I first caught Alligator on the Sunday Horrors, a late night TV horror slot in the late ‘80s. I’d been meaning to rewatch it, but I never got around to it until now, when Shudder added a beautiful new transfer (possible the Scream Factory one?).
And thankfully, the film holds up. It helps that you’ve got the charismatic Robert Forster in the lead, essentially playing the Chief Brody role. The film also has its own Quint in the form of big game hunter Brock, played by Henry Silva, but he isn’t around long enough to make a big impact, though his demise is almost as horrific as that of his forebear. Plus, it has a host of human villains in the form of scientists working on a growth formula that causes the alligator to grow to such enormous size. Pleasingly, they all happen to be at the climactic wedding massacre so they can get theirs.
There is plenty of creepy and atmospheric sewer action beneath the streets of Chicago. And, like Jaws, the creature FX are used judiciously and to great effect. Director Lewis Teague takes a leaf out of Spielberg’s book and doesn’t overshoot the alligator. And when it does come into the open, such as the the wedding attack, the editing and camera work do a lot of work to sell the beast.
After Pirahna, John Sayles wrote his second great Jaws influenced horror flick, and he second in his excellent trilogy of horror films with The Howling a couple of years later.
A top-tier post-Jaws animal attack flick.
4 crushed limos out of 5.