From director Lewis Teague (Cujo) and screenwriter John Sayles (The Howling) comes an unstoppable thriller with bite. A family returning from Florida decides their pet baby alligator is too much to handle and flushes him down the toilet. Meanwhile, Slade Laboratories is conducting secret experiments with animals and disposing of them in the sewer. The alligator, fending for itself, begins to feed on the dead animals, and grows. Now, twelve years later, after several mysterious murders, David Madison (Robert Forster, Jackie Brown) is on the case to find out who … or what … is killing people.
For thoughts on Alligator, please check out my piece on The Video Attic here.
Scream Factory presents Alligator with a magnificent 2160p transfer in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio sourced from a 4K scan of the Original Camera Negative with HDR. The texture on display in the outfits and within the production design are a revelation. Even the special effects details present with impressive clarity that makes the work all the more visceral, such as when limbs are being ripped off. The level of detail and clarity is stunning with an excellent amount of natural film grain intact. The grain resolves incredibly well with nothing ever feeling clumpy even during the smoky or dark environments. This transfer does not register almost anything in the way of print damage. This presentation is true to the original look of the film with the added resolution making elements seem more natural. There does not appear to be any jarring digital anomalies such as compression artifacts, banding or any other such nuisances.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the disc is the application of HDR for increased color output that has to be seen to be truly appreciated for its lustrous beauty. While the film does take place in dark sewers for a portion of the time, there is a world of nuance to be found during the daytime scenes in the open air. The new master features some colors in the production design and effects such as the red of the blood from the carnage that pops off the screen with a vibrant intensity. Lighting is an essential part of establishing the mood of this film and this disc handles every slight environmental change with ease. The black levels are outstanding with nothing in the way of crush present, and white levels are solid as a rock with no evidence of blooming. This presentation is a knockout effort from the good people at Scream Factory.
The 4K UHD Blu-Ray disc comes with the original DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio split mono track that serves up exactly what you want. The track provides a powerful soundscape that perfectly captures the artistic intent with a fidelity that is accurately maintained. The score has never sounded better and is used impeccably to establish the mood of the story. There is never a moment where it threatens to overwhelm competing sounds, and it maintains a good balance so that dialogue comes through clearly. The environmental sounds such as reports from the radio and the crunching of teeth into limbs are rendered well alongside everything else. There does not seem to be any noticeable instances of age-related wear and tear. Scream Factory has given this film a perfectly preserved audio presentation that brings the movie to life in an exciting manner. English SDH subtitles are provided for those who want them.
- Television Cut (1:38:05): The extended TV version is provided here on a third Blu-Ray disc which runs eight minutes longer than the Theatrical Cut, the details of which can be found below. The presentation is sourced from the same 4K master used for the 4K UHD (Disc 1) and Blu-Ray (Disc 2) Theatrical version of the film, and the exclusive additional footage is scanned from an Interpositive that is in very good shape with only the most minor of blemishes occasionally popping up. This is provided with the same DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio track, as well.
- Audio Commentary: Del Howison from Dark Delicacies moderates a commentary track featuring Director Lewis Teague And Actor Robert Forster in which they discuss the origin of the film, the myth that inspired the film, the improvised elements that Forster brought to the dialogue, the social commentary from John Sayles, anecdotes about various performers on screen and much more that add up to a very rewarding commentary track that you will not want to skip.
- Gator Guts, The Great River, and Bob with Bryan Cranston: A new 22-minute interview with Production Assistant, now famous Actor/Director/Producer, Bryan Cranston in which he discusses his early work on this film, his admiration for the collaborative process, his early career including a look at an amusing vintage commercial, the gore used during shooting, his memorable interactions with the affable Robert Forster both during Alligator and Breaking Bad, and so much more. This is an incredible addition to the overall package from someone who under reasonable circumstances you would never expect to want to take time to discuss this experience again in such depth.
- Everybody In The Pool with Actress Robin Riker: A new eight-minute interview with Riker in which she discusses her debut role as the Richard Dreyfuss archetype from Jaws, her memories of Forster, the one scene where she got blazed with him before shooting, the collaborative process of the production, her feelings about the film and more.
- Wild In The Streets with Director Lewis Teague: A new 25-minute interview with Director Lewis Teague in which he discusses how this film really launched his career to a new level, his work with John Sayles, what drew him to the project, early versions of the alligator that did not work out, the special effects used in the film, working in the storm drain system, the release of the film, how he personally set up screenings for critics, the film’s legacy and more.
- Luck Of The Gator with Special Effects Artist Robert Short: A new nearly 13-minute interview with Special Makeup Effects Artist Robert Short in which he discusses his role on the film including wound work, memories of the alligator, working to get the carnage believable, filming with live alligators and more.
- It Walks Among Us with Screenwriter John Sayles: A new ten-minute interview with Sayles in which he discusses coming to this project, what he wanted to bring to the script, the research he utilized for the film, his memories of Robert Forster and more.
- Alligator Author with Screenwriter John Sayles: An archival 17-minute interview with Sayles in which he discusses his collaboration with Lewis Teague, the tight deadline of his drafts, the additions from Robert Forster, influences of classic monster films and more.
- TV Cut Additional Scenes: The eight minutes of extra material that you can find in the Television Cut of the film on Disc 3 can also be accessed separately in much poorer quality here than the beautiful new scans from the interpositive. These scenes include an extended opening with Marisa’s parents breaking down on the side of the road, more moments with Brock and between David and Marisa, a tense scene where a child is in danger while their mother takes a phone call and more.
- Trailers: This disc includes the Teaser Trailer (1:12) and the Theatrical Trailer (2:35).
- TV Spots: Two-minutes of TV spots are provided here.
- Trailers From Hell – Filmmaker Karyn Kusama on Alligator: A minute-and-a-half piece in which the Jennifer’s Body director discusses her admiration for John Sayles and what he was able to accomplish with his script.
- Galleries: This disc provides a Newsprint Ad Gallery (3:19) and a Still Gallery (272 stills).
Alligator is often dismissed as a Jaws ripoff, but that is majorly unfair to the legacy of this film. In actuality, this film has a lot more to comment on within our society thanks to the clever script from John Sayles, and the direction from Lewis Teague makes what could be campy a really thrilling bit of filmmaking. Add in the charming, soulful performance from Robert Forster, and you have a movie that checks all of the boxes for what constitutes a great monster movie. Scream Factory recognizes this fact and has provided the film with a 4K UHD Blu-Ray release that boasts a terrific A/V presentation and an assortment of special features that are not to be missed. Even if you are only a casual fan of the genre, this is truly one of the best releases of the year thus far. Highly Recommended
Alligator (Collector’s Edition) will be available to purchase on 4K UHD + Blu-Ray Combo Pack on February 22, 2022.
Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the 4K UHD Blu-Ray.
Disclaimer: Scream Factory has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.
Dillon is most comfortable sitting around in a theatre all day watching both big budget and independent movies.