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.