henson Company's influence will keep the new content close to its source material.
So what's the story?
The main plotline:
"When three Gelfling discover the horrifying secret behind the Skeksis’ power, they set out on an epic journey to ignite the fires of rebellion and save their world."
For those unfamiliar with the timeline of the entire Dark Crystal world, there is a book entitled, The Dark Crystal: The Novelization, written by A.G.H. Smith in 1982 and based upon the script and production notes of the film. It features gorgeous illustrations from Brian Froud and divulges in much greater detail the mythology and history of Thra.
Reportedly, Smith gave a draft to Jim Henson, who returned it with 20 additional pages of notes. So we know his input played a large role in the novel's creation. This expanded lore now serves as the foundation of the mythology for The Dark Crystal universe and will be utilized for the new series.
In other historiography, the graphic novel series entitled The Dark Crystal: Creation Myths from Achaia Studios Press delves into the origins of Aughra, urSkeks, Skeksis, Mystics, Gelfling, and the Dark Crystal itself.
We read the tale of Aughra's birth and of her son, Raunip, the evolution of her relationship with the Gelfling and their development on the planet, the arrival of the urSkeks, the division into the urRu and the Skeksis, and much more awesomesauce.
There is also a continuation of the original film's story, taking place hundreds of years later. Originally planned as a film, it sadly failed after 12 years of development to ever make it to production. The story did eventually take shape in the medium of a 12-issue comic book series called, The Power of the Dark Crystal. Presumably these might be used to continue the series on Netflix, but we'll have to wait and see!.
The existing world timeline presents us with 3 currently known eras: The Age of Innocence, the Age of Harmony, and the Age of Division.
Based on this, I'm hypothesizing that this new tale will take place long after the births of Aughra and her son, Raunip, as well as the arrival of the urSkeks. But hopefully, we will at least get to see some cool, albeit perhaps brief, backstory footage on the creation of the Castle of the Crystal and the construction of The Great Observatory, embellishing upon the lore of the original film.
The series' title, "Age of Resistance," places us somewhere after the Second Conjunction and the Great Division, when the Skeksis and the Crystal begin to taint Thra with darkness. There is then The Gathering of the Gelfling, the creation of the Wall of Destiny and the beginning of the Garthim War.
It is at this point I believe we'll meet our 3 main characters, lighting the torches of prophecy and venturing out into the dangers of Thra to become heroes and eradicate the darkness.
The teaser trailer released this past Thursday doesn't give us any glimpse of what the new series has in store other than an homage to the magic of Jim Henson, his dedication to the craft and his pride in the film's creation. These are all great messages for the new series' audience: we expect to see elaboration on the original wonder and enchantment of the first film as well as an entirely new, visually rich tale to fall in love with and to enhance the mythos.
Along with warming the hearts of our own inner children, there are additionally now entirely new generations who have yet to experience the journey.
Bottom line: there's a lot to celebrate and to be excited about here.
Fan guys and gals, better start swiping up your Dark Crystal memoribilia because with the launch of the new series the original value will grow. I had to snag one of these Kira and Fizzgig Pop!s as well as the hardcover copy of Smith's novel. At Texas Frightmare Weekend, we spotted this gorgeous original poster, and now I'm cursing myself for not snatching it up!
If you're not a part of memoribilia-obsessed nerd culture, no worries. You can simply fantasize about the splendor in anticipation of more news for Age of Resistance!
What are you most excited about for the new series? Let us know in the comments below!
Watch the Teaser Trailer Now!
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Read the official press release here.