A cash-in on the bug-eyed monster craze of the Fifties, this Fox-distributed gumbo plays like an Ed Wood, Jr. classic with money, yet staying true to the stupefying idiocies that make a Wood film a top late-night guilty pleasure: bizarre dialogue delivered with earnest sincerity, and the use of at least one funky rubber suit.
With Barry Nelson lookalike Richard Crane playing the lead Malligator and Beverly Garland recalling her suppressed life via "narco-hypnosis" scenes that bookend the film, "The Alligator People" is also notable for Lon Chaney's small but memorable role as a lecherous, hook-armed hired hand who ferries radioactive isotopes left by the U.S. Post Office at the local train station.
20th Century Fox has rescued this underrated so-bad-it's-good oddity in a really nice anamorphic transfer, with original mono and stereo-remix tracks, plus the film's original trailer (that blows every reveal and implausible plot twist). Some bio sketches of the cast and veteran director Roy Del Ruth ("Phantom of the Rue Morgue") would have been nice, as these B-movies tend to be lean in the extras department.
At times liberally inspired by elements from "The Fly" and "Island of Dr. Moreau" (the latter in a more benevolent, altruistic light), "The Alligator People" delivers a lot of amiable nonsense within its brisk 74 minutes.
© 2004 Mark R. Hasan