Alligator (Blu-ray 4K) [Blu-ray 4K]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Shout! Factory
Review written by and copyright: Anthony Arrigo (15th March 2022).
The Film

Jaws (1975) is the monster movie that launched a thousand imitators but scant few of those wannabe pictures can tread water with Spielberg’s big boy – and one of them is Alligator (1980). Featuring a titular behemoth larger than Bruce (we all know that’s the shark’s name, right?) and a solid cast, the movie wisely leans into its B-grade sensibilities to deliver a campy creature feature that offers a compelling human element alongside the reptilian rampaging. The characters here don’t feel like stock archetypes; these are genuine people who act with sense and reason, they have lives. So many of these animal-run-amok films suffer when the beasts aren’t on screen but Alligator remains just as engaging when the focus shifts to Robert Forster’s Detective Madison, who is investigating the sudden appearance of numerous body parts found in a local water treatment facility.

The genesis of this semi-aquatic terror is a Florida gator farm in 1968, when a young girl convinces her parents to buy a baby gator (she names Ramon) which her father promptly flushes down the toilet once the family gets home to Chicago. Cut to twelve years later and Ramon has been cultivating mass in the sewer system, fed by a steady diet of discarded animals used for experimentation at a local lab. Those animals were given a growth hormone that spiked their metabolism, leading to extreme appetites – and now there’s a hungry 36-foot gator looking for a bigger lunch. When parts of maintenance workers begin surfacing the cops put frazzled officer David Madison (Forster) on the case. He’s overworked and apathetic, dealing with premature balding issues, and psychologically damaged after an incident in St. Louis years ago left his partner dead.

Madison’s boss, Chief Clark (Michael V. Gazzo), connects him with herpetologist Marisa Kendall (Robin Riker), who agrees to help Madison although she makes it quite clear she isn’t a fan of his… yet. A photographer becomes another sneaky snack in the sewers but his camera is recovered and the film roll developed, leaving no question about what is behind these grisly attacks. The city decides to hire an expert, bringing in Quint, er, Brock (Henry Silva), a hunter full of hubris convinced he’s smarter than the average gator (spoiler: he isn’t).

Quentin Tarantino has said Max Cherry in Jackie Brown (1997) was written with David Madison in mind and once you know that information it’s almost impossible not to view Tarantino’s film as some alternate universe sequel. Forster plays Madison as a man weary of his aging and beaten down by the sins of his past. He’s burned out but buries himself in work, even if the other guys on the force aren’t particularly fans. Like Chief Brody in Jaws nobody wants to take Madison seriously at first, and once they do it’s already too late. Forster keeps his character affable and witty but the man also suffers no fools and knows when to command the action.

Robin Riker is the “reptile lady” who is given more to do than simply being Forster’s love interest. She’s got wit, too, and plenty of her own opinions. The friction between Marisa and Madison makes for a more compelling relationship once they finally focus on the big picture. Riker is a soulful, doe-eyed beauty with natural charisma and a specific stern tone that gives her authority. If I can inject a personal anecdote here, I worked with Robin on a film a few years back and she was the classiest woman who adored her on-set Alligator fans to the point she brought the few of us signed 8x10s on the final night of filming. A true professional in every sense.

But hey, enough about the people… what about the gator?! Don’t worry. This isn’t one of those films that hide the goods until the third act. Nope. Director Lewis Teague wants to satisfy your bloodlust with plenty of gator chompin’ action throughout, culminating in a wedding day massacre that is beyond bloody and insanely outrageous. John Sayles’ script metes out attacks in small quantities before going wild with all the scenes that scarred me as a child once the gator goes loose in Los Ange…er… Chicago. Yep, this is so clearly Chicago. And this gator looks awesome, too… except for the few scenes where it’s clearly a real gator walking through miniatures. But the massive animatronic? A thing of beauty.


This’ll be an easy buy for any fans of the film because the only other release was an ancient DVD from Lionsgate back in 2007. Scream Factory brings Alligator to the highest levels of HD with a new 4K restoration from the original camera negative on both 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray discs. The native 1.85:1 2160p image is gorgeous. Colors appear vibrant and rich. Black levels down in the sewer remain pitch dark, with strong shadow detail to see people and objects down there in the gator’s lair. Film grain moves and swirls for a natural cinematic experience. I would have been satisfied with nearly any HD upgrade but the work done here by Scream Factory is exemplary and makes the long wait for this title well worth it.


There is one track: an English DTS-HD MA 2.0 mono and it has been restored just as faithfully as the picture. Dialogue always sounds clean and clear, nicely balanced among a sea of effects and screams. Craig Hundley’s score is a subterranean synthscape, effectively creeping up the alligator attacks. Subtitles are available in English SDH.



An audio commentary with director Lewis Teague and actor Robert Forster is available.

DISC TWO: Blu-ray (Theatrical Cut)

The audio commentary with Teague and Forster can also be found here.

“Gator Guts, The Great River, and Bob” (1080p) is an interview that runs for 22 minutes and 17 seconds, with now-famous actor Bryan Cranston who, back in 1980, was a production assistant on this film’s set. He’s got many great stories, including how he helped rig the exploding gator for the climax.

“Everybody in the Pool” (1080p) is an interview with actress Robin Riker that runs for 7 minutes and 33 seconds. Charming as ever, Riker recalls this, her first feature role, with plenty of fondness for the cast & crew.

“Wild in the Streets” (1080p) is an interview with director Lewis Teague that runs for 24 minutes and 32 seconds, featuring the helmer discussing everything from the writing process, casting, production, and some candid reflections on his own struggles in life.

“Luck of the Gator” (1080p) is an interview with special effects make-up artist Robert Short that runs for 12 minutes and 28 seconds. This is where most of the tech talk can be heard, with Short covering all the various ways in which the 36-foot gator was brought to life.

“It Walks Among Us” (1080p) is an interview with screenwriter John Sayles that runs for 9 minutes and 35 seconds. This is a video chat with the writer, discussing his process for developing the script and working with Teague.

“Alligator Author w/ Screenwriter John Sayles” (SD) runs for 17 minutes and 19 seconds, this legacy feature appeared on the previous DVD release. Sayles goes into greater depth on his writing than in the new supplement.

“TV Cut Additional Scenes” (SD) runs for 8 minutes and 1 second, this is mainly additional character footage with one non-attack by the gator on a mother and her child.

A teaser trailer (1080p) runs for 1 minute and 12 seconds.

The theatrical trailer (1080p) runs for 2 minutes and 35 seconds.

Four TV spots (1080p) run for a total of 1 minute and 56 seconds.

“Trailers from Hell – Filmmaker Karen Kusama on Alligator” (1080p) runs for 1 minute and 24 seconds, with the filmmaker quickly summarizing her thoughts and feelings about the film.

“Newsprint Ad Gallery” (SD) runs for 3 minutes and 19 seconds.

A still gallery (HD) contains 271 images.

DISC THREE: Television Version

There are no extras on this disc, although the inclusion itself is an incredible bonus feature. Here, the feature runs for 98 minutes and 5 seconds, whereas the theatrical cut is 90 minutes and 50 seconds. It is presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, with the extra footage sourced from an interpositive.


The three-disc set comes housed in a standard black 4K Ultra HD case. The cover art is reversible. A slipcover with new art is included on first pressings.


Alligator is more than just a B-grade riff on Jaws and this jam-packed special edition has been long overdue. A/V quality is stellar, the bonus features are fantastic, and the addition of a longer cut makes this hefty package an easy recommendation for longtime fans and new viewers who love seeing over-sized animals go on the attack.

The Film: B+ Video: A Audio: A- Extras: A+ Overall: A


Rewind DVDCompare is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and the Amazon Europe S.a.r.l. Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to,,,,, and . As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.