GORE IN THE STORE
Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans
ALLIGATOR & ALLIGATOR II: THE MUTATION ****
Directed by Lewis Teague & Jon Hess.
Starring Robert Forster, Robin Riker, Henry Silva.
Horror, US, 185 minutes, certificate 15.
Released in the UK on Limited edition 4K & Blu-ray and DVD from 101 Films on 12th February.
If for whatever reason this is your first-time watching Lewis Teague’s superior creature feature, you may think that whoever was in charge of the 4K remaster here has done too good a job. From the minute the world-weary Robert Forster shuffles onto screen investigating a spate of pet kidnappings, the signs of what appear to be hair plugs or a hair transplant are all too apparent no matter what size of screen you are watching on. However, the film, and Forster, tip their hand making this act of male vanity an essential part of his character. This smart handling of monster shenanigans and smart character work have ensured that ALLIGATOR has cemented its place in cult cinema and well worth revisiting in this excellently remastered package with a generous helping of revealing behind the scenes interviews and features.
Written just before his script for THE HOWLING, John Sayles work is just as witty here while still displaying a deep affection for the genre. By trading on the evergreen urban myth of a baby alligator flushed down a toilet only to grow to a humongous size while feasting on whatever flesh is available, Sayles also mixes in cop movie cliches as well as elements of 70's paranoia with a chemical company on the sidelines using the alligators home to dump their own waste from illegal experiments, and in the process speeding up the reptiles growing process to alarming levels.it serves as a great reminder of Sayles skills with horror and action and may have you wishing for him to dip back into these waters once more instead of the more highbrow fare he is known for these days, although that stuff is pretty good too.
The script is brought to life with verve from Lewis Teague's punchy direction. He expertly captures the tone with his able handling of the impressive cast, particularly Henry Silva as an out of his element big game hunter brought in to capture the beast but it is Forster who stands out here. What could have been a standard role of a cop who breaks the rules is a fully rounded character with several quirks that help elevate the film to a superior example of the creature feature and reminds you of what an underrated performer he really was.
101 Films have done an exemplary job of presenting the film here alongside its sadly far inferior sequel. An example of early 90's DTV blandness it serves only as a retread by relocating to Florida with an unrelated cast involving yet another policeman investigating a shady real estate developer while another giant alligator eats his way through the population. Both films look fantastic, especially the new 4K remaster of the original film which expertly presents the dark sewer scenes clearly without smears, nicely displaying the scale work of making a normal sized alligator look gigantic as it crawls to the surface to wreak more havoc.
Both films also come with a hefty set of extras. Separate interviews with Teague, Sayles and actress Robin Ryker show how proud they are of the film but also pay tribute to Forster as well. Most surprising is a lengthy interview with none other than Bryan Cranston, who proudly reminisces about his first professional job on set by packing a dummy alligator with fake blood and guts to prepare for an explosion. He also pays tribute to Forster by painting a portrait of a no-nonsense character actor who always gave his all no matter what the project was and grateful for his small yet vital part in BREAKING BAD at the end of his career.
This is a comprehensive presentation of a cult hit, one of the finest examples of low budget bandwagon jumping in the wake of JAWS that was so prevalent in the late 1970's and throughout the 80's. First time viewers are in for a treat while long time fans will delight with its sparkling new presentation and abundant behind the scenes features for both films. And both will be reminded of the exemplary talents of its screenwriter and much missed leading man. A recommended package.
Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans