A good cast headed by Bill Pullman & Bridget Fonda insures that Lake Placid (1999) is played with conviction.
But if per chance some viewers aren't convinced, even so, a script that strongly refuses to take itself seriously insures plenty of chortles, whether or not one finds the giant crocodile a suspense-generating horror.
Director Steve Miller mostly does television episodes for top-rated series, but horror fans will remember he did the first House (1986), & has been a hired gun to continue cash-cow franchises with Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later (1998) & Friday the 13th Part II (1981) & Part 3D (1982), this last pair marking the beginning of his career.
Betty White is featured as the Sweet LIttle Old Lady who feeds the giant reptiles like pigeon-ladies feed pigeons, but if you cross her, she calls you a cocksucker.
Betty saying cocksucker is alone worth the price of renting this. Hell, when it was a new release, I paid to see it in the theater & didn't feel ripped off for that high price.
The film is of course wildly irrational. Right from the idea that a croc would not only survive but grow vastly larger than usual in northern waters, the script wasn't asking anyone to believe it could happen.
And some people have regarded me with my lefty politics as something of an animal rights extremist, but the animal rights theme inserted into this one were assinine.
My first choice for animal salvation wouldn't be a croc who chows down on cattle & people.
The so-called "environmentalist" excuse presented in this film -- the excuse for caring so much about this people-eater's continued happiness -- was that he was so impressive for his size he'd traveled so far outside his natural range. The beast thereby merited greater than average admiration & should be tolerated.
But those are not environmentalist reasons to protect something. Rather, the croc would be regarded an invasive species to be gotten rid of even if it hadn't been eating people.
Betty White happens to be one of the bigger animal rights activists around town. Whether that influenced the script or not who can say, but it was just one more element that lent irrationality to the plot.
Still & all, the humor worked, the crocodile was cute, the actors were decent, Betty White rules, & the FX for the croc were damned well done.
So who cares if all the characters all spoke in the exact same "smart aleck" voice (with only Oliver Platt managing to transform this dialogue into his own individual character), or that the film didn't have even one original take in its box of cliches.
Lake Placid is one of the best of all the extant crocodile or alligator films, & yes I know, that's not saying much. But if you're in the mood for a killer crock, this one's high-end crapola. And when the croc took down that helicopter, woo-hoo, I enjoyed that.
For more monster-croc action, see Tobe Hooper's:
Eaten Alive (1977)
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl