A pet alligator is flushed down the loo in New York only to return ten times bigger having scoffed a load of toxic waste. The same happens again in the sequel except this time in a small lakeside town.
Thanks to a witty John Sayles script, solid performances, effective effects and Lewis Teague’s spirited B-level direction, this formulaically-plotted monster movie crawls out of the creature feature pack and delivers old-fashioned entertainment with comic and satirical footnotes.
Typically for Sayles, the horror turns out to be the fault of a corrupt establishment conspiracy (a surprising amount of the plot resurfaces in his later, more serious Silver City) and there’s a deal of natural justice as the toothy creature chomps down on the various venal types responsible for its gigantism, from the pet-abductor (Sidney Lassick) who supplies stolen dogs to unethical vivisectors, through the rotten Mayor (Jack Carter) who gets the hero thrown off the force, to the patronising business tycoon (Dean Jagger) who runs the crooked pharmaceuticals company and wants to ensure no link is made between his products and the giant gator.
The finale finds the monster following the delicious barbeque smell and invading a society wedding reception where it satisfyingly chomps down on the tuxedoed guests, making an especial snack of the bridegroom. It has plenty of in-jokes, from the ‘Harry Lime Lives’ sewer graffiti to the identification of a victim as Edward Norton (the character played by Art Carney on the sit-com The Honeymooners), and even the lesser victims, like Henry Silva’s smug great white hunter who stalks ghetto alleys with local hoods as ‘native bearers’, are given a little more meat than found in most monster munchie movies. Alligator II: The Mutation is less a sequel than a lacklustre remake.
Enjoyable, but this croc-fest is no Lake Placid.