Review: Dark Age

Blu-ray: Dark Age (1987)

Park ranger Steve Harris (John Jarratt) and two aborigine trackers try to find a huge crocodile that has been killing the local population. One of the trackers has a psychic link to the croc and wants to restore it to its home breeding ground to live out the rest of its life in peace, all the while in a race against time as a gang of local hunters want nothing more than to blow it to pieces…and possibly make some shoes and a handbag out of it.

The above synopsis makes it sound nothing more than the usual 80’s cheesy monster movie that frequented video stores back in the day, but where Dark Age stands above its tongue in cheek peers is in playing it all dead straight and not for laughs. There’s one particular scene involving a small child that was definitely shocking and caught me by surprise!

Often unfairly compared to Jaws, Dark Age is more than the sum of its parts. Characters are well fleshed out, and despite having the cliched town official who lives in denial about the severity of the threat, most others have a rounded character arc and time for some backstory about them. This helps you to empathise with the situation that they find themselves in…and also if they live or die of course.

Despite its low budget, Dark Age does a decent enough job on selling you the reality of a 30 foot crocodile and the terror that it would induce as it got a bit peckish and a taste for human flesh. Slowly moving through the murky waters, the tension builds ever higher as it approaches its unaware prey.

It would have been so easy for Dark Age to slip dangerously into comedy, so kudos to director Arch Nicholson for keeping it on a more serious tone…no cameo by Crocodile Dundee. One-liners and winks to camera have been replaced with a story that you can really buy into…yes, despite a man with a psychic link to a crocodile.

This is the 1st review of a release from our new antipodean friends at Umbrella Entertainment, and if this is anything to go by, we’re definitely in for a treat watching more of what they have to offer.

Some great extra features not only expand upon the making of the movie, but also includes the fascinating documentary ‘Living With Crocodiles’ which gives you a great insight into these age old creatures.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

  • Audio Commentary with Actor John Jarratt and Executive Producer Antony I. Ginnane
  • A Bicentenary with Bite: Revisiting “Dark Age”- Panel discussion with film historians Lee Gambin, Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, Emma Westwood and Sally Christie
  • Uncut ‘Not Quite Hollywood’ Interviews with John Jarratt and Antony I. Ginnane
  • Living With Crocodiles: 1986 documentary with Grahame Webb, author of ‘Numunwari’, the book which inspired DARK AGE- Trailer and original
  • US release Home Video trailers
  • Image Gallery including rare press and promotional material

Review by Dave (host of 60 Minutes With) from a disc kindly supplied by Umbrella Entertainment.