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Lake Placid

review by Ren C.


Rated R

Studio: Fox

Running Time: 82 minutes

Starring Bill Pullman, Bridget Fonda, Oliver Platt

Written by David E. Kelly

Directed by Steve Miner

Retail Price: $22.98

Features: Featurette, Cast and Crew Biographies, TV Spots, Theatrical Trailer

Specs: 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround, English Closed Captions, English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Chapter Search

Horror has always been a very cyclical genre within the movie business. Every ten to fifteen years, a very good, cutting edge horror movie is released, and within months the market is glutted with horror movies from every possible angle. Lake Placid is covered under this description; however, it is not the cutting edge movie. This is one of those movies that more than likely was devised in a daydream where the creative powers at be think to themselves, "Hey, wouldn't it be cool if a crocodile ate a cow?" Then, six to eight months later, their brainchild hits the screen.

Thankfully, Lake Placid doesn't ever take itself too seriously, erring more on the comedy side of the comedy-horror line. The plot, such as it is, starts in a small town in Maine where a Fish and Game officer is called out to investigate something strange in the lake, and proceeds to be eaten by that strange something. A tooth is recovered, which apparently recovers the assistance of a paleontologist from New York, Kelly Scott (Bridget Fonda). She determines that the tooth is of reptilian origin, which is backed up by the newly appointed Fish and Game officer Jack Wells (the ubiquitous Bill Pullman), who is none too happy about having a woman from New York along for the ride. He is even less happy when the eccentric Mythology professor Hector Cyr (Oliver Platt) shows up, convinced that the creature is a crocodile. Having assembled this fairly bizarre crew, along with Town Sheriff Hank Keough (Brendan Gleeson), the mission to capture the crocodile begins.

This essentially makes up the main plot of the movie, with the only opposition to capturing the crocodile coming from Delores Bickerman (Betty White), who sees the crocodile almost a pet. From this point, the movie almost entirely stops relying on plot, instead choosing to rely on physical comedy and Stan Winston's mastery of the art. Sadly, the crocodile itself is almost laughable. One of the TV spots included bills the movie as "This year's Anaconda!" In this aspect, there is no argument. There are a few funny scenes, whether intentionally or not, generally involving the crocodile and some other object, be it a cow or a helicopter. The actors, to their credit, seem to know that they are not making a good movie, with Betty White especially turning in an enjoyable and somewhat surprising performance.

This is one of those movies that somewhere down the line may be regarded as a campy good time. If you're looking for a fun, campy horror movie, look no further. Anyone looking to be scared or for a horror classic, search on.

While not an anamorphic transfer, Lake Placid still has a very high-quality picture. There was no grain noticed, and little to no artifacts, including on some of the numerous water scenes. Blacks were rich and full, and colors were present and never seemed washed out or faded. With the exception of the unfortunate lack of an anamorphic transfer, this is an excellent transfer.

Again, the Dolby Digital 5.1 track shines through very well here. While not an effects-driven movie, bass is present in tense scenes, emphasizing the score, as well as in the few effects scenes that are present. Dialogue, for the most part, is present, easy to hear, and crisp.

A few features are provided, although all are very light on content. The most bulky of these is a Featurette that runs slightly over five minutes that couldn't be more promotional if it tried. This is essentially a plea for us to go see the movie and provides absolutely nothing in the way of useful information. Also provided are three TV Spots, the film's Theatrical Trailer, and Cast and Crew Biographies that, if they were any smaller, would be detrimental to the viewer's eyesight.

Again, this movie is not going to be remembered as a classic. However, it does have a certain sort of campy appeal to it that cannot be denied. The video and audio are above average, although the features are almost deplorable. I would say this is a definite rental first, because this is not the sort of movie that is going to appeal to all tastes.

(2/5 - NOT included in final score)




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