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Il Fiume del Grande Caimano

Great Alligator River
Alligators / The Big Alligator River / Der Fluss der Mörderkrokodile / Die heilige Bestie der Kumas

Italy 1979
produced by
Dania Film/Medusa Produzione
directed by Sergio Martino
starring Barbara Bach, Claudio Cassinelli, Mel Ferrer, Romano Puppo, Richard Johnson, Geneve Hutton, Silvia Collatina, Fabrizia Castagnoli, Enzo Fisichella, Lory Del Santo, Bobby Rhodes
written by Luigi Montefiori (= George Eastman), Sergio Martino, Ernesto Gastaldi, Cesare Frugoni, Mara Maryl, music by Stelvio Cipriani

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Always make sure of DVD-compatibility !!!
David Nelson (Claudio Cassinelli) is hired to take some pictures of a hotel complex somewhere deep in the jungle by the hotel's owner Joshua (Mel Ferrer), but he immediately has bad feelings about the hotel's corruption of both nature & the neighbouring natives, the alligator-worshipping Kumas. The only one sharing his doubts is anthropologist turned hotel-manager Alice (Barbara Bach), but since she's working at the hotel there's little she can do to change the situation. However, even these doubtful two couldn't foresee in what drastic way they were right ...

It all starts when Joshua's lovely assistant Sheena (Geneve Hutton) & a native disappear, & their canoe turns up the next day with giant bitemarks. Noone at the hotel but David wants to believe it was an alligator though, so he & Alice head for the Kuma's village to look for answers, only to find out they are not welcome anymore. From a mad hermit (Richard Johnson) living nearby, they learn of the Kumas' alligator god though, an enormous reptile that seems to really exist (but would you believe a mad hermit ?) - this claim is proven when the alligator god attacks their boat & kills their native guide, incidently the son of the Kumas' chief.

Back at the hotel, Daniel wants to radio that incident to the next police but is instead thrown violently out of the radio-room by Joshua's head-thug Peter (Romano Puppo). It does however soon seem as if the hotel is really threatened when the hotel's helicopter - the only link to the outside world - is thrown into the water, the radio is sabotaged & Alice is kidnapped.

Joshua however is head-bent to not scare off his tourists & organizes a night cruise through the bay adjoining the hotel, while Daniel finds out the Kumas have tied Alice to a raft to sacrifice her to their god, & he tries to save her on his own - which sounds scarier that it is since the alligator god is busy attacking the tourists raft while the Kumas are busy killing off those tourists who are still at the hotel.

It is only when Daniel & Alice try to make their getaway in a small bus that the Kumas notice them & break down the bridge they are driving over, delivering them directly to their alligator god. Daniel can save himself & alice though, & with some dynamite he finds lying about blow up the alligator for good. This even makes the Kumas happy ...

 

After the unprecedented (& inexplicable) success of the dull, big budget animal horror trash movie Jaws (1975), in which a shark attacks tourists, animal horror movies were en vogue for several years.

Even though Il Fiume del Gran Caimano/Great Alligator River was made at the tail end of this boom, it is one of the better entries, since it manages to tell a straightforward adventure/horror story in a straightforward way, doesn't have a wagonload of subplots to distract from the main story, it keeps the proceedings at a reasonable pace, & does include some suspense scenes & a bit of gore ... & then there's of course lovely Barbara Bach, who's just a feast to look at - even though here she has to do little more than go shriek & call for (male) assistance on command ... maybe not her (or anybody's) most feminist role.

The alligator effects though are pretty bad, but for the sake of suspense, the beast is kept off screen most of the screen time anyways.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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