“Alligator” (1980) starring Robert Forster / Z-View

Alligator (1980)

Director:  Lewis Teague

Screenplay:  John Sayles from a story by John Sayles, Frank Ray Perilli

Stars: Robert Forster, Robin Riker, Michael V. Gazzo, Dean Jagger, Sydney Lassick, Jack Carter, Henry Silva, Buckley Norris and Sue Lyon 

Tagline:  It lives 50 feet beneath the city. It’s 36 feet long. It weighs 2,000 pounds…And it’s about to break out!

The Plot…

An alligator that was flushed into the Chicago sewers twelve years ago begins feeding on discarded animal remains used in experiments.  This causes the gator to grow to a gigantic size with an insatiable appetite.  When body parts of missing city workers show up, police officer David Madison (Forster) and a rookie cop are sent into the sewer to investigate.

They discover the alligator, or perhaps it’s better to say the alligator discovers them.  Madison barely escapes but his partner isn’t as lucky.  Madison reports that there’s a giant alligator living in the sewers system, but no one believes him until the gator comes to the surface… and it’s hungry!

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Alligator is a better movie than you might think a low-budget Jaws knockoff would be. That’s  thanks to the folks involved.  Lewis Teague (Death Race 2000; Cujo) knows how to get the most bang for the buck directing low budget horror.  John (The Howling; Piranha; Lone Star) Sayles provides a story with more depth than expected from a giant alligator movie.  Robert Forster is joined by Michael (Godfather II) Gazzo, Sydney (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) Lassick and Henry (Sharky’s Machine) Silva.  Dean Jagger and Sue Lyons also appear in what would be their last film roles.

There are two cool Easter Eggs in Alligator: 1) The first sewer worker to go missing is named Edward Norton which is a tip of the hat to The Honeymooners.  2) There’s graffiti on a sewer wall near the end of the movie that says, “Harry Lime Lives”.  This is a reference to Orson Welles character in The Third Man who escapes through a sewer.

Bryan (Breaking Bad) Cranston worked on the film as a production assistant for the Special Effects department and became friends with Robert Forster.

Alligator isn’t a great film, but it’s better than you might expect.

Alligator earns 3 of 5 stars.