The Classic B Movie Alligator Is Now Available On Shudder!
Get your fix of B movie fun on Shudder as the 1980 classic Alligator becomes available to watch!
I do love a good old-fashioned ‘B’ movie! And the ones that are rip-offs of some of the biggest Hollywood blockbusters are my favorites. Films such as ‘Pirahna’, which is a blatant rip-off of ‘Jaws’. And it knows it and doesn’t try to hide it either. It is a classic ‘B’ movie from the movie maestro Joe Dante. And it is gloriously funny along the way. But my favorite of them all is Lewis Teague’s 1980 monster horror ‘Alligator.’ Here is a film that, just like ‘Pirahna’ takes the ‘Jaws’ formula and rips it off to glorious effect. And it is now available to watch on Shudder, giving me late-night entertainment that I can watch and revel in. Forget your Hollywood blockbusters, this is what I enjoy watching in peace and quiet. Yes, it’s cheesy. Yes, it won’t ever be classed as a Hollywood classic by critics. But to me, it is a genre classic that must be seen and enjoyed.
The film starts with a family’s visit to an Alligator wrestling show. Young Marissa Kendall watches as one of the Gator wrestlers traps his foot under a log, allowing an Alligator to attack him, seriously injuring his leg. But Marissa still decides that she wants one as a pet. She buys one from a vendor and takes it home, naming it Ramone. One day while she is at school, her father decides he doesn’t want it in his house and unceremoniously dumps it down the toilet, flushing it away and into the sewers. This event will come back to haunt Marissa some years later.
Detective David Madison (Robert Forster) is investigating the theft of dogs from around the neighborhood, including his own. He buys a new puppy from a pet store and mentions the theft to the store owner. Unbeknown to him, the store owner is the one stealing the dogs. He is selling them to a local pharmaceutical company who are conducting research on the dogs for a growth hormone. Once the dogs have been experimented on and destroyed, the pet store owner dumps the bodies into the sewers. Of course, our baby Alligator Ramone has been eating the carcasses, increasing his size thanks to the growth hormone and becoming a rather large and angry reptile. The pet store owner discovers this to his fatal surprise after dumping another batch of dead dogs down into the sewers.
After the pet store owners’ remains are discovered, Madison must take a trip down to the sewers to investigate. While most of the officers won’t go with him, thanks to a much-publicized tragedy in his past, Officer Jim Kelly (Perry Lang) offers to join him in his search for clues. As they are leaving, a young man enters the police precinct to claim responsibility for the recent killings. He expresses his plan to kill the cops inside the building with a homemade bomb, which turns out to be completely fake. Keep this in mind as it will play into events later.
Madison and Kelly investigate the sewers, only to have a close encounter with the now giant Alligator. While attempting to escape via a sewer grate, Kelly is grabbed and killed by the rampaging reptile, leaving Madison in shock, and leading to him being hospitalized.
This leads Madison to come into contact with the now-adult Marissa (Robin Riker), who at first denies it could be an Alligator before realizing her mistake. She joins Madison and the police in attempting to track down and kill the reptile serial killer. After a search for the reptile comes to nothing, Madison is accused of faking the whole thing. This is disproved as Ramone smashes his way up through the streets and thus begins a reign of carnage and terror the city has never seen or can believe. A big-game hunter Colonel Brock (Henry Silva) is brought in to rid the city of the creature. All the while, Ramone is hungry for more human flesh.
RIP-OFF OR HOMAGE?
Sound familiar? The cop who has to overcome his fears? A grizzled hunter chasing after his ultimate prey? A Mayor trying to deny and cover up the problem? A smorgasbord of meaty delights for the giant creature to munch down on? Of course, we have! But the film knows it and delightfully doesn’t try to hide it. The actors are in on the joke but play it straight, much to their advantage. They know it is a silly piece of throwaway trash. But they play up on that fact, much to our delight. And the film doesn’t shy away from the shocking deaths. Usually, Hollywood movies would show a young child in danger before pulling away from the brink and saving him from certain death. Here, forget it! A young boy becomes a tasty hors d’oeuvre for our slinking reptilian nightmare in his own swimming pool. And again, does that sound familiar?
Let’s face it, there’s nothing original here. But that’s half the fun. We can tell where the film is going and how it will end. But boy, do we get a lot of fun before the final credits. To be honest, the film is more of a black comedy than a horror film. Even the score copies ‘Jaws’ with its creeping theme in the sewers as Ramone comes for his hapless victims. But where else can you find an Alligator disrupting a wedding? Did you ever want to see an Alligator attack a wedding reception and throw the cake in the air? You’ll get it here.
Every member of the cast plays their part in the fun. The late Robert Forster makes for a charming and enjoyable lead as David Madison. Robin Riker is immensely likable as the adult Marissa while the great Henry Silva as Brock is always dependable. Michael V. Gazzo brings a sense of quality to the role of Madison’s superior Chief Clark, Bart Braverman as the slimy Journalist Thomas Kemp is completely unlikable from the second we meet him. Perry Lang makes the most of his screentime as Kelly while Dean Jagger is suitably villainous as Slade, the local tycoon who has been funding the illegal growth experiments. But I bet you didn’t know that Kan Hodder, Jason Voorhees himself in ‘Friday The 13th parts 7 to Jason X’ was the person inside the Alligator costume, although he is uncredited.
The film is the perfect late-night guilty pleasure for everyone. It is too nasty and bloody for anyone under the age of 13, to be honest. But that doesn’t diminish the fun that is to be had here. It is the kind of movie that you can curl up with once the kids have gone to bed and are in the mood for some silly fun. Is it scary? Of course not! But it is genuinely fun to watch and to waste a few hours with. It isn’t one of the run-of-the-mill ‘so bad, it’s good’ films you can find on many channels nowadays. It is truly a cult classic in every sense of the word. A silly, easily forgettable one maybe. But one that will make you laugh out loud. And one that you can easily come back to again when you feel in the mood. I love it. And I think, so will you.
‘Alligator’ is now available to watch on Shudder for all subscribers.
AMC Networks’ Shudder is a premium streaming video service; super-serving members with the best selection in genre entertainment, covering horror, thrillers, and the supernatural. Shudder’s expanding library of film; TV series, and originals is available on most streaming devices in the US; Canada, the UK, Ireland, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand. For a 7-day, risk-free trial, visit www.shudder.com.
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Carl Roberts is the News Editor of The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force frequently!