Since the 1930s, one of the favorite American urban legends is that tribes of alligators live in the sewers beneath the cities, growing to huge size after being flushed down the toilet as babies by children who had bought them as pets. It's not really true, especially in places like New York City where the climate is not really suitable for the large reptiles. Sometimes they do end up in storm drains down here, especially after a big storm, but for the most part alligators are not really built to become sewer monsters.
That didn't stop Lewis Teague from using the idea to craft one of the great nature-on-a- rampage films in 1980, Alligator. The movie follows a cop and a reptile expert as they try and track down a 36-foot alligator that has grown monstrous after feeding on genetically altered animal carcasses dumped in the sewers. There's plenty of bloody deaths, rampages through improbable settings and just overall a good time.
It's held up pretty well as a film because of Robert Forster and Robin Riker's unpretentious performances, John Sayles's surprisingly witty and ofttimes satirical script and the fact that it's a movie about a giant freakin' alligator. Alamo Drafthouse will be screening the movie as part of their Weird Wednesday series, but with a twist. Real-life alligators will be on hand.
"We are bringing a few alligators that people can touch to get a feel for what the real animal is actually about and not the cinema portrayal," said Chris Dieter of the Crocodile Experience. "They are 100 percent safe and are always with a handler. I think the film Alligator is so over the top that most Houstonians will recognize it's not an accurate portrayal of the real animal."
Dieter assured us than none of the creatures will exceed four feet.
The Crocodile Experience offers guided boardwalk tours to allow visitors to experience five different species of crocodilians. Among their collection are saltwater crocodiles, the largest known reptile in the world, but don't worry, the habitat is perfectly safe unless you decided to dive over the railings like an idiot. They also do off-site showings such as the one that will be on hand at the Drafthouse.
The first question I, and I'm pretty sure you now, asked when ADH's Robert Saucedo informed me of the event was, "Did at no point when you pitched this to ADH higher ups someone say, 'That sounds insane. Maybe we shouldn't do that?'"
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"I fully expected to get told no when I floated the idea of bringing alligators to the screening but everybody was very cool with the idea and welcomed the reptiles with open arms," said Saucedo. "After hosting the likes of Jason Mewes, Corey Feldman and Crispin Glover, alligators should be no problem for our trained staff to cope with as they're servicing the theater."
The alligators will be on display for an hour before filming starts, and patrons will be allowed to take photos. Handlers will be on duty at all times, and assure us that the animals pose absolutely no danger to patrons that follow the directions given to them.
And you thought Rocky Horror was a wild movie-going experience.
Alligator is showing one night only at the Alamo Drafthouse Mason Park at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, October 10.