Movie of the Week: Alligator (1980)

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Lewis Teague directs Robert Forster, Robin Riker and Michael V. Gazzo in this monster movie about a chemically enlarged alligator feeding off laboratory dogs and random workers in the sewer. 

Alligator is one of those superb little B movies that despite limited budget and expectations doesn’t put a foot wrong. Teague fills his cast with interesting, weathered character actors rather than bland pretties. Lead Robert Foster’s resigned to the shit heap detective is a plethora of world weary pleasures – macho, hangdog, balding. The script never gives a mouth a line of dialogue unless it is fun or unusual. Weary sarcasm is the order of the day. The film is subversive in its depiction of the authorities and satirical in its depiction of inner city life. Like the Jaws template dictates, John Sayles script holds back on giving us too much reptile to begin with, then when the titular Ramon goes on the rampage he becomes the focus and the star. The gory chaos he creates with his chomp and his wake should keep even the most nit picky gore hounds happy. The finale is gripping and tautly orchestrated. This was one of the first films I remember watching on Alex Cox’s excellent Moviedrome TV show in the early 1990s. And I thank him for introducing me to it and many other low rent treasures.

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My Top 10 Monster Movies

1. Alien (1979)
2. John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982)
3. Jaws (1975)
4. The Mist (2007)

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5. King Kong (1933)
6. The Birds (1963)
7. Jurassic Park (1993)
8. Tremors (1990)
9. Alligator (1980)
10. Q: The Winged Serpent (1982)

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