Lake Placid – Review

by Bret W.

Is it a comedy or a horror film?  I couldn’t decide, although I saw this horrid piece of film making more than once.  It’s actually the horrible quality of this film which makes it so endearing, believe it or not.  Still, on first viewing, I was thinking that the film should have been titled slightly differently: Lake Flaccid.

The film takes place in a small county in Maine (yes, I know, Lake Placid is in New York state, not Maine.  But the title is very cleverly explained, when the Sheriff states that they were going to call Bear Lake “Lake Placid,” but they heard that the name was taken. Or, maybe it wasn’t so cleverly explained after all…) where a biologist studying beavers is half-eaten by what appears to be an enormous crocodile.  A scientist from a New York City museum goes to investigate, and is met with male chauvinism to the extreme.  The one welcome face for her is an eccentric millionaire who hunts crocodiles for fun.  Of course, this fresh-water takeoff of Jaws would not be complete unless the people were willing to go into the water to face the croc on his turf.  And it turns out in the end that the croc is a pet of an odd foul-mouthed old lady who lives by herself on the edge of the lake.

Oh, where to begin?  It’s just awful!  But like I said before, being awful doesn’t make it a bad film to watch.  It’s actually a lot of fun to watch some of the worst films in history, and this is one of those.  Unlike Deep Blue Sea, which was bad and painful to watch at the same time, Lake Placid is a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously, as witnessed by the very VERY low body count, which included a cow and a bear.  Plus, the crocodile is much more believeable effect-wise than the sharks in Deep Blue Sea.  And Betty White is hilarious as the sewer-mouthed old woman who roots for the crocodile.  All of this combined make this bad film a welcome addition to the collection of “The Really Really Bad Film Club,” of which I am still a charter member.

One thing, however.  I felt that the testosterone-laced chauvinism of the Maine locals was a bit much.  Just what were the filmmakers trying to imply?  I’m not sure.  Still, Lake Placid is not a complete waste of 90 minutes.  Just don’t expect to be scared.  Expect instead to be amused.