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The Alligator People (1959)
Topic Started: Feb 24 2018, 08:13 PM (254 Views)
Laughing Gravy
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Robert L. Lippert presents

The Alligator People (1959) Dir. Roy Del Ruth
20th Century-Fox Presentation in CinemaScope
74 min. / B&W / 2.35:1
DVD: Fox

ITB Strange Science Cinema #159

To Beverly Garland's chagrin, on her wedding night new hubby Richard Crane runs off into the night after receiving a mysterious telegram (the worst kind of telegrams in most movies). Cold feet? She goes searching for him and eventually discovers odd goings-on in a Louisiana swamp home with a creepy old lady running things, an affable doctor who seems to know more than he says, and Lon Chaney, drunk and boisterous (art imitating life), gleefully running over gators with his truck. Turns out that her husband had been in a serious plane crash months earlier and was cured by an experimental alligator ray (hey, work with me here, I'm just reporting this stuff) but now he's turning back into a gator and even placing a bandage that appears to be made out of a toilet bowl over his face can't cure him.

I have no idea what to call this film - it's neither good, bad, nor mediocre but I can't think of another film like it, not just now, anyway.

The plot (as I think you can tell) is goofy as heck, but Miss Garland (who never, ever looked prettier) takes it all so seriously and turns in what may be her best-ever performance (not easy when, according to her, she kept getting the giggles over the silliness of it all) so she grounds the thing in some sort of quality presentation that it doesn't deserve (for heaven's sake, she spots a huge crate with large DANGER! RADIOACTIVE stickers on every side of it and she SITS on the damn thing) that we, out here in audience-land, have a genuine appreciation for it. As for Lon, well, he plays a really creepy swamp guy (with one hand - gator got t'other one) and at the end gets hisself electrocuted and lights up with a glow just like Man Made Monster had nearly 20 years earlier!

Million-dollar Dialog:
Miss Garland, trying to figure out the mystery in the swamp house: "Muddy footprints - yet there'd been no rain! And piano keys - still WET from his FINGERS!"

When Mr. Crane finally goes full gator for the film's climax, he thoughtfully turns into the worst monster this side of The Giant Claw.

Originally played in theatres with last week's presentation, Return of the Fly for a pretty darn good monster twosome, all things considered, if one isn't too picky about one's definition of "good." The DVD is fine, proper aspect ratio and with bonus trailers.

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ALSO ON THE PROGRAM

For the kiddies, a trio of cartoons. First, looking for his lost dog, Mr. Magoo frees a panther from the circus in The Dog Snatcher (1952) and in case you're wondering, Magoo's dog is named "Cuddles." Then, Chilly Will tries to sell firecrackers to the dog that talks like Huckleberry Hound, but he insists on absolute quiet in Hold That Rock, 1956. Then, a mouse gets drunk but has to sober up fast and don a blue suit and red cape as Super Mouse when his pal a lion is trapped by hunters in The Lion and the Mouse, 1943, and yes, you read that synopsis correctly. Let's see, what else... Oh, yeah, "Forced Down," with our heroes in Mexico in episode eleven of Blackhawk, and coming attractions for next week's drive-in Shock Theatre double feature, The Headless Ghost and Horrors of the Black Museum. Wow-de-WOW-wow!
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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