Thursday, February 19, 2009
Alligator; horror grotesque, USA, 1980; D: Lewis Teague, S: Robert Forster, Robin Riker, Michael Gazzo, Dean Jagger
Family Kendall buys their 12-year old daughter Marisa a small pet alligator. But, the animal quickly starts getting on their nerves, so dad flushes it down the toilet. Arriving in the sewer, the reptile comes in contact with growth hormones and in 12 years grows 30 feet long. Already the first victims start to fall, among them the friend of police officer Madison, who starts searching for the beast beneath the city. Even though he is slightly clumsy, he turns to Marisa who in the meantime became a reptile expert. Madison uses dynamite to eliminate the alligator and becomes a hero.
"Alligator" is an unusual experience. On one hand, it seems very amateurish, almost trashy and in the service of seemingly simple horror. But on the other hand, while the main characters are humans, it turns into a comedy that ironizes and spoofs their mentality with ease, which is mostly daft and shrill. The bodyguard of a rich man who shoots at the alligator; identification of dog corpses; souvenirs of the reptile - the motives of the screenplay by John Sayles are very bizarre and fun, but it's obvious that the director enjoyed his work the most, since he handled the cheap budget with enthusiasm, which is why "Alligator" seems a level above other B-horror films like "Piranha". The alligator puppet, it's live counterpart (placed in a miniature town to make it look larger) and some of it's killing were crafted stupid, yet at the same time the film is simply perspicacious and has style whereas Robert Forster is great in the leading role. Despite the film not being famous, "Alligator" is an enviable cult.