Set amongst the maze-like sewers of Chicago, Alligator tells the story of a girl who purchases one of the not-so-friendly creatures for a household pet. When her father finds out, he is less than impressed and confines the scaly beast to the toilet where it is flushed into the awaiting sewer. Through a combination of noxious gases and chemicals dumped by a sinister local company, the reptile grows to gargantuan proportions.
Robert Forster takes up the role of maverick cop David Madison who begins an investigation after numerous body parts begin appearing in the city's water treatment works. He is also suspicious of the local scientific plant, which he believes is mistreating the animals they use in their experimental research. As it transpires, instead of properly disposing of the animal corpses after use, the science team begin dumping them into the local sewer. Pumped full of growth hormone, they are then fed upon by the reptilian beast whose exponential growth cycle is accelerated immeasurably.
Make-up effects, given the obvious modest budget, are surprisingly good. Director Lewis Teague chooses the right option in hiding much of the creature's body and overall features until the very end. There is also a very effective scene that is repeated over and over where the alligator's eye lid draws back to reveal piercing eyes amongst the gloom. Robin Riker plays the part of reptile expert Marisa Kendall (who believe it or not is the same girl who bought the oversized creature in the first place). Kendall teams up with Madison after a local reporter manages to take pictures of the beast just before he is eaten alive. After analysing the shots, they decide to go after the beast with the help of local militia.
Although rather routine in its pace and delivery, Alligator is a solid enough entry into the monster movie archive. Killing sequences are suitably graphic, as are the hilarious one-liners that appear mandatory for this type of film. Riker and Forster are fairly convincing as the duo attempting to stop the carnage, but the undoubted star of the show is the reptile itself (known as Ramon). The scene at the end of the movie where it attacks a dinner reception is hilarious - as is the footage that has him smashing a car to bits with his tail. Alligator is quality weekend viewing.
John Hess' sequel is a vague affair that has little of the detail of the original. Very little is divulged as to the reason for the re-emergence of another aquatic predator. Even less is given over to the events of the original. It seems for all the world that Alligator 2 is not really a sequel at all. It's as if the carnage in Chicago never happened.
Joseph Bologna takes up the mantle of world-weary cop David Hodges. Although rather nondescript at first, he manages to pull off the role rather better than Forster in the first movie. His team of rookie sidekick and alligator hunter Hawkins (Richard Lynch) make the cast in this follow-up much more likeable than in the first outing.
Hodges has his suspicions aroused when a local family reports that their father did not return home after a night's fishing. A severed leg is washed up in an adjoining lake and it is at this point that he seeks the advice of his wife (who happens to be a toxicologist) Hodge's belief that a reptile of some description is to blame for the murder is dismissed by a corrupt businessman - determined to hold a funfair at the site of the death for his own business ends. Facing opposition from both the mayor and his own police chief, Hodges teams up with his rookie partner and a team of alligator hunters to track the beast down.
As with the original movie, special effects are surprisingly good given the shoestring budget in operation. Different however to the first outing is the behaviour of the alligator. The majority of scenes in the sequel are filmed in the sewer rather than outside. There is just a single scene where the creature comes onto land and causes havoc.
Amusing scenes involving grenades being thrown at our reptile friend and bazookas being fired make this sequel well worth watching. It hasn't got the control of the first movie but it does have more character. Important to note also is that Alligator 2 is too similar to the first film not to be a sequel, but its complete lack of continuity makes it appear as a standalone film altogether. Nevertheless, this DVD double feature is recommended to monster-fans everywhere.
Picture quality on both discs was excellent (par-the-course for an Anchor Bay release) Audio playback was steady without any of the hiss that can become apparent when transferring an analogue source to digital. Unfortunately, special features were fairly thin on the ground, with just a featurette, biographies and production notes in evidence. The budget price for the set reflects this however, and should not dissuade potential buyers.