Sometimes watching all these new movies makes my brain hurt and I like to go back to something from a time when movies were simple, yet entertaining. This time I went back to 1959 and watched Fox Home Entertainment’s The Alligator People, which hits DVD on September 7th. The film is in black and white- just the way I like it.
Roy Del Ruth’s film is about a couple that was married and on the same day as the wedding, the husband vanishes. Beverly Garland plays Joyce Webster, who is in search of her missing husband Paul Webster, played by Richard Crane. She ends up in the swamps of a southern state and finds out that her husband has become an alligator mutant! The movie is told in a series of flashbacks as a hypnotherapist is questioning his patient. He tells another doctor to watch and listen, because this is very strange, and he needs some expert advice. The movie opens and ends with these doctors conversing.
Movie like these can be so much fun, even though they can also be extremely boring at times. What’s even funnier is that movies like this can be 10X more enjoyable than ‘Van Helsing.’ The acting is terrible, but for those times it was very well done. There’s the crazy guy who lives in the swamp, the helpless woman in distress, the supposed crazy doctor, the rich snobby woman who is the barrier between Joyce and her husband and then there’s the monsters.
Although this movie is promoted as a horror film, it really is more of a drama- I guess you can say the same for ‘Frankenstein.’ There is absolutely nothing frightening about the movie except the fact that these poor people become alligator people. The fear is taken away because we find out that it was their choice (in a sense) to become these creatures. The movie is tragic and saddening, just wait until you see how it ends! I thought the Doctor-patient backstory parallel was genius for 1959.
But as much as I wanted to take the movie seriously, it’s hard, especially with the hilarious sound effects dubbed in. It’s almost worth the $9.99 to buy the DVD just to hear the sound effects they used for the ‘real’ alligators in the swamp. The alligators growl, they sound almost exactly like the real king of the jungle. The acting was also really funny at times, especially the crazy guy who lives in the swamp. He had his hand bitten off by an alligator like Captain Hook so he really hates them. He gets drunk and tortures them, shoots at them and even runs them over in his car- it’s absolutely hysterical!
The movie is good, but not great and there are a lot of better movies that you can pick up from this era to enjoy. But if you’ve seen it all and are looking for something new, this could be for you. Its a typical 1950′s flick with some interesting plot points that keep it more unique than some of the films today. Hopefully your honeymoon won’t ever turn into this type of nightmare!