It's true, some mornings I wake up wanting nothing else but to watch a movie with a guy in a goofy monster costume. And I want the other people in the movie to take the goofy monster guy deadly serious. And then I want the whole thing to be in black and white.
Thankfully, I had something in the Firefly library that fit the bill:
Our story starts out with a doctor and his nurse, Jane, played by Beverly Garland. Jane's been helping her boss out with some experiments in memory. Because of course, as nurses, our first and foremost responsibility is to let doctors experiment on us. It's the first thing you learn in nursing school.
Well, Doc has discovered that Jane has all kinds of craziness in that pretty little head of hers.
Under the influence of some unnamed drug, Jane spills the beans. She claims she has a different name (Joyce) and that she married some dude named Paul and everything was rosy:
They're celebrating, opening congratulatory telegrams, and reminiscing about the accident that Paul was in a while back......that crazy plane crash where he broke all his bones and was all messed up and stuff? The one that he healed up from without so much as a scar? That shit be so crazy!
Oh yeah, that one.....
Suddenly Paul opens a telegram that seems to upset him, and the next thing we know, he's getting off the train at the next stop- and hubby ain't getting back on.
Well, our dear Jane/Joyce is not one to be stopped and manages to find an old address of her husband's - and of course, it's in the Bayou.
And of course, Lon Chaney, Jr. is there. Because well, why wouldn't he be?
This lady and her matronly bosom wholeheartedly deny any knowledge of a man named Paul:
But she lets Jane/Joyce stay the night anyway.
But somewhere else strange goings on are a'brewing......people all wrapped up like mummies and making gurgly noises.
Is it just me or does this remind you of Jiffy Pop too?
Lest you think that Alligator People is all silliness and no substance, take a look at this shot with its beautiful shadows and lighting:
Well, eventually Paul makes an appearance, and Baby ain't lookin' too pretty. And he's also developed a deep, froggy voice.
Hello my baby, hello my honey........
At first Paul plays the 'Don't look at me! I'm horrible, I tell you, HORRIBLE!!!!' card, and runs away.
But Jane/Joyce will not be dissuaded, and chases after Paul into the swamp. This is a part of the movie I really wish I could show you, because it's at once hilarious and scary at the same time. Of course the run through the swamp involve scary creatures, and the first is a reject from The Jungle Cruise at Disney World. You can almost hear the springs creak when its mouth opens and closes.
The next, however, appears to be all too real, and Beverly Garland is literally inches away while the alligator twists and snaps around. And Miss Garland, to her credit, doesn't seem like she even sees the thing. Since we didn't have CGI back in 1959 (thank GOD), I assume if it looks real, it is real.
Back to our film:
So here's the deal. Remember the horrible accident? This crazy doctor injected Paul with reptile hormones (because since a lizard can grow its tail back - that means that lizard hormones will make people rejenerate, right? Makes perfect sense to me!
Whatchoo talking bout, Willis?
And then the doctor explains all this by hooking up a gator to a table and shining a shiny light on it. Because..............of course you would.
Dude, when you shine this bright flashlight at the back of its skull, the light totally comes out of his mouth!
So Mom, Doc, Gator Guy, and Jane/Joyce all decide that the only thing that can be done now is to shine the shiny light on Paul.
Because hot, bright light calms reptiles down. And that will fix his little alligator problem.
All well-dressed Alligator Men wear dockers:
Somehow I think this relationship has went as far as it can go:
But we're going to do the requisite run/chase thing through the bayou anyway.
OMG can it be??????????????????
Mmmmm Hmmmm, it's one of the devices of death that we hold near and dear to our little black hearts here at the Firefly Ranch:
And that's the end of that.
We return to the two doctors who are discussing Jane's case and debating whether or not to tell her the crazy story that she's apparently repressing. In the end they decide, nah, what's the point of upsetting her?
Better living through denial......ain't it pretty, people?
I miss when movies used to say 'The End'. I know it's kind of redundant and all, but it makes me all tingly when I see it. Especially when the filmmakers do something really hokey like add a ? to it, or some phrase like 'Or Is It?'. I'm easy, I know.
So, Yay! For goofy rubber monster suits smothered in black and white. Alligator People is one of the better types of movies of its time, and if you're not familiar with horror/sci-fi films from the 50's, there are worse places you can start.