Alligator (1980) Robert Forster Takes On Razor Toothed Sewer Psycho

This review is for the body chomping Alligator movie from 1980

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!

Who’s our hero today?
Before he was the awesome Max Cherry bondsman, Robert Forster played David Madison.

Had I seen this one on VHS back in the day?
I really thought I had seen it going in but no. I couldn’t remember jack shit! Recall seeing the VHS cassette tape on the shelves but I must’ve not of actually rented it. So this was as fresh as fun down the sewers gets.

Quick plot run down.
When a teenage girl brings home a baby alligator as her new pet. Dad isn’t impressed and flushes it down the toilet! Managing to survive in the city’s sewer system living on rats and discarded dog carcasses from a local laboratory. Where scientists were doing illegal tests on an experimental growth hormone. With the chemicals still inside as he chomps away, this can only have one outcome! A giant mutation as the baby alligator grows to 36 foot long monster with bulletproof armor like scales. Now it needs more food. Human food!

Does the hero have a day job?
David Madison is a wise but weary Chicago cop with a haunted past that left his partner killed and David a little traumatised. Still he fearlessly soldiers on.

What’s our heroes special skills?
He uses his anger of male pattern baldness to his advantage. Gives him extra alligator fighting skills. Well I think that what’s happened. Went the same way for my human self some years back. I took up alligator wrestling. Got it out of my system!

Heroes weapon of choice?
His sidearm is his trusty Smith & Wesson Model 37.

Heroes drink of choice?
We don’t see it but I’m sure David swigs back Gatorade by the bucket load! Sports fuel for performance athletes it says on the tin?

Does hero have a sidekick?
He has one for a little while! After getting saddled with the annoying as hell blond rookie cop Kelly (Perry Lang) you just pray to the king of the reptiles that he gets munched up by a giant Alligator. Please, pretty please.

Hot girl? Damsel in distress or ass kicker?
Reptile specialist Marisa Kendall (Robin Riker) services are required. As with most people at the beginning of the film she doesn’t believe our David’s ginormous alligator story. Skip forward to the middle and these two are playing tonsil tennis and chasing down a blood soaked path.

Who’s the main baddie?
The dinosaur like alligator with an insatiable appetite for humans is affectionately known as Ramon. In a twist which is implied but never realised by the cast. Is the fact that the teenage girl who’s little pet took a fairground ride around the toilet bowl and through the U-bend is actually herpetologist Marisa Kendall. Daa daa dauuuur!

Baddies special skills?
Ramon can break his way through concrete. He’s impervious to machine gun fire and loves to lounge around in swimming pools. Has a sweet tooth for young tender pirates walking the plank!

Psycho baddies rating out of ten? 9/10
He’s pretty sneaky for his size and can stealth his way close to you and then… SNAP! He loses a point for looking adorable when he runs down the street though.

Heroes balls of steel and anger ratings out of ten? 8/10
Suffering extreme bouts of PTSD from losing his hair, I mean losing his partner! David still runs into any given dangerous situation.

Surely it features a training montage scene?
Not really. We do get to see baby Ramon down the sewers start his journey but it would of been good to see him working out down there. Doing chin ups on the grates, arm curls with discard tin cans. Then eating cockroaches and progressing onto rats before getting a taste for human flesh.

Does it feature an impossible mission?
Hey it giant alligator down the sewers how impossible is that? Sewer Gators just an urban legend? Or you could just ask Leatherhead and see if he thinks it’s all just a myth? Good luck with that……

Will I be needing to pause the video player? AKA are there any boobies?
Almost but not quite. David does know how to complement a lady.

You’re the countries leading herpetologist. You have a wonderful mind. A doctors degree and …. beautiful tits

Sex scene?
Implied but no action shots this time round. Sorry ladies and gentlemen. Hopefully next time.

Any good totally random surprise scenes?
Yes! Well for me. I didn’t have a clue Henry Silva was in this. He turns up as Colonel Brock. A one man army and big game hunter. Random scene goes to him buying three black youth’s beer in exchange for help flushing out the beast. They’re happy to play along with this crazy white dude until it’s time to make a runner.

Films body count? Low/Medium/High
A high medium I’d say. Over ten.

Best death scene?
The party scene is wild and stupid and a cop sliding out of car window right in front of ole chompy is silly. But as it’s a rip off from Jaws 2 (1978) I’ll add this one here. When a reporter called Kemp (Bart Braverman), who looks like a sleazy version of the wonderful Carl Sagan I must add, goes off hunting down the sewers for a story. The reptilian eye opens and you know this reporters days are numbered. As he’s eaten alive he takes pictures of the beasts munching teeth.

Best funny scene?
Henry Silva doing animal mating noises. Hilarious.

Explosion ratio? Low/Medium/High?
We get three pretty good ones. A police car, a boat and then one mega blast.

How many stuntmen probably really died making this film?
Not sure if they were killed or not but there is a chaotic boat scene with people flying out of as the boat races off at speed. I’d be surprised if no one wasn’t hurt.

Any cool car chases?
We get a boat chase and of course people running for their lives through a sewer system chased by an hungry alligator.

Best Lines

Sewage worker –We found a big toe once, never found the rest of him! Had a funeral and everything.”
David Madison –It must of been a small casket?

Any other familiar faces and actors pop up?
Surprisingly there’s quite a few. How about Michael V. Gazzo who plays David’s superior Chief Clark. Always screaming in his New Jersey accent. He’d played Frankie Pentangeli in The Godfather Part II (1974) and played Harvey Keitel’s Dad in the excellent Fingers (1978) among other things.

In what turned out to be his last film, Dean Jagger plays some mad old screaming rich guy called Slade. Luckily he won’t be remembered for that role but will be remembered for classic films like Bad Day at Black Rock (1955), Twelve O’Clock High (1949) and this great noir to name a few Private Hell 36 (1954)

And in a blink and you’d miss him, even with his size! The tower height of Mike Mazurki can be seen as the gate-keeping guard at the Slade’s mansion.

TAGLINE – At first, no one believed. But now, no one will ever forget!

Production Credits
Directed by Lewis Teague who’d made the Stephen King novel adaptation of the killer St Bernard dog Cujo (1983) and The Jewel of the Nile (1985) Navy Seals (1990) and head popping Rutger Hauer sci-fi Wedlock (1991).

Alligator was written by screenwriter and director John Sayles. He’s worked on films like The Howling (1981) The Brother from Another Planet (1984) and Lone Star (1996) to name a few.

Sounds like from what I’ve read. Very similar in way the production had troubles with Jaws, Ramon had his own temper tantrums as a malfunctioning animatronic alligator.

Fun fact
Bryan Cranston was a special-effects assistant on this film, in charge of making and rigging “the alligator guts” for the film’s finale.

Cheese-O-Meter! Low/Medium/High?
A strong medium stank of coagulated milk protein.

IMDB score rating – 6/10

Wolfman ACTION & FUN rating – 7.5/10

Wolfman over all film rating – 6/10

Closing thoughts………………………………………….
Robert Forster is way too good for this film and it really stands out. The ever professional. He plays the part straight as everything else is chaotic and a tad cheap around him. Henry Silva is pure gold in his small part. He steals the scenes every time he appears. All in all the film isn’t that great but there’s lots of fun to be had. Where some the acting is a bit on the rubbish side, Robert and Ramon the gator do their best. So run out and grab a bottle of toxic Gatorade and some growth hormone injected popcorn. And sit down for some b-movie chomping creature feature fun that is, Alligator.

Feel free to let me know your thoughts on the films if you want. However, most important, have fun with the movies.

Keep it filmy…. Mikey Wolf.

27 thoughts on “Alligator (1980) Robert Forster Takes On Razor Toothed Sewer Psycho

  1. A decade or so after its release, this was a popular late night choice on the local affiliate TV station, and a better than average entry for the big ass animal b movie subgenre. I vaguely recall it being double featured with the Klaus Kinski starring “Venom”….which was marketed like a giant animal film, but isn’t.

    So seeing scaly there adorably waddle his way down the street was a welcome does of “as advertised on the tin”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Goodness me Venom! I’d forgotten about that one! Ollie Reed as well I think I remember.
      Oh yes I can imagine that making a great double bill. Wanna see it again myself now. Bet it’s ridiculously naff and hopefully great fun to do a review on. Many thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is definitely an example of “the chicken or the egg?” thing. Is “Alligator” the source of the stories of baby gators being mercilessly flushed down the toilet, with few surviving the ghastly whirlpool and fewer still surviving a very traumatic childhood in the sewers only to, understandably, grow up to go on a rampage of revenge? Or were the stories of this travesty the inspiration of the film? One can only wonder, I suppose (or check out Wikipedia.)
    The real question, though, is why Robert Forester has such a low booty count, when he clearly knows how to talk to a woman? ie., “You’re the countries leading herpetologist. You have a wonderful mind. A doctors degree and …. beautiful tits.”
    Wonderfully fun review, Mickey, as per usual.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know it’s a puzzling thought Pam. An urban myth caused by the films that inspired it or visa versa!
      I did put a link to the wiki’s sewer alligator’s in the “Does it feature an impossible mission?” section.
      Apparently stories date back to the 1920s and 30s. In particular New York City?
      A crazy one line I have to investigate is “A similar story from 1851 involves feral pigs in the sewers of Hampstead, London” WTF!
      I like the story of a Pittsburgh sewers employee in 1927 is said to have opened a manhole cover to see evil looking eyes staring out at him! What does he do? He removes a three foot alligator and takes it home with him! LOL.

      I know right! What lady wouldn’t mind those great chat up lines said to them.
      I’ve had a man crush on Robert Forster for years. He ain’t “Medium Cool” he’s uber cool.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, the makings of a great post, Mikey. I wonder…would you mind me taking it on? If not, I just might do that, with a shoutout to you of course. Ha!
        Feral pigs are very resourceful. Extremely smart. I wouldn’t doubt them living in a sewer as long as there was something in it for them, which would be everything…Ha!
        Ah…for you it’s Robert Forster. For me it’s Ava Gardner…Oh well, we all have our weaknesses. At least we are feasting on the creme de la creme. Ha!
        Robert Forster was quite handsome when he was first loosing his hair. He was doing that SUBTLE combover. Notice I have emphasized SUBTLE. You know, like Burt Reynolds in Deliverance. Very sexy. Of course I know that has absolutely nothing to do with your man crush, Mikey…ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, whatsoever. Ha!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Max Cherry is another reason I love him. Because our Max is infatuated with my beautiful Pam Grier. When he first sets his eyes on Jackie Brown coming out of the courthouse. And he goes all dreamlike, I knew we were brothers from other mothers.
          But of course I first loved him fighting the evil robot Maximilian in one of the first films I remember at the cinema The Black Hole.
          Funny that, I have a weakness for Ava too 🙂
          Feral piggies and gator’s coming up the toilet bowl to bite your bum!
          Go for it Pam. That would make a brilliant article and I can’t wait to read it.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. The quip about “it must have been a small casket” is indeed a crack-up.
    As to the TAGLINE – At first, no one believed. But now, no one will ever forget! – you could unfortunately say that about our current agent of chaos COVID-19 and it would fit just as well.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Dear lord, how did I ever miss this one? And the number of A-list names involved in this…I wonder if someone tricked them all into doing it! For cheesy movie enthusiasts, it does sound like a barrel (or sewer) of fun. And I hate to say this, but I didn’t get the Gatorade joke until AFTER reading the review! D’oh!

    Liked by 1 person

    • HAHA “I wonder if someone tricked them all into doing it!”
      I’m pretty sure you nailed that bro. Can’t imagine it was the money, didn’t look like they had much cash floating about! It’s high on cheese but like I say the ever professional Robert Forster plays it like he’s gunning for the little golden man. Hehe I had deleted the hero drink of choice question as he didn’t during the film. Just before I was about to press go, Gatorade popped into my head. Perfect. Not sure why as I’ve never tried it or seen it over here. Our toxic juice is Lucozade.


  5. This one was required viewing in the days of the VHS rental. Been years though at the time I was more interested in Jaws ripoffs and Henry Silva than Forster. Now of course Forster is a hero thanks to the awesome Max Cherry part and others I discovered like Vigilante in later years.
    In case you’re wondering the one sheet is tucked safely away here in the vault.
    One other thing…
    Have you seen Silva’s segment in Amazon Women titled Bullshit or Not? Flipping hilarious. YouTube it if you haven’t. Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I can’t stop laughing. Your delivery is golden! Alligator chin-ups and arm curls–LOL
    Well, as for Mr. Forester….oh, gosh, even to the very end he was great and a scene stealer in El Camino. Such pathos in that face! But so restrained……….
    I would definitely see this movie if only for him….and enjoy the stank of coagulated milk protein, hahaha

    Liked by 1 person

    • So sorry for the crazy late reply! I’m all out of sorts during this lock down. Funny at the beginning I’d thought I’d be watching hundreds of films and writing about them all. Non-stop! Instead I’ve been happy going through my record collection and digging through old memories. Whilst being lucky to have such beautiful family time and walks around the park. Still watch stuff but nowhere near what I had expected. So short story long! Is that they way it goes? I’ve not really been on here that much. So please forgive the lateness.

      Now I’ve got the call to go back to work next week I can up my already high drinking to try ride-out the dark foggy cloud coming to haunt me. LOL Suppose it had to come at some point.

      Anyhoo Mikey woo your horses. The nice lady only mentioned Mr Forster! LOL Wasn’t that just the perfect swan song moment in El Camino for him. He still stood tough right to the end. Was sad to discover soon after the premier he had in fact passed away.
      Yeah he’s great in Alligator, and he’s a whole lot better than the film. Hehe.

      Thank you and hope you are keeping well and busy?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I KNOW! How he passed away right before the premiere. Oh, well. He worked right up to the end doing what I guess he loved doing…….

        What does “Mikey woo your horses” mean?!!

        We’re keeping busy and staying well thus far, Mikey. And it’s the same here–I just imagined all that I would get done once we were stuck at home, regardless of working, and I’ve done just about NONE of it. So weird. Time is so weird. Everything is so weird!

        Liked by 1 person

        • “”What does “Mikey woo your horses” mean?!!””

          I have no idea! Sounds like I’m trying to date a horse. Trying to woo her with rose petals and hay!
          You know what I have spelt it wrong. Sure I heard John Wayne say it many times but I now see it could be spelt “Whoa your horses”. Stop, calm your horses. Or what I was trying to say, stop the running with the random there Mikey! Calming it down now and get to the point LOL

          Time is weird! It’s really the only thing that stresses me out. Time just ticking away. I had thought that time would of slowed right down during lock down. All the little jobs I’ve been meaning to would be done and by 11am I’d be on second breakfast reading a novel. Ready for the rest of the day to slowly unfold. In reality 6 weeks have flown by in a blink of an eye as I make my way back up the road to the “offie” to replenish the life juice.
          Great to hear you both staying well. Look forward to a L.O.T new post soon 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • Ohhhhh! I thought it was some expression I hadn’t heard of–Woo your horses. HAHAHA

            I’m with you on the time thing! Like, what happened?! Freaky!! Good luck going back to work. You stay well and stay safe too.

            Liked by 1 person

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