The Crater Lake Monster – USA, 1977 – reviews

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‘A beast more frightening than your most terrifying nightmare!’

The Crater Lake Monster is a 1977 monster horror feature film directed by William R. Stromberg for Crown International Pictures, and starring Richard Cardella. The screenplay was also written by Stromberg and Cardella.

The storyline revolves around a giant plesiosaur, akin to the Loch Ness Monster, which appears in Crater Lake, next to a small Oregon town. As people are attacked by the monster, the Sheriff (Cardella) investigates along with a group of scientists in order to stop the creature…

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The film suffered from financing and publication problems with Crown International; as Cardella recounts: “Crown International was part of the financing and they just screwed up everything. They pulled their support for some key scenes (that would have explained a lot and plugged some of the obvious holes), added a canned score that really sucked, and turned it over to some hack to edit. The asshole didn’t even use a fade or dissolve in the whole freakin’ picture”.

Reviews [click links to read more]:

” …it looks pretty good, but close-ups of a puppet monster head gnawing on helpless victims are less convincing. Add a soundtrack of library banjo music, some insipid dashes of blood, and lethargic-paced direction by one-timer William R. Stromberg, and you have one of the worst giant monster flicks of all time!” DVD Drive-In

“For a schlocky 70’s B-movie the setting is great, making full use of the wooded area and scenic lake beauty, mist rolling off the water, scenic vistas, captivating stuff. Arnie (Glen Robert) and Mitch (Mark Siegel) the comic relief of the film steal the show, providing slapstick laughs and even a bit of emotional gravitas. A forgotten drive-in classic…”  McBastard’s Mausoleum

“Lots of meaningless dialog, hillbilly comedy, and an intrusive sub-plot involving the sheriff chasing a crazy man (he kills for his booze but pays for his meals!) around the lake defy the viewer to keep watching. Hindered by a handful of behind the scenes mishaps, this nearly worthless monster movie is redeemed by the stop-motion animated Crater Lake critter.” Cool Ass Cinema

“Chock full of bad acting, bad directing, bad editing and bad storytelling, The Crater Lake Monster is actually pretty watchable if you’re in the right frame of mind. If you don’t take it too seriously it’s a fun (albeit very poorly made) monster movie…” Ian Jane, Rock! Shock! Pop!

“The effects are cheesy and would make Harryhausen spin in his grave. The sheriff defeats the beats with a mini-bulldozer, half-decapitating it with the earthmoving blade (which moves about as fast as I do before my morning coffee). People talk about the beauty of the night sky while staring into the sun, for crying out loud! What more warning do you need?”

“The lowbrow script is laughable. The acting is horrendous. The canned music is stupid. The quick pacing  makes the story seem to take place over a few days rather than the intended six months. The “touching” conclusion feels like self-parody […] But – and this is a big but – the stop-motion animation and superimposition shots are excellent.” David Elroy Goldweber, Claws & Saucers

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“The weak effects didn’t concern me much. The biggest issue for me is that the film is dreary. It is monotonously directed, edited and colour processed. The cast all feel like they are drinking buddies that the director recruited from the local waterhole. Far too much time is spent on comic-relief scenes…” Moria

Cast and characters:

  • Sheriff Steve Hanson … Richard Cardella
  • Arnie Chabot … Glenn Roberts
  • Mitch Kowalski … Mark Siegel
  • Richard Calkins … Bob Hyman
  • Dan Turner … Richard Garrison
  • Susan Patterson … Kacey Cobb
  • Ross Conway … Michael Hoover
  • Paula Conway … Suzanne Lewis
  • Senator Jack Fuller … Marv Eliot
  • Blackmailer … Garry Johnston
  • Waitress … Susy Claycomb
  • Villager … Jim Goeppinger


Despite being a critical and commercial flop, the camp appeal of the film led to a VHS release on United Home Video, and DVD release on Rhino Home Video in February 2002. Mill Creek Entertainment released The Crater Lake Monster on Blu-ray disc as part of a double feature disc in March 2011, pairing it with Galaxina.


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3 Comments on “The Crater Lake Monster – USA, 1977 – reviews”

  1. With God as my witness, I despise this film. Reportedly the antics of the odious Mitch and Arnie were beefed up as they could not afford more time and money for Dave Allen’s FX. And that is a pity. The stop motion is top notch. Mitch and Arnie are not and absolutely circle the sewer.

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