Alligator: Ridiculous B Movie Horror is Awesome Badness

Alligator the 1980 movie
He’s just trying to say hello.

Remember Steven Spielberg’s film Jaws? Well, that was 1975. But! In 1980 the world got the satirical horror film… Alligator!

From director Lewis Teague, it’s one of those daft scary romps that helps itself considerably by remaining so self-aware. But it’s also bloody stupid. Hurray!

Alligator the 1980 Horror Romp

Our esteemed editor, Mr. Wapojif, remembers watching this thing as a kid and revelling in the ridiculous gore.

For Alligator is a tremendously gory film.

But in the Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) kind of way. Think the Black Knight, killer rabbit, and Sir Lancelot wedding scene.

It’s done OTT for satirical and comedic effect, with an utterly humongous alligator rampaging through a city and being a bit of a bloodthirsty jerk.

Alligator is set in Chicago, but begins in 1968. A teenage girl buys a baby alligator while in Florida, but her father hates it! So, he flushes Ramón (the name the girl gave it) down the bog. Boo!

12 years pass. The beast has survived in the sewers by feasting on discarded pet carcasses and human effluence.

Some of these animals were also subjected to animal tests and experimental growth hormones, meaning the alligator becomes super sized and ANGRY.

At 36 feet in length, Ramón is indeed a big bugger.

As one might expect, he begins attacking the good people of Chicago with wild abandon. These attacks bring in police attention, which soon unveils the monster beneath the streets.

Kind of. Some people think it’s there, others don’t.

So an intrepid TV journalists heads into the sewers to find out for himself. And he’s eaten alive. Huzzah!

Police officer David Madison (Robert Forster) drafts reptile expert Marisa Kendall (Robin Riker) into the action to sort stuff out. Basically, the film’s Chief Brody and Hooper from 1975’s Jaws.

And it’s Steven Spielberg’s film, you can imagine, which the film goes out to replicate and, in some respects, lampoon.

Ramón begins his unstoppable rampage and big-game hunter Colonel Brock (Henry Silva—the Quint of the film) is called in to wipe out the beast.

Guess what happens there! Yep. He dies horribly. Huzzah!

To make matters worse, the alligator then goes on an insane rampage through an upper class wedding ceremony. This is the Sir Lancelot from Holy Grail moment of the film as there’s total carnage and mayhem.

What a goddamn miserable party pooper that reptile is, eh?

But the protagonists are eventually able to lure the alligator into the sewers again, where they blow it up with dynamite. The end!

So, yeah, the whole plot of the film goes like this:

  • Huge alligator.
  • Huge alligator goes mental.
  • People try to deal with huge alligator.
  • Huge alligator goes mental.
  • People try to deal with huge alligator.
  • Huge alligator goes mental.
  • People try to deal with huge alligator.
  • Huge alligator goes mental.
  • Explosion.

As plots go, it’s not exactly complex stuff. But what saves the whole thing from being B movie schlock is its self-awareness.

It’s all tongue in cheek, satire, and good silly fun.

Future films played on this idea, too, such as the excellent Tremors (1990) and Tucker & Dale vs Evil (2010).

For Alligator, obviously it’s ripping off Jaws. And isn’t even half as good despite its efforts. But amongst other such titles from the era (like Orca from 1977) this one is enjoyable to watch.

That’s if you like daft romps like this from the ’70s and won’t mind too much that the film is utterly idiotic.

If that’s your cup of tea, you’ll become happily entranced in the film’s weird mix of ultra-violence and dodgy special effects.

Alligator’s Production and Legacy

In October 2020 there was a Q&A with the director and director Bill Lustig. Which shows the cult status Alligator has now claimed.

The film was shot in LA and had a budget of around $1.7 million. Off that, it went on to score big… ish. That’s by making back £6.4 million.

So, a modest hit for director Teague and the film’s stars.

During the shoot, there were scenes of a SWAT term emerging from a sewer (half of Alligator seems to be set in one).

This was so realistic that locals thought there was an attack of some sort. So, they called the police. Nice!

Another fact is Bryan Cranston worked on the production as an assistant.

We suppose all these years on is what keeps the film away from obscurity is its ludicrousness. There was no holding back with that.

So, kudos to Teague and his crew. It’s a daft old movie. But we kinda like it.

Alligator’s Collector’s Edition Blu-Ray Yay!

Also, just by happenstance, some big news was announced on the 29th November 2021. Just over a week after this post went live!

What is it!? Well, Scream Factory had this to say!

Hell yeah! Unfortunately, this will only be available in North America (for now, anyway). But still, it’s fantastic to see the film getting a lot of love.

You get a giant poster to go with the thing. Epic.

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