Sunday, October 20, 2013

Jaws Of Death

Just another JAWS ripoff out of Italy, THE GREAT ALLIGATOR aired five times on THE CBS LATE MOVIE, where it probably put a lot of night owls to sleep. It not only is bad, it’s even bad as far as movies about killer alligators go. Admittedly, the last twenty minutes or so build up an entertaining body count (and the best views of the schlocky effects work), but there isn’t much to enjoy until then.

THE GREAT ALLIGATOR, also seen overseas as THE BIG ALLIGATOR RIVER, has the same plot as the other JAWS rips: a really, really big ‘gator is eating the guests of Mel Ferrer’s new jungle resort. Photographer Claudio Cassinelli (SLAVE OF THE CANNIBAL GOD) and hotel manager/anthropologist Bach (CAVEMAN) try to convince Mel (SCARAMOUCHE) to close the hotel and save the guests, but—pshaw—there’s money to be made. THE GREAT ALLIGATOR provides an unusual twist, however, in that the local natives (director Sergio Martino shot the movie in Sri Lanka) believe the monster gator is their god, which they call Kooma, and fight back with flaming arrows against the white heroes who want to kill it.

Because this story development calls for the delectable Bach to be captured, stripped, and trussed up by the river to act as a human sacrifice for Kooma, it must be considered a notch in the film’s favor. It’s also what convinces Ferrer to finally listen to Cassinelli’s cries for help, but it’s too late—Kooma tears through the hotel’s guest list like Raymond Burr at an Amish buffet.

Martino takes care to hide his stiff-as-a-board model alligator, but it still doesn’t fool anybody any more than the phony-looking miniatures do. For some reason, Richard Johnson (THE HAUNTING) cameos as a lunatic hermit priest whose character makes as little sense as his acting choices. A lot of the cast and crew worked on Martino’s ISLAND OF THE FISHMEN around the same time.

No comments: