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Alligator (Shout! Factory) UHD/Blu-ray Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • Alligator (Shout! Factory) UHD/Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: February 22nd, 2022.
    Director: Lewis Teague
    Cast: Robert Forster, Robin Riker, Michael Gazzo, Dean Jagger, Jack Carter, Henry Silva
    Year: 1980
    Purchase From Amazon

    Alligator – Movie Review:

    Directed by Lewis Teague, of Cujo and Cat's Eye fame, and written by John Sayles of The Howling and Piranha, 1980's Alligator opens at an alligator farm. Two parents and a young girl watch as the handler is attacked during a demonstration, but then saved by some of his coworkers. Regardless, they buy the girl a baby alligator and go on their way. A short time later, that same baby alligator is flushed down into the sewers of St. Louis. Around the same time, a pet store owner named Gutchel (Sydney Lassick) is selling off his unwanted inventory to a lab conducting some rather unorthodox experiments, supposedly hoping to fix the world hunger problem. When Gutchel has to dispose of some animal corpses later that day, he’s quickly devoured by a massive alligator.

    A no-nonsense cop named David Madison (Robert Forster) is tasked with figuring out what’s going on in the city’s sewers. Having lost his last partner in a shoot-out, he prefers to work alone but gets addled with a rookie named Kelly (Perry Lang). When they go down into the sewers to investigate, Kelly is also killed but David gets a good look at the creature that kills him. He tells everyone it’s a giant alligator but nobody believes him, not even the beautiful zoologist called in to help, Marisa (Robin Riker). David's bosses, Chief Clark (Michael V. Gazzo) and Slade (Dean Jagger) don't buy it at all and the mayor (Jack Carter) wants nothing to do with it. But when it turns out that David isn't crazy and an alligator as real as it is huge comes out of the sewers and starts chowing down on the town's populace, they opt to call in a famous big game hunter named Brock (Henry Silva) is called in to set things right, leaving David and a quickly convinced Marisa holding the bag.

    Clearly owing more than a little bit to Jaws, Teague’s film is fast-paced and populated with entertaining characters played by a fun cast. Forster is definitely in his element here, playing the surly cop with a good heart and looking perpetually worn down as he does it. His look just suits characters like this one, and he is pretty much perfect in the role. He and Riker have pretty good chemistry together, we know they’re going to get together the moment we see them on screen together and he jokes about his hairless seem to fit that chemistry, they don’t feel about of place. Lassic, Lang, Gazzo and Jagger are all pretty entertaining in their respective supporting roles and the always amazing Henry Silva, while underused here, makes a big impression in the screen time that he gets, even bringing a bit of comic relief to the movie that you might not expect him to bring.

    League paces the movie nicely, it goes at a nice clip, never overstaying its welcome or delving into boredom. Some of the film’s effects aren’t necessarily too convincing, but then on the flip side some of them are very well done and quite solid. The movie’s got a nice score from Craig Huxley and overall the production values are pretty strong here.

    Alligator – UHD Review:

    Alligator arrives on UHD in an HVEC encoded 2160p high definition presentation with HDR framed at 1.85.1 widescreen taken from a new 4k scan of the original 35mm negative and it looks fantastic. Detail is exemplary in almost every shot, and there’s a lot of really appreciable depth and texture noticeable throughout the movie. Even the darker scenes in the sewers look really strong, with impressive shadow detail. Black levels are nice and deep and color reproduction looks pretty much perfect. There’s really no noticeable damage here at all, while the transfer retains the film grain you’d want it to. Compression artifacts are never a problem and the picture shows no problems with noise reduction or edge enhancement.

    An English language audio option is provided in 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono with optional subtitles provided in English only. No problems to note here, the track is clean and properly balanced. The dialogue is easy to understand and follow and the score has some pretty good depth to it. Gun shots pack a pretty good punch and

    Special features are spread across the three discs in the set as follows:

    DISC ONE (4K UHD – Theatrical Version):

    The only extra on the first disc, aside from menus and chapter selection, is an archival audio commentary with director Lewis Teague and leading man Robert Forster that is a breezy and informative listen. Teague talks about how he came to direct the movie, they go over effects work, working with the different cast and crew members, having a fair amount of freedom to make the movie that they wanted to make and more. They look back on all of this pretty fondly and seem to have a good time reminiscing here.

    DISC TWO (Blu-ray – Theatrical Version):

    In addition to the commentary found on the first disc, the second disc also contains a few new featurettes, starting with the twenty-two minute Gator Guts, The Great River, And Bob which is an interview with Production Assistant Bryan Cranston (yes, that Bryan Cranston) who speaks quite candidly hear about this period in his career where he was taking jobs as a production assistant while trying to get his break as an actor. He talks about some of the grunt-work that he did on the set, like mixing ingredients together for the film's big finish, meeting Forster and what he was like and really getting with pretty much everyone on the cast and crew.

    The eight minute Everybody In The Pool interviews actress Robin Riker for eight minutes. She covers getting high on set with Forster, their love scene in the film, working with Teague and his skills as a director and more. The twelve minute Luck Of The Gator interviews Special Makeup Effects Artist Robert Short about how he landed the gig on the movie, what went into creating the alligator used in certain scenes and who was responsible for that, the ins and outs of making fake body parts, how the opening at the real alligator farm could have gone horribly wrong and how he wound up having a small part on screen in the movie.

    Wild In The Streets is a lengthy twenty-five minute interview with Director Lewis Teague who talks about what a big deal this movie was to his career, having met Forster before while working under Roger Corman, his thoughts on the screenplay, what it was like on set, working with the cast and crew and how he feels about the movie overall these days. Screenwriter John Sayles is up next in the ten minute It Walks Among Us where he covers where he got some of the ideas for the movie from, some of the monster movies that inspired his writing and his thoughts on how the movie turned out. A seventeen minute archival interview with Sales, entitled Alligator Author, covers similar ground but also goes over some rewrites that were needed to get the movie where it needed to be and the urban legends of alligators in major city sewers.

    Finishing up the extras on the second disc are eight minutes of tape sourced additional material from the TV version of the movie, teaser and theatrical trailers, a Trailers From Hell spot featuring filmmaker Karyn Kusama, two minutes’ worth of TV spots, a commercial for an Alligator game, a still gallery of newspaper advertisements, and a second huge still gallery of stills, poster, lobby cards and behind the scenes photos.

    DISC THREE (Blu-ray – Television Version):

    The third disc includes the ninety-eight minute extended TV Version of the movie taken from the same 4K scan of the original 35mm camera negative, with the additional footage in this version scanned from an internegative.

    This release also comes packaged with some cool reversible cover sleeve art and a limited edition slipcover.

    Alligator - The Final Word:

    Alligator might not be the most original creature feature to ever grace the silver screen but it is a really entertaining old school monster movie that remains, forty years after it was made, a whole lot of fun. Shout! Factory has rolled out the red carpet for the film, giving it a gorgeous remastered presentation on a three disc set stacked with extra features. Highly recommended!


    Click on the images below, or right click and open in a new window, for full sized Alligator Blu-ray screen caps!

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