Movie Reviews 88 – The Alligator People (1959)

The Alligator PeopleIf you were to see only a few select scenes from the trailer or other excerpts from The Alligator People you may come to the conclusion that this is just one of those movies where the ‘monster’ in question is a guy with a goofy looking gator snout. But it really isn’t a bad movie at all and, in fact, most of the reptilian makeup and effects are decent. But even more important is the fact that there is a pretty good underlying story here set up nicely as a great mystery.

It all starts when a newlywed couple on a train on their honeymoon get a wire message. Almost instantly the husband gets off the train at the next stop and purposely and inexplicably abandons his new wife (Beverly Garland). We then cut to a scene years later where the wife is living serenely and employed in a doctor’s office without a case in the world.

The entire story is wrapped around a psychiatrist whose just accidentally uncovered the woman’s tale which he recorded as she was being analyzed subconsciously to test some equipment of his. But she knows nothing of her past much less anything about a husband who disappeared on their honeymoon. As far as she is concerned there is absolutely nothing wrong in her life. So the doctor is faced with the dilemma of telling her her own history which she has put in the back of her mind or  the incredible tale he just heard her uttered under hypnosis. So troubled is the psychiatrist that he plays the recording to another doctor and it is thus that the movie unfolds the story of The Alligator People.

It seems the girl was quite persistent following the disappearance of her husband and in fact kept the search on for years until she traced some old army records of his which led her to the only clue of his past, an address at a remote southern estate. But the occupants insists they know nothing of this man she is seeking. But some of the strange ongoings eventually lead to the sordid truth about her husband who is in fact still alive and the scientific experiments going on at the premises.

You can easily figure out the the husband was subject to some of this experimentation but the story is nicely drawn out as to how he was involved how why he departed on his on the that night oh so long ago. Solid acting and solid suspense makes me wonder why this movie does not have a better following. It even features Lon Chaney Jr. in a dusty role of a nasty keeper at the estate.

Oh and that goofy mask makes its appearance pretty much near the end of the movie. Never said the movie was perfect.


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