Friday, January 28, 2011
The Crater Lake Monster!
Great poster! Humdrum movie!
The Crater Lake Monster is a movie meant to capitalize on the glamor of the Loch Ness Monster, which when this movie was made in the late 70's was at its height.
We have a remote rural town with a population of dozens which finds itself next to a lake with a giant creature which from time to time lumbers out and attacks some random person or other. The Sheriff and some local scientists typically plumb the mystery and eventually they and couple of town goofballs battle the beast with a rather predictable result.
First the good.
The setting is gorgeous. Often the movie will isolate on shots of the surroundings and its absolutely lush and beautiful. I'd like to visit this place.
The basic story of a meteor landing in the lake and the resulting heat causing a forgotten egg to hatch releasing the monster seems almost plausible.
The early sightings of the creature are pretty good given the time this movie was made. The movie makers are wise (or perhaps forced by limited footage) to keep the creature off screen and that is usually a smart thing for a monster movie. Too much critter gets boring, whereas the anticipation of a critter never does.
The creature effects are pretty good, and the main reason for any monster lover to check this movie out. David (Equinox, Flesh Gordon) Allen does the work here, and he's a solid talent in this field.
Now the bad.
Not enough creature. Yes they kept it off screen, but they did it too long and when in the end of the final reel it does appear for a visit we don't get enough to satisfy the long set up. Again, I'm sure budget was an issue since the creature was stop-motion.
The key to a good monster flick is that in addition to a decent monster you whip up story that will compel the audience to the ultimate clash. This one lacks that essential element. The story rather meanders, often going down cul de sacs introducing unimportant characters who never really pay off. They seem to be filling up screen time and of course they are doing exactly that.
The acting is uneven. Some of it is pretty good, some of it is painful. The lack of a decent voice over track hurts this detail I suspect.
All in all this is an interesting monster movie. I got it in a Mill Creek collection that offers up other off beat flicks. So I paid less than seventy-five cents for it. That's a good price, not much of an uptick from a ticket price if I'd gone to see it at the drive-in when it first opened many decades ago.
If you don't mind spoiling the ending here's a clip with most of the creature effects.
That is one great poster. Though the creature looks nothing like that.