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Film / The Alligator People

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A 1959 Sci-Fi Horror film directed by Roy Del Ruth, starring Beverly Garland, Bruce Bennett, Lon Chaney Jr. and George Macready.

A psychiatrist named Dr. Erik Lormer (Bennett) has an interesting thing to show to his colleague. A nurse named Jane Marvin (Garland) is put under hypnosis, and she recounts how, in her previous, forgotten identity as Joyce Webster, she was separated from her husband Paul (Richard Crane) on their wedding night. Her quest to find him leads to the discovery of a strange science experiment in the Louisiana bayou, which has turned him into an alligator mutant.

This film has the examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Manon periodically gets drunk, and when he gets drunk, he starts shooting at 'gators.
  • An Arm and a Leg:
    • Manon's all-consuming hatred for alligators stems from one biting off his left hand.
    • Dr. Sinclair's treatment involving alligators was meant to regenerate lost limbs and such, Paul being the worst of the lot before his restoration. But something went wrong, and the patients started to experience after-effects that are slowly turning them into alligator people.
  • Animal Nemesis: Manon's left hand was bitten off by an alligator in the Louisiana bayou, so now he spends a good chunk of his life hunting them down. His hatred extends to humans who have been treated with alligator genes to regenerate lost limbs, which he actually seems to favor as his prey.
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • Dr. Sinclair uses hydrocortisone injections to induce accident victims to regenerate damaged body parts. While cortisones do reduce inflammation (swelling), and can therefore make injuries feel better, they actually slow down the healing process.
    • His logic of using alligators to regenerate limbs is also flawed given alligators can't do that in the first place. They have astounding immune responses and can fight off horrible infections, but that's it.
    • Corticoids come from the adrenal glands, not the anterior pituitary as Sinclair claimed.
  • Attempted Rape: It is strongly implied that Manon was going to rape the unconscious Joyce if her half mutated husband hadn't come to his shack and rescued her.
  • Chairman of the Brawl: Averted. When Paul is fighting Manon, he grabs a chair, but Manon quickly yanks it away from his hands, followed by him socking Paul to the jaw.
  • Fainting: Paul's mother faints on the spot when she sees her fully mutated son before her.
  • High-Voltage Death: Trying to attack Paul, Manon accidentally hits faulty wiring with his hook, and is electrified to death. This eventually leads to an explosion that destroys the entire Cypresses plantation.
  • Hook Hand: Manon, the handyman of Cypresses, lost his left hand to an alligator, and now has a hook in its place. This loss pisses him off so much that he'll use any chance to kill them.
  • How We Got Here: The film starts with Joyce recounting the events under hypnosis.
  • It's All My Fault: Dr. Sinclair certainly feels this way about the side effects of his seeming medical miracle. Paul assures him he doesn't blame the good doctor.
    Dr. Sinclair: "Paul, I'll never be able to tell you how sorry I am.."
    Paul: "Don't blame yourself, I certainly don't. Who can know everything? You're not God, Mark."
    Dr. Sinclair: "I feel.. I've certainly been playing at it. And been punished."
  • Mad Scientist: Averted, surprisingly enough. Dr. Mark Sinclair had entirely benign intentions and initial tests worked fine for years before he moved to human trials. He never could have predicted the side effects that took a long time to manifest.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: Cypresses plantation resides in the middle of a bayou, and it is surrounded by alligators.
  • Nuclear Mutant: Radioactive material (identified as cobalt 60) was an integral part of the experiment that transformed Paul into an alligator man. He mutates further after receiving a massive dose that was supposed to cure him.
  • Our Werebeasts Are Different: People are transformed into weregators due to a medical treatment gone awry.
  • People in Rubber Suits: Once Paul transforms further into an alligator, this is used to portray it, as seen on the poster above.
  • Quicksand Sucks: Fully transformed Paul escapes to the swamps, wrestles a gator that crosses his path, and ends up drowning in quicksand.
  • Shout-Out: Manon's hand was bitten off by an alligator some time ago and he's replaced it with a hook, just like Captain Hook in Peter Pan.
  • Southern Gothic: The swampy setting enhances the general atmosphere of regret, decay, and ruin.
  • Title Drop:
    Joyce: Your patients are turning into... alligators.
    Dr. Sinclair: In effect, you can say that. Alligator people.