BASEMENT BLU-RAY REVIEW: Shout! Factory’s Lake Placid (1999)

It is a pleasure to be reviewing yet another title by Shout! Factory. You know that when you buy something from them, there’s a good bet that you are going to be satisfied. This is also true of their regular Blu-ray release of the 1999 creature feature classic LAKE PLACID.

Bill Pullman (Independence Day, The Grudge), Bridget Fonda (Jackie Brown), Brendan Gleeson (In Bruges) and Oliver Platt (X-Men: First Class) share an appetite for sheer adventure when a tranquil New England lakefront erupts into an action-packed den of destruction in this “monster of a hit” (Wireless Magazine)!

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 30-foot prehistoric crocodile! Written by David E. Kelley (Ally McBeal, Boston Legal), directed by Steve Miner (Halloween H20, Friday The 13th Part 2), and co-starring Betty White as the cantankerous Mrs. Bickerman, this terrifying tale of survival “combines humor and thrills with remarkable deftness” (New York Post).

I have always been a fan of nature-run-amok films and LAKE PLACID is one of the better ones. It is very well written, with a nice mix of horror and comedy. The chemistry between the four leads is also really good. Kelly (Bridget Fonda) and Jack (Bill Pullman) are both great in their roles and it’s nice to see how their relationship develops. Will they get together, or won’t they? Hector (Oliver Platt) and Sheriff Hank Keough (Brendan Gleeson) are also great with their sarcasm and dislike of each other, eventually bonding to be friends.

Kelly, Jack, and the Sheriff looking for the crocodile.

Betty White, playing Mrs. Bickerman, is cast perfectly in this role. It really shows how great of an actress she was, willing to do and play pretty much any role. Not because she needed the work, but because she could bring absolute joy to a character. She is so bitchy to the authority figures and yet you love every moment she is on screen. She is a true treasure!

The special effects are also quite amazing, especially considering when this film came out. The infamous Stan Winston did the practical crocodile effects, and they look incredible. There is not one moment when the full-size model is on screen that you do not believe it to be real. That is a true testament to his team. The CGI is also really good, especially considering that this movie came out during the early years of this process.

Mrs. Bickerman (Betty White) feeding one of her cows to the huge crocodile.

LAKE PLACID is so deserving of a Shout! Factory release. It really is one of the best creature features. It looks absolutely amazing here. They movie is clear, and the colors are lush. The audio is also great, with sounds clearly discernable from all speakers. Though a 4K release would be nice, I question whether it is really necessary with the quality of this release.

All of the extras are fun as well. The interviews with director Steve Minor, actor Bill Pullman, and director of photography Daryn Okada are very interesting. It’s too bad that they weren’t able to interview Bridget Fonda, Oliver Platt, and Brendan Gleeson as well. It would’ve rounded off this interview nicely. The interviews with Stan Winston’s team are very cool to watch. I love to see the behind the scenes of any creature effects.

This is definitely a film you will want in your collection, if it isn’t there already. If you would like to add this fun movie to your collection, just click on the Blu-ray cover above. I hope you enjoyed this review. Don’t forget to read the other blogs in my BASEMENT BLU-RAY REVIEW series.

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~David Albaugh

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