ALLIGATOR (1980) Reviews and overview



‘A frightening movie with a sense of fun!’

Alligator is a 1980 American horror feature film directed by Lewis Teague (Cujo; Cat’s Eye) from a screenplay written by John Sayles (Piranha). The movie stars Robert Forster (The Wolf of Snow Hollow; Psycho 1998; Uncle Sam), Robin Riker, Henry Silva and Michael V. Gazzo.

The film plays on a prevalent urban legend of the era which held that rogue alligators lived in the New York sewers preying on the homeless and unwary. There had been a short-lived craze of owning baby alligators as pets which led to many being allegedly flushed down toilets when they began to grow too big for a domestic setting.

The film received praise from critics for its intentional satirising and, in 1991, a sequel was released, titled Alligator II: The Mutation. Despite the title, this film shared no characters or actors with the original, and the plot was essentially a retread of the first film.


A laconic police officer named David Madison (Robert Forster) and a reptile expert named Marisa Kendall (Robin Riker) tries to stop a deadly giant alligator that is killing humans in the sewers of Chicago…

alligator 2


” … has a tongue in cheek tone which is both admirable and invigorating, and the spatial potential of claustrophobic sewer systems with the ever-present sound of dripping water adds a great deal of atmosphere to the piece. An enjoyable film which is able to transcend its limitations (poor model work, plot inconsistencies) to emerge as a minor classic in the ‘Revolt of Nature’ subgenre.” The Celluloid Highway

” …this movie features a great sense of humor and a high fun quotient.” John Kenneth Muir, Horror Films of the 1980s, McFarland, 2007

“This flick easily knocks the socks off some recent killer gator epics (Lake Placid anyone?). Alligator isn’t gonna change your world, but it’s a fun flick that doesn’t overstay its welcome.” Monsters at Play

“There is an odd comedic tone to Alligator that is laced into the characters and the dialogue in the film. It is clearly self-aware about what it is and mocks itself lightly while not ruining the genuine monster movie tone. It never drifts so far as to become outright parody, which is a good thing in my opinion. This is a movie that hits right on the nose of the tropes and characteristic of a Jaws-era monster thriller, and it plays with them well.” Misan[trope]y


“Come to think of it, the alligator does a lot of slinking in this movie – maybe because it was too difficult to show the whole alligator. There are a couple of fairly phony special effects shots, as when the alligator bursts up through the sidewalk, but for the most part we just see parts of the alligator: His mean little eyes, his big tall, and his teeth. Especially his teeth.” Roger Ebert, November 26, 1980

Alligator is a pretty neat flick, miles ahead of its contemporaries like Tentacles. If only the endless supply of similar films (recent examples include Anaconda and Relic) had as much going for them as this film, we would all be up to our ears in rampaging animal heaven. Killer beast devotees should definitely pick this up… Stomp Tokyo

alligator 5

” …an effective and unpretentious treat.” Time Out (London)

” … this is a movie that mixes sly humor with genuine thrills, and features an imposing and highly impressive central creature […] Like a number of the best monster movies, you can transfer a lot of meaning onto the onscreen events, or you can just sit back and watch the chaos unfold with a satisfied smile. But do watch it.” Kevin Matthews, When Animals Attack, Moonlight Creek Publishing, 2016



alligator 1980 lewis teague


alligator dvd

Buy Alligator and Alligator 2 on DVD from


Cast and characters:

Robert Forster … David
Robin Riker … Marisa
Michael V. Gazzo … Chief Clark (as Michael Gazzo)
Dean Jagger … Slade
Sydney Lassick … Gutchel (as Sidney Lassick)
Jack Carter … Mayor
Perry Lang … Kelly
Henry Silva … Brock
Bart Braverman … Kemp
John Lisbon Wood … Mad Bomber
James Ingersoll … Helms
Robert Doyle … Bill
Patti Jerome … Madeline
Angel Tompkins … Newswoman
Sue Lyon … ABC Newswoman

Technical details:

91 minutes | 86 minutes (theatrical cut)
Audio: mono
Aspect ratio: 1.85: 1

More movies with alligators

Fun facts:

Graffiti on a sewer wall reads: “Harry Lime lives!” (a reference to The Third Man (1949).