Friday night at the home drive-in: The Alligator People (1959)

Poster for The Alligator People (1959)The Alligator People (1959) by #RoyDelRuth

w/#BeverlyGarland #BruceBennett #LonChaneyJr

While hypnotized by two psychiatrists, a woman describes the mysterious disappearance of her husband – on their wedding day – and the horrifying events that followed…,

“Her Honeymoon…Shattered by an Unbelievable Horror!”

#Horror #SciFi

I did not see The Alligator People (1959) on TV when I was young. I had never heard of it, in fact, until I found a DVD copy in a bargain bin one day. As anyone who knows me can attest, any movie called The Alligator People – made in 1959, no less – has got to come home with me. And this one was no exception…

It turns out that The Alligator People is a rather noir-ish story, A character – a nurse named Joyce Webster, played by Beverly Garland – narrates the shocking story of her marriage to a man who simply vanishes on their honeymoon. She goes looking for him, and her journey leads her to a family estate on the bayou; a place with terrible secrets and quite possibly… Alligator People.

If I had to compare The Alligator People to any other movie, I might say anything by famed RKO producer Val Lewton. His movies were more about atmosphere than overt monsters – and they often had a very noir-ish feel to them. The Alligator People goes a little bit more over-the-top than Val Lewton would have – especially toward the ending – but it does generate a somewhat similar feel to Lewton’s films for the first half or so. 

And I suppose I would be remiss if I failed to mention that one of Lewton’s most revered works is Cat People (1942). Cat People…? Alligator People…? Coincidence..? You be the judge.

The Alligator People is not as good as Cat People – or really any of Val Lewton’s films. But that, in a nutshell, could be the difference between Classic and #NotQuiteClassic Cinema. The Alligator People is, however, a whole lot of fun. And it has a little more style and atmosphere than the average B-grade monster movie. 

Lon Chaney Jr. chews up the scenery as Manon, an angry man who once lost a hand to an alligator. He seems determined to get revenge – and he tortures gators whenever her gets a chance. When he finds out there might be an half human alligator person running around, he says “I’ll kill you Alligator Man! Just like I’d kill any four-legged gator!”

The Alligator People (1959) is #NotQuiteClassicCinema gold. It might make a good double bill with Sting of Death (1966), the giant-jellyfish-in-the-everglades movie I wrote about a while back. Either way, you could do a lot worse than add The Alligator People to the playlist for your next #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.