Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Crater Lake Monster (1977)

I’m like any other average 30 something nerd, I love dinosaur movies. I don’t the fascination for the real thing, that’s cood but bones are often quite boring and don’t eat people – if they’re not possessed by an evil spirit and wrecks havoc at a museum or something. But that would happen to me anyway. The Crater Lake Monster is one of all these regional genre flicks that were produced around the US, often it in the north it seems, by unknown and often quite talented filmmakers. It’s very rare with masterpieces in this category of US film history, but the passion for the art of film is always there. This is not one of those masterpieces, far away from it. But the recent blu-ray from Mill Creek makes the movie look fantastic and enhances the viewing experience.

The story is very simple: a water-based dinosaur shows up at a lake and starts eating people, but mostly it making life hard for two local rednecks (one with the biggest beard I’ve seen in along time), who almost have a homoerotic relationship. Or like brothers. It’s probably in the eye of the beholder, and I’m gay so you can make that out for yourself. The rednecks take up a lot of the time, but the rest revolves around the cool sheriff (Richard Cardella, who also came up with the story). He drives around in cool sunglasses and nice sideburns, talk alot, interviews eye witnesses and just being awesome. He’s the best thing with the whole show. Here and there we see random scenes of a well-made stop-motion dinosaur (courtesy of genius Dave Allen) attacking and eating people. That’s about it.

It would be easy to complain a lot about The Crater Lake Monster. Actually, a more fitting title would be The Crater Lake Drunkards, because of the two rednecks running around being drunk and scared, mostly at the same time. I’m not sure why, but several of the day-for-night scenes are in bright sunlight, which make it very absurd when characters admiring the beautiful night sky filled with stars or using flashlights in broad daylight. Most of the script is there for filling and an awkward subplot involving a robber feels just like a very complicated way to get someone killed by the dinosaur.

On the good side, the movie looks stunning and me, as a fan of miles and miles of nature, this is like a porn movie of deep green forests, fantastic mountains, atmospheric fog, blue water and a sense of freedom. Maybe the movie itself isn’t that important, it’s about experiencing the amazing wilderness. And sideburns, local acting talents and seventies fashion. I would say that these local productions are here as a time machine, maybe the best way to show us how people lived in the US during the seventies. Far from the fake-looking fashion magazines, this is the references modern filmmakers should use when recreating this era.

Ah yes, the dinosaur. It looks good, very good. The special effects involving the animation is very fine, but are ruined by a quite plastic looking dino-head from time to time. Another good thing is that we’re treated to quite much dinosaur-footage, which is rare in ultra-cheap monster movies like this.

The blu-ray is a must, the movie maybe not so much a must – but still something for all monster fans out there.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, the antics of the two stupid dunderheads killed this movie for me.

dfordoom said...

It's difficult to go wrong with rampaging dinosaur movies.