May 10, 2024

THE GREAT ALLIGATOR (4K) and the Rubber Reptile

1979 / 89 min
Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat😼

There’s something oddly endearing about The Great Alligator’s titular creature. Though (eventually) chowing down on plenty of tourists, he moves with the agility of a rubber raft. As a matter of fact, in the underwater sequences, he looks a lot like a gator-shaped floaty I once bought for my daughter to play with in the pool.

For obvious budgetary reasons, those scenes are brief, but worth their weight in comedy gold. But that doesn’t necessarily make The Great Alligator a bad movie. Back in the day, Italy seemed to have the Jaws rip-off market cornered with such silly seafare as Tentacles, Great White, Deep Blood, Devil Fish and Cruel Jaws, just to name a few. Compared to some of those, this one is a bloody masterpiece. And at the very least, it doesn’t appear to rely on stock footage or lift existing scenes from someone else’s movie (a common practice among films of this ilk).

In this one, a greedy developer, Joshua (Mel Ferrer), builds a resort hotel smack dab in the middle of an African jungle. This doesn’t sit too well with the local natives, especially when a giant crocodile shows up to enjoy a buffet table of its own. They believe the beast is an angry god resurrected to exact revenge, so they help-out by slaughtering more tourists than the croc does! Taking-on both Joshua and the crocodile are photographer Daniel Nessel (Claudio Cassinelli) and Alice Brandt (Barbara Bach), the latter of whom is mostly on-hand to look pretty and be put in peril.

"I thought I told that gator I'd see him later."
It takes a long time before anything exciting happens, but by the final act, The Great Alligator is fairly entertaining, occasionally at its own expense. Rubber raft reptile notwithstanding, the film is pretty well put together, and considering Italian exploitation’s penchant for gratuitous nudity and gore, it displays a surprising (perhaps disappointing) amount of restraint. If released today, it might even get away with a PG-13 rating. On a related note…why this film is called The Great Alligator when the entire cast refers to the monster as a crocodile remains a mystery. 

This 4K UHD release from Severin Films features pretty decent overall picture quality, though both the English & Italian audio tracks are simple 2.0 mono…serviceable, but nothing spectacular. The accompanying Blu-ray contains both the film and a big batch of entertaining bonus features (mostly interviews). 



INTERVIEWS - Down By the River (with director Sergio Martino); Minou (with actress Silvia Collatina); Beware of the Gator (with camera operator Claudio Morabito); Later Alligator (with production designer Antonello Geleng); Underwater (with underwater camera operator Gianlorenzo Battaglia).

3 FRIENDS AND AN ALLIGATOR - A fun feature with cinematographer Giancarlo Ferrando, production designer Antonello Geleng & FX supervisor Paolo Ricci, who brings out what’s left of the miniature gator he made for the film.

PARADISE HOUSE: CHRISTIANITY AND THE NATURAL WORLD IN THE GREAT ALLIGATOR - An interesting video essay by author Lee Gambin, who attaches a lot more seriousness to the film than anyone else will.

ALLIGATOR LAND - Production drawings.


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