A woman searches for her missing husband in the paludal peat bogs of Louisiana. She finds that he has transmorphed into a half-man/half-alligator as a result of being inoculated with a life-saving serum. This is a fairly unique motion picture. The Alligator People was released in 1959, but it feels like a Universal monster mash from the early 40's. It has the murky atmosphere of The Wolf Man, and it also shares an actor with said creature feature - Lon Chaney Jr. Chaney plays a grizzled loon who has an Ahab-esque vendetta against alligators. He was close to the end of his career (not to mention the end of his life), and you can tell. His performance is lackadaisical, careless almost. It's nice to see him pop up every now and then, though.
The plot is engrossing and most of the characters are fleshed out. As for the croc shocks, the make-up effects really aren't that bad. I got a kick out of the full gator suit. Like the titular beast in The Hideous Sun Demon (see the blog archive), the alligator person roams around in a pair of pants. Did both movies commission Half-Ass Visual Effects Limited? At any rate, I say that the film is unique because our scientist isn't mad. He actually apologizes to his "patient" for turning him into an unsightly mutant. There is no conflict between the main characters. Toward the end, they are all trying to reach the same goal. That is, they want the alligator person to change back into a regular ol' person.
It may not seem significant, but that was a novel approach to take in 1959. All in all, The Alligator People is a fun little b-soiree. The cast is strong (with the exception of "Blotto" Chaney), the pace is brisk, and the monster is neat-o. Watch it together with The Wasp Woman and call me in the morning.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 7:32 PM