Lake Placid: Monster vs. Cow

A giant crocodile chases a swimmer in a lake.
Movie poster art for Lake Placid. Credit: 20th Century Fox.

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 paleontologist 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.


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 crocodile.

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.

Product Details

  • Lake Placid
  • Starring: Bill Pullman, Bridget Fonda, Oliver Platt, Betty White
  • Directed by: Steve Miner
  • Running time: 82 minutes
  • Rating: R
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