ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 22, 1999
As the Vancouver correspondent for Fangoria, the world’s best-known horror magazine, I usually have access to the sets of whatever scary flicks are being filmed around town. Most horror filmmakers jump at the chance to have their work previewed in the blood-red pages of that esteemed publication, so I was really surprised when my request to cover the Vancouver-area filming of Lake Placid was turned down. I mean, come on, this flick’s about a giant beast that bites people in two, for Christ’s sake! It’s directed by Steve Miner, who did two Friday the 13ths, including the one in which Jason squeezes a guy’s head so hard an eyeball pops right out at you in 3-D! With qualifications like that, it sure sounded like a movie ripe for coverage in a gore-oriented horror mag.
But now that I’ve seen Lake Placid, I’ve got a pretty good idea why they wanted to keep the press away. Quite frankly, it stinks. It stinks so bad that Buntzen Lake, where this bogus effort was partly filmed, probably still reeks. Lake Flaccid…er, Placid is destined to battle it out with Watchers and Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan for the title of Worst Horror Flick Ever Made Around Here.
Bridget Fonda plays a recently jilted New York City paleontologist who is sent by her two-timing boss to a lake in Maine after a huge tooth is found in the remains of a scuba-diving beaver-tagger. There she meets up with a boring fish-and-game warden (the boring Bill Pullman), a dimwitted local sheriff (slumming Irish actor Brendan Gleeson from Braveheart), and a sarcastic mythology professor (Oliver Platt). Spouting coarse and unfunny dialogue by screenwriter-producer David E. Kelley (creator of TV’s Ally McBeal and Picket Fences), these four empty vessels camp out by the lake, bicker ad nauseam, and stand around while cows and bears get chewed by the film’s best actor, a 30-foot crocodile effectively rendered by the Stan Winston Studio.
Apart from the monster, everything about this movie looks cheap, including the performances. Fonda, Pullman, and Platt seem totally uninterested, as if they only bothered coming up to Canada for some fresh air and a quick buck. And the filmmakers’ idea of injecting cutting-edge comedy is to have Betty White, as a cantankerous lakeside resident, say “fuck” and “dick”.
With its hokey humour, routine acting, and lack of genuine scares, the only thing this supposed “offbeat comic thriller” has going for it is about 10 metres of robotics and foam latex.