The Alligator People is a 1959 science fiction horror film directed by Roy Del Ruth from a screenplay by Robert M. Fresco, Orville H. Hampton and Charles O’Neal. It stars Beverly Garland, Bruce Bennett, Lon Chaney Jr., George Macready, Frieda Inescort, Richard Crane and Douglas Kennedy.
Suffering from amnesia, nurse Jane Marvin (Beverly Garland) undergoes sodium pentathol treatment o try to regain memories of her past, and then recounts the events she has forgotten. She had married a man named Paul Webster (Richard Crane), and her name had been Jane Webster. While on their honeymoon, Paul got off the train and vanished.
After a private detective fails to find him, Jane discovers an address in the Louisiana bayous. But she is told by the owner, Lavinia (Frieda Inescort) that no-one named Paul Webster has ever lived there. Due to the lateness of the hour, Jane has to spend the night. Later she follows the sound of piano music, but the man playing runs away before she can see him. The next morning, Lavinia confesses that Paul is her son; later, Jane meets Dr. Mark Sinclair (George Macready), who explains that years earlier, Paul had been badly disfigured in a plane accident, and Dr. Sinclair had treated him and several others with a serum of reptilian hormones in hopes of regenerating his limbs. This treatment had the unfortunate and unanticipated side-effect of slowly turning the recipients into reptiles…
“Though The Alligator People is primarily pure camp fodder, it still has the virtue of being entertaining. Garland’s portrayal of an able-bodied nurse (she not only faces down slimy gators, but takes a punch from Chaney, too) gives the story some creditability. The film quality also seems to be better than other movies of a similar budget. I can’t recommend The Alligator People as a vehicle for suspense and thrills, but I definitely recommend it as a source of kitschy fun.” Exclamation Mark
“The Alligator People is a charmingly stupid film, but ultimately no more than that. Its main selling points are an uncommonly embarrassing performance from Lon Chaney Jr. and the exceptionally loopy monster suit representing the final phase of Paul’s transformation, which was designed by the man who did the same job on The Fly and its first sequel. Otherwise, there really isn’t anything here that you haven’t already seen in half a hundred earlier 50’s monster cheapies. The ‘gator-man sure is a hoot, though…” 1000 Misspent Hours… and Counting
“The makeup’s also pretty decent, which should be no surprise since it’s the work of none other than Dick Smith, on one of his first credited feature films. They cut corners every now and then, but I loved the look of the guy who had normal skin on one side and gator skin on the other. I was also impressed with the gator head that our hero sports for the final 5-10 minutes of the film, which appeared to be a mask of some sort but yet didn’t reveal the actor’s head at all.” Horror Movie a Day
Buy The Alligator People on DVD from Amazon.com