Alligator (1980) – Lewis Teague

I remember seeing the poster for Alligator when I was a kid, and while I liked the shadowy look of the art, with a giant alligator peering out of an arched sewer, I never really had much of a desire to see it. Even as I grew older and heard some semi-decent things about it, and that it had Robert Forster in it, I just had no desire to take a look at it.

Well, that time has passed, and I finally had a look at it, and I really enjoyed it. A strong script by John Sayles, some truly solid practical effects, Forster and the lovely Robin Riker, I can’t believe it took me this long to come around to it.

In the film’s opening a baby alligator is flushed down into the sewer where thanks to some animal experimentation conducted by a nearby corporation that has deep pockets and big influence, it has grown to a massive size and is using the sewers to get around town and feast on any and all that it comes across.

Forster is a homicide cop, David Madison, who is assigned to the case when they fish some body parts out of the sewer and think there is a killer on the loose. Until Madison and a short-lived partner come face-to-face with the gigantic beast.

Initially, no one believes Madison, not even the lovely Marisa Kendall (Riker), a reptile expert – whose father started this all by flushing the alligator down the toilet when she was just a little girl. She’s a reptile expert and says such a thing can’t be possible, but as everyone soon learns, Madison is right, and the only one really determined to stop it.

There are some great moments, the alligator effects really are surprisingly solid, and the pool sequence was brilliant – a trio of kids are playing pirates, one of them is about to walk the plank, and their mother turns on the pool lights, and there it is, the alligator, on the bottom of the pool rising towards them.

There’s definitely a lot going on in the story, there’s even a running story thread about Madison’s thinning hair! Justice and karma are served a number of times throughout the film, you definitely want the corporation to get their just desserts as well as a devious pet shop owner working for them.

Riker and Forster have a fun chemistry together, and there’s a grounded reality to both characters that make the idea of a giant alligator stalking the city a little more palatable.

This was such a fun ride, with great moments, lots of humor, effects, character actors (Hey! There’s Henry Silva!), and the always-so-awesome Robert Forster. I’m sorry it took me so long to see it but glad I finally did.

ALLIGATOR, Robert Forster, Robin Riker, 1980

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