Saturday, December 1, 2007

ALLIGATOR

Arguably the best of the rampaging reptile subgenre, 1980’s ALLIGATOR comes to DVD in a surprisingly nice edition from Lion’s Gate.

A little girl’s pet baby alligator is flushed down the toilet by her asshole dad. Twelve years later, the reptile has grown to tremendous size, having fed on the carcasses of illegally dumped test animals, and begins preying on errant sewer workers. Detective David Madison (the great Robert Forster, JACKIE BROWN) is assigned to investigate, and with the help of a cute herpetologist (Robin Riker), he tries to convince the authorities that they have a monster carnivore on their hands.

When screenwriter John Sayles struck out on his own as a highbrow independent filmmaker, the world of schlock cinema lost a great asset. Sayles’ B movie scripts (PIRANHA, THE HOWLING, BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS) always showed rare intelligence and wit, and his sly screenplay for ALLIGATOR is no exception. His story suffers a bit at the workmanlike hands of director Lewis Teague (CUJO, THE LADY IN RED), but it’s still one of the best examples of its particular genre.

The best thing about the film though, is the beastie itself. Brought to life with both real alligators on detailed miniature sets, and utterly convincing animatronics, the toothsome terror is a formidable – and tangible – menace. Compare the reptile in this film to the CGI critters in recent killer lizard flicks, and tell me which one is more frightening.

Lion’s Gate graciously gives this long awaited genre gem a restored & remastered 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, and it’s the best the movie has ever looked on home video. Sharp, detailed, with solid blacks and vivid colors, the seventeen-year-old, low budget film looks brand new. Surprisingly, LG has also sprung for a couple of bonus features, including and audio commentary by director Teague and an on-screen interview with screenwriter Sayles. There are also trailers for a handful of other LG titles.

Recommended.

BUY: Alligator