While I thought what he was initially trying to convey a sentiment akin to having a good observation about even a bad flick, he quickly corrected me by saying, “Bad films are made for specific audiences, but only recommended films are truly worth seeing for their recommended reasons.” Years later, I guess it’s safe to suggest that I’m still not entirely certain he was imparting any wisdom I could understand. Essentially, I think his perception boiled down to little more than flowery prose, and – who knows? – perhaps that’s exactly all he meant it to be in that time and place. Did he mean that I shouldn’t waste my time with bad films? Or did he mean that I should never strive to be a part of their specific audience?
Hell, I’ve no way of knowing.
But … about bad films being made for a specific audience?
There is a bit of wisdom in that observation, and I think it ties in with filmmakers who’ve gone about the business of crafting stories they and their like-minded brethren might find worthwhile. They don’t set out to make a work of art so much as they do to assemble a production to fulfill a purpose, and more often as not that directive is to entertain. Opinions and anuses being what they are, not everyone is going to find humor in such efforts, but that won’t stop those who would traffic in such simple affairs from putting them together, mass producing them for posterity’s sake, and loosing it upon mankind.
That’s exactly how I’d describe a little ‘something something’ like RepliGator: A Bret McCormick Film. It was made entirely for an audience who knew exactly what it was getting. It isn’t good. It isn’t bad. It just is.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last few paragraphs for the final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
From the film’s IMDB.com page citation:
“Army experimentation with transporter devices accidentally turns people into alligators.”
Ah, the bygones days of the corner video store!
Back in that era, you really didn’t know all that you were getting with the latest new release. Oh, the packaging may’ve promised you something bigger than life – say, a government conspiracy run by scientists who were hellbent on crafting the next big weapon for consumption by the military industrial complex. Still, once you got it home, pitched it into the VCR, and hit play, you were astounded with exactly what director Bret McCormick somehow managed to assemble in that fertile ground between film and … well? Not-so-much film.
Now, this is in no way meant to imply that RepliGator is a complete failure. In fact, it very well could be the high point of anyone’s day! This is the kind of film that many of us who grew up in the days of home video would rent. To a small degree, we knew what we were getting into. It has no big name in its cast (though Gunnar Hansen – the original Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and his fans might disagree – was a known quantity). It has no sterling premise. But it did have babes all scantily clad doing their best to bring a measure of sexiness to its cheap laughs. At worst, it’s a waste of videotape. At best, it’s a still cheap diversion.
And, frankly, I did get a few laughs with the running gag of Dr. Fields’ space lazer constantly tripped the laboratory’s circuit breaker at the worst time imaginable. That alone may not have elevated this 86-minute treatise to the point of being classically worthwhile, but the addition of the lovely Brinke Stevens and TJ Myers as the best-looking brainiacs in all of science didn’t hurt matters, either.
Lastly, dare I even mention that McCormick and his occasionally lewd and crude sense of humor most likely wouldn’t see the light of day in today’s trigger-happy climate? There’s an undeniable wholesomeness to such softcore screwball antics at play that modern social justice warriors would want no part of, and I think that’s a sad testament to where we are in history, folks. In this, the display of a woman’s ample breasts was meant to invoke as much harmless laughter as it was to activate the male of our species on a call to duty. We didn’t have to like it, but we weren’t calling to shut down the form of art over something as negligible as flesh, nipples, and a few pleasant areolae.
Good God, I’m old.
RepliGator (1998) was produced by Glen Coburn, Rob Hauschild, and Bret McCormick. DVD distribution (for this particular release) is being coordinated by the fine folks at Visual Vengeance and Wild Eye Releasing. As for the technical specifications? Well … though I’m no trained video expert, it’s pretty clear that this extremely low-budget assault on the senses remains a bit grainy even with this allegedly supervised SD mastering from its original tapes. I guess it’s best to say “you get what you get.” (It ain’t awful.)
As for the special features? Wowza. This collection contains everything but the kitchen sink! Fans can expect to be titillated by:
- Two different audio commentaries;
- Archival ‘making-of’ featurettes and interviews;
- Deleted scenes;
- A Limited edition slipcase;
- New artwork;
- One pair of branded ‘X-Ray Specs;’
- A mini-poster; and
- One sheet VHS sticker set.
Barely – just barely – recommended, mostly as a curiosity more than anything else …
Though I may not be an enthusiast for the cinematic pleasures of Bret McCormick, I can appreciate a job well done, and – on that level – I think there’s a level of mirth sought after by the cast and crew of RepliGator. Arguably, the flick demonstrates that just about anything can be captured on film – doesn’t mean it should be, no – and somewhere sometime someone will give it their best attempt. There’s a harmless and zany atmosphere here meant to be a good time, and I’ll bet those who participated in this shenanigan had some laughs. Audiences might disagree … but you should know without question that you got your 99 cents worth of entertainment when you paid at rental counter.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Visual Vengeance provided me with a complimentary Blu-ray of RepliGator by request for the expressed purpose of completing this review. Their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.