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Lake Placid (1999)

You’ll never know what bit you

Directed by:

Steve Miner

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 82 minutes

UK Certificate: 15

On DVD

Country: United States

I can probably tell you that the 30 feet man-eating beast lurking beneath the surface of Lake Placid is, in fact, a crocodile. It’s supposed to be a mystery, but let’s face it – the giant croc featured on the poster is a bit of a giveaway.

Try not to worry too much about that though – you’ll soon realise that the carnivorous reptilian beast inhabiting the waters of this sleepy New England lake isn’t half as important to the movie as David E. Kelley’s sarcasm-packed script. Though that poster perhaps displays some rather confused marketing, this is without doubt a comedy first and a horror second.

Brendan Gleeson plays the tubby sheriff unfortunate enough to have the monster in his catchment area. Bill Pullman, now comfortably back in B-movie territory after his brief flirtation with the big-hitters as the American Pres in ‘Independence Day’, plays some sort of animal warden. Bridget Fonda is the palaeontologist taking some time out from the big city. And Oliver Platt is a crocodile specialist who also happens to be a bit of a nutcase. Best of all, though, is one-time ‘Golden Girl’ Betty White as the mad old lady who feeds the croc live cattle and swears like a docker.

Not for even a second of its remarkably short running time does this strange concoction come even close to being scary, and you’ll have a tough time working out where the bad acting stops and the tongue-in-cheek stuff begins. The plot itself follows the creature feature formula to the letter, offering not a single twist or turn to force your brain cells into action. But there’s no doubting that this is an entertaining piece of tripe, with a winning script behind it. I laughed more often during this than I have during most recent out-and-out comedies – and you can’t say much fairer than that.

It's Got: Strange music playing in the background every time Pullman and Fonda talk to each other. Why does that never happen in real-life?

It Needs: For that crocodile to have serious words with its agent – it gets upstaged by the humans’ deadpan dialogue in practically every scene

DVD Extras Mini cast biographies, TV spots and a 5 minute featurette. DVD Extras Rating: 3/10

Alternatives:

Alligator, Deep Blue Sea, Jaws

Summary

Not remotely frightening, but remarkably good fun.

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