UTG’s 31 Days Of Halloween: ‘Lake Placid’

lake placid feature

Of all the holidays celebrated worldwide, no single day is more loved by the UTG staff than Halloween. With the arrival of the year’s best month, the time has finally come to begin rolling out a plethora of features and special announcements we have prepared in celebration of our favorite day, including the one you’re about to read.

Now in its third year, 31 Days Of Halloween is a recurring feature that will run throughout the month of October. The hope and goal of this column is to supply every UTG reader with a daily horror (or Halloween-themed) movie recommendation that is guaranteed to amplify your All Hallows’ Eve festivities. We’ll be watching every film the day it’s featured, and we hope you’ll follow along at home.

[Warning: the material within is likely NSFW]

lake placid

Day 24: Lake Placid (1999)

For as long as there have been horror movies, there have been monsters to fill them. This particular sub-genre has outlasted all others, and despite its habit of recycling old material, still manages to draw in viewers by the boatload. Perhaps it is mankind’s inherent fear of the unknown that fuels the need for inhuman antagonists, but whatever the reason, there is something timeless about a grotesque figure lurking in the foreground, snatching up victims without warning or mercy.

Enter Lake Placid. Written by David E. Kelley and directed by Steve Miner, this creature-based carnival expertly emphasizes genre tropes without growing stale while sprinkling in enough humor along the way to keep things light and accessible. Though not particularly groundbreaking in terms of plot or content, this film has a personality all its own, and builds suspense in a way that is both fun and refreshing. Plus, it also has Betty White swearing like a trucker and berating law enforcement, which is a treat in itself.

Betty white

Set in the fictional town of Black Lake, Maine, Lake Placid revolves around paleontologist Kelly Scott (Bridget Fonda), who is flown out east to investigate a mysterious tooth and a serious of odd, seemingly accidental deaths. Following a number of strange occurrences and accounts, she is soon joined by Sheriff Hank Keough (Brendan Gleeson) and fish & game officer Jack Welis (Bill Pullman), and with the help of eccentric millionaire Hector Cyr (Oliver Platt), the unlikely outfit set out to determine just what lies beneath the glassy surface of Black Lake. SPOILER ALERT: it’s a huge freaking crocodile.

lake placid croc

As mentioned, Lake Placid is by no means the best monster movie to ever grace the big screen, but it is more than enough to make you second-guess that trip to your family’s lake cottage. The cast has a natural chemistry that keeps things moving during less exciting sequences, and while there are a few times that the script overreaches, eye-rolls are kept to a minimum. Additionally, the real star, the crocodile, looks damn good considering this film was released in 1999, when CGI was still in its infancy. Toothy and terrifying, his screen time is kept to a minimum until the second act, paying homage to classic thrillers like Jaws and Alien without feeling like a total rip-off.

The end result is an easy-to-swallow piece of cinema that, despite a good amount of dismemberment and mayhem, doesn’t take itself too seriously. And though it probably won’t haunt your dreams quite like The Thing or It, Lake Placid is an essential viewing experience for any fan of man-eating monsters.

Editorial written by: Kyle Florence
Last year’s Day 24 film: The Faculty

Kyle Florence

Kyle Florence is a proud Wisconsinite, a dinosaur enthusiast, and a lover of all things weird and whacky.
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