Oh, how I love this dumb movie! I first presented this post in 2013. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
Lest anyone think that this 1999 horror/comedy flick takes itself too seriously, they need only consider one of my favorite lines about halfway through. The hilarious Betty White plays old Delores Bickerman, who is spotted happily feeding one of her cows to a thirty-foot crocodile in the aptly named Black Lake, somewhere in Maine. When questioned by the local sheriff, she indignantly says to him, “If I had a dick, this is where I’d tell you to suck it.”
“YOU’LL NEVER KNOW WHAT BIT YOU”
Lake Placid, which garnered its share of crappy reviews, is one of my favorite guilty pleasures. And I’m not alone, as the film did well at the box office and spawned three made-for-TV sequels. The original had a solid cast, all of whom managed to keep a straight face throughout the comedy and the terror.
The story, with the usual spoiler alert: Sheriff Hank Keough (Brendan Gleeson) takes a Fish & Game guy out on the lake to tag beavers. The guy dives underwater; only half of him comes back up. Keough summons Jack Wells (Bill Pullman), another Fish & Game guy. They are joined by Kelly Scott (Bridget Fonda), a paleontologist from a New York City museum, since the dead guy had a huge reptile tooth stuck in what remained of him. This whiny gal hates everything about the great Maine outdoors and annoys the crap out of the guys.
Along with some other deputies, this group is later joined by mythology professor/rich guy/crocodile enthusiast Hector Cyr (a funny-as-hell Oliver Platt), who is more annoying than Kelly and more eccentric than Delores but shows up with a vast array of sophisticated equipment. The ongoing shtick between him and Sheriff Hank is outrageous.
Before long they’ve discovered a severed human toe and a chewed-up moose head, and on a second lake excursion they witness the decapitation of a deputy as he leans over the side of the boat. Later they find his head on shore, and they also see a bear dragged into the lake by the aforementioned giant crocodile. They soon question Delores, who says that she’s been feeding the thing for years, ever since it followed her fisherman husband home. The husband was eventually fed to the croc. Sheriff Hank puts the dotty old gal under house arrest.
Crazy Hector searches for the croc and winds up in the water, eye to eye with the beastie. At first talking to it reverently, he finally decides that he’s out of his freaking mind and manages to escape. Jack then decides to have Fish & Game blow it apart, but Hector suggests they tranquilize it and take it in to study. Kelly is on his side. Jack and Sheriff Hank reluctantly agree, and Hector “borrows” one of Delores’ cows, dangling it from his chopper to lure the croc to shore. The lawman stands by with a gun large enough to take out a T-Rex with a single shot.
Naturally, everything goes wrong. The chopper crashes in the lake. The croc, though shot with a tranquilizer dart, reaches shore and chases Kelly into the water. After a harrowing underwater pursuit she joins Hector, and they scramble to shore as the croc entangles itself in the chopper wreckage. The tranquilizers take effect and the beastie goes night-night. All is well…
…until a second giant croc emerges from the lake and nearly takes Hector’s leg off. What, you didn’t see that coming?
Anyway, Sheriff Hank blows it away with his cannon. The other croc is loaded on back of a huge truck and sets off down the road. The sheriff, now pals with Hector, joins him in the ambulance. Kelly and Jack head off to town for a beer and… All is well.
But how did they forget about dear old Mrs. Bickerman? Those two giant crocodiles must’ve been a mating pair, because in the final scene she’s feeding breads crumbs and talking baby talk to a bunch of little crocs. Aw, how cute…
Lake Placid is all of eighty-two minutes long, a fun—and short—guilty pleasure. Enjoy!
And happy holidays to one and all.