Friday, January 16, 2009

Alligator(1980)d/Lewis Teague

Frosty'd freeze his snowballs off tonight.The upside of a negative ten degree wind chill outside,is that I'll be pacing the floors inside tonight,and more importantly,serving up exploitation flicks just the way you like 'em!I'm even cutting my cigarette breaks on the stoop painfully short,as chafed,windblown Wop may be one of the least sexy things you can possibly envision.First up?In hopes that Damian over at "Nature Run Amok" picks up his blogging gauntlets again one day,we're going to examine Lewis Teague's higly enjoyable reptilian camp-stravaganza,Alligator.Boasting of a bounty of b-movie players(that includes Michael "Godfather" Gazzo,70s tv staple Bart Braverman,Jack Carter,Sydney "Cuckoo's Nest" Lassick,and Dean "Game of Death" Jagger!),a witty script by John "Howling" Sayles,effective monster effects,and surprisingly,an adequate dosage of the red red kroovy,oh my brothers,this entry is a tasty little one indeed.
Dead partners,bad combovers,and childish locker pranks.Detective Madison(Robert Forster)can't win for losing.
Little Marisa Kendall's parents,ever the thoughtful pair,buy their daughter a baby alligator instead of that pony little girls always seem to be crying for.Her father,tired of cleaning gator shit(!) up around their apartment,flushes little "Ramon" through the toilet pipes and into urban legend territory.Over the next twelve years the alligator,unseen in the sewers below and sustained by a steady diet of dead dogs(you know,like the ones Steve Miner's Lake Placid(1999) blew?)pumped full of experimental growth hormones by Slade Pharmaceuticals,headed by unscrupulous miser Mr. Slade(natch,Dean Jagger),grows to thirty-five feet long and begins to see humans as walking penne arrabiata,much to the dismay of city Det. Madison(Robert Forster),an unlucky guy who sat there with his teeth in his yap when his old partner was killed on the beat right before his own glassies.As if Chicago didn't suck enough in the first place.First,creepy pet pusher Mr. Gutchel(Sydney Lassick) who's been catching and supplying the mutts for the laboratories,before dumping the hormone-laden evidence,falls prey to the behemoth beast.When Madison and a random volunteer cop descend into the sewers to investigate the mounting list of disappearances,Ramon drags off the badge in his hulking maw.Way to let another partner eat snapping primordial death without lifting a finger,jackass.
Wendy O. Williams would think twice about wrasslin' this puppy.
After a nosey reporter(Bart Braverman)gets his ass chomped every which way but loose and inadvertantly snaps pictures of his own death,the mayor(Jack Carter)enlists a big game hunter,Col. Brock(Henry "Rat Pack" Silva)to dispatch the drain-dwelling death dealer but after failing to impress a female news reporter with ridiculous impersonations of alligator mating calls(!!),he fails to keep himself out of the monster's jaws,being eaten whole in front of a posse of horrified homeboys.When Madison's investigation into the Pharmaceutical company reveals the mayor as a corrupt cotmate,he loses his badge.Ramon explodes through a sidewalk after a failed army flush out drives the gator to the surface,causing the titular terror to traumatize the whole town,and drop in on Slade's wedding party,eating the mayor and squashing the elderly tycoon in his limosine with his massive tail.Madison finally enlists the services of a skeptical herpetologist Marisa Kendall(Ramon's childhood owner,all grown up-like!Oh sweet irony...)and together prove to be the only two people in the Windy City with enough saavy to sink the scaly rascal for keeps.Elsewhere someone else is bunging another baby crocodillian down the lavvy,and potentially,we all know what that could mean...
Col. Brock(Henry Silva),big game hunter and cocky cocksmith,says "Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr" to turn on a female reporter while tracking the goliath gator.His luck is bad.
The dark humor in Sayles' writing really catapults this one above the standard killer animal fare of its day,like Tentacoli,Up From the Depths,Orca the Killer Whale,etc.There are several inside jokes and references to other films throughout for the viewer to catch,like one of the alligator's aptly named victims,Ed Norton,after the sewer worker from The Honeymooners.It eventually inspired the cleverly titled sequel,Alligator 2:The Mutation(1991),which I'll dissect here at a later date.As I mentioned in the Rogue review,giant alligators and crocodiles have certainly become a cult horror cash crop in the last decade or so,but it all started here,and it certainly holds up over multiple viewings,as I've scrutinized it under in the almost thirty years since its release.Pop it in and dig it immensely.The scale says:
Ramon uses the mayor(Jack Carter) as a combination chew toy/battering ram with comic results.


Balberith said...

I haven't seen this bad boy either! I always kind of scan past 'nature's horror' movies because they tend to be so damn campy.. but this looks like an entertaining ride. Once again my Wop, you have added another to my upcoming movie list

beedubelhue said...

All in a day's work for Bicycle Repairman...

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