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Down in the Bayou: “Alligator X”

January 3, 2012

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I’m afraid I have to start 2012 on a note of slight disappointment with the film Alligator X (also known as Xtinction: Predator X). See when I saw that title I thought it was an alternate take on the life of Malcolm X, only using an alligator rather than a militant black man. So, I picked up the DVD imagining 85 minutes of an anthropomorphic alligator in a dashiki being all like, “By any means necessary, whitey-non-reptile!” Hopefully in the voice of Samuel L. Jackson (what? Like, he wouldn’t do it if you paid him enough). Tell me a militant negro alligator with Samuel L. Jackson’s voice wouldn’t be awesome. Yeah, probably unsurprisingly, the movie’s not about that. Instead we just get a bad cgi dinosaur eating people in Louisiana.

Okay, so this movie begins more or less where you’d expect: with a couple dudes getting eaten by a giant monster the filmmakers wisely keep off camera. In this case it’s a couple of Sheriff’s deputies, whose combined brain-power, on the basis of their dialogue, could maybe master the TV Guide crossword puzzle. Okay, so far so good. Darwinism at work. Then we meet the Sheriff, Tim Richards (Lochlyn Munro), who, with the abrupt eating of 2/3rds of his police force is stuck with only his little brother as a Deputy Sheriff. Of course, at this point, he still doesn’t know what killed his men–just something hinky.

Enter Laura Le Crois (Elena Lyons), a local girl who’s returned to the bayou from New Orleans to operate her dad’s swamp-charter business in the wake of his mysterious disappearance. Now, at this point I made false assumption #2 about this film. With Lyons’s dead-eyed, flat-as-the-topography-of-Illinois delivery, and her totally inappropriate-for-swampland outfit of a fitted shirt, short skirt, and spiked heels, it suddenly seemed to make sense: This is a porno film! It even has X in the title! Makes perfect sense, right? You’d think the same thing, I’m sure.

Yeah, no. I’s just your basic monster movie. See, Laura La Crois was married to disgraced college Doctor Charles LeBlanc (Mark Shepard, aka the annoying lawyer in BSG). He’s back in town and looking for her father, so he can buy up their swampland from him. Wait? Why would this guy be so interested in buying swampland? And does it have anything to do with La Crois’s pappy’s disappearance and/or the monster attacks?

Um, yes. Yes, it does. Laura learns this when she takes a young couple out on the swamp, so the dude can propose to his girlfriend. In the process, she spies two rednecks feeding her dad to a gigantic alligator-like monster in the swamp. Unfortunately, the rednecks spot them and take them prisoner. In short order, Laura learns that Charles has returned to Louisiana to breed a prehistoric alligator, and he needs pappy’s land, because it is the only place in the river that’s nutrient-rich enough to support the monster.

So, from there, the movie is a long chase through the swamp, as Laura and the couple escape the rednecks, get recaptured, re-escape et cetera. While this is happening, Sheriff Tim spends most of the film stuck in a tree. Finally, they all team up and kill the rednecks, the mad scientist, and the monster. Well, actually, the rednecks kill each other off. And the monster kills the mad scientist. And Laura’s until-this-point-unseen mother appears from nowhere to blow up the monster. You know, these characters aren’t the most active of protagonists.

So on top of that wafer-thin plot we also have:

* Laura takes the couple onto the swamp at sunset. A moment later, when she is investigating some screams she hears, it’s pitch-black outside. Literally, there is no lapse in time. It goes from sunset to past midnight in, like, two minutes.

* So, this movie takes place in the swamps of Louisiana, which, as I understand it, is pretty hot and humid. Yet everyone in this movie wears multiple layers and, in one case, a knit hat. Except for the women who all wear light tops or bikini tops. Um…what temperature is it supposed to be?

* Holy shit, the cgi on this monster looks less realistic than the graphics on “Angry Birds.”

* Actual dialogue: “He wasn’t just fired. He was banned from teaching in Louisiana or the United States.” Um…Louisiana is in….never mind.

* I’m still unclear on Charles’s plan here. 1) Clone dinosaur-alligator, 2) set it loose in the swamps of Louisiana to breed, 3) ???, 4) $$$$. It’s that step 3 I’m not so clear on.

* Where and how did this dude clone a dinosaur-alligator? That strikes me as the kind of thing you can’t just do in your Motel 8 bathroom.

* The last scene of the movie has everyone preparing to live happily ever after, with the Sheriff and Laura trading flirtatious banter. It’d be heartwarming if 1) Laura hadn’t witnessed her father’s murder by dinosaur-alligator 24 hours earlier; 2) Sheriff Tim hadn’t discovered his brother’s dead body earlier that day. Okay, there’s shaking off a traumatic event, and then there’s borderline-sociopathology…

So, that’s Alligator X. Yeah, this would have made a better porno…

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