Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Alligator People, See a Gator wear Pants

Beverly Garland, though she graced the silver screen before the term was born, was one of Hollywood's greatest scream queens.  In the 1950s, she appeared in "It Conquered the World," "Swamp Women," and "Not of this Earth."  Today we will examine one of her finest, and most famous works....1959's "The Alligator People."  This classic also boasts of a great cast which includes Lon Chaney, Jr. ("The Wolf Man"). Oh yes, long before Dick Smith won an Oscar for his make-up work in "The Exorcist," he worked on make-up f/x for "The Alligator."
Joyce (Garland) is on her honeymoon with Paul (Richard Crane).  About to consummate their marriage aboard a train, Paul runs away after receiving a telegram.  Distraught, Joyce spares no effort in finding her missing hubby.  She finds his last known address, creepy bayou mansion in Louisiana. At the mansion, she meets a stand-offish matriarch, Lavinia (Freida Inescort) who claims she does not know who Paul is....obviously lying.  Also at the mansion is handyman, Manon (Chaney, Jr.).  He has a hook for a left hand, and forever blames gators.  Overnight, Joyce is beckoned to the parlor where a mysterious man plays the piano.  When Joyce enters, the man runs away, leaving swampy footprints and damp keys.
As Joyce chases this figure through the swamp, she nearly is killed until Manon saves her.  Uh-oh, Manon then tries to rape her, and after he knocks her out, the mysterious figure comes in and saves her.  Who is this specter? Realizing that Joyce will not leave without answers, Lavinia confides some horrific truths to her.  Joyce is then brought to a secret bayou lab where a mad scientist (GeorgeMacready) is using radiation and alligators to help people regrow severed limbs. experiment that is now suffering horrible after effects.....Paul!  Can the strange doctor cure Paul? Do Joyce and Paul have a future?  
Beverly Garland (1926-2008) is beautiful and screams so well.  This is a fast-paced horror flick that has a really weird ending.  If you have never seen "The Alligator People," the full length version, in great quality, can be found on YouTube.  Complete with much peril for our scream queen, snakes, quicksand, gators, and a deranged rapist, in this film, Beverly Garland was put through the ringer.  

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