The Horror Honeys: Lake Placid: We're Gonna Need a Bigger Helicopter

Lake Placid: We're Gonna Need a Bigger Helicopter

A Scaly Monster Honey Review by Jennica

But actually, you do know...
It's a giant crocodile.
Lake Placid (1999)

What swims in the water and will swallow you whole? Sorry, sharkaholics, but it's not a giant fish this week. This Sunday's monster mayhem is dead-icated to another man-eating creature (and I'm not talking about yours ghouly). When the beaches are deserted after all the rogue sharks, megalodons, ghost sharks, and even sharknados, summer tourists will make their way to the nearest camp sites. Because the average person doesn't watch enough horror movies and rivers and lakes are harmless. Right? Perhaps the average person has never taken a dip in Lake Placid.  

The Plot: After a fatal attack in Black Lake, Maine, the tooth of an unfamiliar species is discovered lodged in the remains of the victim. When the icy New York paleontologist Kelly Scott (Bridget Fonda) is sent to examine the tooth, it is confirmed that it belongs to a 30-foot long Asian crocodile. With the help of the police, a handsome forest ranger, and a demented mythology professor (seriously, why is this guy here?), Kelly must get a little dirt under her pretty fingernails to stop the man-eating croc from claiming another victim... and another, and another...

Since Shark Week has recently ended and I'm suffering through my annual withdrawals this week, Lake Placid is the perfect dose of methadone to my great white addiction. It's clear from the very beginning of the film that screenwriter David E. Kelley and director Steve Minor have a passionate love for Jaws. In fact, the opening scene depicting the crocodile's first victim writhing about in the lake not only mirrors the heart-stopping first kill in Jaws but has an all too familiar emotional impact. If Jaws is reason enough to stay out of the deep blue sea, Lake Placid is enough to keep me out of any lake and probably away from any camp site.

...and probably helicopters.
However, the homage to Jaws doesn't end there, as there are some similarities in the characters of both films as well. We also have the rich, privileged guy who thinks the deadly aquatic animals are cool and likes to live dangerously, and we have the wildlife ranger who bears a somewhat strong resemblence to Chief Brody, acting as the glue holding the crew together. Oh, and let's not forget the police chief who, like the mayor in Jaws, is reluctant to believe that a giant animal could cause such destruction.

Along with an overflow of mimicry in the film, Lake Placid also contains various levels of humor, none of which ever miss a beat. The sarcasm, slap-stick routines, and especially my favorite foul-mouthed senior citizen Betty White are a large part of what make the movie fun as well as thrilling.

Pictured: Honey Role Model
You tell 'em, Betty!
What has bothered me about this movie since I was a young monster, however, is the fact that Kelly Scott is not only an annoying female stereotype but she is also heavily consumed by her relationship status as if her only accomplished title in life should be "some guy's girlfriend." Kelly makes her grand entrance into the movie just as her incredibly dull boyfriend-- and boss-- dumps her and sends her away to Maine. She goes there and she bitches at everyone, screams every time nature offends her, and pouts over her terrible single lady misfortune until she finds someone to feel sorry for her. And the movie ends with a presumed date night in the works. It's obvious that the writer and director are eager to superficially show Kelly making a transformation from a delicate urban diva to a tough woman of the wildnerness, but it's not fooling anyone... at least not me.

Alright, which one of you fella's wants to be my new boyfriend?
Honestly, Lake Placid never really stood out much in my mind when I look back on all my viewing pleasures growing up in the 90s. It was one of those movies that I used to watch whenever it came on TV but I never actually owned it until Shout Factory! gave it shiny new cover art and special features. Even as an adult, it's still not a great movie... and yet, every now and then, I'll pop it in and watch the shit out of it. Maybe it's because of my love for Betty White or maybe my mind occasionally gets blown too hard after watching Jaws over and over. Whatever it is, it's certainly not for the in-your-face antifeminist backlash. 

Jennica's Rating: 3 Unhappy Cows out of 5

If you too have the week-after-Shark-Week blues, Lake Placid is available on iTunes and Amazon Instant Video.

Has Lake Placid scared you away from the great outdoors?