Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Alligator Peope

Yes, I own a copy of this movie. You're not surprised, are you? This is a totally spoilery commentary, so consider yourself warned.

The deal is that Beverly Garland, under the influence of sodium pentathol is recalling her story for a couple of head doctors. Her story is this: Her husband disappears on their honeymoon, and she spends years searching for him. She finally winds up at one of those typical (in the moves) mysterious old southern swamp homes where a mad scientist (George Macready) is trying to save accident victims with injections of alligator hormones (or something like that). This sounds like a perfectly reasonable idea to me, and it actually works. Unfortunately, there are certain . . . side effects. They aren't so bad, however, of you don't mind being scaly and green. Garland's husband doesn't like it, but Garland still loves him, anyway.

Macready thinks he can clear up the side effects with a simple blast of radiation, no more than one would use in the average cobalt bomb. You wouldn't expect this to work out well, and it doesn't. Or maybe it does, depending on your perspective. Hubby turns into a real ManGator, with a gator head and a human body. He's even wearing slacks, which is a nice touch. Seeing what he's become, he flees into the swamp on a dark and stormy night, pursued by Garland. She doesn't save him, though, thanks to what every movie like this needs: quicksand!

I forgot to mention that throughout the movie, Lon Chaney, Jr., is chewing the scenery at a fantastic rate. I'm surprised there was any of it left. He plays a crazy Cajun who hates alligator people.

They made a lot of movies like this during the '50s, and by "like this" I mean black and white monster movies. There's not really anything else like this one. Check it out.

8 comments:

Todd Mason said...

Beverly Garland truly was the Deborah Foreman of the 1950s, only there was even more such work in the '50s if you were willing to put up with it (and the payoff? MY THREE SONS! Well, it buys your house, I guess, and college for the kids was cheaper then).

I certainly had some unfortunate skin when I was of the target demographic age for this film, some decades later, and no Garland chased through swamps for me...the Hidden Persuader for those of us who are not helpless in the face of herpetological themes...poor 'gator on the table, though.

pattinase (abbott) said...

She was terrific in these films. And not a bad stepmother on MTS.

Todd Mason said...

(And I shouldn't let my Crider libel stand just on the strength of alliteration...Crider's crazy for crocodilians, not happy for all herps...) Garland really did elevate almost any silly thing she was in, indeed, Patti...hence the Foremother to Foreman comment...the MST3K folks found her utterly charming, as well, when they invited her as a guest for a marathon one year.

Anonymous said...

You make it sounds almost reasonable, Bill, which is not quite as I remember it but you're right - the slacks were a nice touch and Lon Jr. was a hoot. And Beverly made it seem almost as reasonable as Bill's review would indicate.

Jeff

James Reasoner said...

Quicksand! (This one went straight onto my Netflix queue.)

Bill Crider said...

I knew you couldn't resist, James.

Mike Doran said...

Beverly Garland ...

I first saw her on TV when I was a kid, playing Policewoman Decoy (as the local TV listings always called it).
Between that, and her guest shots, and her B-movies filtering into TV,
good ol' Bev was the toughest gal on the tube.

Then suddenly, when I was a teenager ('64), she turns up as Bing Crosby's sitcom wife. My family was always waiting for Bev to beat the crap out of Frank McHugh. (OK, I used that line on another blog. I like it, so there.)

Then comes My Three Sons, and Fred MacMurray tells TV Guide, "Well, she was good enough for Good Ol' Bing ..."

Then comes the '80s-'90s, and there's Bev playing everybody's mother (Scarecrow And Mrs. King, Lois & Clark, some others I can't call to mind).

And at last, Beverly Garland closes things out at General Hospital, just when Lois Nettleton and Pat Crowley are there too.

If there's a TV Hall Of Fame, Beverly Garland deserves her own wing.

Truly - the ividial Hostrese!

(Those were the Recognition words; they were just too good to pass up.)

Cap'n Bob said...

I saw this a couple of years ago. What surprised me was Garland's heart in this, rather than the tough, sleazy dame she usually played.