Monday, July 14, 2014

Lake Placid Collector’s Edition Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
On July 8, 2014, Scream Factory will unleash the Lake Placid: Collector's Edition Blu-ray, featuring insightful bonus content and all-new interviews with director Steve Miner, actor Bill Pullman, production designer John Willett and more. This definitive home entertainment release also contains a collectible cover featuring newly rendered artwork, a reversible cover wrap with original theatrical key art. In Lake Placid, a tranquil New England lakefront erupts into an action-packed den of destruction. An investigative team, armed with state-of-the-art equipment, high powered weaponry and a biting sense of sarcasm, must work together to defeat Black Lake's most ferocious resident: a prehistoric crocodile!

Film (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Small town Sheriff Keough (Brandan Gleeson) is dealing with an unexplained gruesome death that occurred in the local lake.  Paleontologist Kelly Scott (Bridget Fonda) recently ended a relationship with her boss.  As a result she has been sent to investigate a tooth related to the death, simply to get her out of the office during the breakup.  The Sheriff doesn’t welcome her assistance, nor does the Dept. of Fish and Game Warden Jack Wells (Bill Pullman).  The unlikely team is rounded out by crocodile expert Hector Cyr (Oliver Platt) who idolizes and deifies the creatures.

For a bit of the film it’s unclear that the monster in question is in fact a crocodile but when it reveals itself it’s larger than anyone could have ever guessed.  At that point the pendulum sways from horror to comedy as Cyr attempts to dangle a cow from a helicopter as bait.  Local resident Betty White takes the humor up a notch as its revealed that she’s rooting for the crocodile to eat the investigators. The standard arguments ensue as some want to kill the croc and others want to capture and study it.

It’s debatable whether this film should be called a horror flick or a comedy.  In my mind it’s a comedy where the deaths are often funny, if you can imagine that, even though people sometimes die terribly painful deaths. People searching for traditional horror flicks will certainly be disappointed and comedy fans might squirm at the blood and guts.  If you find humor in the “traditional” creature features, this hybrid might be for you.

There are a couple of fun “jumps” as the croc is revealed but overall I expect hardcore horror fans to be disappointed.  If you enjoy Syfy channel creature features then this fits in their oeuvre nicely.  It’s even slightly more plausible than Sharknado.  It’s very obvious that the odd woman out (Bridget Fonda) will eventually become a valued member of the team and the love interest for the other science guy (Bill Pullman).  Still, it was fun and I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed it.
Video (3 out of 5 stars)
Lake Placid is presented on Blu-ray courtesy with a 1080p transfer in a 2.36:1 ratio. It’s a generally good presentation with some grain issues apparent in the bright outdoor sky.  Most importantly the crocodile and its related images are solid.  There is less clarity when the wide shots of the area come into play.  The palette, like the lake is a little murky but supports the film well.
Audio (3 out of 5 stars)
Lake Placid's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is good but not great.  It’s front centered and lacks the weight that would make you jump from your seat.  However, dialogue and creature sounds are clear and intelligible with no need to adjust volume.   Sonar blips, helicopter blades and boat engines provide accurate background noise.
Extras (2 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Nothing extraordinary pops up in these features but I did enjoy the croc test footage.
  • Making of Lake Placid – A featurette lasting over thirty minutes with cast and crew interviews.
  • Featurette – A five minute featurette from the original release period.
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spots – Less than two minutes of TV spots.
  • Croc Test Footage – A look at the creature created by Stan Winston and crew.
  • Behind the Scenes Gallery
Summary (3 out of 5 stars)
Lake Placid doesn’t come close to horror-comedy hybrids like Cabin in the Woods but rather a horror movie with a sense of humor.  With Oliver Platt and Betty White in the middle of a croc-hunting expedition it’s definitely got its funny points. The supplemental features aren’t terribly exciting but are far more than I expected to see.  For those with a creature section to their movie collection, Lake Placid definitely earns a place.  On my shelf it will be seated between Sharktopus and Deep Blue Sea.  My collection is a little shark heavy so I’m glad to add a croc to the mix.  
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