Alligator II: The Mutation (1991)

Alligator II: The Mutation (1991)

It erupted from the bowels of the city in a lethal frenzy.

An alligator, flushed down the sewers by a fed up owner as a baby, grows to enormous size after an unscrupulous property developer has been dumping chemicals in the sewers. With the opening of a new lakefront community approaching and the body count starting to rise, a cop and an alligator hunter team up to stop the mutant before it can kill again.

 

Alligator was one of a slew of monster films released after Steven Spielberg did wonders for the great white shark population of the planet with Jaws and tackled the growing interest in aquatic monster movies. Alligators were an obvious target to turn into man-eaters and there are so many urban legends floating around about thriving alligator populations living in the sewers in America that it was only a matter of time before someone came along and made a film out of it. Alligator was a light-hearted, popcorn-fuelled carnage ride with some good performances, some decent effects and some legitimate scares so it was only a matter of time before someone came along with a follow-up. Well I say matter of time as it took someone eleven years to think of a sequel. One question must be asked: in that space of time, was Alligator II: The Mutation the best they could come up with?

Not so much a sequel but rather a really shoddy remake set in a different city, Alligator II: The Mutation is a plodding, pointless follow-up which only sets creature feature special effects by about twenty years. It’s a case of why change the formula for this sequel as the plot runs almost like a blow-by-blow recycling of the original on a lesser budget. Alligator II: The Mutation rattles out all of the creature feature clichés including the corrupt mayor, the major event in town which the mayor is determined to keep open at all costs, the eccentric hunter who eventually meets his demise at the hands of the hunted, an evil corporate slime ball with ‘I am the bad guy’ stapled to his forehead and plenty of minor characters who are simply served up as gator chow in the brief moments they have on screen. The film lacks the sarcastic wit of the original and any attempts at comedy fail miserably. Those who have seen the original will wonder why they’re watching an inferior remake.

At least the cast gives it a fair crack. Joseph Bologna is the kind of everyday Joe thrust into this unbelievable situation and handles everything well. Steve Railsback slimes it up as the property developer and character actor Richard Lynch hams it up in costume as the alligator hunter, complete with boots and hat. The roles are hardly challenging for the actors but at least they seem to having a good time at least.

You’d have thought that the special effects would have improved somewhat over the eleven years between the films but no, the alligator here looks worse than it ever did. There are some very unconvincing rubber model on a trolley which is wheeled out for attack scenes and has all the movement of a dead slug. In other scenes, a real alligator is placed onto miniature sets and filmed from a low angle to give it the impression of size. This technique might have worked back in the 50s but this was the 90s! Unfortunately, the continual change between the alligator’s size and abilities means that in every scene, it looks and acts different to the last. It looks like it can range from ten to forty feet whenever the situation dictates. It also uses its tail a lot to swat people through the air but since this seems like the only thing that the effects team were able to pull off with the miniscule budget, it’s an effect which is repeated numerous times to lessening impact.

The alligator is also keep off-screen for the majority of the film so with the exception of some brief glimpses of it, you’ll be waiting until the latter part of the film to see anything ‘worthwhile.’ It’s a disappointment when it finally turns up but at least the alligator is well fed though the attack on the carnival in the big finale is grossly underwhelming. But, like the rest of the film, underwhelming seems to be a common theme.

 

Alligator II: The Mutation is a weak, feeble sequel strengthened only by some decent performances. The original is far better on all counts so there’s just no need to sit down and watch this when you can grab hold of Alligator.

 

 ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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