Im sumpf Des Grauens (The Alligator People)
Released by: Anolis Entertainment
Released on: December 16th, 2016.
Director: Roy Del Ruth
Cast: Beverly Garland, Bruce Bennett, Lon Chaney, George MacReady
Director Roy Del Ruth’s 1959 20th Century Fox picture The Alligator People tells the story of a pretty nurse named Jane Marvin (Beverly Garland). Early in the film she’s put under hypnosis by her doctor and it is here that she tells them that her birth name is actually Joyce Webster. Why the name change? We learn all about it in a series of flashbacks!
To make this happen, we travel back in time to the honeymoon that she and her brand new husband, a Second World War veteran named Paul Webster (Richard Crane), took to celebrate their nuptials. While on an otherwise perfectly calm train ride, Paul receives a telegram which, after reading, leads him to split the train and basically disappear. Understandably, Joyce is upset and concerned. She takes it upon herself to find out what happened to her man, and after following some clues, winds up tracking him to an ancient plantation out in the middle of a massive swamp.
Joyce approaches the place to try to get her husband back but the crank owner, Mrs. Lavinia Hawthorne (Frieda Inescort), isn’t exactly a welcoming hostess. In fact, when questioned about Paul, Lavinia insists that she has no idea who Joyce is talking about or why. Joyce, however, is a tough cookie and her persistence pays off… sort of. She basically refuses to leave, eventually running into a crazy gator hunter named Manon (Lon Chaney) – a man who sports a hook where his hand once was, a hand that was bitten off by an alligator! Obviously the guy holds a grudge. At any rate, Joyce continues to poke around the grounds. Eventually she runs into Paul, skulking about the swamp in an overcoat, but when she does, she can’t help but notice the fact that his previously handsome visage is now covered with scales!
As the story progresses, we learn that Paul was the victim of plane crash that left him a burned and broken man. A kindly scientist took him in and used him as a guinea pig in a wild experiment where he fused what was left of Paul with a formula taken from alligator DNA that he hoped would help him grow back to the man he once was – but of course, something has gone horribly wrong…
Basically a low budget knock off of The Fly (which had struck box office gold the year before) that just substitutes fly DNA for alligator DNA and a big house for a big swamp, The Alligator People is never scary nor is it atmospheric. It is pretty fun though, thanks to some keen makeup effects work courtesy of a young Dick Smith. When in ‘partial alligator man mode’ Paul actually looks rather eerie, but when he’s in ‘full alligator mode’? He looks kind of like Gorn from that episode of Star Trek where Captain Kirk becomes locked in mortal combat with, yep, a lizard man. Goofy stuff, but you can’t help but love it.
As to the performances? Beverly Garland sure was as pretty lady. She’s fine as the female lead here, never all that charismatic but good enough to work and yeah, hubba-hubba, right? Richard Crane is alright as the tortured soul who can’t help what he’s become and Frieda Inescort plays the bitchy plantation owner rather well. The real star of the show is a pumped up Lon Chaney, ranting and raving with his hook hand flailing about. He overdoes it in a big, big way, but the movie is all the better for it.
The Alligator People hits Blu-ray from Anolis Entertainment framed at 2.35.1 widescreen in a very nice looking AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer on a 25GB disc. Contrast is really solid, black levels are nice and deep but not at the cost of shadow detail and the picture is free of macroblocking and compression artifacts. We get a really nice upgrade in terms of detail and texture that far surpass the previous MGM DVD version. There are no obvious issues with edge enhancement nor with any noise reduction and grain looks nice and natural here. This is a very solid picture.
Audio options are provided in DTS-HD Mono tracks in both the original English language and a German dubbed track. Optional German subtitles are also provided. The English track sounds just fine. The score sounds good, the dialogue is clean, clear and easy to follow and there are no problems with any hiss or distortion worth noting.
Extras on the disc start out with an audio commentary from Bodo Traber, Ingo Strecker and Alexander Ifflander that is in German with no English subtitles. Aside from that, we get an English language theatrical trailer, a lengthy still gallery, a film festival program reproduction, menus and chapter selection.
As this is a combo pack release a DVD version of the movie is also included inside the DVD sized keepcase that also houses a booklet of liner notes from Ingo strecker in German text. The booklet also includes cast and crew credits for the feature and some technical information about the feature itself.
The Final Word:
Anolis Entertainment’s Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack release of The Alligator People is light on extras but it does offer up this quirky fifties cult classic in really nice shape. The movie itself is a lot of fun thanks to a wonky pace, some really great vintage effects work and a strong cast. Recommended!
Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!
im sumpf des grauens,
roy del ruth,
the alligator people
- DVD And Blu-ray Reviews G-M