There is something just so damn magical in the honest and adulterated spirit of a good old fashioned creature feature. The classic, relaxing times at "Lake Placid" harkens back to the creature features of the 1950's where all that is required of you is to turn your brain off and have some fun, even in the year of 1999 when the film first hit the light of day.
This serene and picturesque setting with its placid waters and beautiful landscapes is an idyllic picture of the pristine Maine wilderness and its relaxed return to nature. This tranquil setting is probably the last place you'd expect a gruesome fatality, but that is exactly what has happened. An investigative team, armed with state of the art equipment, high powered weaponry and a keen sense of wit and sarcasm must work together to defeat what they never expected to find deep in the wiles of Black Lake; a 30 foot prehistoric crocodile whose narrow snout and razor sharp teeth has a taste for anything and everything that moves.
If you're going to make the kind of movie and tell the kind of story that is inherently stupid, everyone involved truly does have to lean into the proceedings and embrace it all. Thankfully "Lake Placid" does that in spades as it gets straight to the point, making for a quality creature feature that doesn't try to be anything more than it is.
Director Steve Miner is a quality yet unspectacular directorial hand as the action gets from A, to B to C with no fuss and very little muss as it looks good and moves along at a very solid pace and he embraces the nature of the material quite well, only taking seriously when it is absolutely demanded of him. The script by none other than David E Kelley at TV veteran best known for his work with shows like "LA Law" and "The Practice" makes this one time jump into the realm of Horror/Action/Comedy with astounding ease and aplomb as it all flowed with such an effortless ease and cadence to it all which was just a great deal of fun to watch. The jokes were a little corny, but it all worked as we were shocked when we were supposed to be shocked and howling in laughter right when we need to be as well as the adventures of this great looking giant crocodile are unfolding in front of us.
The entire ensemble cast was smart enough to lean into with just the right amount of zeal. While Bridget Fonda ended up playing it fairly straight as the somewhat fish out of water museum expert who gets sent to Maine to investigate with Bill Pullman as her straight man from the fish and wild life association, they got to do the funny sexual tension dance and it never felt too forced or out of place. The comedic stars of the film were Oliver Platt as the thrill seeking scientist/croc hunter and the always underrated Brendan Gleeson as the small town sheriff and these two trading barbs back and forth was almost worth the price of the disc alone. Along with the great Betty White as the crazy old lady living on the lake who knows just a little more about this croc then she is letting on, it all makes for a great mix of action, horror and comedy as we are never quite sure which way the action is going to go.
With "Lake Placid" it's some old school dumb fun that you just have to lean into and run with. It's a clear cut movie vacation where all you have to do is shut everything off and enjoy.
3 out of 5 stars.
Picture and sound quality on the Blu-Ray are first rate and the special features include new interviews with Director Steve Miner, Actor Bill Pullman and the Director of Photography Daryn Okada as well as new interviews with the Special Effects Team, a vintage featurette, TV spots and the original theatrical trailer.
"Lake Placid" is now available in a special collector's edition on Blu-Ray from all major retailers.