Bad Movies Beware!
People: I’M BACK!!!
The past few months have been a roller coaster for me. Tried to expand out Fail-Flix to video reviews, and that pretty much crashed and burned due to time. Going to do video reviews more often through Facebook Live, however, so make sure to keep an eye on facebook.com/FailFlix/ for that! Otherwise, I’ll be posting a written review once a month.
This time, I took a look at a Lon Chaney film called The Alligator People. I’ll be honest: this is NOT a Lon Chaney film.
Let’s clear the air on that one. Lon Chaney is in a supporting role as Manon, the drunken old guy who botches everything up and acts like an all-around creeper.
Meet Jane Marvin! Jane works at a hospital, and is wrapping up for the day when her boss calls her into his office to meet with him and his colleague. They dose her with sodium pentothal and put her into a hypnotic trance in order to revert her back to her memories of her previous identity: Mrs. Joyce Webster.
Joyce marries Paul, a soldier who survived a plane crash during the war. They take a honeymoon on a train, and she asks him about his injuries. He’s about to explain to her why he has not one scar on him when a telegram arrives. He reads it, is visibly shaken by it, and abandons her at the next train stop.
Joyce tracks him down to the Cypresses Plantation, and encounters Manon, the groundskeeper. She also meets the owner, Mrs. Hawthorne, and Dr. Sinclair, the token “Mad Scientist” character.
Not quite THAT mad, but yeah. Sort of.
Paul shows up, but he keeps running away when Joyce tries to talk to him. We see later that Paul is turning into an alligator man, and is pounding on Dr. Sinclair to use a highly experimental radiation treatment to attempt to cure him.
In the meantime, Manon becomes more aggressive, and ends up trying to sexually assault Joyce in his cabin. Paul enters and beats Manon to a pulp, then takes Joyce back to the house and insists that Dr. Sinclair stop waiting and do the experiment.
I’ll leave it at that because, yeah, you need to check this one out!
VERDICT: Meh, it’s worth a look.
I’ll say it right off the bat: the make-up in this movie is amazing.
Paul’s transformation is told through prosthetics and blending that wasn’t typical of films of that time. Generally, they tried to get creature-features like this out as fast as possible, which usually meant rushing through processes like make-up and editing. The skin effects on Paul are just gruesome, and noteworthy.
His transformation into the Alligator Man, on the other hand: not so much.
The full creature is a far cry from what we were lead to expect from the final product. The gator body is a long-sleeved rubber shirt with scales drawn on it, and the head is a rubber mask that was available at any general store back in those days. It was cheese at its core, and unforgivably cheap. They didn’t even bother to blend the mask in with the rest of the costume piece, which results in a scene that looks more like a bad Halloween costume at a local mall.
I equate it to going to a hooker and finding out that she only deals in hugs and selfies.
The acting isn’t bad at all. It’s actually pretty good considering how goofy the story is. Joyce, played by Beverly Garland, is a strong character, which wasn’t normal for female roles at the time. Women were generally portrayed as completely lost without a man to make decisions, and Joyce is far from that stereotype.
What hurts the film a little is that it tends to DRAG. Some of the sequences are far too drawn out, and it slows the pace to damn near a stop every now and then. A lot of it has to do with the face that they used live alligators, which was pretty ballsy!
I’m giving it three Piles of Shit. Give it a look, but be prepared to feel like you’ve been sitting there a while every now and then. The ending isn’t all that spectacular, but the practical effects are enough to keep you going throughout!
to the 3rd Power!!!