Horror Review: Alligator (1980)

A baby alligator is flushed down a Chicago toilet and survives by eating discarded laboratory rats injected with growth hormones. The small reptile grows gigantic, escapes the city sewers, and goes on a rampage.

A film about a sewer ‘gator, what’s not to love?!

I would’ve done a review of this 80’s classic a long time ago but in all honesty I thought I had already done one! It was only whilst recently re-watching the film and doing a search on the blog itself that I realised I hadn’t, well now is the time to rectify this situation and get word back out there about this creature feature.
Growing up in a smallish town in Northern England, the concept that an alligator could be loose in my local sewers was one that should’ve been too far fetched. Well a child’s imagination is not one to be undermined, rumours of a huge Alligator in our local reservoir were commonplace amongst us local kids and I could’ve sworn I heard it once.
It had been quite a while since I last watched this feature and I was happy to see hat it hadn’t lost any of it’s charm, sure it’s aged but it’s aged well and it still manages to pack a punch with it’s witty script, fast pacing, great action scenes and plenty of tense moments. I had also forgot how great the Alligator looked, especially for the time it was made.
Director Lewis Teague did an amazing job, it’s no surprise his next couple of jobs were Stephen King’s “Cujo” and “Cat’s Eye”. Robert Forster is absolutely amazing as the lead role and he plays the gritty downbeat  yet good cop to perfection, it maybe a character role we’ve seen a lot of but when done properly it is so damn entertaining.
I highly recommend you to seek out “Alligator” whether it’s to revisit it or to give it a first viewing, it’s such a fun flick that I think is ripe for a resurgence in fanfare.
If you want to see the “Alligator” trailer then just click on the video below:
Miscellaneous facts about the film:
Joe Dante was offered to direct the film.
The oft-malfunctioning animatronic alligator used in the film was later donated to the Florida Gators as a team mascot. Ramon made several appearances before games and during halftime.
Robert Forster improvised the jokes in regard to his receding hairline, which a delighted John Sayles wrote into the script during shooting for the other characters.
John Sayles read Frank Ray Perilli’s script for the film once and then totally scrapped it. Sayles said it was set in Milwaukee and explained that the alligator grew gigantic because of beer from a beer factory going into the sewers.
The shot of the swat team emerging from the sewers looked so real that people actually thought they were terrorists and some even called the police.
The first victim’s name is Edward Norton. The Honeymooners (1955) features a sewer worker of that name.
As in the shooting of this film’s main inspiration, Jaws (1975), the mechanical, giant alligator was often malfunctioning. In a few scenes, Lewis Teague either shot around the alligator to build suspense or shot a regular alligator in miniature sets (which is plainly obvious in some shots).
According to director Lewis Teague the film was supposed to be scored by James Horner who actually wrote a full score. However due to some sort of a strike he could not record his score so he was replaced by another composer.
The proceeds that John Sayles earned from his screenwriting duties were used to finance Return of the Secaucus Seven (1979).
Robert Forster was recovering from a case of spinal meningitis when principle filming began.
Actor Bryan Cranston worked on the movie has a production assistant for the Special effects
The final cinema film of Dean Jagger.
Kelly (played by Perry Lang), the young police officer who follows David through the sewers, is always seen with chewing tobacco in his mouth.
Marisa never encounters the alligator/Ramon.
Screenwriter John Sayles also wrote Roger Corman’s Battle Beyond the Stars (1980), released the same year as Alligator. During this period, Sayles wrote the first draft of a script for Steven Spielberg known as “Night Skies,” which was never made but helped inspire E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) (which includes a mention about “alligators in the sewers”, coincidentally).
Colonel Brocks rifle is a Remington Model 7600 with a telescopic scope.
Davids revolver is a stainless snub-nosed Smith & Wesson 36.
As of 2018, Sue Lyon’s final acting appearance.

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