Review: Lake Placid (Blu-ray)

2014/07/19 20:51:46 +00:00 | Heather Wixson

Scream Factory is having one helluva summer with a cavalcade of high-definition genre goodies coming our way practically each and every week now. One of their recent titles, Steve Miner’s underrated creature feature comedy Lake Placid, recently arrived on Blu-ray and once again, Scream outdoes themselves with another stellar presentation that is a must-own for horror fans out there.

For those who may be unfamiliar with Miner’s killer croc tale, Lake Placid kicks off with Twinkie-loving Sheriff Hank Keough (Brendan Gleeson) and a Fish and Game officer out on the peaceful waters of Black Lake in Maine when they’re suddenly attacked by an oversized creature. This prompts the area’s Fish and Game Warden (Bill Pullman) to bring in paleontologist Kelly Scott (Bridget Fonda) to determine what kind of underwater beast they’re dealing with. From there, things go from bad to worse once the beast gets more and more aggressive, forcing his human foes to get creative (cow bait!) so that they can capture him and bring serenity back to Black Lake and of its inhabitants once again.

Written by David E. Kelly (TV’s Golden Boy during the late 90’s/early 2000’s behind various hit series like Ally McBeal and The Practice), Lake Placid is far more a comedy than it is horror, although there are a few good moments of tension for the die-hard genre fans looking for a solid jolt or two. As expected, Lake Placid is dialogue-heavy, which may be a turn-off for viewers looking for a little more action and a little less talking, but with Kelly’s mile-a-minute script and Miner’s ability to keep things moving visually, everything seen and heard here is wholly enjoyable. As expected, the practical effects by Stan Winston still hold up even after 15 years, but, sadly, the visual effects in Lake Placid haven’t really aged all that well. That being said, not many visual effects from that era aged any better than what is seen here and if you can overlook a few cartoon-ish looking shots, there’s still plenty of fun left to be had in the waters of Lake Placid.

As the leads, Pullman and Fonda share nice chemistry together in Lake Placid even if the subplot about their budding romance feels a bit forced- the reality is that whether or not they get together doesn’t feel all that essential to the rest of the story. That being said, both actors still get the chance to stretch their comedic muscles here with Kelly’s super-snappy and quick-witted script and it’s all really entertaining stuff that makes me wish Fonda was still working in Hollywood and that Pullman was working more.

Something else that added to my overall enjoyment while revisiting Lake Placid is that all the supporting characters feel like fully-realized personalities, not your usual stereotypically simple-minded small town folk that you’d usually see in a genre film like this. It was another nice (and vastly underappreciated) touch by Kelly that made me fall in love with Miner’s film all over again. And of course, when you’re talking about Lake Placid, scene-stealer Betty White is certainly one cast member who deserves tons of love, especially since the veteran TV actress made Lake Placid into yet another career-changing moment with her hilariously filthy performance in the film.

Scream Factory does a really great job with their Blu-ray presentation. The movie looks and sounds great and there are a handful of their stellar bonus features included that should keep Lake Placid fans busy for an evening. There’s a newly made featurette that contains a lot of great memories shared by the cast and the filmmakers as well as a vintage one that was a fun look back at some of the promotion that was put behind Lake Placid when it was first released in 1999. There’s also a really cool featurette on Winston’s monstrous crocodile that he designed for Miner before the film was green-lit, which is definitely worth a watch for any special effect lovers out there. Also included on the Lake Placid Blu-ray are some TV spots, a theatrical trailer and a photo gallery as well.

A light-hearted monster movie that offers up plenty of laughs and , Lake Placid is still a really fun and well-made creature feature that doesn’t ever treat its characters- or the audience- like morons, which is something that most films of its ilk are seemingly guilty of. Truly one of the more underrated modern cult classics, Scream Factory’s Blu-ray release is absolutely worthy of your hard-earned dollars if you count yourself as a fan of Miner’s modest killer croc film.

Movie Score: 3.5/5, Disc Score: 4/5

  • Heather Wixson
    About the Author - Heather Wixson

    Heather A. Wixson was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, until she followed her dreams and moved to Los Angeles in 2009. A 14-year veteran in the world of horror entertainment journalism, Wixson fell in love with genre films at a very early age, and has spent more than a decade as a writer and supporter of preserving the history of horror and science fiction cinema. Throughout her career, Wixson has contributed to several notable websites, including Fangoria, Dread Central, Terror Tube, and FEARnet, and she currently serves as the Managing Editor for Daily Dead, which has been her home since 2013. She's also written for both Fangoria Magazine & ReMind Magazine, and her latest book project, Monsters, Makeup & Effects: Volume One will be released on October 20, 2021.