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Friday, September 2, 2011

ALLIGATOR (1980)

This monster pic should be a lot more fun than it is. It’s a half-comic/half-scary version of the old Urban Legend about a baby alligator who gets flushed down the toilet only to grow to epic proportion before reemerging to terrify the populace. John Sayles dashed off the workable script, just before starting his own RETURN OF THE SECAUCAS 7/’80, and he keeps things from getting too jokey even when alligator logistics get in the way of moving the plot along. A bigger problem comes from megger Lewis Teague who doesn’t do much for the suspense or action scenes, even when Mr Alligator isn’t involved. (The crummy effects are part of the fun in these things.) As the lead cop on the case, Robert Forster is the best thing in here with some neat character touches and a believable note of resigned weariness. Everybody else sinks, especially the vet actors who try kidding their roles. Worst is the background score which yuks it up with near-quotes from John Williams’ JAWS theme.

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: Two years before this, Sayles got his first writing credit on Joe Dante’s PIRANHA which mined similar territory to better effect.

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