Sunday, January 11, 2009

Scale Tipping Horror

In this cautionary tale, The Alligator People, Richard Crane plays a man named Paul Webster who volunteered for experimental treatment after a plane crash. His mangled body heals itself better than any human could because of alligator enzymes in his experimental treatment. But, of course, as with anything experimental in old medicine and old monster movies something goes wrong. Paul is slowly turning into an alligator man.
The story is told through flashback via Paul's wife, Joyce, though she has repressed the memory. She tells the story under hypnosis. It’s really a creative way to make this story more interesting. It comes across as a warning against human testing, and the repercussions of ignoring that warning.
Newlyweds Joyce and Paul Webster are traveling by train on their honeymoon when Paul receives a telegram (ancient form of communication) that changes his chipper mood. He gets off at the next stop, and his wife doesn't see him again… until after years of searching she finds him again. At this point he looks like a pancake batter make-up monster with scales scored into his face.
Eventually, an attempt at a hasty cure is interrupted by an old, drunk man made bitter by a long ago alligator attack that left him one hand short. This incident drives Paul’s metamorphosis into express mode, and he ends up looking like the Gorn from Star Trek.
Except for the costumes and make-up there is very little
camp and cheese here. I can genuinely imagine The Alligator People could be remade in modern day. Not that I don’t appreciate it as is. A modern version would probably be intentionally corny, but it wouldn’t have to be.

Richard Crane just wants a hug.

Lon Chaney, Jr. (credited as Lon Chaney) plays the part of hook-handed Cajun “Manon,” A lovable old coot who is obsessed with harassing gators.
Thanks, Margali for the correction ;)


Margali said...

Actually, Richard Crane plays "Paul Webster". Lon Chaney (Jr.) played the part of the hook-handed Cajun "Manon". This is one of those old creature features that was great fun to watch at the drive-in. (And doesn't that give away my age! LOL)

Webmonster said...

Silly me! Thanks Margali! I feel so foolish. That makes sense. I was confused about the age at at the time, and now that you mention it, I recognize him :P
Thanks to you, I'm editing the above :)