[Blu-ray Review] ‘Lake Placid’ Gets the Scream Factory Treatment!

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I saw Lake Placid in theaters back in ’99 and haven’t really thought about it since. Being the petulant teenager I was, I couldn’t appreciate the deft blend of horror and comedy David E. Kelley’s script. Older and (a little) wiser, I now appreciate it for the fun, but uneven, little creature feature it is thanks to Scream Factory’s new Blu-ray, which sports a brand new documentary and some fun vintage features. While the comedy bits are pretty spot-on, the horror elements are rather drab and it never feels like a cohesive film.

Lake Placid cuts right to the chase by biting a guy in half within the first two minutes. There’s a mammoth crocodile lurking in a remote lake up in Maine and paleontologist Kelly Scott (Bridget Fonda) reluctantly leaves her New York museum job to investigate. Fish and Game warden Jack Wells (Bill Pullman) and Sheriff Hank Keough (Brendan Gleeson) lead her into the fray. They’re unexpectedly joined by rowdy croc aficionado Hector, play with panache to spare by the Oliver Platt. Once Platt shows up, he pretty much carries the movie. He exchanges heaps of witty banter with Gleeson, while Fonda and Pullman slowly develop a romance, which actually feels totally organic.

There’s a backstory for Fonda that feels really out of place in the film. She’s sent to Maine by her boss, who dumped her the same day. It planted a distrust of men in her, I get that, but it feels like there’s some huge chunks of the story missing.

Following the set-up, Lake Placid sinks into repetitive territory. The whole middle portion is the crew going out on the lake, almost getting eaten, going back to land, and repeating that process. After it’s established that it is in fact a giant crocodile, which happens fairly early on, I have no clue why they keep going out on the water. Why wouldn’t they just stay on land and figure out a way to kill it that didn’t involve almost getting eaten every 10 minutes.

There’s a running gag of Gleeson constantly getting ensnared in traps Platt set in case the croc comes on land. Betty White and her potty mouth are thrown in for some shock value. All of these hijinks are fun and the dialogue is fantastic, but there’s really nothing interesting going on until the climax. The payoff is pretty decent, but doesn’t make up for the drab middle.

The comedy elements are consistent at least, and the relationships between characters are engaging enough to hold interest, but Lake Placid never feels like a cohesive film. Hell at least it’s fun and the crocodile looks amazing (Stan Winston, duh). The animatronic croc looks way better than the CGI one, which appears laughable at times. This was 1999, so I guess all the higher-paid animators were busting their ass on The Phantom Menace or something.

Scream Factory’s new Blu-ray sports a strong 1080p presentation. There’s some minor banding issues in the underwater shots, but other than that there’s nothing to complain about. The film was shot in panorama widescreen and some of the location shots look downright stunning. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is fairly dynamic and defined.

The big special feature is the 30-minute doc, where Pullman and various crew members reminisce. A lot of time is spent talking about the animatronic crocodile and other special effects and it’s all really interesting. What’s also impressive is the enormous set they built for scenes like the climax. They shipped in 80 ft. trees and even constructed a massive water tank. It’s really cool stuff and a blast to watch right after viewing the film. For another interesting bit about the crocodile, check out the test footage, which is about seven minutes of the animatronic moving through the lake.

Also included on the disc is a vintage featurette, which acts as a glorified commercial for the film, and trailers and TV spots.

Official Score

  • bigval

    Lake Placid is a crap movie, Rogue was a good croc movie directed by Wolf Creek’s Greg McLean.

    • J Jett

      both LAKE PLACID and ROGUE are great but very different films.

  • Chandler Of-Adelaide

    Someone is definitely over-thinking a horror comedy which ultimately makes this come across as pretentious crap written by a guy on a mac in a Starbucks before he gets back to his screenplay.

    • Patrick Cooper

      My complaints are anything but pretentious. It doesn’t feel like a cohesive film to me and it’s repetitive as hell in the middle.

      PS: I don’t drink coffee.

      • Chandler Of-Adelaide

        If the film, as a COMEDY HORROR (which by nature tend to be shallow), does not feel cohesive to you then you’re either over-thinking it, being a pretentious twat, or completely clueless and shouldn’t be writing for BD. Those are the options, pick one.

        Your review is basically like a wannabe high-end restaurant critic writing a piece on a big mac.

        • ThunderDragoon

          It’s an opinion. This is the internet. Better get used to them. Stop trash talking people who have a difference in opinion. Grow up.

          • Dave Brown

            And yet another day goes by where I couldn’t escape a thread where someone points out the obvious when it comes to opinions….So LAME. We get it! We all have opinions. Some people even think other people’s opinions are stupid. Opinions are fun!

          • ThunderDragoon

            It’s not lame if it’s defending someone who’s being disrespected. Opinions are fine until somebody starts trash talking another for simply having a different opinion.

  • Recess

    You don’t have to over-think or even think that hard really to come to the conclusion that this movie is not cohesive in parts which takes away from the movie as a whole.

  • http://www.southernskin.co.nz Tyra Adlam

    “Thank you, officer fuck-meat.”

  • jennifertdahlen

    my Aunty
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  • Dave Brown

    Actually, I thought the croc, the animatronic one from Winston’s crew, looked like shit. It looked like a theme park ride character. The CGI shows it’s age too, but Winston’s work was usually better at this time. His work in Congo was WAY worse, but this would take second place easy street. Sometimes I get the feeling that folks who write about genre movies like to pander when it comes to practical effects versus CGI. Just because it’s practical doesn’t make it automatically better or even good.

  • Dave Brown

    Actually, I thought the croc, the animatronic one from Winston’s crew, looked like shit. It looked like a theme park ride character. The CGI shows it’s age too, but Winston’s work was usually better at this time. His work in Congo was WAY worse, but this would take second place easy street. Sometimes I get the feeling that folks who write about genre movies like to pander when it comes to practical effects versus CGI. Just because it’s practical doesn’t make it automatically better or even good.

  • Evan3

    I’ve always loved this movie, a real hidden gem.

  • marklola12 .

    ive always liked this movie, im a big Brigitte fonda fan….why has she not done anything recently..other than her wanting a more normal life I mean
    I think shes fantastic, and yeh the cgi is dated some what now but this was not a big budget movie at all and back then it actually looked good specially the bear scene.