If nothing else, ALLIGATOR II: THE MUTATION serves as a reminder of just how surprisingly good the original was. Aided by John Sayles's entertaining screenplay, ALLIGATOR deftly avoided all the traps its schlocky premise set for it. The sequel, however, dives into them headfirst.
More a remake than a sequel, ALLIGATOR II finds another giant alligator on the loose, this time terrorizing some lakeshore property coveted by unscrupulous developer Vincent Brown (Steve Railsback). Brown's been pumping toxic waste into the sewers that feed into the lake, and the resulting
mutation starts to chow down on the Hispanic locals and assorted hobos. Investigating the carnage is cop David Hodges (Joseph Bologna), who finds evidence that the malefactor is big and green.
Conveniently, his wife Christine (Dee Wallace Stone) is a scientist working at a nearby lab, and although their relationship has been strained recently, she agrees to help him. She confirms David's suspicions about a reptilian menace, but he has a hard time convincing his superiors of what's
really going on. As if this wasn't enough of a problem, he's also recently been saddled with a new young partner, Rich Harmon (Woody Brown), whom he'd rather do without. Harmon, meanwhile, has been striking up a romance with a pretty young reporter (Holly Gagnier), who just happens to be the
rebellious daughter of the local mayor (Bill Daily).
Once the monster makes its presence clearly known, a big-game hunter named Hawkins (Richard Lynch) arrives with his Cajun 'gator busters to bag the beast. Of course, the beast turns the tables on them, and then makes an attack at the opening of a nearby amusement park. It falls, naturally, to
David and Harmon to trek down into the alligator's underground lair to destroy it once and for all.
Curt Allen's screenplay demonstrates a surprising lack of knowledge about nearly all its basic subjects--police work, scientific research, business wheeling and dealing--and the resultant lack of verisimilitude only makes ALLIGATOR II more simplistic. All of the character muddling nearly results
in the alligator's becoming a supporting character in its own movie; even so, the story's principals are given only the most surface-level personalities. (You know Brown and his corporate cohorts are bad--they wear SUITS!) And the dialogue is full of howlers, like when Christine, after some
intense scientific investigation, declares, "It's more than an alligator; it's a mutation, it's ... a thing." Later, after a close encounter with the beast, David breathlessly announces, "You're right, it is a thing."
Of course, due to the low budget, it looks more like a regular old alligator crawling around miniature sets--that is, when it doesn't look like a big plastic mockup that glides stiffly through the water like an oversized child's pull-toy. The attack sequences are perfunctory, and tend to get lost
among the unwieldy amount of personal subplots that are shoehorned into the story. One feels less tension than pity for the actors, including Bologna (whose sense of humor goes largely untapped) and Stone (a long way from THE HOWLING and CUJO, much less E.T.). Directed like a TV-movie by Jon Hess
with cinematography to match by the once-dependable Joseph Mangine, ALLIGATOR II is just another needless, disposable video sequel. (Violence.)
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