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"Goodbye, Jean-Luc, I'm gonna miss you. You had such potential. But then again, all good things must come to an end."
- Q, Star Trek: TNG

Lake Placid: Monster vs. Cow

by Ken Newquist / August 2, 2010

 Lake Placid

Back when the Blackrazor Guild still played D&D, we had a list of standard battle tactics. They were things like "spring the ambush then fight your way out", "lightning bolt in a short corridor", "fireball at your feet" and the classic "stake out a cow to lure the monster into the open".

Lake Placid is our kind of movie. Set in Maine, the movie involves a monster taking up residence in a lake. The creature starts killing people, including Fish & Game agents counting beavers, which leads an eccentric band of monster hunters to descend on the lake. They consist of Fish & Game agents led by Jack Wells (Bill Pullman), Sheriff's offices led by Sheriff Hank Keough (Brendan Gleeson), a palentologist from New York City named Kelly Scott (Bridget Fonda) and Hector Cyr (Oliver Platt) rich-but-crazy mythology professor who loves to swim with giant reptiles.

Once there they have to contend with a crotchety old woman Delores Bickerman (Betty White) who seems sweet enough, but has the mouth of a trucker ("this is the part where if I had a dick I'd tell you to suck it.") as well as the monster lurking beneath the lake's still, black waters.

The movie's more about the characters than the monster; their quirks and the comedy that arises from them drive things forward as much as the creature. It's not a fall-down funny movie -- Tremors is far better as a creature feature comedy -- but is an amusing one.

Even more so for me, because like Deep Rising, watching this movie is like watching my gamer friends in action, up to and including using a helicopter to dangle a terrified cow in the lake as a lure for the monster (though in our case, we staked a cow in the middle of the field as bait for a dragon...).

Plausible Mayhem

Lake Placid ties Jaws for the most plausible monster during Monster Week 2010.

*** MINOR SPOILER ALERT ***

I have to give Lake Placid credit for going with a mundane monster for the flick; they could have gone with some sort of imagined dinosaur creature like Champ (of Lake Champlain fame) but they went with something from the real world: a crocidle.

Admittedly, it's a huge stretch that such a creature could end up in a New England lake, but the 30 foot length attributed to the Lake Placid croc is only about seven feet longer than the largest crocodile on record. (Source: Wikipedia). Plus, with the largest captive crocodile measuring 20 feet long and weighing a ton, this is a monster that someone could actually run into.

Final Analysis

If you're planning a Saturday creature feature marathon, Lake Placid deserves a place in the line-up. While it lacks Jaws' iconic status, its one-liners and occasional good scare make it worth watching.

Comments

Lake Placid is my favorite man-eating crocodilian movie of OMG Evar. In fact, it's one of my favorite monster movies of all time, too. In the realm of "natural" monsters (meaning those of terrestrial origin and not mucked around with by Science), Lake Placid even ranks above Jaws, thanks to a sense of humor and a critter that looks reasonably not-fake the majority of the time it's actually on-screen.

High praise, sir, high praise indeed.

On a somewhat related note, it occurs to me that in the whole "giant reptiles that could really kill you" category, we could add Anaconda and its sequels, but none were nearly as good as Lake Placid.

Anaconda just took itself too seriously, and dropped a few notches in my book. Snakes on a Plane is another one we could throw out there, but frankly it just didn't hit the right mix of camp, comedy and horror (unlike Slither, Tremors and Lake Placid).