Category Archives: Henry Silva

4K/Blu-Ray News #369: Alligator (1980).

Directed by Lewis Teague
Starring Robert Forster, Robin Riker, Michael Gazzo, Jack Carter, Dean Jagger, Perry Lang, Sue Lyon, Angel Tompkins, Henry Silva, Mike Mazurki

John Sayles wrote the two best Jaws (1975) ripoffs: Piranha (1978) and Alligator (1980). Both combine a terrific 50s monster movie vibe, a real sense of humor and some actual scares. Scream Factory is bringing Lewis Teagies’s Alligator to 4K (on February 22) with a set that includes the film on both 4K and Blu-Ray discs, along with a third disc featuring the TV version of the film. It also comes packed with extras, from commentaries to interviews to trailers to a commercial for the Alligator game! 

The plot (cooked up by Sayles and Frank Ray Perilli) is pure genius. A young girl gets an alligator while on vacation in Florida, but after they get home, her dad flushes it down the toilet. 12 years later, and after getting ahold of an experimental growth formula, that alligator is now 36 feet long and munching on Chicago sewer workers. It’s up to a jaded cop (Robert Forster) and that girl, now a reptile expert (Robin Riker), to find the alligator and stop it. Forster really stands out in this, but the entire cast is great — especially Henry Silva as a big game hunter brought in to kill the monster.

I have a 36-foot-long soft spot for Alligator. Saw it countless times — from theater to cable to video. The VHS package is etched in my brain after renting it to about 14,000 people working in video stores while in college. I love that it’s getting such a swanked-out 4K release. It deserves it. (Sitting here all snowed in this morning, wish I had a copy of it right now!) By the way, Alligator II: The Mutation (1990) is coming out on Blu-Ray the same day.

Proof you really can find anything on the Internet: my quick search this morning turned up the newspaper ad for opening day at the theater where I saw Alligator back in November of 1980 — the Budco Barn 5 in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.

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Filed under 1980, DVD/Blu-ray News, Henry Silva, Shout/Scream Factory

Blu-Ray News #239: Johnny Cool (1963).

Directed by William Asher
Starring Henry Silva, Elizabeth Montgomery, Richard Anderson, Jim Backus, Joey Bishop, Telly Savalas, Sammy Davis, Jr.

William Asher’s 1963 gangster picture Johnny Cool is terrific, and I’m so stoked it’s making its way to Blu-Ray later this year from the folks at Scorpion Releasing.

In the early 60s, the gangster picture enjoyed a small resurgence, thanks to stuff like Budd Boetticher’s The Rise And Fall Of Legs Diamond (1960), Murder Inc. (1960) and Portrait Of A Mobster (1961). Asher’s picture might be the most brutal and violent one of the bunch. Most stylish, too — thanks in large part to the great cinematography of Sam Leavitt.

William Asher was in the middle of his Beach Party movies at AIP when he took on Johnny Cool. He and Elizabeth Montgomery became an item after she auditioned for the picture, they’d marry, and he’d go on to direct the bulk of her Bewitched TV show. The cast is really something, from Henry Silva to Jim Backus to Mort Sahl to Telly Savalas (with hair) — with a great part for Sammy Davis, Jr.

Johnny Cool has a great score from Billy May, with Davis singing the title tune. This is an overlooked, under-seen little movie, well worth (re)discovery in high definition. Recommended.

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Filed under 1963, DVD/Blu-ray News, Elizabeth Montgomery, Henry Silva, Jim Backus, United Artists, William Asher