Rollergator (1996, Donald G. Jackson)

“We live in a democracy. You can’t just take a little baby gator.”

Thanks heaps to the White Elephant Blogathon for making me watch this.

Original announcement
List of reviews
My pick was The Gate (link is dead)

“Scott Shaw Presents…”

Shaw is behind fifty direct-to-video movies that sounds awesome but are almost certainly not: Samurai Vampire Bikers from Hell, Lingerie Kickboxer, Max Hell Frog Warrior and more.

“A film by Donald G. Jackson…”

Jackson also voices the gator. IMDB says he died in 2003, but he is so productive, he continued making movies through 2009.


Hmmm, the title is on two lines, so is it “Roller Gator” or “Rollergator”? Since the director is partying in b-movie heaven with Ed Wood and Dennis Hopper, we may never know for sure. Aspect ratio is unknown as well – I’m watching a 4:3 frame inside a widescreen window, thanks to Amazon.

Roller (not pictured: gator)

Supposedly Joe Estevez (who has previously explored these themes in Legend of the Roller Blade Seven, Gator King, and Return of the Roller Blade Seven) is running an amusement park, but I’m pretty sure the filmmakers just paid admission (or hopped the fence – I wouldn’t put it past them) and shot Joe shouting dialogue to himself on what looks like a late-80’s camcorder.

Suddenly a ninja is playing loud acoustic guitar while a girl frolics on the beach. Or is that a rifle the ninja is holding? Then who is playing the guitar? Enter the grating voice of the Rollergator, shouting from a cave near the frolicking girl. Oh, special-effects be damned, the gator is just gonna be a hand puppet.

“You’re an alligator. You’re a purple alligator. But you’re purple, and you can talk”. Immediate references to Barney and the electric boogaloo follow. One thing I can say for the alligator puppet – it’s a better actor than this girl (played by Sandra Shuker, also of: nothing), who is apparently going to be our protagonist. I’m not seeing how this even qualifies as a movie. It wouldn’t make the cut at Mystery Science Theater 3000 (on which I’ve seen two previous Joe Estevez flicks: Werewolf and Soultaker) for lack of any qualities whatsoever.

Joe Estevez, also of Lethal Orbit, Fatal Justice and Murder-in-Law, with gator:

Finally the movie kicks it up, with a drum track, some rollerblading, and dutch angles on the ninja.

I wanted to get a motion capture of this scene – after narrowly escaping the least-competent “ninja” ever, the girl rocks slowly on a coin-op ride for 2-year-olds, leaning on the gator exactly like it’s a stuffed animal (which it is) and looking just depressed.

Also, I can no longer make out her dialogue over the guitar music, not that I’m complaining. I think they might’ve left the guitarist in charge of the movie’s final sound mix. Back to Joe Estevez (of Horrorween, Killa Zombies and Caesar and Otto’s Summer Camp Massacre), who talks to his nephew Reggie about locating the gator, which Joe thinks will draw customers to his park, and I just noticed Joe’s cute little ponytail.

Speaking of the amusement park, they get a lot of mileage out of simply filming stuff there: rides, games, displays. Saves money on sets, production design and story, I suppose – although not on talent, since sometimes Joe Estevez (of Hercules in Hollywood, Las Vegas Psycho and The Rockville Slayer) and Reggie are shown joylessly sitting on the rides. The credits claim production design by Sergio Kurosawa, a name that I’m positive was made-up since I didn’t notice any production design. Effects (and I didn’t see any of those either) by Tom Irvin, whose IMDB trivia page tells a heartwarming story of how Clive Barker’s Lord of Illusions helped reunite him with his estranged father. I’m glad that movie served a purpose besides wasting my time.

This facial expression will be referenced later:

The gator is trying to hide from a “crooked carnival owner”, so they go straight to a carnival, agree to talk to carnival worker Reggie’s boss, then act surprised when it turns out to be crooked carnival owner Chi Chi (Joe Estevez of Necronaut, Zombiegeddon and Crimes of the Chupacabra). Oh shit, Joe is having a heart attack! Wait, is this in the script, or is it really happening? Oh he’s okay. Contract negotiations break down and PJ leaves with the gator, taking him to her completely unfurnished apartment. Again with the production design.

Enter the mythical Swamp Farmer (played by mythical Ed Wood actor Conrad Brooks, also of Beast of Yucca Flats, Curse of the Queerwolf and F.A.R.T.: The Movie), who wanders the urban swamp chattering to himself.

Note: lens hood visible in upper-left corner:

There isn’t even an attempt at action – everyone just saunters around, even the supposed ninja, although she does have some high-kicking nunchuck moves. Oh wait, this isn’t the ninja, its the “karate instructor” – my mistake. Her motivation: “I’m gonna return [the gator] to Mr. Dennis, who’s gonna turn him over to the police.” Is Mr. Dennis supposed to be Joe Estevez (of Koreatown, Mexican American and Spanish Fly)? I thought his name was Chi Chi. Chi Chi Dennis? Oh, now the karate lady has turned on her boss and joined PJ and the gator. That was easy.

Our team is joined by another rollerblading girl, this one with a slingshot, who says things like “this is so fly!” The ensuing chase scene is the most exciting bit of the movie so far, seeming to move at more of a light jog than the usual aimless, depressed stroll – I credit the blaring surf guitar on the soundtrack for energizing things. Back at the office, Joe Estevez (of PrimeMates, No Dogs Allowed and Toad Warrior) is not amused that the karate instructor has defected.

Is the cameraman three feet tall? There are telephone lines in every shot:

After a painfully long conversation between slingshot gal and a “friend of pj” who turns out to be the ninja in disguise (or is it out of disguise), the ninja gets away with a decoy backpack and Slingshot tries her best to come up with an appropriate facial expression. Joe Estevez (of Pacino Is Missing, Not Another B Movie and 14 Ways to Wear Lipstick) has an uncomfortable chat with the ninja, then the gator & girl discuss how to find the Swamp Farmer (have I mentioned him lately? Looks like he’s now roaming around abandoned movie sets). A tearful reunion between Farmer and Gator follows.

Finally, after an attempt at a beautiful sunset coda (it’s daylight again a minute later), Joe Estevez (of Green Diggity Dog, Motorcycle Cheering Mommas and Blood Slaves of the Vampire Wolf) has somehow received the “curse of the gator.”

A piss-poor movie which even makes Curse of the Puppet Master look good by comparison. Hardly anyone seems to be trying at all, and the attempts at comedy, drama, entertainment and “rap” music are laughable (except the comedy – that’d be unlaughable).

Rollergator theme song by Elizabeth Mehr (whose band Baby Alive won some MTV award in 1994, claimed she “would like to enlighten the world, and hopefully bring change, peace, and unity through music”) and performed by Magic Man (google suggests this could be a 2009 French electronica duo, a hit rock song by Heart, a Billy Zane movie, or a member of the United States Men’s National soccer team – each seems equally likely).

Fortunately, this dark prophecy has not yet come to pass:

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