Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Ragin Cajun Redneck Gators

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Whoever said that no one ever sets out to make a bad movie obviously never saw a Syfy Original. The network that used to spell its name in a sensible way and make the occasional attempt at quality programming now seems to specialize almost exclusively in unwatchable garbage. Battlestar Galactica was a long, long time ago.


Occasionally, the Syfy method will result in a Sharknado, the sort of self-conscious trash where the plot absurdities, tragic acting, and pixilated artifice pile up quickly enough to induce a sort of slack-jawed fascination. At the other end of the spectrum is Ragin Cajun Redneck Gators, in which the nonsense quickly calcifies into boredom. The story, such as it is, concerns a pair of feuding clans in bayou country, the Doucettes and the Robichauds. When Avery Doucette (Jordan Hinson) returns home from the big city and rekindles her romance with Dathan Robichaud (John Chriss), the bad blood dating back over 100 years comes to a boil.

The tension heats up when the Robichauds catch the Doucettes poaching gators on their land. Unbeknownst to either clan, the bad batch of blue moonshine the Robichauds recently dumped in the swamp has had an adverse effect on the local alligator population, causing them to mutant into super-sized gators with spikes on their tails—spikes that can be discharged like porcupine quills. The gators go on a rampage, chomping Doucette and Robichaud alike, until the sheriff has no choice but to call in an expert: the star of the hit reality series The Gator Whisperer.

Of course, this is a wink at the swamp-reality genre that no doubt inspired Redneck Gators in the first place. The supporting characters are all yahoos with unruly beards, mush-mouthed accents and only the finest hillbilly dentistry. There’s even a tongueless banjo boy hanging around in the background, at least until he gets eaten. Now, I have no problem with a little good ol’ fashioned hixploitation—after all, I wrote the book on it—but the stereotypes on display here are so lazy and offensive, they make Larry the Cable Guy look like the pinnacle of sophistication.

The Doucettes and Robichauds combine their firepower to take down the mutant gators and a mutual celebration commences, suggesting that the ages-old feud might be settled at last. But writers Keith Allan, Rafael Jordan, and Delondra Williams have one more trick up their sleeves (bringing the total to one): Those who have been bitten by the critters will in turn mutate into giant gators, meaning that the Doucettes and Robichauds must both turn against their own kind (now in convenient reptile form).

As we've come to expect from Syfy, the special effects are eyesores, the acting ranges from broad-side-of-a-barn caricature to sheer catatonia, and the dialogue is unspeakable. But Redneck Gators commits the cardinal sin for this type of shlock: It's incredibly boring. So much time is devoted to the star-crossed romance between Avery and Dathan, you'd almost think we're supposed to care about it.  Meanwhile, the gator attacks are all very predictable and alike; there are no forehead-slapping moments of dimwitted ingenuity, as when Ian Ziering chainsawed his way out of a shark's belly.

But this is where we are with the modern-day exploitation movie. Back in the Corman/AIP days, exploitation may have been a disreputable form, but there was still a great deal of creativity on display. Low-budget genre pictures were a breeding ground for major talent, whereas now they’re mostly an end unto themselves. Back then, as long as you had a catchy title and the right image for the poster, you had tremendous freedom to do whatever you could get away with, as long as it was within the budget. In the age of the Syfy Original, however, making bad movies on purpose seems to be the only goal. A movie called Ragin Cajun Redneck Gators could just as easily be inventive and fun, but it’s content to be prime-time product filling the gaps between Cialis commercials.


Stray observations:

  • There is one almost-interesting performance in the movie. Whoever played the heavy-smoking Doucette matriarch (it’s not clear from the IMDb page) sounded like she had a Brillo pad stuck in her throat. Maybe that’s her real voice and I’m giving her too much credit.
  • There’s more tobacco-spitting in this movie than in a four-game Red Sox/Yankees series. But not quite as much as in the Hatfields & McCoys miniseries.