The Alligator People Blu-ray Review


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A dying breed by 1959, The Alligator People calls on classic cinematic horror for the final gasp of glowing laboratories, the isolated house, wild science, and romance ruined by experimentation. Some of it’s new – Alligator People sports widescreen cinematography, and the doctor behind the curative methods (that fail, obviously) isn’t maddened. In fact, he’s quite empathetic and caring.

There’s a sense of post-war yearning in this story. George Macready co-stars in the medical scientist role, seeking a way to harness reptilian regrowth abilities for humans. In other words, a means to restore limbs from those lost in battle; it’s an idealist endeavor, and in movies, bound to fail.

Alligator People plays with radiation, and treats it like a scientific toy. Kooky dialog discusses gamma rays and X-rays and radioactive voltage. Never mind that. What matters is nuclear exposure can cure rather than harm, another sci-fi romp of the day pushing on impressionable audiences the wonder, not the horror.

This still all goes wrong. People in this lab begin sporting scales, an effective make-up, with Richard Crane inflicted on his wedding night. Bad timing. He runs from his new wife (Beverly Garland), unwilling to let her see his reptilian skin. Alligator People further captures a common post-war story of gruesome injury and resulting social fear. Rather than shrapnel scarring or lost limbs, it’s scales.

… the dynamism of ‘50s era monster flicks isn’t present

Fox recounts the success of their own The Fly while molding it around the exotic bayou to capture the Creature from the Black Lagoon audience. That feels different, even if the dynamism of ‘50s era monster flicks isn’t present. Alligator People found itself among big bugs and reanimated dinosaurs. Instead, this project holds true to a formula of the decade prior. To note, The Fly did too.

All’s well until the climactic moments. Overexposed to a particle beam, Crane’s character (now played by stuntman Boyd Stockman) rises from the table in a dire alligator suit. It looks like a rubber shirt taped to an immobile Halloween prop. In this new form, ‘gator Crane runs around, wrestles one of his own (or, half his own), and all the while, Beverly Garland chases him down.

The story is told in flashback. Garland recounts her story while under sedation to a psychologist, suggesting buried memory or PTSD from the events. It’s disheartening in a way; Garland doesn’t recall her marriage or the final moments of her husband in her daily life. In that, Alligator People projects another layer of WWII and Korean War after-effects. Shame it does so with such a dopey monster suit.

Video

Someone call the clean-up crew. Scratches and dirt dominate this presentation, overdue for a restoration pass. Some heavy scratching persists in multiple scenes, with various nicks elsewhere. Patches of dust never stop appearing.

That’s a shame, because otherwise the transfer represents some great mastering work. The clear, precisely rendered imagery pulls out marvelous definition and detail. Louisiana swamps show lush detail. Plants stand out, and in close, facial texture does too. With something this sharp, appreciating the make-up work is easy to do.

Scream Factory’s stand-alone release works on the grain structure, avoiding visible compression. Helpful to that cause, black levels hide anything suspect, rich in their density. Dimension forms through pleasing contrast, showing no signs of wavering gray scale.

Audio

DTS-HD mono and stereo tracks sit on the disc. Both offer identical dynamics, with a moderate low-end and clear highs. Note there’s no separation audible in the stereo track.

Imperfections like static or popping stay away. That leaves clean dialog to make up the bulk of this audio track(s).

Extras

Kudos to the Monster Party podcast crew for a fun, nostalgic commentary track. A trailer and stills, the other bonuses, don’t compare.

The Alligator People
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
3

Movie

Outdated on release in 1959, The Alligator People uses the Universal horror template for a post-war recovery story gone wrong.

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