Devil Fish, Killer Crocodile, and The Great Alligator: Italian Film Takes a Bite out of Jaws
Sergio Martino with his entry, The Great Alligator (1979) a.k.a The Big Alligator River. Set at a tropical island resort, where the main attraction is set to be swimming with gators in an African paradise, the natives take offense to the intrusion of tourists. Soon their God, in the guise of a giant alligator, is stalking the vacationers. Starring Barbara Bach, who looks ravishing, and Claudio Cassinelli, one of my favorite Italian actors, I really wanted to like this Martino film more. The plot, featuring Mel Ferrer as the merciless hotelier, plodded along with only the gator’s giallo style POV shots to entertain. The gore was kept minimal, and the threat from the wildlife didn’t seem quite as alarming as that of the restless natives. While the whole film was well shot and had beautiful location work, it all seemed like an extremely watered down version of At The Mountain of the Cannibal God with less nudity, less violence, and less animal cruelty (of which there was none, and that’s the only one of the three I would want less of). I didn’t like it enough to recommend it, really, but it was made well enough that I hesitate to call it bad. The Great Alligator should have been re-titled, The Average At Best Alligator.
Lamberto Bava is a director who is hit and miss. For every Demons, there's about a dozen Devil Fish (1984) lurking in his catalog. In Bava’s film, the government has been tinkering with building a bio-weapon, and what they came up with is a half shark-half octopus. Once it escapes, it goes on a teeth gnashing and tentacle snapping rampage that makes little to no sense. Michael Sopkiw (Massacre in Dinosaur Valley, 2019:After the Fall of New York) and William Burger (Keoma, Superfly T.N.T.) co-star as the heroic leads in this less than heroic effort at a creature feature. Many folks probably know Devil Fish from its treatment on MST3K, and unlike some of the redeemable movies that they skewered; Bava’s film deserved everything it got. If it wasn’t for lines like,”You’ve delayed us long enough with your science.” There really wouldn’t have been anything to get me through the film. Plus, it was basically remade a few years back by SyFy as Sharktopus, and if that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about avoiding this dud, then there’s just no stopping you.