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From the title alone you can guess what this film is about. I saw Alligator when I was quite young and while it did not scare me that much, it led me to believe that huge reptiles could live down in the sewers and even if they didn’t then, they could do as it was obviously possible. That did however scare me. I did not know however that it had spawned a sequel. Anchor Bay has bundled both films together in one, two disc pack and created a DTS surround soundtrack for both films. Let the severing begin.

All it takes is a load of experimented on animal corpses to go from this...
The Film
The first film features lone cop David Madison (Robert Forster – Reservoir Dogs, Jackie Brown) who is assigned to a case where a few dog parts start showing up in the sewers. While studying these, one dog is recovered whole but missing its internal organs. After the owner inspects it she proclaims that while it looks identical including it’s birth marks, it is about 3 times the size it should be. This is obviously strange so Madison heads off to the local biological research company to see what they are up to. While they admit to using dogs for hormone experiments, they don’t admit to quite what they are doing. A bit of probing and a few more random deaths and people start to take note. All hell breaks loose and that is when the police start to take notice. After seeking information from a local reptile expert the whole police force go after the beast, but they only manage to flush it out of the sewer and into the local population. After eating lots of people this behemoth manages to retreat back to the sewer for the final showdown with Madison.

The second film, Alligator 2 – The Mutation is really just a remake of the first, but in a different city. A mans leg is found in a lake where residents fish. Some spectacular lab work and an eye witness prove to everyone that it is indeed a giant alligator wandering the area and devouring. As in the first film, a group of experts are called in to deal with the beast and again they get mostly eaten. The cop this time is David Hodges (Joseph Bologna) and he’s the standard rebel cop out to save lives. While a chemical plant is again to blame for the super sized animal they do not play as big a role in the film as in the first. This time a wealthy business man trying to develop property who also owns the chemical plant takes the brunt of the blame. Again people die and the final showdown ensues.

... to this
Surprisingly the first film actually has better special effects than the second, with a lot better views of the beast in all its glory. The second film, relies mostly on huge tails sweeping across people and knocking them over, and real alligators filmed from low camera positions in smaller sets to give a slightly increased sense of size. However, this doesn’t really work as the monster seems to vary from about forty feet long to about 15 feet long. The acting in the second film is also worse, as is the story in general. In fact I can’t think of anything that was better in the second film when compared to the first, save the highly comedy title.

I enjoyed the first film a lot more than the second which at the time was at least slightly original. The cop comes across as a lot harder and grittier and the concepts behind the story are played out to better effect. While I would give the first film in this set a six out of ten, the second struggles in at a three or four at best, which is how I came to the overall score of five.

Video
This is quite surprising especially since the trailer is such awful quality. Slightly soft and reflecting the general style of the time, the first film is presented in 1.85:1 as is the second. The blood is very red and the definition is clear and black levels are also surprising. It is not the sharpest picture as I have mentioned, but it is certainly not as bad as I was imagining. The second film also holds true to these comments, however it has to as a lot of it is shot at night or in the dark sewers. However the blacks in the second film are not quite as well defined as in the first. Both films have very few artefacts present and so Anchor Bay have cleaned up both skilfully.

Audio
Both films come with both a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix and a DTS mix. The DTS on both is a welcome addition to this two disc pack and fairs quite well. It’s no Saving Private Ryan by any means, but there is certainly adequate use made of the rear channels. Obviously these were remixed as the original sources would have been either mono or stereo and Anchor Bay have again shown that even with titles that might not be expected to pull in huge revenues, they will do their best to make sure the people that buy it, get a great experience.

chomp chomp.. very tasty
Extras
Not too much here, but entirely more than I had imagined with the inclusion of a commentary track with Robert Forster and Lewis Teague on the fist film. Anchor Bay really have put a commendable effort into this and the commentary is both varied and informative, with Dale Hollison (Dark Delicacies) hosting making it more of an rolling interview than a traditional commentary. It works in places but not in others and it was interesting to hear the thoughts on the scene where a child gets eaten in a swimming pool scene.  Also included are the biographies of Robert Forster, Lewis Teague and John Sayles. The trailers for both films are included in their original dirty format as well as several pages of film notes, which sum up both films as well as talk about the state of monster movies when they were made.  

Overall
I liked this two disc set. The inclusion of the awful second film is good for completeness and I guess I would have wondered what it was like had I not seen it, however it is really not worth watching more than once if that. The DTS is imposing and crafted well and while the extras are few and far between, the commentary track is worth a listen on the first disc. If you are a fan of monster movies then I would say this is a definite purchase, however I would imagine those who buy it will be few and far between.


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