Alligator (1980)

Article 2222 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-16-2007
Posting Date: 9-12-2007
Directed by Lewis Teague
Featuring Robert Forster, Robin Riker, Michael V. Gazzo

A giant alligator is loose in the sewer system of Chicago after having been kept as a pet and then flushed down the toilet and forced to dine on the carcasses of animals used in scientific experiments.

On the surface this movie is just a rather ordinary JAWS variation. Those who look a little closer, though, might find a number of amusing little touches that give it an added boost. A welcome and subtle sense of humor is one of the big pluses, and for those who keep a sharp lookout, you’ll see references to “The Honeymooners”, THE THIRD MAN, and a popular comic strip. There’s even a visual reference to the James Bond movies; at least I thought so during one of the shots of a sewer tunnel. It also has one scene-stealing performance; Henry Silva shows up as a big game hunter who is intent on bagging the giant gator himself, and he is wonderful. If you’ve seen as many jungle movies as I have, you should appreciate the satire in the scene where he tries to hire some of the “native help”. These fun touches help compensate for the occasionally flat direction and some rather cliched characters. The story was co-written by independent filmmaker John Sayles, who has occasionally ventured into fantastic territory; he worked on PIRANHA, BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS, THE HOWLING and THE BROTHER FROM ANOTHER PLANET, to name a few. The movie also features Dean Jagger and, in a memorable cameo, the great character actor Mike Mazurki.



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