Lake Placid
 
         
   
Genre: Horror, Comedy and Action/Adventure
Running Time: 1 hr. 22 min.
Release Date: July 16th, 1999
MPAA Rating: R for violent creature attacks and related gore, and for language.
Director: Steve Miner
Actors: Bill Pullman, Bridget Fonda, Oliver Platt, Brendan Gleeson, Betty White, Natassia Malthe, Mariska Hargitay, Meredith Salenger
 
         
"Stan Winston’s creature effects are always exciting."
   
 
             
 
Theatrical
6/10
 
DVD
N/A
 
Blu-ray
N/A
 
             
 
 

It starts the way any good killer animal movie should – a diver in Aroostook County in Maine gets the lower half of his body bitten off by a toothy lake monster. The local fish and game department, led by officer Jack Wells (Bill Pullman) assumes it’s a bear; all Sheriff Hank Keough (Brendan Gleeson) knows is that he’s lost a friend. New York paleontologist Kelly Scott (Bridget Fonda), despite clearly not being a field person, journeys to the rural backwoods swampland of New England to serve as an advisor. Kelly isn’t thrilled with the living arrangement (sleeping in tents) or the abundance of mosquitoes, but needs the escape from her boyfriend/boss who has been cheating on her with coworker/friend Myra (an early role for Mariska Hargitay).

Wealthy, eccentric mythology professor/crocodile hunter/trapper Hector Cyr (Oliver Platt) flies in on a private helicopter to aid in the hunt for what he assumes is a massive crocodile – lending expensive equipment and little respect. Also joining them is flirty Deputy Sharon Gare (Meredith Salenger), one of the few who seems genuine as a background character dealing with the hostile situation. As the team searches the murky waters for signs of the creature, Kelly and Jack start to bond, the body count rises and, when the 30-foot croc finally reveals itself by dragging a raging bear into the lake, the group makes serious plans to take down the murderous beast.
 
 
 

Lake Placid movie Bill Pullman, Bridget Fonda, Oliver Platt, Brendan Gleeson, Betty White, Natassia Malthe, Mariska Hargitay, Meredith Salenger

Lake Placid movie Bill Pullman, Bridget Fonda, Oliver Platt, Brendan Gleeson, Betty White, Natassia Malthe, Mariska Hargitay, Meredith Salenger

 

Lake Placid movie Bill Pullman, Bridget Fonda, Oliver Platt, Brendan Gleeson, Betty White, Natassia Malthe, Mariska Hargitay, Meredith Salenger

Lake Placid movie Bill Pullman, Bridget Fonda, Oliver Platt, Brendan Gleeson, Betty White, Natassia Malthe, Mariska Hargitay, Meredith Salenger

 
 

Everyone is quirky, witty, sarcastic and unique, cleverly scripted to be an odd fit for a man-eating reptile flick. Lake Placid doesn’t try to hide its comedic nature, the ridiculousness of the very notion, and the humorous way the characters deal with death and destruction. It’s equal parts horror and comedy. Fonda complains, nags and screams incessantly, Platt and Gleeson bicker back and forth, Betty White (in an amusing role) curses, and Pullman keeps his cool in his usual unenthusiastic manner. Brendan Gleeson is a bit too accomplished to be involved at all, as is Mariska Hargitay (in a bit part right before becoming Detective Olivia Benson); perhaps even Betty White shouldn’t have messed with this project (“I hope the crocodile wins!”), but these interesting supporting players certainly increase the entertainment value.

Director Steve Miner (Friday the 13th Part II and Part III) includes the standard horror movie jump scares, gore and suspenseful attacks, which manage to be tinged with humor as well – people continue to fall in the water (Kelly tumbles in 3-4 times herself) to bait the oversized varmint. Stan Winston’s creature effects are always exciting, and Lake Placid’s scaly antagonist is no exception. The computer graphics are effective, since they’re used sparingly, but it’s the gigantic animatronic brute that looks truly impressive. Like a cross between the Jaws shark and Jurassic Park’s T-Rex, the slimy, rubbery puppet gets some surprisingly fun moments – the best of which involves an underwater attack on Fonda and an airborne assault on the helicopter. The climax isn’t too shabby either, although the movie moves swiftly with a noticeably short runtime.

- Mike Massie
 
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