During the summer of 1968, a family on holiday in Florida make the foolish decision to buy a young alligator hatchling. On returning to their urban home in Chicago, the family’s patriarch flushes his daughter’s pet reptile — now named ‘Ramon’ — away into the sewer system, only for it to grow into a monster and break out on to the city’s streets twelve years later. Its encounters with humans — principally those who are jointly responsible for its monstrous size and strength — inevitably yield fatal results. This is an accurate narrative description of Alligator (1980), a particularly interesting example of the animal horror film written by John Sayles and directed by Lewis Teague, and enthusiastically described by Lee Gambin as ‘a brilliant example of the post-Jaws eco-horror subgenre’ (2012, p. 62). It is also, of course, a succinct re-telling of an exceptionally prolific and enduring urban legend which is associated with the large urban centres of the United States, particularly New York City: the ‘Alligators in the Sewers’ tale, which suggests there are reptiles living in the sewage networks underneath America’s metropolises.
- Sewer System
- Killer Whale
- Large Urban Centre
- Sewer Worker
- Social Ladder
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© 2015 Craig Ian Mann
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Mann, C.I. (2015). America, Down the Toilet: Urban Legends, American Society and Alligator . In: Gregersdotter, K., Höglund, J., Hållén, N. (eds) Animal Horror Cinema. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137496393_7
Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, London
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Online ISBN: 978-1-137-49639-3