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Australia 1987
Directed by
Arch Nicholson
90 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Dark Age

Perhaps it was the monster success of Crocodile Dundee the previous year that prevented Dark Age, a story about a monster croc, from getting a theatrical release or perhaps potential distributors recognized that Arch Nicholson’s low budget monster flick was never going to find an audience  - it was not gory enough for teens, too naff for adults and the drive-ins were a thing of the past – although it did get a video release in the US, marketed as an action adventure (see poster above).

John Jarratt, plays a Northern Territory park ranger, Steve, with a environmental and Aboriginal sympathies who has to try to both appease his bosses and save a giant crocodile after ot kills some redneck poachers and it strikes fear into the local tourism industry as it picks off more victims.

In spirit, it’s Jaws (1975) with a crocodile although not anywhere near as good (and its title is, to say the least, opaque). The director, Arch Nicholson, who had been second unit duties on the Aussie cult horror flick Razorback (1984) is uninspired with the action and unlike Spielberg never manages to overcome the limitations of having to work with a mechanical croc whilst the script by Sonia Borg and (uncredited) Stephen Cross and (uncredited) Tony Morphett tries to eke out the meagre narrative options of the man vs croc scenario by setting up various ecological/philosophical issues and giving Steve a stormy relationship with an old flame (Nikki Coghill).

Dark Age is not exactly a bad film but it's not exactly a good one either  - in hindsight, at least, it needed to be one or the other rather than stumbling around in the middle ground. That its best moments are when the croc polishes off some rednecks, engendering priceless vernacular lines such as "stuff me arm -- get me into the bloody boat!" indicates the direction it probably should have gone in.

The film has been recently re-packaged for DVD with an endorsement from Quentin Tarantino who correctly identifies it as hybrid of monster, ecological horror and ozploitation genres  - but don’t get your hopes up, it’s a good deal less than the sum of its parts.

Available from: Umbrella Entertainment




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