Some ideas sound really absurd on paper, but when they’re put on the screen, they sometimes manage to sneak up on you to deliver solid, fun entertainment that you can’t help but love. Alligator (1980), directed by Lewis Teague and written by indie film legend John Sayles, is definitely one of those films. It takes the campiness of ’50s B-movie creature flicks, spins it on its head, and adds some snark/self-awareness to it that elevates it above most pre-and-post-Lake Placid rip-offs.
The plot is pretty simple: little girl gets baby alligator for a present; parents decide that it’s too much to take care of one; parents flush the little guy down the toilet; little guy grows up to be really, really, really big guy (after eating dead animals disposed after weird experiments); big guy goes on a big feeding spree. Sounds uninspired right? Wrong.
Despite the laughably unoriginal premise (which is based on a famous urban legend), this one has some bite (no pun intended). Not only do you get Teague’s smart direction, Sayles’ allegoric script, and some genuinely frightening moments (the infamous “kid in the pool” scene is one everyone remembers well), but there’s also an esteemed cast of genre icons, such as the late, great Robert Forster, Robin Riker, Michael V. Gazzo, Sydney Lassick, Dean Jagger, and Henry Silva, which makes this an instant winner in my book. Even the effects (assisted by Bryan Cranston!) look convincing despite the film’s age. Hey, if you’re going to rip-off Jaws, at least do it properly, like this cult classic!
The new 3-disc 4K/Blu combo from Scream Factory sounds like a horror geek/collector’s dream come true. There’s a new 4K scan from the original negative, as well as hours of nifty special features, including audio commentary with Teague and Forster; new interviews with Teague, Sayles, Riker, and make-up effects artist Robert Short; brand new interview with Cranston; additional scenes from the TV version; the extended TV version w/additional footage; Trailers from Hell segment with Karyn Kusama; and much more!
I definitely recommend adding this delightfully silly and entertaining horror-thriller to your collection. Just don’t piss off any alligators while doing so.
Boat People (Criterion): A Japanese photojournalist goes to Vietnam to document its seemingly triumphant rebirth. However, he discovers what the government tries to cover up: the brutal and very bloody reality of a country where political repression and poverty makes life a living hell.
The Green Mile 4K UHD: Tom Hanks in the now-classic Stephen King adaptation as the head of block guards of a correctional facility during the 1930s. He and his fellow guards get a new convict, a gentle giant (the late Michael Clarke Duncan) with healing powers, who may be innocent after being accused of a brutal crime.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy 4K UHD (Kino): Gary Oldman, in a spellbinding Oscar-nominated performance, is George Smiley, an espionage veteran forced out of retirement to uncover a Soviet agent located within MI6’s sectors.
Man on the Moon (Kino): Jim Carrey fully embodies Andy Kaufman in this biopic of life and career of the iconic and controversial comedian.