The Great Alligator (1979)

The Great Alligator (1979)

Released: 1979
Genre: Genre, Horror
Director: Sergio Martino
Starring: Mel Ferrer, Claudio Cassinelli, Barbara Bach, ,
Run time: 89 min
IMDb: 4.6/10
Country: Italy
Views: 159109


A tourist resort in Africa finds itself at the mercy of a huge man-eating crocodile from a local native legend which the croc is the incarnation of a native god angered by the intrusion of the tourists on its nesting ground. After a group of indigenous natives are subsequently killed and eaten, the rest that are still alive naturally blame the tourists and they set out to kill them. All while the survivors try to rally on a boat with the hungry crocodile in the water, and the blood-thirsty natives wanting retribution on land waiting for them.
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User Reviews: This movie has generally been critically lambasted over the years, and quite unfairly. It’s generally been regarded as a "Jaws" rip-off even though the only thing it really has in common with "Jaws" is a fake-looking beastie and a guy (Mel Ferrer) who doesn’t want to scare off the tourists from the luxury hotel he is operating in an undisclosed Third World jungle location. The giant caiman (incredibly, this movie has even been taken to task by some people over its inaccurate English-language title)may not be just a normal overgrown monster, but may actually be the god of a nearby group of indigenous people (do you remember that from "Jaws"?–I sure don’t), who turn out to be even more dangerous to the hapless tourists than the caiman. There is also a mad missionary (Donald O’Brian)living in a cave who might be the Robert Shaw figure, but might just as well have been "ripped-off" from the novel "Heart of Darkness" as from "Jaws".

The hero (Claudio Cassanelli) is a photographer(i.e. not a sheriff)who comes to the resort for a fashion shoot. But then his model gets together with a native to make the beast with two backs out on a river island, after which they’re both promptly eaten by the giant beast with one back, so it is up to the photographer and the PR spokeswoman for the hotel (Barbara Bach)to stop the rampage of this enraged "god" before he chows down on more tourists. And they also have the murderous and sacrifice-happy native tribe to deal with. This movie has a real social and environmental message about the developed world exploiting the developing world and despoiling nature. It’s pretty muddled (not much more convincing than the ones found in most Italian cannibal films) but it’s also very un-"Jaws"like.

This movie has also been unfavorably compared to director Martino’s previous cannibal outing "Mountain of the Cannibal God". This movie doesn’t feature a naked Bond girl like Ursula Andress (and clothed latter-day Bond girl Barbara Bach is admittedly a poor substitute), but it also doesn’t contain tasteless animal atrocity footage (watching people get eaten by a patently fake caiman is a lot more fun than watching a real monkey get slowly eaten by a real snake). It also gives the underrated Claudio Cassanelli a chance to shine, away from the shadows of big international and American stars like Andress or Stacy Keach (there’s certainly no danger of Bach upstaging him). Sure the caiman’s pretty fake, but this is still infinitely preferable to Tobe Hooper’s "Crocodile" or other recent CGI garbage. Watch it and judge for yourself.

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