"Il fiume del grande caimano" (1979) d/ Sergio Martino
What kind of Woptober would it be if we didn't examine an Italian Jaws rip-off , only with a giant alligator instead of a monster shark? Sergio Martino's Il fiume del grande caimano, also known as Big Alligator River, and The Great Alligator, seems like a pretty good fit for us tonight, with a cast that includes the late Claudio Cassinelli, Barbara Bach, Mel Ferrer, Richard Johnson, and even precious little Silvia Collatina of "House By the Cemetery aka/ Quella villa accanto al cimitero" fame. I should also mention that the titular great alligator doesn't look all that great. If that was the only problem this movie had, it'd almost be excusable.
"That's what I like about you. You don't look particularly scared of breakin' 'em..." notes Joshua's foreman (Bobby Rhodes). A high falootin' fashion photographer (Claudio Cassanelli) and his favorite female model (Mrs. Ringo Starr herself, Barbara Bach) get flown in to a jungle resort for a publicity shoot; that the hotel is owned by an unscrupulous paleface developer named Joshua (Mel Ferrer) who exploits the natives for cheap labor is only half of the problem, as the hotel itself just so happens to be built on land that the tribesmen hold most sacred, indeed. I'm no great karmic proponent by any stretch of the imagination, but it seems like that cultural faux pas is only gonna come back and bite him in his ass, proverbially and literally. Meanwhile, lascivious locals paddle off to a nearby shore for some discreet pum pum only to get chomped up like a couple of human Doritos by the resident island god, Kroona, who's chosen to materialize before his humble subjects demanding bloody retribution, in the form of a pathetic, fake-looking prop alligator, for some inexplicable reason. The photographer, after hearing the nearby cries of distress, assumes the position of "that guy who knows", while the developer instantly becomes Mayor Larry Vaughn, poo pooing the impending death and destruction in favor of prestige and profit, of course.
"He is not here just to suck your mother's breasts... I also expect him to thumb my cinnamon ring like a fucking champeen!" Cue: Bloody war cry of suddenly furious indigenous island peoples that coincides with the increased frequency of ineffective stiff prop alligator attacks against mildly annoying tourists, while our heroes stumble upon an unhinged, old cave-dwelling coot (Richard 'Zombi 2' Johnson himself) who handily supplies the alligator's prior circumstances for any theatergoers that haven't walked out in disbelief yet. An unfazed Joshua launches a mammoth party barge full of snobbish snackery in defiance of the snapping saurid, whose size fluctuates from barely capable of swallowing human prey to vastly dwarfing a full-sized van, familiar waters for Italian filmmakers who never flinched at the concept of cutting budgetary corners in the name of exploitation cinema, Martino included. It all wraps up as confusingly as you might expect. Get tied, spreadeagle to a bamboo raft often, baby? For as much as Martino enjoyed ripping off Spielberg's 1975 box office smash, he also apparently felt that King Kong (1976) could afford to be borrowed from, generously. The script was co-written by the Anthropophagus beast himself, Luigi Montefiori aka/ George Eastman, and there are some great dialog exchanges here that have to be heard to be believed, especially between the single mom ineffectively sneaking around her skeptical offspring. Outrageous. For lovers of bad genre cinema, Big Alligator is a trashy treasure trove of rotten special effects, putrid acting performances, molasses pacing...so it's not a great revelation that the movie is so much fun to sit through with your buddies, every once in awhile.On the scale though, one Wop sounds like a perfect fit for this one, and thus, that's exactly what I'm forced to lay on it. Worth a look for hardcore genre nuts. "Nomnomnom..."