Cast: Bill Pullman, Bridget Fonda, Oliver Platt, Brendan Gleeson, Betty White
One of my guilty pleasure movies has always been Lake Placid and now Scream Factory has released a special collector’s edition Blu-ray of the giant crocodile movie. This is one of those movies that rose above the garbage monster movies that populates the bargain bins at video stores and still holds a soft spot in the heart of many people here 15 years since it was released.
First of all, the transfer of this movie is fantastic. It looks and sounds great, and when a movie includes an animatronic rubber crocodile, it is reassuring to know that the transfer never made it look bad or fake in any way. That lies on the impressive shoulders of Stan Winston, who designed the crocodile for the film. It just looks fantastic.
As for the movie, it still holds up well. Honestly, the first 20 minutes or so of the movie is hit and miss. Bridget Fonda is not a character you can get behind until at least halfway through the movie. For someone who is supposed to be one of the heroes, the fact that you almost want her to get eaten by the crocodile is never a good thing. This comes with both the antagonistic relationship that writer David Kelly wrote as well as her ability to be just insufferable.
With that said, there is little else about this movie to dislike.
The best part of the movie has always been the relationship between Brendan Gleeson’s country sheriff and Oliver Platt’s eccentric explorer. The two are a perfect comedy duo and play brilliantly off one another. Most people remember Betty White and the humor that comes from her potty mouth, but the best comedy in the movie comes from Gleeson and Platt, an antagonistic bromance made in Heaven. While the arguments between Fonda’s character and the others come across as forced, this one is just perfect.
On a side note, it is almost impossible 15 years later to see Mariska Hargitay play a home wrecker. It just doesn’t stand up over time thanks to her TV career.
As for the crocodile effects, the mixture of Stan Winston’s creature effects and some great camera choices by director Steve Miner makes this movie just a blast to watch. It never once looks cheap or fake and the entire thing comes across much more professional and polished than you would expect from a giant killer animal movie.
And it is funny. Cinematographer Daryn Okada said he thought he was being fooled when told that David E. Kelly wrote the movie, but the humor and quality storytelling shows through. While Kelly is best known for his television work, Lake Placid proves that he can do it all. Yes, it is a guilty pleasure, but it is also a damn good little monster movie.
The first special feature is a fantastic 30-minute look back at the movie. Bill Pulman, Steve Minter and more talk about making the movie and the response it received over the years. A lot of discussion goes into making the crocodile as well as the strong attempts form David Kelly when it comes to making sure the movie is funny as well as suspenseful. It was a fun listen and had a lot of information. A commentary track would have been better, but this was a nice consolation prize.
There is also a vintage advertising feature about the movie from when it was first released that checks in at about three minutes, a seven minute completely silent look at the test footage of the animatronic crocodile used in the movie, the trailer, TV spots and a gallery of behind-the-scenes photos.