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Big Alligator River, The 
Written by: on September 14th, 2005

Theatrical Release Date: Italy, November 3rd, 1979
Director: Sergio Martino
Writers: Cesare Frugoni, Ernesto Gastaldi, Sergio Martino, Luigi Montefiore, Maria Chianetta
Cast: Barbara Bach, Claudio Cassinelli, Mel Ferrer, Romano Puppo

DVD released: September 27th, 2005
Approximate running time: 89 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English, Dolby Digital Mono Italian
Subtitles: English
DVD Release: No Shame
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95

Synopsis: Joshua (Mel Ferrer) is a wealthy business man who has built a resort in a tropical paradise. Joshua hires photographer Daniel Nessel (Claudio Cassinelli) to take photographs to help promote his new resort. Things start to go wrong when the model that came with Daniel disappears the night before the resort has its grand opening. Joshua not wanting to start a panic covers up the model’s disappearance. Daniel with the help of Alice Brandt (Barbara Bach) search for the missing girl. They soon find out that the Kuma natives’ god Kroona a giant alligator is angered by the modernization of his sacred land exacts its revenge by devouring everyone in its path.

In the 1970’s if something was successful in Hollywood chances are the Italian film industry would then make countless cheap knock offs. Most of these films were released around the world and very few would ever see theatrical exhibitions in North America. Sergio Martino more than any other director working at the time in Italy shifted effortlessly from genre to genre crafting several genre classics.

Steven Spielberg’s Jaw’s is obviously the main influence that inspired Sergio Martino’s The Big Alligator River. Which has a underwater creature that feasts mainly on tourists. The shark in Jaw’s and the alligator in this film suffer similar demises. The films exotic locals are beautifully photographed and as usual Sergio Martino’s direction is solid as he fills the film with his distinctive style. The alligator does look cheap at times still the underwater photography is extremely effective. The plot isn’t exactly original as its takes several theme’s from various creature films that now all feel cliche. The acting in this film is merely adequate as no one really stands out or shines. Bond girl Barbara Bach provides eye candy in her limited screen time and Mel Ferrer is entertaining as the unscrupulous business man. Out of the various genres that Sergio Martino has worked in the action adventure genre is the one that holds the least interest with me. The Big Alligator River is an above average B film that has a few moments that bring on unintentional laughter and to its credit this film effective keeps the alligator off screen as much as possible not to give away how cheap it looks. Content wise The Big Alligator River is a cross between the animal vs. people films of the 1970’s and the action adventure stories written by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Overall The Big Alligator River is not one of Sergio Martino’s strongest efforts; still it offers plenty of action and adventure that is distinctively Italian.

The DVD:

No Shame presents The Big Alligator River in an anamorphic widescreen. This high definition transfer has been sourced from the restored original vault 2p negative and it is available for the first time ever on DVD in its original aspect ratio and uncut. This progressive scan transfers boasts strong colors that look evenly saturated and flesh tones look natural. The black levels remain strong through out as there is an exceptional amount of detail present in every frame. There are many scenes that take place at night or under water and the overall clarity in the image are amazing. For this release No Shame finally makes the switch from interlaced to progressive scan and now all the hard work that they put into their transfers can be seen to its fullest capability. Colors and flesh tones look natural and are nicely saturated throughout. Black levels are rich and deep as the amount of detail present in every frame in exceptional. There are no problems with compression, artifacts and edge enhancement is kept to a minimum. Overall No Shame’s release is the best looking version of The Big Alligator River currently available on DVD as it is superior to X-Rated Kult’s region 2 DVD in every way.

This DVD comes with two audio options the film’s original Italian language track and an English dubbed track both are presented in a Dolby Digital mono. Both audio sources sound clean and are in great shape. There are no problems with background noise or other sound defects. The music and effects sound robust and evenly mixed as they never drown out or distort the other. For this review I primarily listened to the English audio track, still I like the fact that an alternate audio option was offered. English subtitles have been included that are easy to follow and understand.

Extras for this release include the film’s original English and Italian trailers. There is also a brief Poster and Still gallery that had music playing in the background while you look at the pictures. Other extras include a collectible booklet that includes bios for Sergio Martino, Barbara Bach, Claudio Cassinelli and Mel Ferrer as well as a piece that Richard Harland Smith about the film The Big Alligator River. Rounding out the extras is a thirty five minute documentary “In The Croc’s Nest” that includes interviews with Sergio Martino and the film’s production designer Antonello Geleng. This documentary is actually two separate interviews the first with Sergio Martino which lasts about twelve minutes and the remainder of the time is with Antonello Geleng. Martino spends most of the interview discussing his other films and very little time talking about The Big Alligator River. Antonello Geleng interview is the more fascinating of the two since he is new to the mix and offers a fresh insight that hasn’t been covered in other interviews with Martino. Overall No Shame has put together another solid DVD that comes with a few enticing extras.

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