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 ...
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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
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
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.