Watch Sewer Gators, Regret It Later

Reviewing the shlock horror comedy Sewer Gators

As good as it gets.

Sewer Gators seems like a solid way to pass a good time, but pump the brakes—it’s not for everyone. Such as people who can see. Though a delightfully mockable late-night movie that revels in its own absurdity, this creature feature isn’t for anyone who wants quality. Even as a horror comedy, Sewer Gators trips as often as it triumphs. Yet, it never really breaks even.

The central premise is that vicious alligators have begun coming out of the sewers and attacking citizens of a small Louisiana community. Despite the sheriff recognizing the danger early on, especially with the help of a scientist, the mayor possesses zero desire to curtail plans for the upcoming 50th Annual Thibodeuax Alligator Festival. This fais do-do is too big a moneymaker for the town to miss out. Fortunately, as gator gore escalates, attitudes shift, and a Cajun loner who hates all Alligatoridae is hired to take out the biggest snapper.

If the plot sounds a skosh familiar, that’s because Sewer Gators liberally borrows from Jaws in ways that could be charitably called homage. From the opening, however, the film is very self-aware of its situation. As such, any doubts about how seriously to take things are alleviated by the snarky opening credits. Although, the relief of that revelation is short-lived.

Kenny Bellau and Manon Pages as Sheriff Mitchell and alligator expert Laura in the horror comedy Sewer Gators
Kenny Bellau and Manon Pages

The movie is meant to be a comedy. At times that works to its advantage. There’s no denying a few occasions when the humor hits. The problem is that even when Sewer Gators leans into jokiness, however much that occludes imperfections, the film is still flawed.

Some performances are fine. The main cast is certainly giving a sincere effort. Sheriff Mitchell played by Kenny Bellau seems sent by central casting. Manon Pages portrays zoologist Laura with a believable exasperation as the situation she warns of worsens. And Sean Phelan’s Mayor Bobby is a credible comedic caricature of a cliché Southern politician. Honorable mentions include Sophia Brazda and Austin Naulty. However, though the rest of the cast look the part of townsfolk from a community that’s main economy is alcoholism, they don’t do much to smooth out the rough edges.

Another flaw is the comedy itself. This isn’t a parody of any particular subgenre or film. That opportunity got chucked in the gator pit, pauvre bête. Worse, some gags that can get laughs are awkwardly jammed into the picture. For instance, a recurring joke involves local TV journalist Brock Peterson (played by writer, director, and apparently actor Paul Dale). Every time he broadcasts a report, the caption under his name is some sarcastic jab at Peterson. Although I did laugh at one or two—“Once tried to punch Betty White”—there’s never really a reason for this.

Paul Dale lounging in a hot tub about to be attacked by a very fake looking alligator in Sewer Gators
Something about that gator is off.

The humor mainly seems focused on the absurdity of the situation as well as a way of excusing low-budget effects. The actual alligators in Sewer Gators are often obviously fake and blood appears to be one of Heinz’s 57 varieties. That is to say, ketchup. The downside is that when jokes don’t land, the poor quality stands out more. It’s like getting bit by two bad movies at the same time.

Still, there’s a place for such movies among beer and pizza aficionados. Those who’ve gathered together at places like Joe Bob’s Drive-In to laissez les bon temps rouler. Sewer Gators is ample fodder for a private cocktail hour bad movie night—and hour is the appropriate term since the film clocks in at just a little over sixty minutes. In that respect, at least Sewer Gators doesn’t overstay its welcome.

Unfortunately, anyone looking for a quality comedic creature feature is likely to be left wanting. Enduring this movie might be the equivalent of drinking polluted swamp water. It’s something that’s fine to win a bar bet but shouldn’t be done for fun. Comedy could’ve been a saving grace, but jokes are sophomoric at best, most relying on recycled redneck clichés too old to be born alive.

This may seem like a cop-out, recommending this to one crowd while rejecting it for another. And skipping along a picket fence hoping to be in two parties at once is more likely to result in wood spearing a skipper’s crotch than a good time. So that said, even when recommended, Sewer Gators isn’t a top-tier feature. Its short length makes the flick acceptable as an appetizer during a movie marathon building to a better film. The price doesn’t hurt either, currently available on Amazon for $0.99.

Sewer Gators isn’t the best comedy creature feature. It’s not even in the top fifty out of fifty. What makes it worse is the sense of lost potential. What it infrequently does right only highlights where the movie goes wrong. And lamentably, bad beginnings tend to fashion bad endings. Granted, some folks may get a chuckle after a few alligator-themed drinks, but in all likelihood, it’ll be conversations and jokes with friends about the movie more than Sewer Gators bringing the funny.

So, mes amis, the choice is all about personal preference. Those seeking a creature feature with gut-busting comedy can float on down the bayou leaving this one behind. No loss. Others, who may consider themselves MSTies, won’t find a crown jewel, though Sewer Gators passes the time better than nothing. Ultimately, this is a wax alligator walking in the sun. Either enjoy it melting or look away.

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Written by Jay Rohr

J. Rohr is a Chicago native with a taste for history and wandering the city at odd hours. In order to deal with the more corrosive aspects of everyday life he writes the blog and makes music in the band Beerfinger. His Twitter babble can be found @JackBlankHSH.

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