Animal Attack Movies: Alligator



John Sayles is famous for dramas so low-key they put me to sleep. Like, for example, Lone Star, probably the least exciting movie about accidental incest ever made. He’s not bad; in fact, he’s very good; it’s just that I drink coffee and demand a life full of excitement.

Long ago, however, Mr. Sayles financed his arty efforts by writing genre pictures, like the satirical werewolf movie The Howling and the satirical animal attack movie Piranha. This is the stuff that makes me like him. My favorite is Alligator (1980; directed by Lewis Teague with an admirable efficiency and a curious interest in exploding vehicles). It’s the venerable gators-in-the-sewers legend, ramped up with growth hormones and corporate corruption.

 

 Most filmmakers can’t do humor and horror at the same time, not REAL horror, but Sayles and Teague manage it. There’s a night scene in which little boys are playing pirates, and one of them has to “walk the plank” over a backyard pool, and at the last minute he sees something in the water. . .


6 comments:

  1. I LOVE this movie! One of my favorites as a teenager, I never got sick of watching it. (Like many of my favorites, it was termed "A Great Dialogue Movie" by my mother, due to the amount of explosions, chomping, cursing and growling.) For me, this is definitive crocodilian horror movie--"Primeval" has a good plot, but the CGI crocodile is not especially well-done.

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  2. I'll have to put Primeval on my list--never seen that one.

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  3. I'm afraid Primeval is quite bad, IMO at least :/ Quite a shame because Gustave deserved better...

    I never saw Alligator, tho.

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  4. I'm thinking Alligator may have been the first in this sub-genre of crocodilian attack movies, though there have been many since.

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  5. More than likely. I think somewhere someone did a direct-to-video treatment of the famous Ramree episode wherein the crocs ate a substantial number of Japanese soldiers (just not as many as we initially thought)but I can't recall the name. Croconut's right--Primeval is sort of the crocodilian answer to Anaconda (albeit Anaconda was actually fun--even if it was absolute BS from tongue to tail.)

    The problem with reptilian horror flicks is that, as you've pointed out, people don't know their subject enough to do it justice and, figuring nothing succeeds like excess, have anacondas performing gyrations that would land my rufous beaked snake in traction or Nile crocodiles bounding around on land like Quinkana or Kaprasuchus. My all-time favorite reptile flick is "Frogs"--Ray Milland and Sam Elliot, sort of an ectothermic "The Birds" (actually, some birds, crows of some sort, do have a cameo appearance, but the main antagonists are lizards, snakes and marine toads.) Also a stellar performance by some leeches, a gator, and an alligator snapper in what is possibly the most hilarious and unbelievable animal attack in cinema. (Actually, another part of the movie that is unintentionally hysterical involves an indigo snake driving one of the humans back into the waiting fangs of a rattler, instead of attacking and eating the other snake.)

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  6. I remember seeing Frogs when I was a kid and hating its inaccuracies. I suspect it would be more fun to watch with my kids and some popcorn.

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