Ah great: a nature gone wild movie from before the CG-era. A movie so heavily based upon Jaws it blatantly rips off the musical cues introducing the Shark using it here for a mutated Alligator living in the sewers under Chicago. Only Robert Forster and his receding hair line can stop this enormous beast! Of course he’s aided by a smart and sexy herpetologist (reptile expert) with a great set of brains and tits.
In Alligator one of nature’s most ferocious killers which has been around since the age of the dinosaur is turned into a domestic pet for a young girl who would later turn out to be said sexy herpetologist. She gets this pet from her parents after visiting an alligator show where somebody was just mauled on by one of the animals; parenting done right. But once home it doesn’t take too long for dad to take the alligator out its alligator-unfriendly terrarium and flush it down the toilet where it eventually ends up in the sewer. Since Alligators need sunlight it was destined to die were it not for the fact that someone just so happens to dump dead dogs nearby that have been used for animal testing. These dogs are filled with a growth hormone making the alligator becomes huge over the course of the next 12 years. When sewer workers start to go missing and body parts are surfacing officer David Madison (Forster) is put on the case.
Alligator can’t be taken seriously too much. I mean, for the majority of the time it’s located in the standard absurdly spacious movie sewers; sewers that are so big people can easily walk around in them even though they were originally designed to just transport water and feces. A classic movie trope belonging together with the large air-vents and the sinister subway tunnels with all kinds of side exits leading into underground mazes. To create a giant Alligator they have a real one walking around on miniature sets and a an animatronic that isn’t really able to walk, so most of the time it’s just the head that we see eating people. Also this nature gone wild movie features an animal with an agenda as it one point goes to a party of the CEO of the company responsible for the mutated animals he’s been feeding on all these years. Despite the shoddy and dated effects it still surpasses the CG-filled monster movies released by SyFy and The Asylum.
Another fun thing is how a seemingly enormous alligator can just go around and disappear. Sure, it’s more plausible than Godzilla’s disappearing acts in the 1998 movie but still, somehow he can hide out in dark alleys under a lot of trash and other junk and be totally invisible.
Alligator is not without a bite though. At one point it even mauls on a 10 year old boy in one of the movie’s more ferocious and surprising moments.
The movie has a lot of standard plot devices like the cop put on suspension because he’s too stubborn to listen to anybody and has this crazy story about a giant alligator he keeps rambling on about. The woman of science/biology who turns out to be a hot babe and a love interest. The only surprising addition to the story is the inclusion of a big game hunter played by Henry Silva. He hams it up and plays his role mostly for laughs.
Alligator is a fun, though a typical 80’s man vs nature movie. It has its moments but is by no means a classic. Still, it’s way better than most cheap schlock that’s released today.