LAKE PLACID (1999)
Horror/comedy takes place at a remote lake in Maine where a diver has been chewed up by something living beneath the waters. NYC Paleontologist Kelly Scott (Bridget Fonda) is sent up to investigate and she teams up with Fish and Game officer Jack Wells (Bill Pullman) and local sheriff Hank Keough (Brendan Gleeson) to find out what hungry critter has now made Black Lake it’s hunting ground. To their horror, a massive 30 ft. crocodile has taken up residence there and now they need to find a way to stop the monster reptile.
Fun nature run amok flick is directed by Steve (Friday the 13th part 2 & 3) Miner, from a script by David E. Kelley, that mixes the horror and humor elements very well. There is some solid suspense, some really well done action sequences and enough humor mixed in, for it to be a really entertaining 82 minutes. The story is very familiar and basic and the explanation for the creature’s presence there is a bit thin. On the plus side, it’s fast paced and there is enough carnage to secure an R rating, but not too much as to scare away mainstream audiences. The healthy budget is up on screen and there are a bunch of very likable characters to frolic with Stan Winston’s animatronic crocodile…with some reasonably well-done CGI critter scenes mixed in. One with an ill-fated grizzly bear stands out as very effective and amusing. It’s a good-time popcorn thriller that never tries to be more than the big budget B-movie it is and even if it’s nothing new story-wise, Miner milks the familiar scenario for the most he can get out of it.
The cast are all solid in their roles and seem to all have a good chemistry on film. Pullman is a charming, yet gruff hero who matches up perfectly with Fonda’s cute but nerdy scientist. Gleeson is fun as the bumpkin local sheriff and Oliver Platt is equally entertaining as a very enthusiastic professor, who joins the hunt. Betty White is a delight as a local who lives on the lake and Meredith Salenger is sexy and sweet as local deputy Sharon Gare. A really good cast that all get the tone of the material and play it just straight enough, but yet with a bit of a wink at the audience, as it is all in fun.
This is a very amusing nature run amok flick that can be played along with Alligator, Grizzly and just about any other B-movie of this kind you can think of. It’s fast moving, suspenseful, has just enough carnage and just enough humor to make it an all around entertaining night on the couch. A good cast and solid direction give this familiar tale some nice bite! A moderate box office hit that has gained quite an affectionate cult following in the years since it’s initial release. It became a franchise on the SYFY channel with a number of DTV sequels.