Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

“An Alligator Half That Size Would Starve in a Week”

March 12th, 2010 · 4 Comments


We’re a bit embarrassed to admit this, but we once wrote a magazine piece that seriously examined the physiological feasibility of Godzilla. We called various eggheads and asked them to assess whether a lizard-like creature as massive as Tokyo’s favorite monster could ever exist in the real world. The universal answer, of course, was nyet—Godzilla’s weight would instantly crush all of his internal organs. Not to mention the fact that he couldn’t possibly consume enough salarymen to satisfy his vast caloric needs.

We thought of that piece while watching the above trailer for this week’s Bad Movie Friday entry: 1980’s Alligator, which sought to bring the Jaws/Piranha/Orca formula to the streets of Chicago. As the professor type notes early in the clip, the titular creature could not possibly eat enough to stay alive—there’s a reason that modern alligators don’t max out at 36 feet. But the film never quite explains how its villain manages to survive, except to suggest that it’s just really, really adept at chomping on people.

We’ll forgive that plot hole, though, give that screenwriter John Sayles—yes, that John Sayles—did come up with a rather clever way of explaining the gator’s impressive size:

By now you may be wondering how a creature which normally grows to a size of 15 feet, 150-200 pounds in ideal conditions, can be transformed into a two-ton dynamo while living in the cold, murky, dirty sewers of Chicago.

The answer is hormones. An evil lab technician is trying to develop a serum which will accelerate the growth of animals. He experiments on dogs. This technician isn’t exactly another Jonas Salk, and he loses plenty of dogs. The dead dogs are secretly tossed in the sewer where they become, you guessed it, alligator food.

A clip from the final scene, in which the gator crashes a ritzy wedding, can be viewed here. Be forewarned: It features an obviously fake alligator eating several people, including a poor young thing in a French maid costume. A blood-like substance that may or may not be ketchup is visible. There is excessive, high-pitched screaming. And the old guy in the white tux is a loathsome human being.

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4 Comments so far ↓

  • Bashcraft

    I think I saw this as a double feature with Empire of the Ants. Good times.

  • scottstev

    John Sayles is a refreshing Independent Filmmaker in that he works a day-job script-doctoring and directing commercials so that he can fund his complex, character-driven, respectably left-wing films.

  • hubcap

    “I think I saw this as a double feature with Empire of the Ants. Good times.”
    ===
    Whoa. I wasn’t even there and I still want my money back.

  • Sam

    When my (Floridian) wife first saw a decent sized saltwater croc, she abjectly refused to believe it was alive. She was quite shocked when it moved. Of course even salties max out at around 25ft and 1500kg or so, but there was also near-contemporary terrestrial varanid lizard (Varanus. Megalania prisca – around recently enough to prey on modern humans) in Australia that also ran to 7+m and ~1000kg and must have been absolutely terrifying.

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