Alligator (1980)

Alligator (1980)

Review by Annie Riordan

God I love the movie Alligator. Mere words cannot possibly describe how much I love the movie Alligator. And yet, for some reason, I’ve only seen it, like, three or four times? It’s one of those odd, elusive little movies that slip silently beneath the scummy surface of the cinematic pond and blends in with the algae, sleepily waiting for you to cross its path once more. Then, up it pops out of fucking nowhere with a guttural roar like a fucking Howitzer shoved up a Tyrannosaurs asshole, spraying thick, stagnant splashes of mucky filth and chunky sewer sludge. You just know that Mr. Alligator’s breath could paralyze a bull moose at fifty paces, reeking of rotting, maggot infested meat and congealed blood.

Party Crasher!

Anyway, a friend of mine just uploaded this flick to his Plex collection and it immediately snapped me up in its toothy jaws and swallowed me whole once again. And for the third, or fourth, or fifth time in my life, I heard myself exclaiming: “How the fuck did I forget about this movie, it’s so fucking awesome!”

When I was a kid, we had in our house a green, clothbound book – maybe an encyclopedia? – of animals from all over the world. There was one photograph in the book that scared the hell out of me. It was a page that I tried to avoid, but also a page that became a game with me: dare I look at it? That glossy, green photo of an alligator suspended in a swamp, a clump of some grody-ass, slimy reeds tangled around one webbed foot. I lived in permanent fear that somehow, the photo would come to life if I looked at it too long, and I would find myself immersed in that scummy pond, choking on stagnant water and my own blood as Mister Gator took me for a barrel roll. Alligators and crocodiles are just fucking creepy as hell. Goddamned snakes with feet. Who the hell invented them, and why?

I mean, look at this arrogant fucker! Just plodding along, slow as fuck, not giving a single shit about the all-you-can-eat buffet standing just four feet away, snapping shots and rolling film while goddamned death incarnate swaggers past like “Fuck all y’all.” Fucking Florida. Why the hell would you want to live in a state where these goddamned things walk around, cool as a slimy, breathing cucumber, slipping into swimming pools and swallowing poodles whole?

I’m babbling, sorry. I’m supposed to write a review for this film, you know – synopsis, summary, recommendations, blahblahblah. No, fuck that. I just want to talk about how cool this movie is. Too many monster movies suffer from what I call the Five Minute Syndrome: an hour and twenty minutes of build-up and listless character development, then five minutes of monster at the very end. Not this movie, however. Alligator everywhere!All the time! From start to finish, that scaly motherfucker rules the movie – creeping in the sewer shadows behind our unsuspecting cast, bursting up through sidewalks to terrorize smartass, streetwise city kids, scooping up incredibly helpful victims who lie down in its path and lift their legs into the toothy maw, screaming theatrically as Karo syrup blood squirts everywhere.

Favorite scene: alligator slips into a backyard swimming pool, chilling under the fallen leaves and discarded pool toys. Bratty little shits with negligent parents slip away from Halloween party and force five year old pirate to walk the plank, i.e. diving board. 36 foot long food processor slides up underneath the Jolly Rogers and plop into the water the shrieking tyke goes, instantly reduced to a boiling pool of blood and guts. Yes! Childhoods ruined! Irreparable psychological scarring! Alcoholism awaits in adulthood! Innocence destroyed forever!

Other favorite scene: Gator gatecrashes a lavish wedding ceremony, eats a maid, lurches slowly towards the rest of the guests and wait staff who all helpfully feed themselves feet first into his mouth. Other other favorite scene: Creepy-ass Henry Silva buys it in a Chicago alleyway, feet first once again, looking for all the world like a giant hoagie, lying perfectly straight as he is enthusiastically gulped down the gators gullet.

Namedrop!

Main gripe: I really wanted a scene where the redhead science sexpot (I forget her name already) realizes that the giant gator is actually the pet gator she had as a child which was flushed down the toilet by her asshole dad. She recognizes the gator, the gator recognizes her and they run towards each other in slow motion, embracing as they meet at long last. She named the fucking gator Ramon, and Ramon will respond to his name and return to his mommy and the two of them will fight street crime together forever after, or some such shit.

Other than that, it’s a flawless, satirical rip-shit 80s sleazoid spool of cinema which doesn’t get nearly as much praise as it is due.