Release Date(s)1999 (July 8, 2014)
- Film/Program Grade: B-
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: B+
- Extras Grade: B+
Lake Placid was released in 1999 and was directed by horror veteran Steve Miner, who most folks will know from Friday the 13th Part 2 and 3 (as well as the vastly underrated Warlock). It starred a wealth of acting talent for a B movie of its caliber, and even though it wasn’t a huge box office success, it thrived quite well due to its popularity on home video and repeats on cable.
The movie also came out at a time when there was a monster movie boom going on at the box office (which has had a slight resurgence today). Godzilla, Deep Blue Sea, Anaconda, and others were attempting to recapture some of the old monster movie glories of the past. Some attempted to put new spins on old ideas instead of remaking them completely (like they do today), so it seemed a bit simpler in retrospect, and also had a little more integrity (I’ll give it that much, for sure). Looking back at it today, Lake Placid wasn’t any sort of game changer or hot new spin on the comedy/horror genre, even though some of its creators might like to think it was. That’s not to say there’s nothing to it though. It’s a fun and sometimes witty monster movie, but never quite reaches the levels of awesomeness you could want. Characters are mainly around to be annoying in one way or another enabling audience participation because you want to see them bite it sooner or later. This was done intentionally, of course, but sometimes it feels a little cheap. Oliver Platt’s character, for instance, seems hell-bent on his attempts to annoy the audience into cheering on his hopeful demise, going so far as to go for a swim with the creature in question.
Besides Oliver Platt, you also have the likes of Bill Pullman, Bridget Fonda, Brendan Gleason, and Betty White rounding out the main cast of the movie. Betty White, of course, became a mini-superstar due to her use of blue language in the film. It was also a time when a mix of CGI and practical effects were still being utilized to make a movie like this (SyFy channel, take note). Stan Winston Studios designed and created the huge crocodile in the film, and while the CGI doesn’t really hold up today, it adds a bit of flavor to the mix. It was done as well as it could have been done at the time (one tends to forget how expensive CGI was in those days), but it still sticks out years later. The movie, overall, is no masterpiece of the genre, by any means, but it’s entertaining enough and has a bit of re-watchability to it that most movies like it don’t have. That’s also pretty commendable, especially for me as I tend to dislike most of today’s so-called "monster movies." This one feels refreshing by comparison.
Scream Factory’s presentation of Lake Placid on Blu-ray is pretty terrific without being overly amazing. There’s a fine layer of grain overlay throughout the movie, which shows up most apparently during brighter outdoor scenes, and there’s also some excellent color reproduction as well. I wouldn’t say that the skin tones are 100% accurate, but they’re pretty good. There’s some excellent contrast and brightness levels to boot. My only complaint is that some of the finer details are lost during some of the darker scenes of the film, particularly during the opening credits when the camera is traveling through murky waters. Some light banding can be seen during these moments, but other than that, it’s a darn fine transfer. The same goes for the audio selection, which comes in two options: English 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD. While the decibel rate is pretty high when it comes to some of the louder and more booming moments, especially from the creature itself, I felt that some of the dialogue needed a boost. It’s just a bit too low at times for my ears. The 5.1 mix doesn’t deliver the greatest surround experience, but the spacing is pretty good, and the score benefits greatly from the wider soundscape to play in. Overall, it’s an excellent presentation without being perfect. There are also subtitles in English for those who might need them.
The extras that have been included are varied but nice to dig through, starting with the new documentary The Making of Lake Placid; the film’s original theatrical trailer; a vintage featurette about the film; a set of TV spots; some Croc Test Footage; and finally, a behind-the-scenes gallery. The extras appear pretty light on the surface, but there are some good bits to be found.
Scream Factory’s release of Lake Placid of Blu-ray will no doubt be welcome to fans of the film, and of the genre. It sports a very good transfer and a nice little set of supplemental material, which is reason enough to pick it up and check it out for yourself.
- Tim Salmons