Tuesday, August 21, 2012


After watching the sieve-like Eagles O-line get Vick hurt on the second series while the supposedly-improved defense coughed up sustained drives (aided by dumb penalties, as usual) to a Pats offense that featured nobody named Brady, Welker or Gronk it felt like a good time to check out and check in with our pal Sergio Martino.

This month's dose of MARTINO TIME is THE BIG ALLIGATOR RIVER (aka ALLIGATOR), another of his "action" flicks from the late 70s, this time taking equal cues from JAWS and the Italian jungle native genre.

The late Claudio Cassinelli stars as Daniel, a photog hired by Paradise House owner/developer Joshua (Mel Ferrer) to come to the resort and snap some advertising photos. During a fly-over credit sequence, Joshua explains that the resort is being built with the help of the "friendly" Kuma tribe. The cheesy, jungle-themed resort features a bridge over crocodile "infested" waters (aided by the site of roped piglets being tossed into the water as bait) as well as a motorized "raft" ride slapped with Tarzan's name.

When Sheena, Daniel's model, goes missing one night -- while Daniel is unsuccessfully putting the moves on Alice (Barbara Bach), Joshua's assistant who just happens to be an anthropologist -- all signs point to the return of the river's giant resident caiman, an alligatorid crocodylian viewed by the natives as a river god. In classic JAWS fashion Joshua poo-poo's this idea while Daniel and Alice place the blame squarely on the giant crocagator.

Anybody with even a passing knowledge of the "nature run amok" genre can figure out where the rest of the flick is headed. A tour group of fresh meat arrives to give Paradise House a test run while Daniel and Alice jet around talking to the Kuma tribe (who have suddenly gone into full warrior mode) and the freaked out, bearded Fr. Jonathan (Richard Johnson), a missionary who fears the river after seeing the destructive force of Kruna, the river god.

I was really hoping that Martino would pull out all the stops with this one and offer up a trashy blend of jungle natives and nature run amok. Unfortunately, the flick never crosses the line with both the gator attacks and the savages-run-wild-melee falling strictly into ho-hum territory and even an opportunity for a glimpse of Barbara's water-soaked Bachs goes unfulfilled. The whole thing feels flat, talky and underwhelming, unlike ISLAND OF THE FISHMEN which features much of the same cast and is light years more enjoyable.

Look for DEMONS star Bobby Rhodes in a supporting role as one of Joshua's foremen.

THE BIG ALLIGATOR RIVER is available from Amazon.

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