Plot: What’s it about?
Crocodiles, Moose and Bears – oh my!
After the success of 1997’s Anaconda, it seemed to generate a renewed interest in the “killer animal” movie genre. And if it didn’t exist, it does now. At the time of its release (1999) Lake Placid had a pretty high profile cast that included Bill Pullman, Oliver Platt, Bridget Fonda, Brendan Gleeson and the adorable Betty White (who’s more popular than all of the aforementioned actors). Add to that that the script was written by David E. Kelly who, at the time, was riding high for television’s Ally McBeal, and you’d have a nice little movie shaping up. But that plot…well how about a 30 foot long crocodile that arbitrarily attacks people in a peaceful lake? Yep, let’s make this movie!
The plot is simple enough in that we witness a Fish and Game officer get bitten in half by a mysterious monster. Sheriff Hank Keough (Brendan Gleeson) and Fish and Game officer Jack Wells (Bill Pullman) call in some help in the form of Kelly Scott (Bridget Fonda), a paleontologist from the American Museum of Natural History. As if things weren’t crazy enough, eccentric mythology professor/crocodile enthusiast Hector Cyr (Oliver Platt) shows up to add a bit of fuel to fire. As the killings continue, we learn that the crocodile has no quams about what it eats. The group finds a severed moose head and we see it consume a brown bear in one fail swoop. Impressive. Lastly we meet Delores Bickerman, a cantankerous old woman (Betty White) who has been feeding the croc since it followed her husband home (and later ate him). Things aren’t all that peaceful in Lake Placid – what will they do?
Lake Placid was a modest hit when it hit theaters in 1999 so, of course, it inspired three sequels of varying quality. There really is nothing like the original, of course, and it’s by far the best of the quartet. I’d remembered really liking the film when I first saw it and if you think it’s going to be at all scary – you’re mistaken. In the vein of the Evil Dead films, this is more comedy than horror and that’s no doubt the appeal of the film(s). The cast is in top form, but the real scene stealer is the quick-witted Oliver Platt who we don’t see a lot of anymore. The plot itself is so preposterous, you wonder why so many “A” list stars were attracted to it. At any rate, they were and I’m thankful for it. I’d classify this as one my guiltiest pleasures and, of course, a viewing is recommended.
Video: How’s it look?
Lake Placid first came to DVD via 20th Century Fox and contained a 2.35:1 non-anamorphic transfer. Yes, believe it or not, that was a real hot topic 15 years ago with us DVD reviewers as it meant that the image wasn’t enhanced for the then not-so-common HDTV’s. Granted, that’s a thing of the past as this hasn’t been an issue for quite some time, but having never seen Lake Placid in its true form, I was actually excited to see it on Blu-ray. Shout! Factory has done a pretty good job here, with a nice 2.35:1 AVC HD image that showcases both the serene lake setting as well as some comical gore. The image seems a bit dark in places, almost like the contrast is out of balance, but it’s not so bad that it really detracted from the overall image quality. Detail has been improved and flesh tones seem a bit on the baked side. I don’t think it’s the best this movie could have looked, but I can say without a doubt that it’s a marked improvement over the previous DVD.
Audio: How’s it sound?
The previous Dolby Digital soundtrack has been replaced by a DTS HD Master Audio mix that fits the part, but isn’t one of the most robust ones out there. There are a few scenes that showcase the dynamic audio, but by and large this is all about the dialogue (no matter how witty or sarcastic it is). Fronts take the brunt of the action while the surrounds add a bit of dimension to some of the ending scenes. A few gunshots ring out for some added emphasis. While not the audio powerhouse, Lake Placid does sound better than its DVD counterpart.
Supplements: What are the extras?
If memory serves, the previous DVD only contained the trailer and a brief featurette. Some new features have been added to this release, so let’s check them out.
- Vintage Featurette – This is the same featurette that was part of the original DVD release. What’s pretty cool is that between the 4:3 SD presentation is some footage from the film shown in HD from the Blu-ray. I thought this was a nice touch. Of course, content wise, all we get are the standard things with the actors talking about their parts and so forth.
- Making of Lake Placid – A new featurette with some new interviews with a pleasantly plump Bill Pullman as well as some of the other cast and crew members. It’s always nice to see the actors reminisce about their roles in films and especially one as campy as this. A nice addition.
- Croc Test Footage – The title describes it all, it’s just a guy in some gear with the huge croc floating in the lake.
- Theatrical Trailer
- Television Spots
- Photo Gallery – Running around 5 minutes, it’s just that.