Film: Alligator

Never Smile at a Crocodile, but what happens when it smiles at you?

It's 36 feet long, weighs 2000 pounds, lives 50 feet below the city. Nobody knows it's down there except the people it eats.

Alligator is a 1981 horror/comedy film, directed by Lewis Teague and starring Robert Forster, with a screenplay by John Sayles, in which "Ramon", the eponymous beast, runs amok in the Chicago sewer system after feeding on covertly discarded growth hormone. The film is notable for being among the first of the slew of Jaws homages/rip-offs to be produced by the American movie industry. Unlike 99% of the horrors that have come lurching along in its wake, the humor is intentional, the human characters are sympathetic, and the flick is worth seeing.

A sequel was released in 1991, subtitled The Mutation.


Provides examples of:

  • Brick Joke: Because in the middle of the film, one of the heroes arrested a man for selling a baby gator for pet and telling the other cops to flush this gator.
  • Cowboy Cop: The hero's reputation, even though it's not exactly deserved.
  • Da Chief: A more sympathetic and intelligent version than usual.
  • Egomaniac Hunter: The ill-fated Col. Brock.
  • Follow the Leader: To Jaws, with several of its plot-points being repeated, including a child being eaten by the beast, setting off a horrific media circus.
  • Great White Hunter: Again, an overt parody in the form of Col. Brock.
  • Here We Go Again: The film ends with another alligator getting flushed into the sewer.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Subverted, in that the guy is an obnoxious jerk, but genuinely goes looking for scoops, eventually taking crucial pictures of Ramon, even as he is devoured.
  • Infant Immortality:
    • Averted when on a dare, a kid jumps off the diving board of his backyard swimming pool at night while the alligator is momentarily staying in it. He realizes at the last moment what is happening and tries to step back, but his friends push him in anyway because they didn't see it and think he chickened out.
    • However, it was played straight when a little girl toddler was in the back yard with her mother's wash. Mom hears the phone ring, goes in to answer it, and along comes the titular beast. Mom sees the monster leave the yard, screaming and crying as she looks for her child. Then the little girl lifts up the clothes basket she was hiding under!
  • Karmic Death: Ramon kills the Corrupt Corporate Executive whose experiments inadvertently created him.
  • Mad Bomber: This is literally the name of one character in the credits. Might called a case of "Chekov's Explosives"...
  • My God, What Have I Done?: The kids at the pool, not the one who's dead. They thought it's just a prank, but the moment they saw they just fed their friend into a giant alligator, the sheer look of horror they had just screams off this trope.
  • Nightmare Dreams: David has these from the first encounter with Ramon.
  • Pet Baby Wild Animal: Subverted. Ramon gets unceremoniously flushed into the sewer while still tiny, and his former owner then makes every effort to help kill him.

The sequel has examples of:

  • Karmic Death: The Corrupt Corporate Executive, whose casual dumping of toxic waste into the sewers created the giant alligator, is accidentally pushed into the lake and is soon eaten by the beast.
  • Magic Countdown: Hawk leaves dynamite with timer on it in the sewer for the alligator, and hurriedly climbs back to the surface and warns other about how they have only ten seconds and they all scramble or safety. Cut back to the dynamite, which has noticeable amount of time left in the timer.
  • Numbered Sequels: With Electric Boogaloo.