ALLIGATOR directed by Lewis Teague (USA, 1980)

This is the cautionary tale of what happens when a young girl’s baby alligator, Ramón, gets flushed down the toilet by her animal phobic father.

Twelve years later the girl ,Marisa (Robin Riker), has grown up to be an authority on reptiles and her pet Ramón has grown up to become a man-eating monster.

Marisa’s expertise is such that she knows alligators’ natural instinct is to look for water. Seemingly you get a degree in lizard science if you learn such things. What she doesn’t know is that if a baby gator’s diet consists of dead dogs pumped full of experimental hormones they will grow to mega-proportions and terrorise a city.

Bloody limbs in the sewers convince a dim-witted St Louis police squad that there’s something in the water. David Madison (Robert Forster) is the stressed cop with bad hair assigned to the task of going down the drains.

When his rookie partner gets eaten,  none of his colleagues believe his giant alligator story and he is taunted by the press and by one slimy journalist in particular. This hack writer gets his comeuppance but not before he has taken snapshots of Ramón. The pictures prompt a major gator hunt.

This is how Madison and Marisa meet and business quickly turns to pleasure. But while they are bonking, Ramón is still at large.

A cunning plan to flush it out fails so Madison’s boss recruits a smarmy big-game hunter Colonel Brock (Henry Silva) to head up the search. No prizes for guessing what happens to him!

Meanwhile, Madison sniffs around the lab responsible for the illegal animal testing that produced the hormone packed alligator food. The lab owning tycoon is in league with the mayor who is in league with the head of police and Madison gets kicked off the force.

Lunchtime!

Ramón has a few more light snacks before making a big meal out of the guests at the wedding party of the tycoon’s daughter who is marrying the chief scientist at the lab. The rampant Ramón eats his way through all these unscrupulous types (including the mayor) then heads back to the sewer where Madison feeds him dynamite and blows him to smithereens. THE END……or is it? The final shot of another baby alligator arriving in the sewer spawned an even worse straight to video sequel (The Mutation) in 1991.

With crappy special effects and stereotypical characters , Alligator is a very silly B-movie although it makes no claims to being anything more than a a low-budget Jaws for the sewers. It was obviously made as a tongue in cheek homage to Spielberg’s classic and  as such the actors deserve some credit for managing to keep a straight face throughout.

It’s main claim to fame comes from the fact that it was scripted by the great and seriously underrated independent filmmaker, John Sayles. You could say therefore that its greatest achievement is that it helped Sayles fund  great movies like Matewan (1987) and City Of Hope (1991).

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