Alligator People1959

Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi
When Jane's husband disembarks from a passenger train immediately after their wedding and disappears without a trace, troubling questions are raised. How could his face, mangled beyond recognition in a plane crash during the war, have healed without any scarring? And what unspeakable acts took place on the alligator-ridden bayou plantation he left as an address? Wonderfully haunted, The Alligator People explores the mystery with skillful pacing, generally decent dialogue, and only intermittently laughable special effects. Miscegenation, anxiety over radiation and atomic science, homoeroticism, distrust of doctors and medicine, fear of the American South--all the major cultural obsessions of the late '50s are either tacitly or explicitly represented here; perhaps that's why the far-fetched scientific premise that underlies the plot makes a weird resonance despite its utter implausibility. The ubiquitous Lon Chaney is on hand, and his performance as a drunken swamp rat with a penchant for violence is a hoot; but the real star of the show is Beverly Garland, whose inspired lead, alternately detached and histrionic, decidedly puts to rest the myth of the inelasticity of early sci-fi and horror performers. A winner. --Miles Bethany

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