Alligator (1980)

Genres - Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Creature Film, Natural Horror  |   Run Time - 94 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Donald Guarisco

This updated version of the giant-animal monster movies that dominated drive-ins during the 1950s modernizes their formula with style and charm. The slyly satirical script by future indie auteur John Sayles delivers plenty of suspense while working in some nifty in-jokes (example: a sewer worker victim of the title creature is named Ed Norton) and some surprising anti-corporate and animal rights messages. Despite the plentiful humor, Alligator still manages to pack a punch because director Lewis Teague takes the shock scenes seriously and crafts them with impressive skill. The most memorable moment is an intense, well-edited scene where the alligator wreaks havoc on an outdoor wedding party. Alligator also benefits from solid acting. Robert Forster anchors the film with his low-key, believable portrayal of an average-joe cop who has to deal with the title monster, and Robin Riker is quite likable as the eccentric scientist who becomes Forster's unlikely partner. There are also scene-stealing supporting performances from Henry Silva as an arrogant big game hunter and Dean Jagger as the shifty industrialist whose illegal waste disposal techniques spawned the alligator. The only truly misjudged element of Alligator is its patchy musical score, which awkwardly mixes synthesizer sounds with orchestral music library cuts. Otherwise, Alligator is a fun monster movie guaranteed to please cult movie fans who likes their exploitation films fast and witty.