Given the overabundance of killer animals film in the horror as genre (or subgenre), it’s hard to say you’ve seen them all, as you most likely completely glossed dozens of the things, often entire series of movies about killer creatures. Lake Placid is one i personally didn’t bother with, more due to the timing of my proper interest in horror and related cinematic material blooming, i was aware of the series growing up but i didn’t care about killer croc films, and by the time i did it was basically already sequelized hard, so i turned to weirder, newer killer sharks movies and such.
Today we’re “correcting” this by starting a retrospective on the entire Lake Placid series, from the 1999 original to the most recent installment, 2018’s Lake Placid Legacy.
All of which is completely new to me, which i do find be a treat and a rare thing, since the series didn’t get talked about or referenced to by social media and internet trends, but that might just be more the “fault” of dozens upon dozens of new crappy b-movies about sharks, and the scaly predators just not being as popular as the other kind of water-based ancient predators.
The movie it’s about a 30 foot long saltwater crocodile that terrorizes the fictional location of Black Lake, Maine (fictional as there’s an actual place called like that but situated in Fort Kent, Maine), and the random, dysfunctional group that wants to capture or kill the creature.
I’m not even gonna ask if that sound familiar, of course it does, it’s 1980’s Alligator all over again. Obviously.
Minus the urban myth of flushing reptiles down crappers, and more like the obvious Jaws rip-..on, as i’m tempted to call it, since it not downright a parody of that or similar killer animals flicks, it’s not exactly a tribute to 70s or 50s cinema, but just a killer croc b-movie that figured it could do the usual shtick with a bigger emphasis on comedy, have some fun with the formula.
In hindsight this sounds like a conceptual misfire ready to fall apart the moment instantly, but it’s not, it’s actually quite enjoyable and works fine by further exaggerating the expected stereotypes for comedy, like the Maine sheriff who’s sick and tired of the endless hillbilly jokes and taunts he has to endure, the out-of-place paleontologist who hates any kind of “uncivilized” place in Southern America, we even have the crazed creature expert, here a sort of crazy rich Quint who believe crocodiles to be divine-like entities as the egyptians and older civilizations did.
It’s the comedy gold? No, it’s not, sometimes the humor could be better, but honestly there’s a lot more hits than misses in terms of jokes the script throws at the proverbial wall, they clearly put effort and tried, and it pays off, leading to even one of the most polite hillbilly joke i’ve ever heard.
I mean, it’s hard to try and chastize a film that clearly isn’t taking itself too serious, as the explanation for the giant ass crocodile is that an old lady and her husband living in the lakeside basically kept feeding the animal like a pet, until the husband – after trying to catch back some escaped horses – was also accidentally killed by the saltwater crocodile. Most likely.
We aren’t sure, same as to why a saltwater crocodile arrived there, but granny on the lakeside farm doesn’t really care anymore, nor she probably ever did, as they never told anyone anything about a crocodile in a lake in fuckin Maine.
Telling the cops never was an option, i guess. Makes sense.
And to deal the seal there’s the fact the movie still work as killer animal flick, and it’s quips aren’t there to excuse away a cheap creature, honestly the effects for the crocodile are still pretty damn good looking (it’s no wonder it got theathrical releases), both the animatronic and the digital effects have aged surprisingly well,, and it’s one of these b-movies bestowed with enough self-awareness to know it’s better to keep things on the shorter side of the runtime.
Overall, the original Lake Placid makes for a surprisingly fun and kinda underrated b-movie, with some fun performances, a sense of humour about itself but also willing to keep up the traditions of the genre, like making obvious sequel bait at the end.