Lake Placid (1999) reviews and overview

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[Total: 9   Average: 2.7/5]

‘You’ll never know what bit you.’

Lake Placid is a 1999 American horror feature film directed by Steve Miner (Day of the Dead 2008; Friday the 13th, Part IIHalloween H20) from a screenplay written by producer David E. Kelley.

The movie stars Bill Pullman, Bridget Fonda, Brendan Gleeson, Oliver Platt, Betty White, Meredith Salenger and Mariska Hargitay.

The film’s soundtrack score was composed by John Ottman (House of Wax; Gothika; Eight Legged FreaksUrban Legends: Final Cut; Halloween H20; Snow White: A Tale of Terror).

Plot:

A giant, thirty-foot-long man-eating crocodile terrorises the fictional location of Black Lake, Maine, United States, and also follows the dysfunctional group who attempt to capture or destroy the creature…

Reviews [click links to read more]:

“The actors seem to be having fun with the mixture of Kelley’s sharp dialogue and the inherent cheesiness of being in a giant crocodile picture. Pullman really gets the joke, acting like he can wear the beast down with menacing stares and grumbled speech. Fonda, who has acknowledged her love of horror films in the press, is clearly relishing the chance to act in one, and Platt uses this as an opportunity to go way out in left field as the rich wacko.” The Aisle Seat

“Kelley creates a handful of snappy one-liners, but a majority of the dialogue lacks the bite of his work on Ally McBeal. As with the Jaws franchise, the real moments of suspense arrive when the unseen croc lurks beneath the lake and prepares for a surprise attack. The impressive computer-generated monster surfaces frequently…” AllMovie

” …it’s the easy, underplayed performances and the slick dialogue that make this more than a rural cat-and-mouse (or croc-and-cow, since a heifer gets used as bait). But it’s not a spoof, and that’s crucial. You can enjoy Placid as a straightforward camping-holiday nightmare, or as a sly, ironic take on the same. It works deliciously as both.” Empire

“Despite the horror and gore (be warned though – gory deaths are a frequent occurrence!), Lake Placid has a playful tone overall, with plenty of comic relief to keep things nice and breezy. Most of the gags are either delivered by or pointed in the direction of Brendan Gleeson’s character, as he finds himself at loggerheads with pretty much everyone he meets (he seems to dislike people more than the crocodile!).” Geek Ireland

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” …the human storylines take over and, minus the then-novelty of hearing White drop F-bombs, they’re more aggravating than anything else. Both back in the day and on this recent revisit, I found myself wishing the toothy terror would swallow the lot. Sadly, the body count, not counting CG bears and cows, is a paltry two.” Horror 101 with Dr AC

“Pullman’s a bit dry compared to the rest of the cast – may be a bit miscast – but he does just fine as the straight man with a wry sense of humor. Platt and Gleeson are a fun adversarial duo regularly trading barbs and one-line stingers.  The now 15-year-old special effects hold-up surprisingly well including some early-stage digital effects.” McBastard’s Mausoleum

” …an entertaining stab at making a tongue in cheek monster movie with the emphasis firmly on being funny rather than frightening. It’s by no means the best example of this sort of movie and a few more frights wouldn’t go a miss but with a wonderful performance from Betty White it is well worth a watch, just be prepared for plenty of stupidity.” The Movie Scene

“There’s some moderate gore here, most of it jokey. (“Is this the man who was killed?” Platt asks, wielding a severed toe. Gleeson replies, “He looked taller.”) And there’s also Betty White on hand to play the crocodile’s best human friend. Her character’s foul-mouthed dialogue is funny for its incongruity, less so for its real purpose.” The New York Times

” …it’s not exactly Jaws, but some of the sequences are rather intense. The climax especially provides plenty of jolts and one really neat surprise […] Miner knows not to let a horror flick last too long (seriously, check the run-times for just about any one he’s ever done). Lake Placid is short, sweet, and bites pretty hard–in a good way.” Oh, the Horror!

“Briskly paced and offering nice balance of humor and horror, Lake Placid isn’t likely to leave any sort of serious lasting impression on you but it is a fun way to kill an hour and a half. It offers up pretty much everything you’d want it to – a decent monster, some solid gore, interesting and fairly likeable characters and some witty dialogue.” Rock! Shock! Pop!

“It’s gruesome, and then camp, and then satirical, and then sociological, and then it pauses for a little witty intellectual repartee. Occasionally the crocodile leaps out of the water and snatches victims from the shore, looking uncannily like a very big green product from the factory where they make Barney toys.” Roger Ebert

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“The strange thing is that for all of Fonda’s whining, Pullman’s wary squinting and muttering, the bad dialogue, the cheesy effects, the severed toes, the severed heads, the severed bodies and the cliched directorial choices, Lake Placid adds up to a halfway enjoyable time at the movies.” San Francisco Gate

” …it is derivative of many sardonic monster flicks that have been seen before. Add to that the zero chemistry between the romantic leads (you could accept them as friends, sure), plus an ecological dilemma over killing the croc (this was the nineties all right), and you get a film where you can see what they’re aiming for, but also the targets they miss.” The Spinning Image

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” …while he’s got all the tricks, and an impressively CG’d croc, Miner never loses sight of one thing: this is a horror-comedy and not an out-and-out scarefest. Terror takes a back seat as David E Kelly’s script develops sharp, well-observed characters rather than simple-minded croc-fodder.” Total Film

“Written by [Ally] McBeal creator David E. Kelley, this comic thriller owes a substantial debt to Tremors, in which a similarly off-center bunch find themselves up against a nest of gigantic killer worms. Tremors is a wittier, less predictable picture, but this one is smoothly enjoyable, undemanding entertainment and features a couple of knock-out giant croc attacks.” TV Guide

“Director Steve (Friday the 13th Part 3-D) Miner knows a thing or two about delivering shocks (that is before he lost all his credibility with the atrocious Day of the Dead remake) but too much of the film’s goofy intentional humor gets in the way of the monster mashing.  Platt’s constant mugging in particular gets kinda annoying after awhile.” The Video Vacuum

Production:

Lake Placid was produced by Fox 2000 Pictures and Stan Winston Studios (which did the special effects for the creatures) and principal photography was shot in British Columbia, Canada.

Cast and characters:

Bill Pullman … Jack Wells
Bridget Fonda … Kelly Scott
Oliver Platt … Hector Cyr
Brendan Gleeson … Sheriff Hank Keough
Betty White … Mrs Delores Bickerman
David Lewis … Walt Lawson
Tim Dixon … Stephen Daniels
Natassia Malthe … Janine
Mariska Hargitay … Myra Okubo
Meredith Salenger … Deputy Sharon Gare
Jed Rees … Deputy Burke
Richard Leacock … Deputy Stevens
Jake T. Roberts … Officer Coulson
Warren Takeuchi … Paramedic
Ty Olsson … State Trooper
Adam Arkin … Kevin (uncredited)
Steve Miner … Airplane Pilot (uncredited)

Filming locations:

Vancouver and Surrey, British Columbia. Three different lakes in British Columbia stood in for the fictional “Black Lake”: Shawnigan Lake, Buntzen Lake and Hayward Lake.

Technical details:

82 minutes
Technicolor
Aspect ratio: 2.39: 1
Audio: Dolby Digital | DTS | SDDS

Release and box office:

The film was distributed by 20th Century Fox and released in theatres in the U.S. on July 16, 1999, and in the United Kingdom on March 31, 2000. It grossed $56.9 million worldwide and has so far been followed by five lower budget sequels, starting with Lake Placid 2 in 2007.

Lake Placid 2 (2007) reviews and overview

Lake Placid 3 (2010) reviews and overview

Lake Placid: The Final Chapter – USA, 2012 – reviews

Lake Placid vs. Anaconda (2015) reviews and overview

Lake Placid: Legacy (2018) more reviews and overview

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