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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Monster > Alligator People

Alligator People


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C-     Film: C+



As the Science Fiction/Horror B-movie cycle of the 1950s went on, they got an unexpected boost from new kinds of film presentation.  Though that did improve the already “very basic” screenplays, it gave the filmmakers new room to do the same old things.  Roy Del Ruth’s Alligator People (1959) is among a small handful of these films made at 20th Century-Fox and oddly still shot monochrome.  This time, a married couple (Beverly Garland and Bruce Bennett) are happily married when he suddenly disappears.  From the title, you can imagine he lands up in a “swamp” (now referred to as wetlands and/or rain forests) and is converted into the title species.  However, there is more to this than just the dark depths of the unexplored and that includes bayou man Lon Chaney Jr., though some of the dreamlike happening kick in before “roughing it” occurs.


Not that the budget has the room to show many if any of them, but a point to consider is that with the political correctness of swamps having a happy new image would not make this film possible today.  I wonder what that means for DC Comics’ Swamp Thing?  With that said, though the film has some scenes that go on longer than they should despite its short B-movie 74-minutes length, there are few films like it visually or atmospherically and being a B-film from a major like Fox is one of the reasons. 


The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image was originally shot in CinemaScope (dubbed “Horrorscope” in the trailer) and black and white film, with the presentation here clearly showing the formats limits and the nice wide, long shots that the format reveled in at the time.  Cinematographer Karl Strauss, A.S.C., is somewhat expressionistic in his approach, but that is limited by the needs of the studio wanting the show off the format.  The Video Black is a little off in a way that points to the likelihood that this is from a professional analog master used for cable.  The sound is available in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo and Mono, with the former being a bit clearer than the English and Spanish Mono options.  Irving Gertz’s score is the usually old-fashioned creepy, acoustic type that helps the film out when more film scores were good than bad.  The only extras are for five Fox DVDs in the genre, including this film, but that is where the extras end.  The film is for genre fans, though, so that will work.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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