THE GREAT ALLIGATOR (1979) Reviews and Blu-ray reissue news

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The Great Alligator is being reissued on Blu-ray on February 2nd by Code Red in association with Kino Lorber. The movie was remastered in high-definition from the original negative in 2016. Special features:

Interview with director Sergio Martino and art director Massimo Antonello Geleng
Interview with special effects artist Paolo Ricci, cinematographer Giancarlo Ferrando, and art director Massimo Antonello Geleng
Interview with camera operator Claudio Morabito
Interview with underwater camera operator Gianlorenzo Battaglia
Theatrical trailer

Meanwhile, here is our previous coverage of the film:

The Great Alligator – original title: Il fiume del grande caimano [“The River of the Big Caiman”] – is a 1979 Italian action horror feature film directed by Sergio Martino (Mountain of the Cannibal GodTorso; et al) from a screenplay co-written with Cesare Frugoni and Ernesto Gastaldi. Luigi Montefiori [aka George Eastman] and Mara Maryl [as Maria Chianetta) contributed to the storyline.

Stelvio Cipriani composed the funky soundtrack score.

The movie stars Barbara Bach (The Unseen; Isle of the FishmenShort Night of Glass Dolls), Claudio Cassinelli and Mel Ferrer (The Antichrist; Blood and Roses).

The ‘alligator’ was designed by Carlo De Marchis (Monster Dog).


A photographer, Daniel (Claudio Cassinelli), is employed to take publicity shots for Paradise House, a newly-opened tourist complex set deep in the jungle. Unfortunately, a giant caiman, which the local tribespeople revere as ‘The Great God Kruna’, begins to besiege the local area.

After a few of the tribes people are killed, they blame the tourists and set out to kill them while the survivors try to rally on a boat with the hungry caiman attacking…


An obvious reworking of Jaws, which despite the professionalism of Sergio Martino and his team, fails to add up to anything other than a slightly superior rendering of a routine concept. Richard Johnson, who was also in Martino’s The Mountain of the Cannibal God and Fulci’s Zombie Flesh Eaters, is wasted in a pointless cameo as a babbling, bearded clergyman who seems like he’s stepped out of the same year’s Life of Brian .

Nevertheless, the use of freeze-frame and red tints to denote victims of the monster is an interesting device and there is some fun to be had from relishing the spectacle of the oversized caiman chomping on annoying tourists.

Adrian J Smith, MOVIES and MANIA
Other reviews:Alligator is an above average B film that has a few moments that bring on unintentional laughter and to its credit this film effective keeps the alligator off screen as much as possible not to give away how cheap it looks. Content wise Alligator is a cross between the animal vs. people films of the 1970’s and the action adventure stories written by Edgar Rice Burroughs.” 10K Bullets


” …the picture is depressingly mechanical, with none of the characters or their situations generating any interest at all, and the alligator scenes unimaginatively filmed in the same style as Jaws, with lots of underwater and water-level point-of-view shots. Making matters worse is that both the full-size alligator prop and the outrageously phony miniature used for wide-angle underwater shots are stiff and lifeless.” DVD Talk

“The film excels over most other Jaws rip-offs by at least attempting a different approach. Instead of just some pissed-off water creature going man-hungry for no reason, the theme of Third World exploitation and pro-environmental concerns is big thinking for an exploitation film!” DVD Drive-In

” …the prosthetic alligator is kind of impressive in some screwed up way, and there’s no doubt that Martino could have gone all in with stock footage if he wanted, but instead there’s a big toy croc in the waters. Even if it does look fake in some shots, so does Bruce in Jaws, and this movie is made on a fraction of that budget.” Cinezilla

“The film does manage to get in one uniquely Italian theme – in having the developer readily exploiting the natives as well. […] It takes a long time to get to the main action but even then things happen at a snail’s pace. The alligator effects are passably convincing for the brief, almost subliminal shots we are allowed of it.” Moria

“After ten minutes of the same damn thing happening over and over, basically a closeup of a screaming face, the immobile puppet lunging, and a pint of red dye in the water to indicate bloody death, you would either be worn down by the hilarity or checking your watch to see how much further this had to go.” The Spinning Image

Choice dialogue:

Peter: “What the hell’s got into these goddamned savages!?”

Cast and characters:

Barbara Bach … Alice Brandt [voiced by Susan Spafford]
Claudio Cassinelli … Daniel Nessel
Mel Ferrer … Joshua
Romano Puppo … Peter
Fabrizia Castagnoli … Minou’s Mother
Enzo Fisichella … Maurice, lover of Minou’s Mother
Lory Del Santo … Jane
Anny Papa … Laura
Bobby Rhodes … Joshua’s foreman
Clara Colosimo … Tourist
Peter Boom … Tourist with Rifle
Giulia D’Angelo … British Tourist
Marco Mastantuono … British Tourist
Piero Jossa
Marco Giannoni
Geneve Hutton … Sheena
Silvia Collatina … Minou
Richard Johnson … Prophet Jameson
Donald Dias
Christopher Ferrando
Paul Taylor Odiase
Peter Peiris
D. Pauline Skilton

Filming locations:

Sri Lanka

Technical credits:

89 minutes
Aspect ratio: 2:35:1

Film Facts:

Despite the English-language release title, the original Italian title refers to a caiman. Although related, they are different creatures. While the alligator has a small overbite, conical teeth, and the inside of its mouth is beige in colour, the caiman has a very large upper jaw with a mouth that includes many sharp, long, and narrow teeth and an interior that is orangish in hue. Caimans also have larger and higher set eyes than alligators.

The German DVD has a Super-8 Version (German language only), as a special feature.

Some image credits: Cinema Arcana | ICMDb.comMalastrana VHS

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