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Alligator (1980)

A baby alligator is flushed down a Chicago toilet and survives by eating discarded laboratory rats injected with growth hormones. The small reptile grows gigantic, escapes the city sewers, and goes on a rampage.


Lewis Teague


John Sayles (screenplay), John Sayles (story) | 1 more credit »
536 ( 2,914)
2 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Forster ... David
Robin Riker ... Marisa
Michael V. Gazzo ... Chief Clark (as Michael Gazzo)
Dean Jagger ... Slade
Sydney Lassick ... Gutchel (as Sidney Lassick)
Jack Carter ... Mayor
Perry Lang ... Kelly
Henry Silva ... Brock
Bart Braverman ... Kemp
John Lisbon Wood John Lisbon Wood ... Mad Bomber
James Ingersoll James Ingersoll ... Helms
Robert Doyle Robert Doyle ... Bill
Patti Jerome Patti Jerome ... Madeline
Angel Tompkins ... Newswoman
Sue Lyon ... ABC Newswoman


Ramon the alligator is flushed down the toilet as a baby and grows into a gargantuan monster by eating the corpses of laboratory animals who have undergone dubious hormone experiments, thus providing all the ecological and social subtext that one could possibly wish for, even if one doesn't normally go for films about giant alligators eating people left, right, and center--which is the inevitable and tragic result of Ramon's decision that the outside world looks rather more interesting than the sewers.... Written by Michael Brooke <michael@everyman.demon.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


It lives 50 feet beneath the streets. It weighs over 2,000 pounds. It's killed five people already...And it's about to break out! See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

14 November 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El cocodrilo mortal See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »


Box Office


$1,500,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Alligator See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (theatrical cut)

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Col. Brock's rifle is a Remington Model 7600 with a telescopic sight. See more »


When the alligator attacks Slade's limousine and the camera is on Slade, the car is continually rocking as if being hit. When the scene shifts to the limo driver, the car is still. See more »


Mayor: And if they traced it back to the company
Slade: You'd be out of a job, for one thing.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The UK cinema version was cut by the BBFC to heavily edit scenes of gore, including shots of legs being bitten off, a car being destroyed by the alligator and victims being eaten alive during the garden party attack, and to remove one instance of the word 'fuck' in order for the film to receive an 'A' (PG) certificate. The cuts were waived in 1991 when the certificate was raised to a 15, and all subsequent releases are fully uncut. See more »

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User Reviews

Urban legend played out on the big screen.
1 June 2008 | by TOMASBBloodhoundSee all my reviews

Either this film is based on an urban legend, or it inspired one. I'm not sure which. Alligator is a skillfully made horror film based on the premise of flushing a small pet down the toilet and it one day growing to an enormous size. The title of the film pretty much says it all. Though the film is creepy, and filled with gore, this is one of those horror films that knows its really kidding when all is said and done.

The film kicks off with an alligator attack at a wildlife refuge park somewhere in the south. A daredevil in a pit with some alligators just about has his leg torn off whilst a frightened crowd looks on. "Sometimes the gators win," the announcer points out over the loudspeaker after the victim is hauled out to safety. A little girl in the audience is so taken by a baby alligator that she buys one and takes it back home with her. One day her angry father, for no reason that I could discern, flushes the tiny gator down the toilet. Flash ahead twelve years later and....

Body parts start turning up in the sewer system. A cop (Forster) and his partner take a look around in the sewer to see if there's anything wrong down there. Big mistake! The partner becomes gator food, and we finally get a good look at what the pet gator has become. It seems that for years, a local chemical company has been dumping the corpses of genetically enhanced animal test subjects down in this sewer system. The alligator from the beginning has been eating these animals for years and has grown to the size of a large sedan. Not including the tail! The police send a swat team into the sewer to find the beast, but all it does is drive him up into the city where he terrorizes anyone in his path. It is up to Robert Forster and a pretty biologist to find and destroy the gator before he eats up the city.

The film is a decent mix of horror and humor. Some scenes, like a boy falling into a swimming pool and being eaten are absolutely terrifying. Especially since this kind of thing does sometimes happen in Florida and places in the deep south. Other scenes, like when the alligator breaks up a wedding reception, border on hilarious. Not only does this gator have a sharp bite, but he also can whip the heck out of you with his tail! He whips one unlucky guest right through the wedding cake! Then, he destroys and entire limo by just swatting it with his tail! You have to see it to believe it. The film has an abrupt, yet exciting conclusion. The acting is quite believable, and the cast is full of recognizable faces. Great support from Michael Gazzo, and Henry Silva! John Sayles of all people wrote this film, and you can get a feel for his intelligence and sense of humor at every turn. Lewis Teague, who was quite successful in the 1980s, gives great direction. Definitely worth a look. 6 of 10 stars.

The Hound.

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