The Crater Lake Monster (1977) – DVD Review

crater-lake-monster-dvd-cover

Film:
DVD:

Written by: Richard Cardella
Directed by: William R. Stromberg
Starring: Richard Cardella, Mark Siegel, Glen Roberts, and Richard Garrison

Features:

  • Incorrect cast billing on front cover
  • Trailer

Released by: Rhino
Region: 1
Rating: PG
Anamorphic: Nope. Full-screen presentation.

My Advice: Blast it with a 12-gauge and stomp on the pieces.

Before I begin this review, I would just like it known that I’m not, in fact, one of those humorless movie watchers that can’t appreciate a good “B” movie. I love the B’s. Lloyd Kaufman is a hero of mine. I watched MST3K religiously. So what you’re about to read isn’t a result of my failure to appreciate cheesy flicks for the drive-in humor value.

That said, this movie is 80 minutes of arse. Disjointed, badly written, horribly acted, and ill-conceived, The Crater Lake Monster represents the nadir of monster cinema. Like Rhino’s other recent DVD offering, Cave Girl, this movie’s only redeeming quality is aerodynamics (it should get pretty good distance when thrown properly).

The movie begins with a pair of anthropologists discovering cave paintings of ancient man doing battle with a plesiosaurus. Despite the sheer historical implausability (and the relative freshness of the painting, by all appearances), the couple decide they have stumbled upon the find of a lifetime. Then a meteor crashes into nearby Crater Lake. Breaking another law of science, when the couple go diving to investigate, they discover that the water all around the meteor is “still too hot” for a close approach. How a tiny little rock heats a localized area of water to above 90 degrees after 24 hours submerged in a massive lake is never really addressed…but I digress.

The heat from the meteor causes a dormant egg to hatch a plesiosaurus, which within days grows to 50 or 60 feet in length and begins to eat people. Time passes inexplicably (six months goes by in a blink at one point), and the monster continues to snatch people up and devour them, to the consternation of the sheriff, who has no idea that his town’s lake is home to a scientific impossibility. The devourings continue until finally the sheriff sees the monster, argues with the scientists about whether or not to destroy it, and ultimately kills it with an earth-mover.

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If the plot synopsis isn’t enough to scare you off, you may be beyond hope, but here goes my attempt to warn you away. Major issue numero uno is temporal continuity. The movie has none. Whatsoever. The six-month drive from police HQ to the diner is bad enough, but two other instances serve to illustrate the problem. First, a local politico rents a boat for a leisurely afternoon jaunt on the lake. He is predictably eaten, the boat is found abandoned, and the sheriff spends “all night” looking for the body and/or clues. Later the next day, the owners of the rented boat talk about sending the man out “this morning.” A day passes, but apparently the people renting boats don’t notice. Must be hell to rent by the hour with these clowns. My favorite example involves a couple (also renting a boat for a cruise) sitting in the middle of the lake being romantic. The wife/girlfriend/whatever looks up at the sky wistfully and comments on how she has never seen so many stars…while the brillaint noon-day sun beats down on the scene!

Big issue number two: acting. It’s a foreign concept to pretty much everyone involved in the film. While fleeing for their lives, the aforementioned romantic couple run their boat aground, and the woman leaps out of the boat and runs approximately ten feet away to cower. Her intrepid hubby, thinking gods-know-what, decides the best defense is to set the now-grounded boat on fire. So he does. And then joins his wife ten feet away from the fire to cower. The monster swings around the bend, takes one look at these morons, and leaves, perhaps thinking that his food supply would be improved by letting these morons breed more idiots that don’t run far away.

Still not afraid? I don’t know if I can help you at all. The effects are cheesy and would make Harryhausen spin in his grave–even despite the fact he’s still quite alive. The sheriff defeats the beats with a mini-bulldozer, half-decapitating it with the earthmoving blade (which moves about as fast as I do before my morning coffee). People talk about the beauty of the night sky while staring into the sun, for crying out loud! What more warning do you need?

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The DVD itself doesn’t add any value, providing only the theatrical trailer. Presentation is full-screen. The box proclaims the stars to be three actors that only appeared together in Las Vegas Lady (1976), and none of them are in this movie. The Crater Lake Monster is horrible. Its cast list reads like an actors’ graveyard. The only individuals that had anything resembling a career after this film were two of the actors that changed tactics and went into special effects (one of them, Mark Siegel, is a concept sculptor at ILM now). So if, despite all this information, you go out and watch this abomination, don’t come crying to me when your eyes bleed. You were warned.

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By | 2017-09-25T00:01:21+00:00 December 7th, 2003|Reviews|1 Comment

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