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Trauma Scene:: Alligator (1980)

October 15th, 2019 by unkle lancifer · 6 Comments

I was watching ALLIGATOR the other night in honor of the late great Robert Forster when a particular scene popped out at me as exceptionally kindertraumatic. It’s kinda crazy it never struck me as such before and I wondered why I hadn’t noticed it the last time I watched ALLIGATOR (which strangely enough was about a month ago). First off, ALLIGATOR is a great movie. It’s written by John Sayles (PIRAHNA) and directed by Lewis Teague (CUJO) and it’s an action-packed, super sly send-up of fifties-era giant creature flicks as much as it is an inevitable cash-in on JAWS. Forster is brilliant in it and always a good sport when the subject of male pattern baldness arises. I also have to give a shout out to the charming and underrated ROBIN RIKER who we come to find out is the little girl from the film’s opening whose thoughtless parents flushed her tiny pet alligator down the toilet. There’s a very good chance that her long lost pet is the mutated monster eating so many people who actively deserve it (the creature’s attack on an upscale wedding and his subsequent chomping of the film’s various villains in the climax is so gratifying).

The vignette I feel obliged to spotlight occurs well within the movie when the alligator is in full rampage mode clobbering anyone unlucky enough to get in his path. In a suburban backyard, three little boys are playing pirates with the two older kids bullying the youngest (who is blindfolded) toward the end of a diving board (pretending it’s a pirate’s plank) and into the deep end of the pool. Unbeknownst to the trio, the titular alligator is (understandably) taking a much-needed dip in the pool! Now, where every other film known to man would utilize this scenario for suspense only to have the kids realize their blunder and escape at the last minute, this flick has the kid fall in. Not only does he fall in, shortly thereafter he is shown colliding with the scaled abomination and not long after that, the pool is turning blood red signaling that his and the alligator’s encounter didn’t work out so good for at least one of them. I guess considering ALLIGATOR’s debt to JAWS it shouldn’t be that shocking that a tyke might end up on the wrong side of an animal encounter but something about this scene feels extra vicious (and perhaps darkly humorous).

Mostly though, I can’t help feel sorry for the two older kids who have to live forever knowing they are responsible for their sibling’s death. Plus I can’t help empathizing with the blindfolded kid who became alligator dinner because the initial prank seems like something my older brothers would have done to me without pause. Anyway, I’m not sure if this macabre scene would float in this day and age but it sure has bite.

Tags: Trauma-Scene · Trauma-Shots · Traumatots

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Oct 15, 2019 at 10:43 am

    Wait a minute, while gathering my screenshots I noticed that this bit is worse than I thought! Right before the kid falls in his blindfold falls off and his mom turns on the pool lights so he actually sees the giant Alligator almost smiling at him before he falls in. So I guess his last moment of life was complete terror. Boys will be boys but sheesh, what a cruel way to go!

  • 2 Chuckles72No Gravatar // Oct 15, 2019 at 2:06 pm

    I lol’d at Unk’s admission that he was watching “Alligator” in honor of Robert Forster – and that he had watched it a mere month earlier for kicks! Unk, they broke the mold after they made you.

  • 3 Brother BillNo Gravatar // Oct 15, 2019 at 5:11 pm

    As soon as you teased an “exceptionally kindertraumatic” scene from Alligator, I guessed instantly what it was going to be, because it’s a stuck-note in my memory as well. What makes it extra creepy is, even though, as you mentioned, the gator has been on a rampage like something out of Jurassic Park, in this scene it’s not announcing its presence at all but just resting quietly in the deep end. The kid probably could have escaped–if he hadn’t fallen in.

  • 4 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Oct 15, 2019 at 5:39 pm

    Haha, it’s worse than you know! I know no limits when it comes to re-watching movies! I feel like I find something new with every viewing! I think it stems from my childhood when we would rent from the video store and I would try to watch the movie as many times as possible before we returned it. And I still remember the dark ages when you had to wait a year and scan your TV Guide to see something again. Don’t ask me how many times I’ve seen Halloween, Hell Night, Alien, The Thing and Blade Runner- it’s scary.

    Brother Bill,
    the more I think about it, the more brilliant that scene is. When you’re young and you’ve just seen JAWS you can tell yourself that there’s no way that you could encounter a shark in your own pool. ALLIGATOR sets it up so that all bets are off and he could show up at any time.

  • 5 bdwilcoxNo Gravatar // Oct 15, 2019 at 9:49 pm

    Shark in a pool, you say? How about getting eaten when you try to retrieve your golf ball from the water hazard?

  • 6 goofygrapeNo Gravatar // Oct 21, 2019 at 11:18 am

    I have to post this video my best pal Skunkape edited.

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