Alligator (1980)

DVD Cover (Lions Gate)
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Connections: Alligator

A baby alligator is flushed down a Chicago toilet and survives by eating discarded laboratory rats injected with growth hormones. The small reptile grows gigantic, escapes the city sewers, and goes on a rampage. --IMDb
Review by Chad
Added: September 26, 2007
After the success of Jaws, damned near everybody tried to get in on the killer animal genre. You name an animal, and I can almost guarantee that there was a movie in which we found one or more of said animals terrorizing humans; hell, there was even a movie about killer frogs, if that tells you anything. Surprisingly, it took five years for somebody to pick the alligator as the main "villain" in one of these movies, and the result was a film that has since turned into a b-movie classic and which has also languished in bootleg hell until the recent Lions Gate DVD release.

Taking its cue from an old urban legend, the story behind Alligator tells the tale of a young girl who visits a reptile exhibition and begs her parents to purchase her a baby alligator as a pet. They agree, but the very next day, her father flushes the poor critter down the toilet and tells her that it was dead when he got home. Flash ahead twelve years, and we discover that the baby gator has been living in the sewers and feasting on the remains of animals from the local science lab... animals which had been injected with growth hormones as part of some dastardly experiments meant to better mankind's way of living. Of course, these growth hormones have made the gator grow to an enormous size, and as leading man David Madison (Robert Forster) soon discovers, this beast is no longer content to just sit in the sewers and eat dead dogs. David sets out to slay the beast with the help of reptile expert Marisa Kendall (Robin Riker), and we have ourselves a classic slice of eighties cheese.

Now, I have a small confession to make: prior to about two hours ago, I had never seen this movie. Sure, I'd heard all of the praise for it and yeah, it was one of those movies that I wanted to eventually watch, but it wasn't the type of movie that seemed worth importing or bootlegging. However, now that it's finally received an official North American DVD release, I had to give it a shot to see if all the fuss about it was merited. Was it? Not really, but that's not to say that it's a truly bad movie either.

On the positive side, it was a fairly decent movie in the "killer animals" subgenre of horror; there's plenty of campy humor, genuine moments of horror, and of course, some good gore scenes. It does borrow heavily from Jaws in terms of the method of storytelling, the infamous "underwater-cam moving up towards a swimmer" scene, and it even rips off that infamous piece of the score, but I could overlook all of that; after all, what killer animal movie hasn't borrowed from Jaws in some way over the years? No, my main problem had more to do with the pacing of the film itself.

You see, the film moves along at a snail's pace for the majority of the running time, and although the movie is titled "Alligator", we really don't see a whole lot of the titular beast until the last couple of scenes. Granted, we see brief glimpses of its eye or tail here and there, but full-on alligator attacks are fairly non-existent until the end. This was most likely due to budgetary concerns, but still, I really got tired of watching the heroes talk about how they could capture the gator, how they could kill the gator, and how much he loved her "great tits" (yes, that's a line from the movie). I don't expect a film of this nature to simply show us gratuitous animal attacks from beginning to end, but I also don't expect the surrounding pieces of the storyline to make me reach for the remote either.

Again, there's some good gore scenes here (I was pleasantly surprised by the "pool" scene), and the alligator itself looked pretty good by eighties standards; I just wished that we could have seen a little more of it and a little less of the investigations. 5/10.
bluemeanie #1: bluemeanie - added 09/26/2007, 12:26 PM
This movie is so much fun! I love this film! It didn't make me school girlish quite like "Lake Placid", but I still thought it was just oodles and oodles of fun. 20 pounds of fun in a 5 pound bag. 9/10.
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