Twelve years after a little girl’s alligator is flushed down the toilet by her father, body parts start showing up at the local sewage treatment plant. David Madison (Robert Forster) is the detective (haunted by his past, of course) assigned to the case, who must contend with his captain, city hall, the tabloids, an unscrupulous pharmaceutical company, and male pattern baldness, all while a giant gator is picking off cops and sewer workers, and starting to chomp its way up the socioeconomic ladder. David teams up with herpetologist Marisa Kendall (Robin Riker)—the girl who bought the alligator now all grown up—to try and stop the rampaging reptile. Featuring notable character actors (Henry Silva chewing his way through the scenery as the big-game hunter brought in to handle the beast is a particular highlight) and a script from John Sayles that’s smarter than it has any right to be, this is one of the all-time creature-feature classics.

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