Alligator (1980)


Directed by: Lewis Teague

Written by: John Sayles

Story by: John Sayles & Frank Ray Perilli


Robert Forster ... David Madison
Robin Riker ... Marissa Kendall
Michael V. Gazzo ... Chief Clark
Dean Jagger ... Slade
Jack Carter ... Mayor
Henry Silva ... Col. Brock

Special Appearances:

Perry Lang ... Officer Jim Kelly
Sydney Lassick ... Luke Gutchel

Pat Peterson ... Joey

Release Date:
Theatrical: July 2, 1980





A little girl named Marissa Kendall adopts a baby alligator but her father flushes it down the toilet and it lands in a sewage system.
Years later the alligator is living in the sewage system and is becoming gigantic living off of corpses of laboratory animals
who have undergone dubious hormone experiments.
Eventually the alligator feasts on people there and a detective named David Madison (Robert Forster) and a deputy go into the sewer to check things out and take pictures of the alligator. The deputy is caught and slaughtered by the alligator but the people at the police station can't believe their eyes when they see the pictures of it's enormous size.
The police headquarters go into the sewers with guns to try and flush the alligator out and Marissa (Robin Riker) is now older and helps out with this issue.
The alligator eventually terrorises the small town eating people and biting their legs off plus the alligator also terrorises a neighborhood to top it all off. It is up to David and Marissa to put a stop to this bloodthirsty monster.


The film has a good start with a person wrestling with an alligator and then gets hurt along with an indian giving away baby one's and a little girl named Marissa adopts it. It's impressive when we see her closed minded father flushing this poor thing down the toilet when this child is not around and then landing in the sewage area.
It's then interesting when we see the screen taking place years later which is a sacry feeling knowing that this reptile would be fully grown by now. But what's more disturbing is spotting a creep kidnapping dogs to use as experiments and killing them afterwards as this isn't something nice for a dog lover to enjoy for sure.
Its creepy with the kidnapper dumping the corpses in the sewage area which things look dark and a nice camera shot rolling in on him with this alligator attacking. This moment is for sure a classic scene which was scary for it's time to watch this moment.
Also things look good when the head character David Maddison goes to the sewage area to check stuff out with a young cop Jim Kelly to check stuff out along with good dark shots on the weage area along with the coamera rolling in towards David in which this seems pretty scary thinking this reptile is gonna feast on him only to have Jim grabbing his pants to scare him out of a good fun tease here. I found this moment to be quite amusing to watch. Also when they knock something down there's a good shot on the alligators eyes opening which for sure looked dark and scary. There's a terrific struggle between the two trying to climb up a ladder to the sewage system which packs the suspense nicely with a good shot on Jim being dragged away.
A nice scene in a police headquarters when David shows Chief Clark the pics of the alligator and a shocked reaction to see
and seeing it's enormous size which is impressive with the writing involved here leaving a perfect feel for the horror story and what we will expect while still watching the film on the turnouts of this thing eating more locals in Chicago.
A nice moment with Marissa now full gorwn talking to David outside the sewage area when an army tries to go inside to hunt it and snuff it out with good loud clanging sounds. It's impressive when Marissa tells him about having a baby alligator when she was a child and it disappearing.
A good setting with kids playing out on the street and then they feel the ground shaking and suddenly the alligator bursting out which looked pretty cool. In today's standards it may look cheesy. A great one liner with one of the kids named Joey telling his friends about the alligator announced on TV. Things look pretty terrifying when it charges towards a police officer when he tries to get into his vehicle. What it does is not a pretty site but I won't spoil it for you. Good and graphic for the horror violence involved here for sure.
A real effective scene is spotting this alligator eating up a victim in which the shot here looked good and dark in an alleyway on the rough streets of Chicago. There's even a dark humoress moment when some kids at a party are goofing around dressed as pirates pretending someone is a victim telling him to walk the plank with is a diving board of a swimming pool and the alligator is underneath in the water. This seems impressive even if it's far fetched that an alligator would reside inside a swimming pool.
A good camera shot zooming in near a frestry area with a dog running away as well as this beast charging in at a wedding party in which hell breaks loose when we spot what this ferocious thing is doing towards the guests as well as it charging at a limo smashing it's tail against the car as this looked extremely violent on what it does attacking and chomping people away. This scene definetely keeps you in suspense big time watching all of this.
There's also great shots on the alligator in a lake while people try to snuff it out but things backfire showing explosions as well as someone who falls into the water and a great shot aiming towards this person. The results don't look pretty here at all offering more shocking horror violence here. A nice camera shot on a tunnel to the sewage system with a good one liner explaining that the thing has headed back there which was suspenseful.
Things look quite suspenseful when David struggles to get away from the alligator in the dark sewers and then sets a timebomb with him trying to climb up a ladder with the alligator on his tail as well as trying to get on top of a street with a car stopping on the lid which keeps you in suspense wondering if he will get out in time before the explosion along with Marissa arguing with the driver to move away all of the scene's we spot on here had a perfect timing for a near end of the film.
Bottom line is that this was a great horror monster flick but nowadays it looks very cheesy but at the time I saw it on TV I was terrified of horror films so it scared me. It is still a bit scary of the fact that an alligator is living in a sewer and sneaking up on it's prey. It makes you fear on going to a sewage system thinking that this could happen in your neighborhood. It tried to carry on the tradition of Jaws and Pirahna (Which writer Sayles did the story for) even if it didn't become as much of a success.
Some categorised this as a comedy horror but I never saw the comedy in it at all.

The acting is very well done. I enjoyed Robert Forster (David Madison) as a tough cop trying to flush out the alligator showing good emotions and excellent aggressions to when he needed to do all of this. Of course he was always a successful character actor and often played these types of roles.
Robin Riker (Marissa Kendall) is also a natural character actress and plays a great reporter bringing alot of energy to her part in the story as well as the nice looks too. She shows off a good amount of energy and characteristics into her performance here.
Michael V. Gazzo
(Chief Clark) showed terrific timing as a police chief with his nice growly type of voice and his excited attitude too. He brought some humor to his part showing a good bubbly attitude. Plus he shows great expressions and reactions to what he notices in certain scene's too which added good flavor to his performance.
Dean Jagger (Slade) did a nice job with his gravelly speaking as well as coming across as someone whom is greedy. Seemed to ham up his performance quite well. Shows good energy and enthusiasm into all he did here.
Jack Carter (Mayor) who played a politician seemed to carry off his role fairly well but didn't do too well with his acting career during the late 80's as he accpeted roles in various trashy direct-to-video dud's but later on got his acting career back on track in the movie Play it to the Bone.
Henry Silva (Col. Brock) was a natural ham as he offered nice wit into his role and brings on the charm with what he was saying to others. He seemed to fit this role wonderfully by all that he did here and had the one of the most memorable supporting roles in this.
Supporting actor Perry Lang (Jim Kelly) knew his part inside out as a young police officer and was believeable by being a tease. A shame he was killed off early in the film. Yet he showed off a lot of spunk and a great life like type of behavior on someone who loves his job making him a total likeable character here.

Sydney Lassick (Luke Gutchel) seemed to breeze off well as a scumbag that you wouldn't want to trust running a pet store. He often portrays these roles as he does it with style. Does well with his stressful attitude as well when he tries to make out he's hiding something.
I enjoyed the special appearace by former TV Knots Landing actor Pat Peterson' (Joey) since he was good playing a typical kid.Offers great energy and spunk into his part as well as showing some brief sarcasm too which was well remembered. It was a very small role but he was worth mentioning.

Many gory scenes in this one as it was also shown on TV too when my TV station was playing a movie but of course it advised viewer discretion.
Many people legs were bitten off and it was graphic plus the alligator was eating people alive.

The original music for this film was composed by Craig Hundley who was terrific with it and made it sound extremely scary with the dark deep synthesizer playing in which it buzzes out and sounds perfect for a dark horror film especially the scenes in the sewer during the attacks which stood out in my mind the most and delivers a real fright big time.
Nowadays, it sounds a little cheesy but it is still effective especially for the scenes in the sewers.
He also composed music for the films Roadie, Schizoid, Olivia, Boogeyman 2 and Programmed to Kill. He also pursued a bit of acting by having small guest roles in TV shows.