Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Great Alligator (1979) - 3 of 3: Westerners in the Wild Trilogy

Their god is an angry god

"The Great Alligator" is an action-adventure film that takes advantage of the tranquil scenery, humble natives and beautiful wildlife...except, of course, there's Kruna, a monstrous alligator or divine creature, that decides to go on a rampage after its habitat gets turned into a money-making machine of a hotel and resort. Take heed westerners: don't mess with nature and it won't mess back.

This takes place somewhere on an isolated island with the only way to get in or "out" being boat or plane. The local inhabitants have their rituals and superstitions, and the encroaching vacationers have their drinking and dancing to get on with. The hotshot photographer, played by charismatic Claudio Cassinelli, gets a whiff of something ominous in the air, as well as the employees work discreetly behind the scenes to investigate these mysterious disappearances. Although at that point it might be too late.

There are realistic characters and a few straightforward struggles are thrown in the mix between the humans. Though the alligator is the big attraction here and its on-screen presence is more comical than scary, as instead of being portrayed as this mysterious, what-if beast it almost becomes a caricature along the lines of "Jaws 2" where it can be anywhere and everywhere. The effects in wider shots make the gigantic gator a paralyzed battering ram as the molding used to make it doesn't flex an inch. Indeed the movie set out to be serious, this isn't going to be the equivalent of a modern day Sci-Fi channel creature feature, but it's still hard to ignore that the main attraction isn't able to even remotely nudge the safety barrier away from its audience.

Rating: 4/10

Director: Sergio Martino (A Man Called Blade)
Stars: Barbara Bach, Claudio Cassinelli
Link: IMDB

Facts from the Black and Red:

- Alligators are only indigenous to China and the US.

- Alligators are unidirectional breathers.

- Alligators have been known to attack humans in self-defense, even if they don't regard them as prey. Though they are known for eating their own kind.

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