11 of Richard Lynch’s “Greatest” Hits (to the Balls) – 6. ALLIGATOR II: THE MUTATION (1991) Review

Off-topic note: I haven’t really been proud of a lot of the work I’ve been posting lately, including this review. I think it has to do with a lot of things. Maybe the movie’s too generic, so my writing seems generic. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m forcing myself to write these things, rather than actually wanting to write them. Whatever the case is, a lot of these “reviews” aren’t as funny, witty, provocative, or different as thought they’d be. But still, I must trek on. Now, onto the movie.

German cover for Alligator II: The Mutation (1991).

An even littler-known sequel to a little-known monster croc/gator film, Alligator (1980), this is almost a retread of the original. The first film, directed by Lewis Teague (Cujo, The Jewel of the Nile, Wedlock, and the Pat Morita/Jay Leno classic, Collision Course) and written by John Sayles (Piranha, Battle Beyond the Stars, The Howling, Eight Men Out, Lone Star), was at least a halfway decent monster movie, and probably the best killer croc/gator film until Lake Placid. Fear not, for there’s one person that can save this film: Richard Lynch.

Richard Lynch as Hawk Hawkins in Alligator II: The Mutation (1991).

First of all, there’s pretty much zero connection between the first and second films other than the fact that there’s a humongous alligator walking around and killing people. Secondly, if you’re expecting a lot of blood and gore, seek out a different movie. This was rated PG-13. Sometimes you’ll get some hazy and/or half-assed shots of some dude in the gator’s jaws, but that’s about it. Thirdly, you can’t really be expecting too much out of a direct-to-video sequel, can you? Fourthly, check out the use of Roman numerals in the title. Do they really want us to take this film seriously?

Uh, is that a ‘yes’?

Starring Joseph Bologna (yes, that is his fucking name) as Hodges, a sort of local hero amongst the Latino community who’ve nicknamed him Solo Lobo or some shit; veteran Dee Wallace as his wife (she’s kinda just barely in the movie); Brock Peters as police chief Speed; Steve Railsback as the slimy and corrupt corporate dick named Vinnie; Woody Brown as Hodges’ partner, Rich Harmon; and, uh, a bunch of other fucking people. Seriously, do you give a fuck?

Steve Railsback and Bill Daily in Alligator II: The Mutation (1991).
Guess who the slimy gun-toting corporate dick is and who the wimpy glasses-wearing pencil-necked mayor is.

The main star of this film is Richard Lynch, and he’s only in it for about forty minutes. I know you guys probably expected me to say that, what with this being another Lynch retrospective, but, along with the alligator, he’s the best part of this movie. And I’m dead serious. The film just ambles along aimlessly for the first forty-five or so minutes. Sir Richard shows up as some kind of Cajun alligator-wrassler and all of a sudden the film finds a fresh breath of life. For a while…

Even after being nearly eaten by the alligator.

So, you know, as far as the story goes, it’s pretty simple and stupid: mutated giant alligator wreaks havoc on unsuspecting community. There’s the corporate dick who likes dumping toxic waste into the sewer (gee, I wonder if that was the cause of this mutant gator). There’s the completely useless mayor. There’s the gator-hunter; all of these animal experts from these monster movies are pretty much descended from Quint in Jaws. But Richard Lynch gives a damn fine and fun performance here. Oh yeah, there’s also the waterfront party that the corporate dick and mayor refuse to shut down, conveniently setting up the clichéd “gator attacks party” ending. What brings the story down even more are the gator and the acting.

Stupid people: the primary staple of the movie monster’s diet since forever.

Let’s talk about the gator first. Some of the close-up shots are unbearably fake which can be expected from a low budget DTV movie like this. This is especially true when he’s got a person in his jaws. It’s not bad to the point of laughable though. Which kind of sucks, since you’d rather be laughing some of the pain away. On the other hand, some of the overhead shots look okay, probably because they either filmed a real gator, or got stock footage. The attacks, however, are extremely predictable. For instance, there are two bums in the sewer. They hear a noise. One gets attacked. You can see it all coming three miles away.

Try not to get any of that bum stuck between your teeth.

Second: the acting. This is probably the worst bit. The main character, played by Joseph Bologna, is really just forgettable. It’s great you remind me of John Turturro’s supremely less talented inbred cousin, I guess. But the guy has a hard time carrying a picture. The rest of the cast aren’t really any better, especially the wimpy pussy-whipped mayor and the corporate dick. Why even have this evil corporate guy in the film? Isn’t the alligator villain enough? If you’re going to introduce a human element for our caring, at least fucking try. Richard Lynch singlehandedly saves this picture. Surprisingly cast in a non-villain role, he manages to bring a sense of fun and uncaring to a picture that seems way too full of itself, and yet is still clichéd and shallow. Oh, and if you’re hoping to see a lot of Dee Wallace, search elsewhere. She is barely in this film.

The writing is also pretty terrible. We’ve covered story-wise. But there seems to be a handful of unnecessary scenes. Plus, the pacing is totally off and much the “action” is just repetitive. And, big surprise, we get the dumb ending where the gator crashes the riverfront party. The corporate dick gets eaten by his own creation, and so does Richard Lynch, but only after putting up a spectacular fight. You know what they say though, Lynch: never bring a knife to a gator fight. Joseph Bologna somehow walks out the hero after blowing the gator away with an M72 LAW. Least, I think it was. Let’s just say it gets blowed up real good.

Yes, that’s part of the gator’s jaw.

If you want to see a film where it ambles aimlessly and stupidly along for about forty-five minutes, only to see it saved by a supremely talented actor (who should have been doing bigger and better things), then give this a try. I think Alligator II: The Mutation really showcases how a good performance can bring a movie up a notch. But, hey, it’s just my opinion.

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