If I had to pick one movie that I believe jettisoned the current craze for schlocky creature features to where it’s at now, it would be 1999’s “Lake Placid.” Full of ridiculous characters, gory killings, and a cameo from Betty White in which she swears not like one but several sailors, it paved the way for today’s fun B-movies in the vein of “Sharknado” and pretty much any film in the Asylum catalog. Scream Factory once again reminds horror fans of another forgotten classic with its release of the “Lake Placid” Special Edition.
A group of investigators are called to a remote lake in Maine after the mysterious death of a police officer occurs in the usually calm waters. Upon arriving, the team discovers that a crocodile has somehow made its way into the lake and is feeding on anything big enough to satisfy its appetite... whether it be animal or human. Where did the beast come from and how can they stop it before it kills again?
“Lake Placid” boasts an ensemble cast of actors who looking back now would consider this slumming it by how they’re viewed today. Bill Pullman portrays one of the crocodile hunters and puts forth every effort to take the material seriously. Bridget Fonda is a paleontologist who delivers an emotional performance completely unnecessary for such a lighthearted adventure romp. Brendan Gleeson plays the local sheriff and you’d never know he would grow into such a respected British thespian of cinema. Oliver Platt fully embraces his role as an eccentric rich boy obsessed with the oversized scaly lizards.
The movie is presented in 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (2.35:1) with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround. We’re given a clean picture that maintains a “real” film look and doesn’t reveal the limitations of CGI work in the late 90s as it very well could have. The sound puts the viewer dead center in the thick of the action and outdoor environment.
Scream Factory has once again delivered the goods when it comes to bonus material for the “Lake Placid” Special Edition. Director Steve Miner, actor Bill Pullman, and Director of Photography Daryn Okuda, and the Special Effects team all provide new interviews for the release. A vintage featurette, TV spots, and a theatrical trailer are included as well.
“Lake Placid” is rated R for violent creature attacks and related gore, and for language. There’s no nudity but plenty of conversations about sex and innuendos. If you have a weak stomach when it comes to onscreen carnage, you might find yourself hurrying to close your eyes at points.
Clocking in at an hour and twenty-two minutes, “Lake Placid” is a great example of the term “less is more.” It doesn’t overstay its welcome and accomplishes what it wants to within its run time. I think its legacy of made-for-TV sequels speaks for its appeal to monster movie enthusiasts who enjoy a little humor and cheese with their severed limbs and decapitated heads.
The “Lake Placid” Special Edition is available now on Blu-ray.