Beverly Garland (who was, with Allison Hayes, one of the queens of 50s SF) is on ahoneymoon train ride with her new husband Richard Crane. A telegram makes Crane blanch,and he hops off the train at the next stop, disappearing form Garland’s life. She searches for him,finally tracing his last address to The Cypresses, a plantation deep in the Louisiana swamp. Itturns out that Crane is slowly turning into an alligator due to the well-intentioned experimentsof scientist George…Macready, who was trying to apply the regenerative abilities of alligators tomangled accident victims, of which Crane was one. The question now is whether the process canbe reversed, or weather hook-handed drunk Lon Chaney will screw everything up.
The makeup is initially not bad, with Crane looking scaly and deformed. At the climax,however, when everything goes tragically wrong and Crane winds up with the head of analligator, the costume is both obvious and very funny. On the other hand, Karl Struss’photography is gorgeously moody. The film is also interesting for its downbeat tone, where theonly villain is a drunk, everyone else is trying their best, and tragedy is still inevitable. BeverlyGarland turns in a typically feisty performance, wading through swamp and muck and steppingover live alligators. At the end, she gives us what could well be a unique moment in the historyof Monster And The Girl sequences: here the Girl is chasing after the Monster.
The sound comes in both stereo and the original mono. The stereo has a warm sound to it,but the left-right separation is virtually undetectable. Similarly, there is only the faintest traceof sound emerging from the rear speakers. The good side of this is that there are surround voicesand other inappropriate effects. Midway through the film, a rhythmic ticking makes its presentheard on the soundtrack.
Previously only available in fullscreen, the picture is at last presented in its full 2.35:1anamorphic widescreen glory, which aids the atmosphere of the film no end. The print is veryclean, with only a tiny bit of speckling and other very minor damage, and no real grain or edgeenhancement problems. The picture is sharp, with terrific tones and blacks.
There trailers here for the feature, both versions of The Fly, The Omen andPhantom of the Paradise. A rather eclectic mix of horror films. The menu is basic.
Though let down by preposterous makeup, this is still an enjoyable slice of vintageSF/horror, one that is much more thematically rich than you might at first suppose.
Special Features List
- Theatrical Trailer
- Bonus Trailers