Thursday, September 30, 2021

Crocodile Fury (1988)

... aka: Sorceress of the Deep

Directed by:
"Ted Kingsbrook" (Godfrey Ho? Tomas Tang?)
Neramit (uncredited)
Sompote Saengduenchai (uncredited)

Only one of the four crocodile movies Sompote Sands worked on in the 80s received much in the way of international distribution and, sadly, that was CROCODILE (1980), easily the blandest and worst of the lot. His three other ventures into croc territory: KRAI THONG (1980), CROCODILE THERAKWAD (1982) and KRAI THONG 2 (1985), are all a lot more fun despite not being as well known. While none were released here in America, both Krai Thong movies received English releases in other countries. The first was given VHS and VCD releases in Hong Kong with subs, while the second received the cut-n-paste, or as I like to call it, the rape-n-pillage, treatment from Tomas Tang and his Filmark International. As per his usual, he extracted the more entertaining parts from the source movie, tacked his own newly-shot footage to it and basically created a brand new story via the dubbing. The bad part is that a lot was cut from the original KT2 to make room for the new stuff while the original version that hasn't been tampered with is only available in Thai.

What's strange about this particular title is that even though it was dubbed into several different languages, it was never released in any English-speaking country. As far as I know, there were just two versions: a widescreen release that's dubbed into French and a full-screen Greek release that's dubbed into English but has burnt-in Greek subtitles. The latter is also the source print used for all the bootleg DVD versions currently on the market.

We first meet a blonde witch named Monica (listed in the credits as either "Trudy Calder" or "Nina Ferrer") and get a tour of her home, which is filled with candles and various little trinkets, including a skull with red-blinking eyes that shoots smoke out of its nostrils and the Onibaba mask. Monica, decked out in what appears to be the top half of a red clown costume but with garters and stockings instead of pants, waves her hands around a crystal ball. We then cut to two guys with machine guns chasing after a group of other men in the woods. That's followed by a sort-of "best of" montage of crocodile attacks taken from Krai Thong 2; most of which had themselves already been used before in Crocodile Therakwad. Since I've recently viewed both of those, and now this, I've seen many of these attack scenes used no less than three times in three different movies over the past few months!

We then cut to a man named Rudolf ("Lucas Byrne" / Ernst Mausser) wandering around an old temple. He stumbles upon a corpse hanging from a tree, is bitten on the leg by a reanimated skull, finds a worm-faced corpse and then starts throwing up yellow slime filled with maggots. Afterward, he wipes his chin, says "Better!" and then casually walks away (!?) He encounters a pair of jianshi (hopping vampires) but Monica swoops in long enough to save him with the old spell paper to the forehead trick.

According to this new plot, both Monica and Rudolf used to work for some guy who ran something called "the vampire business." Though their former boss is now dead, they're still carrying on doing whatever it was he was doing, which is left so vague (like most of these Filmark releases) it hardly even matters. They make mention of a special agent named Bruce Thompson ("Nick Reece" / Kent Wills), who's trailing them. Monica is encouraged to "keep casting your evil spells to create chaos and divert the agent's attention." One of these involves her making circle motions with her arms and chanting "hubba hubba hubba hubba hubba," which causes one of her pet jianshi to puke black fish into a bowl, which then hop into the mouth of her second jianshi and, uh... does something, I guess? I'm just not entirely sure what.

All of these new scenes are spliced between the KT2 footage, which thanks to the new English dub offers up a similar though somewhat different story with different motivations for the characters. At a village party, a crocodile snatches a guy and starts to drag him off when Jack (Sorapong Chatree) jumps in the water and pries the crocodile's jaws off of him. The crocodile then transforms into Maria (Aranya Namwong), who was Jack's lover in her human existence but is now changed / reincarnated / cursed into being a crocodile-woman. Seems every time Maria is ordered to kill, Jack stops her by reminding her that if she keeps from murdering anyone that the two can be reunited as lovers once again after he passes on.

Maria spends most of her time in a golden underwater cave called "Sea World" along with another croc-woman (Duangcheewan Komolsen), Shamu (just kidding about that one) and the evil Master Cooper (Sor Asanajinda), who plots "world domination" and is in cahoots with Monica. Cooper resurrects a "crocodile spirit" of "an evil sort of man" named Don Moore (!) in his human existence. Don (Lak Apichat) immediately gets to work slaughtering animals (he rips a water buffalo's head clean off) and more villagers in his crocodile form, plus tries to rape all of the croc-women in his human form.

Supansa Nuengpirom and Ampha Phusit, who played Krai Thong's spoiled wives in KT2, have been turned into a couple of bitchy, hilariously-British-accented (!) gossips named May and Peggy here. Thankfully, what hasn't changed is that the entire crocodile massacre at their home (probably the best scene in KT2) has been kept fully intact here. Maria convinces Don to kidnap Peggy and bring her to the cave, where she can be tortured and raped. Maria's motivation? Well, she thinks that Peggy "seduced" Jack away from her. When Maria teams up with Don and the two threaten to overthrow Cooper, he transforms another reptile into a diamond-fanged "crocodile spirit" named Steven (Sombat Methanee). While Don and Steven fight for supremacy of the underwater kingdom, Jack uses magic powers he's just learned from an elder to do battle with both of them.

Annnnd, as that's going on, special agent Bruce starts closing in on Monica. Rudolf attempts to shoot him, but he accidentally kills a villager (Sun Chien) instead. After that failed assassination attempt, Monica sends a bunch of green-blooded, kung fu fighting zombies after him. And when that doesn't work, she unleashes both her hopping vampires AND the zombies on him. Monica, who suddenly sprouts Freddy-like clawed hands at the very end (?!), and Rudolf then attempt to kill him themselves, which somehow results in her stomach swelling and a skull-baby bursting out of it. Yeeee!

As far as Filmark mash-ups are concerned, this is one of the better ones I've seen. "Better" being a relative term, of course. Not that it's really any good or makes a whole lot of sense but it benefits a lot from using an entertaining original film as its backbone while basically just throwing a bunch of entertaining supernatural mumbo jumbo into the mix. This results in fast-paced, seldom-boring good dumb fun, which is the most one can ask from something like this. Thai funnyman Lor Tok and Tanit Pongmanoon appear briefly in the recycled footage.

The pseudonymous director is probably producer Tomas Tang. Some online sources (including some of the posters) claim that Godfrey Ho directed, wrote and / or edited the film, though neither his name nor any of his regular aliases appear in the credits, which are almost entirely fake, anyway. Hard to tell!

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