Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Big Alligator River

Big Alligator River (Il fiume del grande caimano,The Great Alligator ) Directed By Sergio Martino, Starring Mel Ferrer (1979).
There are certain movies where the soundtrack is better then the film. That's not the case here, but Stelvio Cipriani's score is one I was familiar with before I'd even viewed a frame of The Great Alligator. There's an assortment of alligator waltzes synthesized bass heavy dirges and even boogie woogies. As for director Sergio Martino, his brilliant jungle pig fucking opus/cannibal adventure starring Stacy Keach in Mountain of the Cannibal God, convinced me that I was in for a treat. I was relieved to discover that no animals where harmed, well sort of...
   It gets dicey in the jungle, Sergio fell in with the peer pressure of the Italian mondo neo realistic cycle and staged the deaths of a few innocent creatures (check out the DVD extras and the neon green cartoon leaves inserted over a stage hand force feeding a live monkey to a snake). I don't forgive him for this, just like I don't condone whatever horrors Ruggero Deodato or Umberto Lenzi have committed for the sake of "art" in the name of cruelty. It just comes with the territory in the harsh conditions of the jungle, people tend to lose their minds, I mean just look at Francis Ford Coppola or Werner Herzog's time in the amazon.

I only see vile obscenity and misery in the jungle

The pacing in Big Alligator River (or The Great Alligator) moves along like a hyper snail. Mel Ferrer is the cannibal genre's lucky charm, usually his role is so brief that he's a guest star, in this, he sticks around throughout the entire duration. 
   "Mr. Anthropophagus himself", George Eastman is credited with writing this film, along with a few others. If you can stand the first half which is a typical island romp, then you are rewarded with an all out reptile chomp-a-thon, so stick around for that. 

Is that an armadillo in your pants or are you just happy to see me?

   Mel Ferrer plays Joshua, he's a sleazy and yet affable investor who proclaims this jungle region an ecologists dream and resembles a gapped toothed Gerry Anderson Supermarionette. They land their helicopter over at the Paradise House with Sheena (or the "Black Eve" as Mel calls her) and are welcomed by Barbara Bach. Not everything is bright and cheery as Romano Puppo, another puppet looking fellow, throws live pigs over the side of a boat so the crocodiles will show up and delight the tourists. I'm used to seeing Puppo in every other Mad Max/ Warriors rip off carrying a flamethrower.
   Italian horror fans will freak out that Tony, the black pimp from Demons (Bobby Rhodes) shows up, speaking in a Jamaican (or sometimes Hindu) accent.

Hey Maann, gimme a refreshin' Red Stripe

   Frequent Martino actor Claudio Cassinelli plays Daniel, a journalist taking shots of the savages in action. Tragically in reality, he was killed in a helicopter crash during the filming of Hands Of Steel
   I'm still confused by the Mel Ferrer appearances in various cannibal films and there's zero information on the subject (believe me, I've been obsessively looking)! This is his most animated performance and he slugs it out with the team, battling flying arrows from the natives who worship a crocodile God.
   The first half is very plot heavy, that is until the crocodile chomps on Sheena and her boyfriend. Their death footage is really murky and shot in a day-for-night style (seriously when has anyone benefitted from using that ugly film technique besides Larry Buchanan)!  
   Silvia Collatina, the little redheaded girl from House By The Cemetery and Murder Rock is at her most toothlessly adorable here. In an alternate reality scenario it would be great if she guest starred on a very special episode of Different Strokes, what I wouldn't give to see Gary Coleman and Bob team up to set traps for Dr. Freudstein!

Whatchooo talkin bout Mr. Fulci

    Some foreign party people show up, one dude jumps in the water and says "Yay! even if you shit on yourself, nobody will see it in here!"There's some of that priceless Eastman dialogue! I mean "Shit happens when you party naked"! 
   There's no poop, but there is a giant fence that keeps the big alligator at bay. The same natives seen dancing in the hotel lobby are the crocodile cult adorned with wicker basket handy crafts. Zoologists should stay clear of this film because apparently the writers have no idea there's a difference between an Alligator and a Crocodile--but I doubt anyone with a science degree is settling in for a nightcap with a Jaws-rip off (then again Goat Scrote is my science and biology expert-- so no offense to those college educated TOG readers)!

Stay in school kids!

   Barbara Bach (Mrs. Ringo Starr) seems to know more than the journalist about their rituals and customs. It turns out Sheena's accidental death upset the tribe, still one of the natives joins the white people and together they all try to solve the mystery.
   Richard "Mr. Zombi 2, the boat can leave now" Johnson shows up as a crazy unkempt hermit that lives in a cave. Zombie was filmed the same year, so I'm not sure if he hopped on over during a break from the Fulci island of Matool to play this role (maybe they were adjacent islands).
The guy at Walgreens photo tipped me off to this murderous Gator

  There's a little too much plot but just wait because there's some of the most insanely cheesy alligator effects that will knock your socks off! Sometimes it looks ginormous, other times it looks like a tiny bath toy! 

It's not a thrift store toy in a kiddie pool, I swear!

   They toss in the Jaws elements of the rich white guy (in that it was the evil mayor) wanting to latch onto that tourism dollar and not push the panic button just yet. Mel Ferrer is pretty stiff as an actor but for some reason, he's really good in this role. There were some elements that reminded me of Jaws 3, like the steel fence that keeps the gator out and the tourist trap being threatened (maybe this film inspired it). I may be giving Sergio "monkey javelin" Martino too much credit!

These are some great shots for Taint magazine!

   During the last twenty minutes, the gator turns into an eating machine as people flop into the water-- there's very little blood unfortunately but it's hilarious! Those that escape the wraith of the hungry gator get pulverized on land by the savages flaming arrows! The pissed off reptile continues to go from huge to bath size (sometimes it's just a pair of floating jaws). The most ridiculous part involves an oxygen tank underwater and a car that looks like a submerged hot wheels van. 


The Goat can leave now tell the shoe...wait I fucked up

Can I get Car Talk on this thing-ama-jig?


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