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Alligator – Collector’s Edition (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

On February 22nd, a big bucket list title for horror fans and cult cinema lovers is about to get scratched off the ‘ol wishlist for Blu-rays. And not only that, its taking care of the next format, 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray, while its at it. Lewis Teague’s Alligator, starring Robert Forster and Robin Riker, makes its debut as a Scream Factory Collector’s Edition after many, many years of being in demand for SOMEONE to put it out. This release features a 4K restoration from the original camera negative as well as the TV cut of the film. Its loaded with great new interviews, including production assistant Bryan Cranston. This 3-disc set is going to be a great collector’s item and one to nab up and own while you can. Its available to pre-order on the Shout! Factory website as well as the paid Amazon Associates link that follows the review.

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Film

From director Lewis Teague (Cujo, Cat’s Eye) and screenwriter John Sayles (Piranha, The Howling) comes an unstoppable thriller with bite. After returning from their Florida vacation, the Kendal family decides their pet baby alligator is too much to take care of and they flush him down the toilet. At the same time, Slade Laboratories is conducting secret experiments with animals and disposing of them in the sewer. The baby alligator, fending for itself, must feed on anything it can … including the dead animals. Now, twelve years later, when several murders happen in the city of Chicago, David Madison (Robert Forster, Jackie Brown) is put on the case to find out who … or what … is killing the people.

Lewis Teague’s Alligator is an incredible adventurous amount of fun. Simply told, its a Jaws knock off, but the film has so much more to offer than that. Thanks to a clever, thoughtful script from John Sayles to go along with the perfect cast that knows exactly how to play this thing, it goes off without a hitch from the jump. Also helping things are some fun bloody effects and a creature effort that works more often than it doesn’t. Alligator is a bit of an overlooked gem to those who aren’t genre nuts or cult movie enthusiasts.

One of the biggest factors in making Alligator work is its star, Robert Forster. Forever an underappreciated performer, there were roles only he could play and only he could heighten, singlehandedly making a ton of movies better than they ever even could have hoped for. Alligator was probably going to be solid, but Forster’s turn here helps keep it a classic. Not only does the script have added input from Forster (About his receding hair), but he invests in the character and world and lights it up with his nonchalant demeanor at every turn. Perfectly contrasting him is the pair up with Robin Riker, who gives him some pep and adds on to every scene they share together, strengthening all their moments.

And at the end of the day, the film isn’t afraid to both make you laugh and also thrill you. Its that Snakes on a Plane kind of enjoyment that one can really only pull from the art of movies. Alligator has heightened theatrics. It tries to pull from a lot of pools and largely has something for everyone. Sayles script has some snappy one-liners, witty dialogue, Emmerich-esque science/mythology dialogue, big action and plenty of crowd pleasing and cheering moments. Alligator is definitely one I’d love to see at a midnight screening with a packed crowd and a popcorn in hand.

Video

Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review are taken from the standard Blu-ray disc, not the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc.

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: Alligator’s debut on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray boasts a new 4K scan from the original camera negative (TV cut footage scanned from an internegative). This is a pretty lovely transfer that showcased a lot of information with crisp details protruding through in this sharp picture. There’s terrific color saturation on display and the image is plenty sharp, while retaining a nice, healthy layer of grain. Overall, most should be very pleased with Alligator’s look on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray.

Depth: Depth of field is pretty strong. The sewer scenes have a really good 3 dimensional pushback and characters look free to roam around, complimented by confident camera movements. Motion is natural and smooth, looking filmic with no issues regarding digital blur or jitter from rapid motions to be found.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and natural and rather quite excellent when playing in the motion of the film, pausing may have a question here or there, but in motion looks rather seamless. No information is hidden in the shadows or dark surfaces and no crushing witnessed in this viewing.

Color Reproduction: Colors are more on the natural side with a just a little extra pop to them. There is a good saturation on display. The contrast here allows blues, reds and greens to jump a little more. HDR comes into play and gives car lights, lit signs, fire and more a bit of glow.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish of the film. Facial features like sweat, grease, moles, freckles, stubble, make-up lines, bruising, cuts and more all come through clear as can be. Make-up effects shows no signs of looking fake or artificial and hold genuine with the film.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics: Alligator comes with a rather terrific little mono track. It has terrific balance and gives effects, vocals and music their time to shine without stepping on one another’s feet. The low end sounds actually handle well with a decent boom in this mix. Explosions, gunfire, crashes and bursts all have a little rumble to them. Overall, its a good, genuine experience and plenty loud and engaging while watching the lovely video transfer.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp.

Extra

Alligator – Collector’s Edition is a 3-Disc set (1 4K UHD, 2 Blu-ray) and comes with reversible cover art featuring the original poster art. Aside from the commentary and TV version, all bonus features are found on disc 2.

DISC 1 – 4K UHD

Audio Commentary

  • With Director Lewis Teague and Actor Robert Forster

DISC 2 – Blu-ray

Audio Commentary

  • With Director Lewis Teague and Actor Robert Forster

Gator Guts, The Great River, And Bob With Bryan Cranston (HD, 22:17) – Cranston lets us know where he was at when the film was shooting (He had just got his SAG card for a commercial, which they show, and was doing lots of extra work). He took the job to learn something new after being tired of doing extra work. “I became the assistant to the assistant’s assistant”.  Cranston has quite the recollection and fondness of his work on the film and has a story of a conversation he had with Robert Forster, which he wound up bringing up to him when they worked on Breaking Bad. “He gave me a gift”.

Everybody In The Pool With Actress Robin Riker (HD, 7:33) – “…the Richard Dreyfuss character in Jaws. I was the one who explained the monster”. She says Robert Forster was a very good kisser and fun to smoke weed with. Riker shares that Forster wanted to get ahead of his hair loss and got Lewis Teague to add that bit with the pet store owner in his first scene. There are some special effects stuff she goes over and that she loves that the alligator ate a kid in the pool. “The work we took seriously, but we didn’t didn’t take ourselves seriously”.

Wild In The Streets with Director Lewis Teague (HD, 24:32) – “I’m very proud of Alligator…I feel its the film that put me on the map.” The idea for the film comes from an urban myth when he was in school. He gives a lot of credit of the film to John Sayles, who had written his first film. Teague met Forster when he was doing 2nd unit work on the Roger Corman film Avalanche. Teague takes a good detailed remembrance back on the film, going through effects challenges, shooting specific scenes and a lot of other great anecdotes and stories come from him.

Luck of the Gator with Special Effects Artist Robert Short (HD, 12:28) – “My overall job was pretty simple…make sure there were limbs to show…blood on set…keep track of basic wounds…”. He goes over many of the special effects of the film and in pretty good detail, with lots of good anecdotes.

It Walks Among Us with Screenwriter John Sayles (HD, 9:35) – Sayles recalls his inspiration and personal experiences that guided him in writing the film. He covers the speed at which he was able to do it. Its a pretty matter of fact and fun little video of him sort of pondering through his work and some the deeper stuff that lies in the movie. He was very happy about the casting of Robert Forster as he was a fan of other works (And also goes over the hair recession stuff he put in the script).

Alligator Author with Screenwriter John Sayles (HD, 17:19) – This is a bit longer, archival interview with John Sayles that is definitely a bit older and done for the old Blue Underground release of the film.

TV Cut Additional Scenes (HD, 8:01) – Encoded as HD, but looks like an SD source.

Teaser Trailer (HD, 1:12)

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:35)

TV Spots (HD, 1:56)

Alligator Game Commercial (HD, 0:31) – Plays after you play through the TV Spots.

Trailers From Hell: Filmmaker Karyn Kusama on Alligator (HD, 1:24) – Kusama says John Sayles was a mentor for her and loves that he transformed the monster movie into so much more with this movie. She loves the “collision of genre and quality”.

Newsprint Ad Gallery (HD, 3:19)

Still Gallery (HD, 22:38)

DISC 3 – Blu-ray

TV Cut – Runs about 8 minutes longer than the theatrical version.

Summary

Its been a  long wait for Alligator on Blu-ray let alone a 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray release, but its been fully made worth it. The film is a fun bit of horror, action and camp to the highest degree. Scream Factory’s transfer is pretty excellent and it comes packed with the most ideal set of extras that really leave not much left to ponder after getting through them. This is a fun release and comes off as an obvious labor of love by those who both worked on the film itself and those who worked on this home video release.

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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