The Alligator People

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The Alligator People

Post  BoG on Thu Mar 04, 2010 5:33 pm

I don't remember if I saw this as a kid - possibly not; if I did, it was only once and all forgotten. As with many such films these days, it's available on a decent DVD, in its widescreen version, with a sharp, clean B&W picture. The DVD came out about half-a-dozen years ago.
Most of the film is actually a flashback, something I was not aware of. The main character (Beverly Garland) thinks back on events due to some psychological prompting with the latest fifties psychiatric methods (by Bruce Bennett). We find out she was a newlywed who 'lost' her husband (Paul Webster) while on her honeymoon train trip. It's mentioned that her hubby was in some awful, crippling accident but obviously looks fully recovered. He receives a letter and promptly abandons her. The story might have ended there, at the 10-minute mark, but the wife determines to track her man down. (if he's still a 'man' - heh-heh-heh  Twisted Evil )
The film tries for a southern gothic atmosphere in the swamps during the still-early scenes and actually succeeds to an extent. But, then there's the over-the-top Lon Chaney (Jr.); he plays the on-site hired hand - "I'll kill you, alligator man! Just like I'd kill any four-legged gator! You hear me?!" This man really hates gators - slimy, dirty crawlin' things that they are! See, he has a hook for a hand, thanks to a gator. He kind of reminded me of the psycho in the horror thriller Eaten Alive (1977), except Chaney also tries to get.. familiar with Garland. He also causes a lot of trouble later, near the end. I admit Chaney did crack me up; he's quite entertaining. I think it helps that this is a short film, too (76m).
I was also startled to see actor George MacReady as the well-meaning doctor who causes all the mutations in his patients; I'd last seen him not too long ago in Seven Days in May (1964), playing a presidential advisor. BoG's Score: 5.5 out of 10
Gator Trivia: The Wikipedia article on this film points out the big similarity between the mutations here and the origin of the Lizard, a big-time opponent of Spider-Man in the sixties (first appeared in the Marvel Comic Amazing Spider-Man #6). The Lizard was a well-meaning scientist who had lost an arm in the war; he found a way to grow it back, but then mutated. See also the thread on The Amazing Colossal Man and my wild theories on his similarity to the origin of The Hulk and Giant-Man, other Marvel super-heroes. I get a picture in my head of Stan Lee in 1961 thinking back on all those fifties monster films he's watched a few years earlier and coming up with the heroes of the Marvel Universe.

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