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Lake Placid: Collector’s Edition (1999) - Blu-ray Review

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Lake PLacid - Blu-ray Review

3 stars

It is a movie we didn’t know how to talk about. Released in 1999 and written on-spec by David E. Kelley, Lake Placid and its R-rated mixture of horror and comedy scared audiences away. Why? Because it was effective at its ambitions of being solely a trash-talking B-movie and – during the “weighty” summer of The Phantom Menace and The Sixth Sense – we just couldn’t take any foul-mouthed silliness. Which, in retrospect, is pretty hilarious. How petulant of us.

Ebert famously dismissed Steve Miner’s picture as “wrongheaded” from the onset and other critics advised people to stay away from this giant, 30-foot-long man-eating crocodile terrorizing a dysfunctional group of trackers. They didn’t get the film’s intentions to make you laugh more than to terrify you. While it was a financial success and spawned three needless straight-to-cable sequels (not starring any members of the original cast), this movie still gets a bad rep. Hopefully, this blu-ray collector’s edition from Scream Factory will bring the movie a more appreciative audience.

Set in and mostly filmed in Lincoln County, Maine, Lake Placid is the story of one old lady’s, Mrs. Bickerman (Betty White), misguided attempts to bond with nature and the animals in the lake behind her house. After a couple of mysterious disappearances and a beheading of a scientist studying beaver populations in front (or more to the side) of Sheriff Hank Keough (Brendan Gleeson), Fish and Game officer Jack Wells (Bill Pullman) finds himself surrounded by American Museum of Natural History paleontologist Kelly Scott (Bridget Fonda) and mythology professor/crocodile enthusiast Hector Cyr (Oliver Platt) as he attempts to kill whatever beastie lies in the darkness of Black Lake.

Thing is, Kelly and Hector want it captured alive. The conversations turn to hilarious attempts to understand each other as these likable characters do a little bonding while on the hunt of this giant creature. Conserve or kill? That is the question. Little do they know, as Betty White hilariously dangles her toes in the water at the end of the picture, that there are more giant-sized gators being fed and they need not worry about anything but their own preservation.

This movie is nothing but campy fun. It is a warm-blooded film that got a cold-blooded reception. The dialogue is hokey and ridiculous for a reason and some of the lines are hilarious. When Hector holds up a gnawed on toe and asks Hank if this is the man that was killed, the response of “He seemed … taller” never fails to slay me. There are moments like that sprinkled throughout the picture and that is what makes it so much fun. You never know what is going to happen next. Yet, still people rant and rave about how corny the picture is. Yeah. That’s the point.

The film features some great camera choices by director Steve Miner makes this movie a certifiable blast to revisit. Never once does the film surrender to its limited budget. It can be suggested that this shoot is more professional and polished than you would expect from a giant killer animal movie with a B-movie vibe. The same can be said of the clever filming. Cinematographer Daryn Okada gets the shots right to provide some unexpected moments.

Another thing the filmmakers do right is mixing the practical effects with the CGI. There’s not a lot of CG in the picture and, thankfully, Stan Winston’s alligator is on full display here. The bits of CG we do have are effectively immersive and never detract from the physical landscape of the shoot. The scene where the alligator hops on land long enough to chomp a bear’s ass and drag him into the murky lake is still an amazing bit of work that satisfy the more demanding audience members.

Lake Placid is not supposed to make you scream in terror. It’s supposed to leave you howling in laughter.

Lake Placid collector's Edition - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: R for violent creature attacks and related gore, and for language.
Runtime:
82 mins
Director
: Steve Miner
Writer: David E. Kelley
Cast:
Bridget Fonda, Bill Pullman, Oliver Platt
Genre
: Action | Comedy | Horror
Tagline:
Part Mystery Part Thriller Parts Missing.
Memorable Movie Quote: "I brought a pork chop for luck. Maybe you could hang it around your neck."
Distributor:
Fox 2000 Pictures
Official Site: http://www.foxmovies.com/lakeplacid/
Release Date:
July 16, 1999
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
July 8, 2014
Synopsis: Horror-Comedy about a man-eating crocodile loose in the lake.

Lake PLacid - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - July 8, 2014
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles
: English
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit); English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (48kHz, 24-bit)
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: A

Lake Placid is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Scream Factory (an imprint of Shout! Factory) with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.36:1. Colors are strong with some nice browns and greens and a good natural look to the lighting. Shot on location, there is still a lot of detail to be found in the deep greens of the trees and the warm glow of the sunsets. There are some minor banding issues in the underwater shots, but other than that there’s nothing to complain about. The film was shot in panorama widescreen and some of the location shots look downright stunning. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is fairly dynamic and defined.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

There’s a really nice making-of and retrospective documentary on the Blu-ray, a little over a half-hour long, and features newly recorded interviews with actor Bill Pullman, director Steve Miner, director of photography Daryn Okada, and others. There’s also interviews with special effects team members who talk about the trials, and also the tribulations, of creating a big huge crocodile robot. In keeping with the tone of the movie itself, this is a good time. 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.

  • Making of Lake Placid (31 min)
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Featurette (6 min)
  • TV Spots
  • Croc Test Footage (7 min)
  • Behind the Scenes Gallery (5 min)

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