Warning, this is a spoiler based review
It's quite wrong that during Killer Crocodile Season I never got to cover this movie, I did look into it during my research, but I just couldn't get a copy. There are still some I'd like to do, but they will have to wait until I can actually get hold of them, for now, let's jump in.
We open to the title over the blinking eye of an alligator and then we see a guy wading through some swamp and sneaking up on the aforementioned reptile. As the gator takes a swipe at him, the camera pulls out and we see that it's some sort of zoological entertainment place and a man with a microphone informs the fascinated audience that they can buy their own baby alligator. The man near the gator slips in the mud and falls into the water and the gator bites him as the audience watches on in horror.
She looks into the tank of baby alligators and the salesman says she can choose one for herself, whichever she thinks is the cutest. Her mother asks what she will do when it grows up and the little girl says she'll give it to a zoo, then plunges her hand into the tank and removes a little baby alligator.
|OMG I want one, it's so cute|
We see the baby gator in the sewers looking all lost and alone, then we are told it's twelve years later and we see
We cut to some sort of sewer treatment facility where some men are dragging the water as it turns out someone has found a human arm. Gee, I wonder where that arm could have come from, would it be cynical to suggest a giant
A man in the lab tells the pet shop guy that he needs more puppies for his experiment and cats won't do, though to be honest I don't see why. The pet shop guy says he's getting nervous about the possibility of being caught by the police and takes some black bags with dead dogs inside to dump. Why the scientist guy couldn't get puppies from a puppy farm himself, or properly dispose of the dead animals in an incinerator, I don't know.
Detective Madison goes to see a guy in a man hole about the arm that they found, supposedly belonging to a guy called Edward Norton, his buddy punched out his time card for him, assuming that he was fine, but just late. Then we see the pet shop guy wheeling a shopping trolley into the sewers and dumping the dogs into the water with the alligator watching on. As he throws one of the dogs it doesn't quite land in the water and lands on a pipe, so instead of just leaving it, the pet shop guy decides to climb down in order to push the dead animal into the sewer water.
Detective Madison is shown to have the leg later and the coroner tells they found cat litter inside the sock of the leg. Madison sees some sewer workers drag out the tattered remains of the pet shop guy's Hawaiian shirt and then we see him interviewing the guy in the lab, though I'm stumped if I know how he managed to connect them at this point. Madison asks him a bunch of questions about their procedure and it turns out that they're either supposed to breed their own animals for experiments or buy them from the city pound, then later return them for proper incineration, so I don't get why he hasn't been doing that. The detective asks if one of the dogs could have got loose and into the sewer and the lab guy says no, he also informs Madison that when the animals arrive they cut the larynx to keep the noise level down and the movie gives us a shot of a cute little puppy, just to really cement our hate of the guy.
The lab guy goes to see the old man in charge of the company and tells him they couldn't tie the pet shop guy to their experiment as he was paid in cash from the slush fund and he's disposed of any animals which could be traceable. The old man, who is a mumbler, tells the lab guy to go back to his chemistry set and not to talk to any reporters and he'll sort out what he can.
You know, I really want to like this movie, there are so few decent killer crocodile movies, but we're 15 minutes in and I'm bored as hell, I just want to see the damn alligator already, but we're not quite down with our twenty minutes with jerks. The Chief tells Madison once they leave the press conference that the incident was five years ago and no one blames him for his partner getting shot and he shouldn't let the press get to him.
Madison asks the beat cops if someone will go check out the sewers with him, but all are reluctant aside from a young rookie. The sergeant gives Madison some sort of apparatus should they hit some methane pockets, then tells Madison he should sort his hair out because he's going bald in the front.
|Oh, 80's, your understanding of mental illness was not good|
They grab the kid and then disable his device, discovering that it is actually a radio that is hooked up to some sort of timer, so Madison hands him off to one of the beat cops and he and Kelly, the rookie type cop will head to the sewers.
Madison and Kelly enter the suspiciously large sewers, which are so large that even in the wide shot you can't see the ceiling, and wade through the water looking for more body parts. Kelly asks why Madison left St Louis, at least that's what I think he's asking as they obviously filmed this in some sort of actual tunnel system as the audio is disrupted by the sound of running water and the characters voice echoes somewhat making it a little difficult to try and understand. They come across a wall which has been shoddily bricked up and decide to take another route.
They come across a pocket of methane and so put on their masks, Madison states that he once saw a methane explosion in St Louis which was large enough to drop a bus through the street. They find another brick wall which has partially fallen down and Madison grabs a brick and drops it in the water to see how deep it is, we then get a shot of the gator. Well it's not really the gator, it's a gator, that they've clearly filmed for these inbetween shots to make it look more realistic, somewhat like in JAWS when they used the real shark footage to intersect with the big rubber shark. Though at this point, I really just want to see what the big fake gator looks like.
Madison gives himself a fright when he turns and sees a bunch of rats on an up-turned shopping trolley, picking through some rubbish that's suspiciously clean looking, somewhat like the props department had just put it there and not like it had been floating around in a sewer for weeks. I'm nit-picking.
Madison explores the sewers some more looking for the missing Kelly and comes across the blocked junction which the pet shop guy was killed at earlier in the film. As Madison is bent over, trying to move stuff, we get a moving water-level POV shot and then a hand grabs Madison's bottom and it turns out that it's Kelly and the movie was trying to fake us out. Also this proves that Kelly is extremely irresponsible as he went wandering in a labyrinth tunnel system, which they have established does not correspond to their maps and did not tell his partner he was going. I now assume that Kelly will be eaten, quite painfully, by the gator later in the movie. Madison finds the lamp that the pet shop guy had been using and they continue on their mission of exploration.
|When you see it....|
They make it to a ladder and both scramble up and try to shove themselves into the tube where the ladder is, Madison tries pushing the man hole at the top open with his back, but he struggles and it won't budge. We see the gator closing in and it grabs Kelly's leg, Madison grabs his arm and they struggle for a few moments before the gator wins out and pulls Kelly away. Madison let's out a heartfelt, "NO" and the look of devastation of his face is genuine enough to make me feel a little guilty for wishing death on Kelly earlier.
|Stop being a good actor, Forster, you're ruining my enjoyment of the death|
Madison shouts for Kelly and we see his voice echo around several shots of the now empty and deserted sewers, then it transitions and we see Madison asleep in a hospital bed. He is sweating and shaking his head and shouting "NO" then he wakes up and a nurse tells him he popped out of a man hole shouting 'alligator' and was brought to the hospital. Madison realises that Kelly was taken and looks around for his clothes and tries to put them on as the nurse brings in the police chief.
Madison asks if they found Kelly, the chief tells him they found no sign and he should probably stay in the hospital for a few days and rest and recuperate. They want Madison to see a psychiatrist and do some tests, Madison says they're nuts if they think he will stay in the hospital doing tests while Kelly is still unaccounted for, at this point, one of the sleazy reporters from the press conference wanders into Madison's hospital room and starts asking stupid questions and commenting on Madison losing his partners.
The chief takes Madison to see a reptile expert who is milking snakes for their venom, the expert tells him the largest ever found was 16 feet in length, but that gators shouldn't be able to thrive in the sewers because of the lack of food and even in zoos, gators rarely reach full size. Madison says that the gator he saw was much bigger than that, the expert says that without sunlight and proper food, a gator of that size would starve in a week, not to mention the chemicals and gasses that are found in a sewer.
|Slow news day for this national newspaper|
At the station the beat cops seem far more concerned with believing the trash newspaper and putting toy crocodiles in Madison's locker than looking for the missing Kelly. The sleazy reporter questions Madison's nurse at the hospital who breaks about a dozen privacy and confidentiality laws by telling the sleazy reporter about what kind of medication they put Madison on during his hospital stay and what he was dreaming about whilst he was there.
The sleazy reporter goes to the sewers, god knows why, and finds a boot and takes a photograph of it, he wanders through the sewer tunnels and finds a mutilated dog corpse with rats feeding on it, where are the giants rats I wonder... oh wait, the gator's probably eating them too, nevermind. He takes a photo of that, then one of a shopping trolley with lots of rubbish inside, then we see the gator watching the sleazy reporter.
Madison gets a phone call from the chief and rushes down the station, the chief tells him they found the sleazy reporters camera in the sewage works. A guy comes out of a dark room with a handful of photographs and tells them they won't believe what he's got, he flicks through them and shows them a bunch of shots of the alligator that the reporter managed to get off before he was eaten. Madison asks the chief he believes him now and the chief says that they'll get Doctor Kendall to take a look at the photographs.
At home Madison flicks through the tv channels and all the media are taking about are the photographs that the reporter took with his camera, although how they got to the press, I don't know. Madison sees a report from Doctor Kendall who still refuses to entertain the idea of it growing large despite photographic evidence to the contrary.
We now see SWAT, animal control, the police and a bunch of other guys locking and loading up for a trip into the sewers, they place a big net over a sewer entrance, arm themselves with big guns and what appears to be a rocket launcher and all head into the sewer system to look for the huge alligator.
Madison talks the chief through the plan to herd the gator through the sewers with three units so it is forced to exit via the main entrance they have set up with the big net. Doctor Kendall arrives and tells them it should work and as long as they don't corner it, they should be fine. Kendall apologises to Madison for not believing him and they commence the operation, which involves the heavily armed guys walking through the sewers clanking pipes against the walls and banging dust bin lids together. This seems like a very good plan, so I wonder how it is all going to go wrong because we're only 40 minutes into this 90 minute movie.
We see a glimpse of the gator's tail, then outside the sewer Madison gets a message that they can't raise someone on the radio. Inside the sewer there's lots of noise and Madison keeps getting reports of people getting lost, which means they should have really taken some sewer workers who knew their way around with them and they should have been marking their route as they went along. Kendall tries to talk to Madison, but he's busy and distracted and isn't really interested in hearing about her former pet alligator, Ramon.
Everyone readies themselves outside as the three groups should be headed out now and we can hear the approaching noise come from the tunnel, there's now two ways this will go. Either the guys will emerge and they will declare Madison crazy, despite proof to the contrary, or the gator will either eat one of the groups or it will come out a bit, then go back in.
Suddenly, the banging noise stops and we hear someone shouting "hold your fire, hold your fire" and the guys emerge from the tunnel and everyone starts laughing. Why, I have no idea since they know that there's a dangerous alligator in the sewer, it's just likely that they took a wrong turning somewhere and haven't wrangled him.
The chief tells Madison they should get the hell out of there and figure out what to tell the press in the morning, the Mayor and the press look pissed off, despite Madison reiterating my point that the men must have gone the wrong way and the gator is still in the sewer somewhere. The chief and Madison drive past some kids playing baseball in the street and then some very dodgy effects kick in and the street starts to rumble and break.
|No, movie, just no|
Then what is quite obviously a real, but small gator, walks down a to-scale street and I try not to die laughing from the fakeness of it. the little kid runs upstairs to tell his mother the alligator is outside, but his mother is talking on the phone so he grabs a knife to go outside and defend the injured cop. Go, kid, you rock.
As the kid goes outside the street is now filled with arriving police, fire and ambulances, the chief is there with Madison and the chief is going crazy that the gator made a huge hole in the pavement. Kendall tells them that the gator will look for water because he has used a lot of energy and will need to rest.
The chief introduces a Colonel Brock of the national guard to Madison and Kendall while cops set off charges in the boating lake to try and tempt the gator to surface. Brock insults Madison, then insults Kendall and basically tells them both to piss off, so I'm assuming he's going to get eaten at some point, possibly with the mayor, because he's been a bit of a dick too. As Madison leaves various street peddlers try to sell him alligator merchandise and one guy tries to sell him a baby alligator, so he gets some beat cops to arrest him.
Brock makes a tit of himself in an interview with a tv reporter by making alligator sounds, apparently he's been brought in as he's a big game hunter. At Kendall's lab Madison asks her to help him, because he wants to know how the gator got to be so large, she shows him a slide from a dog and says that it shows signs of growth hormone and says that if test animals have been thrown into the sewers for years then there's no telling what kind of chemicals that the gator could have been exposed to.
|Meanwhile, Brock and the chief go hunting for the gator in my cousin's bedroom.|
A helicopter goes over the suburbs looking for the gator and we see that it's now hiding in someone's pool, hanging out with some pool toys and trying to look inconspicuous. Back at Slade pharmaceuticals, Kendall and Madison ask the lab guy what kind of hormones he's been testing over the years, including one which had the side affect of giving the subject an insatiable appetite.
We then see the old man of Slade calling the mayor, so of course we cut to the chief asking Madison for his shield. What do you think the chances of Madison deciding to retire to the countryside with his puppy dog and staying away from the hunt for the gator? Yeah, I don't think he's going to do that either.
With Madison now fired he clears out his locker and then goes to the evidence room where he grabs the timer that the skinny kid was wearing earlier and also a few sticks of dynamite, because... well... I have no fucking idea. Just drop it, Madison, it's not worth it, you're going to get yourself eaten.
They reach the point where the pet shop guy was killed and Madison says they're going to split up and look for anything that shouldn't be there, signs of gator nesting and so on. Madison heads through the blocked tunnel, Kendall heads through the tunnel opposite, which seems the most likely option as that's where we say the gator come from earlier and where we know the pet shop guy was dropping the food, sewer-guy heads up a ladder, which should logically lead to the entrance/exit the pet shop guy used at the start of the movie.
Kendall finds some nesting stuck to the wall, with some dog collars embedded into the leaves, which she tugs on and it pulls out a very fake looking, but still very gross, dead dog and she falls backwards into the water. Madison and sewer-guy come running, Kendall concludes that the gator will probably try to make it back into the sewer where it's food stash is. Sewer-guy announces that he's going to take his vacation till all of this blows over and laments that at least in Florida they keep the gators in the swamp where they belong.
Back at Madison's place he introduces Kendall to his puppy, which he has named Snaps, which means he's a lazy pet owner or the guy who wrote the script forgot that's what he named the first dog. Kendall calls home and tells her mother she'll be late home and no, she doesn't have to do her homework because she's the teacher.
At a kids party somewhere in town, some kids dressed as pirates blindfold another kid and tell him they're going to make him walk the plank. Oh, movie, you are cruel. The kid's mother turns on the outside lights and the kid walking on the diving board sees the alligator in the swimming pool and the other kid pushes him in. Seriously.
Downtown Brock pays some local kids in beer and tells them if they help him he'll pay them all $10 a day, though one of them demands $20 and to be honest, it comes off a tad racist. At Madison's, post sexual liaison, Madison reveals to Kendall the circumstances which got his partner killed in St Louis, for which he blames himself still.
Brock and the three street kids go to an alley way where the gator has been seen, one of them says he will go in with Brock, then the camera cuts to reveal the gator hiding beneath some rubbish bags. Which makes me wonder if there are in fact two gators as not long ago we saw it chow down on the little kid at the party in the suburbs and this is clearly some place in the inner city. Horror cliché 426 occurs, a cat jumps from some bin lids and scares both Brock and the street kid, but they press on into the alley. Brock takes a swig from a bottle of spirits, but the roar of the gator, followed by it's silhouette causes Brock to drop the bottle and the street kid ducks into a corner.
I've seen a lot of giant crocodile movies now, ranging from the brilliant to the absurd and this particularly death is on the absurd side of the scale, however this character has been an utter arsehole so I'm just glad we're now seeing him get eaten rather than having to put up with him for the last twenty minutes of the movie.
Two cops come in and tell Madison they just found Brock's remains in an alleyway and express sympathy over him having lost his job. Madison pushes Kendall away as she tries to comfort him, so she drops some money on the table and leaves. Madison gets a flashback to Kelly being killed by the gator.... some for reason, maybe they were running short of film. Madison wakes up from his flashback to see some movie on the tv in which someone has put some sort of fake frill on what looks like a komodo dragon, this is probably a real thing too.
Madison goes to Kendall's house and her mother gives Madison coffee and talks at a million miles an hour about Kendall's father. Kendall comes downstairs and Madison apologises so Kendall offers to show him her rock collection. He pushes her onto her bed where he tells her that she's smart and educated and has lovely boobs (not the expression he used) and says he knows he's a pain in the arse and kisses her.
On the river, some police and national guard spot the gator and begin shooting at it, but he ducks beneath the water, they spot him again and go to throw a grenade in the water, but they mis-angle themselves and end up using the gator as a ski ramp which sends them flying. Two of the cops fall into the water, the boat hits the river bank and explodes from the grenade. The cop in the water gets eaten, then the second cop gets his legs bitten off as they pull him into the second boat.
Madison and Kendall arrive on-scene and ask one of the cops which way the gator went so they can stay on it's trail and it turns out the gator is heading straight for the wedding at Slade mansion, who saw that coming?!
|You registered for alligator luggage... it's not quite ready yet|
All the guests panic and everyone starts running in random directions and people are tossed into the air as the alligator makes his way through the crowd, with several people falling into the swimming pool. Mr Slade runs to his car and locks himself in, leaving the mayor to fend for himself and we get the briefest shot of the lab guy, Arthur, being killed by the gator. The gator then comes over and kills the mayor and for some reason decides to destroy Mr Slade's car with his tail.
|Because of the reason!|
The chief arrives and asks for Madison's help, but Madison ignores him and heads out with Kendall. Madison climbs inside the sewer and tells Kendall to let the chief know where he'll be coming up and tells her once he finds the gator he'll give himself two minutes on the timer to escape.
Madison runs through the sewers to the point where the gators nest should be and the movie shoves out a teeny tiny gator in a scale tunnel before switching back to the model gator and having Madison shoot at it. He makes a run for it, getting the gator to follow him and puts on a gas mask, leading the gator into a section of tunnels with a methane pocket. Madison finds his way to a ladder and in the darkness sets up the bomb on a timer as the gator closes in on him and he is knocked over by the gators tail, knocking off his mask, but he manages to make it up the ladder to the man hole, just in time for a car to pull on top of it, trapping him inside. Kendall arrives just in time and gets the car to move as the timer clicks to zero and ignites the methane with the dynamite, killing the gator.
The chief arrives and tells Madison they found pieces of the gator and Madison threatens to lock the chief up with Kendall's mother. Madison and Kendall look into the sewer and celebrate the fact that they finally got the gator, then the camera travels inside and we see a little baby gator being flushed into the sewer. End of movie.
I looked it up on IMDB and the "alligator" was played by one of my favourite stunt performers and my favourite Jason Voorhees, Kane Hodder, which gave me a nerd squee moment.
This movie is ok, it's your standard 80's creature feature, there's nothing really special about it, it could have been any kind of generic monster stalking the sewer systems really and the movie would have had the same outcome.
The effects for the alligator range from good to clunky, the use of real gator footage was used well and blended well with the use of lighting and selected shots, the big fake gator looked best when you could only see a brief glimpse of it as once you see it moving, you see how fake it is. So it doesn't hold up to the standards set by Rogue, though this being made 30 years prior, I don't hold that against the movie much.
The first twenty minutes are quite slow and painful to get through, basically until the gator actually shows up there's nothing much interesting that happens that couldn't have been chopped down to perhaps ten minutes. Some of the leaps that the characters and the movie makes quite mystifies me. Why Madison goes to the research place at the beginning is a complete mystery, but why then, when he is told they are experimenting with growth hormone, does he not realise this as soon as he finds about the large dog from the beginning and then the abnormally large gator, is also a mystery.
The movie never explains why the public should be interested that Madison's former partner died and that Kelly has gone missing should be front page news, nor does it really cover how the media gets hold of the information, nor the photos of the gator and why everyone is running the story. The press conference at the start of the movie says that they don't even know if the two body parts they found were murder victims, they don't know how they died, for all they know they could have just had accidents in the sewer and been torn up by the machinery, but the press then run a front page story saying that the police are looking for a "sewer psychopath" and it's a leap that I don't really buy.
Once the gator breaks into the city, which is ridiculous, the movie slows right down again and we join the hunt for the gator, meaning that there's no deaths to keep us entertained in the meantime and it gets all boring again. When the gator is at the wedding and starts pummelling the car with its tail, it's just ridiculous and is easily the silliest part of the movie.
I thought the death of the child at the party was unneeded as it's never addressed again at any point of the movie, don't get me wrong, I'm not against child death in a movie, as long as it has some sort of baring on the plot and isn't just death for death's sake. As far as I'm aware, the characters don't even find out that the kid got killed, making his death completely pointless and the supposed travelling speed of the alligator completely stupid.
I'd mark this movie higher as it is well made, but the pacing issues and plot holes let it down. Ultimately it's just not as good as it could have been and the age of the movie isn't really an excuse for some of those reasons.
6 out of 10