Thursday, July 17, 2014

Review: Alligator

Alligators. As a Florida resident, let me tell you, it's hard to not think about these things that seem to have forgotten that the dinosaurs are extinct. They're around, even if you don't realize it. You do not mess with alligators. They are big, fast, and relatively silent. You don't have to travel to Jurassic Park to find a scaly predator to ruin your day, all you have to do is find one of these bastards. But hey, they sure do taste good when deep fried.

Of course, a lot of things taste good when deep fried.

This movie isn't about alligators in Florida though, deep fried or otherwise. No, this is the story of a baby alligator that was taken home with a young girl from her family's trip to Florida. Yes, because nothing says family pet like a little bitey lizard that will eventually grow into a large bitey lizard. So, yeah, the father eventually gets rather unhappy about the cute little guy and flushes him down the toilet. Clearly, you're probably realizing this story is based around the urban legend about an alligator in the sewers, yes?

Great idea, dad. This totally won't come back to bite all of Chicago in the extremities.
Twelve years later, the little guy has had some time to grow and we get introduced to Detective David Madison, a man who clearly has had it up to his receding hairline with pretty much every single thing there is. He's just done. We find him buying a puppy from a rather suspicious pet shop owner who strongly resembles Arnim Zola from Captain America: The First Avenger. I don't know about you, but I make it a rule not to trust guys who looks like a Nazi scientist wearing a Hawaiian shirt. It just feels like a bad idea. Not surprisingly, it turns out this guy is stealing dogs and selling them to a company that is experimenting on animals. Yep, he's a Nazi.

I don't really see ze resemblance, personally.
The detective gets called in about a dismembered body part found in the sewer that presumably belongs to a missing worker. No one can seem figure out what got him but you can probably manage a pretty good guess. The Nazi pet shop owner gets told to dump some dead puppies (yes, a literal bag of dead puppies) into the sewer and he gets chomped on, to the delight of all. In yet another twist, his legs washes up from the sewer and the detective decides to go investigate. Sadly, none of the other cops are itching to come with as he has a bad rep because of his previous partner dying on the job. A young rookie finally tags along though as they go hunting for whatever might be leaving random body parts strewn about in the poop water.

It could be a lot of things making body parts float down there. Like Tim Curry.
Turns out it's not a clown with proclivity for children from Maine and is instead a really big fucking alligator. The rookie learns the a little too well as he is eaten by the monster and our balding hero is left with more trauma to haunt him. He passes out clutching the ladder and wakes up in the hospital, safe but definitely not sound as he tells his chief that there's a thunder down under and it's got pretty big teeth. They consult a reptile expert (who just happens to be the girl who originally owned the gator) and she tells them that there is no way an alligator could survive in the sewer because there's not a proper food source. Apparently she's unaware of the large rat population and the many available sewer workers and dead bags of puppies available in the sewer. I think food isn't really that big of an issue for Scales here.

These hors d'oeuvres are amazing! I should attend more parties.
A stupid reporter asshole goes down into the sewers afterwards though and, as stupid people do in these films, gets eaten in a brutal fashion. Luckily, he manages to snap photos of the thing eating him and the cops get his camera. They develop the film and learn that David isn't crazy and they try to flush the thing out. They don't quite flush it out how they wanted though as, rather than coming through the tunnel where all the highly armed officers lay in wait to turn him into gator bites, the alligator instead bursts up through the street and eats a very slow cops leg. Well, at least he's alive, but now we've got a giant alligator roaming the streets of Chicago. That's gonna hurt their tourism, most assuredly. The mayor calls in a big-game hunter to track the beast down, but that doesn't go well as the cocky bastard ends up as a late night snack. The gator also bites off another guy's leg, but manages to get the other leg too this time.

Perhaps swimming in the water we think a giant meat-eating monster is in was a bad idea.
The alligator even manages to devour a small child at a birthday party. Let me get this straight, this is a movie where there are bags of dead puppies and a child being devoured by mutant alligator. This right here is a film that I suspect is not aimed towards people love cute things. But come on, the baby alligator was so adorable before he grew up into a horrifying eating machine, so who knows? Maybe it evens out? I don't know, let's move on. Where was I? Oh yeah, the asshole scientist whole killed those puppies is apparently marrying his bosses daughter and guess who crashes the party? Go on, guess....

I'll give you a hint: it's not a bear and it might be on the movie poster.
The alligator noms up a waitress, the groom (aka the asshole puppy-killing scientist), the mayor, and then he crushes the scientist guy's boss to death while he cower in his limousine. His innocent chauffeur gets crushed too sadly, but we can always pretend he was another Nazi. It might makes things more fun if you just imagine all these people getting murdered to death are just huge Nazi sympathizers, because I know it gives me the warm fuzzies. David and his reptile lady show up to the party and track the gator down to a nearby sewer opening. He rigs up a bomb from some stolen police evidence and blows the fucker up. Of course, this is not before some asshole old lady parks on the manhole cover he's trying to escape through and acts real bitchy towards the lizard lady for telling her to move. Old people in movies are usually not portrayed in a loving light.

Neither are dads who flush helpless pets down the toilet.
Now, getting down to brass tacks, I have to confront the big thing about this movie. That would be the fact that it is very obviously trying to cash-in on the Jaws phenomenon that many movies of this period were attempting. Does it succeed? Well.....yes and no. It does build a bit of tension in parts but, for the most part, it tends to stick to a basic horror formula of having people just getting killed. Sadly, most of the kills aren't even very creative either, with the only really different death being that of the two men being crushed to death in the limo. But the acting is fairly strong, which is a definite plus, and the effects are quite good for the late 70s/early 80s.

I'm still not sure whether his hair is a special effect or not.
Ultimately, it's a creature feature about science and animal abuse leading to a lot of dead people and property damage, but it's still fun to watch. It's not as good as Jaws or Lake Placid, but if you enjoy a good story of animals eating people, you should check it out. You could definitely do a lot worse. Like Jaws: The Revenge. Please don't watch Jaws: The Revenge. Michael Caine would probably prefer you forgot that movie existed. So, I'm just going to end things here. Until you get bored enough to read another one of my articles, I'll be here wishing I had taken a shower days ago. Later days, Bleeders.

I'm not coming back for the sequel.

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