Alligator – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Director

Lewis Teague

Cast

Robert Forster David Madison
Robin Riker Marisa Kendall
Michael Gazzo Chief Clark
Jack Carter Mayor
Dean Jagger Slade
Henry Silva Colonel Brock
Sidney Lassick Luke Gutchel
Perry Lang Officer Jim Kelly

DVD Release Date: September 18, 2007
Rating: R
Running Time: 89 Minutes

The Movie

Marisa Kendall was a normal little girl but she had a hankering for odd things. That includes the baby alligator she begged her parents to buy her when they went to an alligator show one day. Vowing to take care of it and always love it, she named him Ramone and gave him his own tank. But while at school one day, baby Ramone was flushed down the toilet by her angry father who found a bit of gator poop in the hamper. She was told he died while she was away, but little did she or anyone know that he found the only home that would be big enough for him, the sewer.

For twelve years Ramone lived in the sewers feeding off of the bodies of dead dogs. The dogs were used in genetic experiments at a company called Slade. After the dogs’ were of no use to the experiment, they were disposed of in the sewers. The chemicals inside the dogs’ bodies caused Ramone to grow and grow as he ate them. And he didn’t care what came down into the sewers because he wasn’t going to let anyone intrude in his home.

When a few random body parts start showing up in the water system, Detective David Madison is on the case and starts turning up a few clues at a time. He knows something is wrong at Slade and traces a few clues into the sewers. One afternoon he heads down there with Officer Jim Kelly and the search is on for some kind of lead to blow the case open. It is then that Madison comes face to face with Ramone at the expense of Officer Kelly’s life.

Thanks though to a shady past, no one really wants to believe Madison’s story and to be honest, who would? A tale of a giant alligator living in the sewers doesn’t exactly sound like a story from a sane person. In steps Marisa, who is all grown up and now a doctor and animal expert. She also doesn’t believe him, but is willing to listen. And when a reporter’s camera is found in the sewers with pictures of a giant gator on the film, everyone in the city is willing to listen or else become Ramone’s next lunch.

Surprisingly enough, Alligator is an enjoyable film that isn’t as cheesy as one would think. The “giant” gator is obviously a live gator in small-scaled surroundings for some shots and merely a motorized head, half body, and tail in others. But for the time frame in which this film was made, it works. The story is kind of fast moving and far fetched of course as within the first five minutes, Ramone is bought and flushed. And even though Marisa shows up again as an adult, she is never recognized by the gator – or the gator didn’t recognize her – as I kind of expected to happen.

The acting makes the film enjoyable along with a good amount of blood from a number of deaths. The eating of a small child, while off screen, still surprised me though considering this being 1980. Although Jaws kind of led the way for that to happen without much backlash. Speaking of the giant shark, it is obvious that a number of techniques were taken from Spielberg’s classic. The gator-view camera moving through the water along with some extremely familiar, yet slightly different, music either paid homage to or stole without much litigation.

The Video

The film is shown in 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen format and it looks really good for something that was made twenty-seven years ago. It was digitally remastered but still has moments when its age shows and that the darker scenes are just too dark for anything to be seen. All in all though, it looks pretty nice.

The Audio

The film is heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and also sounds good for how old it is. The sound effects are sub par and the music is rather cheesy, but it works what you get on screen.

Special Features

Audio Commentary – Director Lewis Teague, actor Robert Forster, and Dale Hallison (from Dark Delicacies) have a seat together and discuss everything about the film. Teague actually goes back in time to before he was a director and when he met Forster and asked him if he’d work with him one day. Forster goes in depth about how he came to the right personality for his character. There’s some talk about the different settings, camera work, and how they wanted certain scenes to come through. Hallison seems to be there more as a moderator and ask questions as they go along, but it makes for an interesting and fun commentary.

Alligator Author: Writer John Sayles – *Be warned for the summary for this extra includes some spoilers.* Sayles sits down and discusses his screenplay for the film and what his intentions were and how he wanted things to be done. What made this feature even better for me was that he actually addressed the one thing that bothered me in the film. At the end of the film, Ramone makes his way to a party at the house of the head guy at Slade Industries as if he knew what made him into this huge monster. It just got too corny for me at that point. But Sayles lets it be known that it was meant that way in his script. Throughout the film, Ramone makes his way from the ghetto to middle class to the rich and doesn’t discriminate.

Original Theatrical Trailer

TrailersKomodo Vs. Cobra, Man-Thing, and Attack Of The Sabretooth

The Inside Pulse

Alligator turned out to be a pleasant surprise and it shocks me that I somehow haven’t seen the film before. It doesn’t look like a B-Movie even though it certainly should be, especially by the description on the back of the DVD cover. Forster and Riker give great performances and have a great chemistry on screen that makes them not only enjoyable but very believable. And the effects of the “giant” gator were truly impressive for the beginning of the eighties. Very few special features don’t hurt the DVD much because those that are presented are really good and informative. Look around and you can find Alligator for under $10 so it is highly recommended you pick up a copy and see that a lot of special effects aren’t needed to make a monster gator film good. coughPrimevalcough!

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Alligator
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE MOVIE

6
THE VIDEO

7
THE AUDIO

7
THE EXTRAS

5
REPLAY VALUE

5
OVERALL
5.5
(NOT AN AVERAGE)

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