Thursday, October 4, 2012

Lake Placid 2 (2007)

Giant animals are always fun in horror movies, and I definitely have a weakness for movies featuring giant sharks, giant snakes, giant spiders, giant shrews, giant leeches, giant octopuses, and so on.  Lake Placid 2 features giant crocodiles.  Okay!

The film opens with a couple of EPA guys in a small boat on the lake.  One of them confesses that he got into ecology in order to meet women, and then a moment later is killed by a giant crocodile, leaving his buddy Frank holding his severed arm. Frank somehow didn't see what killed him.  Frank is kind of an idiot (and he's also a bit annoying).

Meanwhile Sheriff James Riley (John Schneider) is talking with his son, Scott (Chad Collins), who is bored in this small Maine town. Scott also gives us this piece of information: there is no cell phone reception.  Cell phones have caused a lot of problems in horror movie land. You have to acknowledge their existence and then somehow get rid of them. The easiest tactic is to say there is no reception, and leave it there. That's what this film does. Cell phones are not mentioned again. Amen. But things look up when two seconds later a cute girl strolls by with her dog.

At work, Riley is throwing darts, and there is a wonderful and unexpected moment. The dart actually bounces off the board back into frame. Watch John Schneider's facial reaction - it's bloody priceless (and is actually one of my favorite things in this film).  Anyway, Frank tells Riley about his buddy's death, and Riley thinks he's stoned. Those ecology guys!  But Frank shows him the arm, and that's enough to convince Riley.  Riley says they'd better call in the fish and wildlife people, and learns they've already been called. And right at that moment the fish and wildlife chick shows up. It's Emma Warner (played by Sarah LaFleur), who apparently has a past with Riley.  (I didn't see the first Lake Placid movie, but I'm guessing I'm not missing any important plot points.)

Riley, Emma and Frank go to talk to Crazy Sadie (played by the wonderful "what the fuck is she doing in this film" Cloris Leachman), because her sister is rumored to have bred large crocodiles.  I absolutely love Cloris Leachman, and she is delightful, as always. "Get lost, Barney Miller," she says. She's a feisty ol' gal who likes crocodiles and thinks a bit less of humans. Can you blame her?

Meanwhile Scott is hitting on Kerri (the chick with the dog), and they discover that they both love the city of Boston.  Hey, who doesn't?  Best city on the planet.  Go Sox!  Her annoying boyfriend, Thad, shows up, and immediately acts like an asshole.  Will he get eaten by a giant crocodile?  You know he will.  Two other assholes join them and they all go to a more remote area of the park for a picnic or a swim or whatever.  The two newcomers - Rachel and Larry - are the kind of people you'd stab in the face if you ever met them.  Will they also be eaten?  You bet!

First the movie has to get rid of a pointless reporter character. Hey, look at Cloris Leachman's pink furry slippers.  I love her.

The movie doesn't waste any time.  It's only like twenty minutes before Riley, Emma and Frank see the giant crocodile and are attacked by it. They survive; apparently the crocodile just wanted to scare them.  And then Struthers (a poacher that Emma ran into before) shows up in a plane to hunt the beast.  This is all in basically the same scene; again, this film doesn't waste any time.  Emma wants to capture the crocodile, so they use a turtle in a net as bait.  The crocodile shows up and kills a deputy. Startled, Frank falls down. His eyelids are moving when the others check on him, but I guess they just assume he's dead. They don't give him any medical aid, but instead start getting their guns ready to go after the crocodile.  Poor Frank. Poor annoying, stupid Frank.

Struthers is going to attack the crocodile from his plane somehow, and there is a nice set dressing touch: a pink plush bunny hanging in the cockpit (though we don't need the closeup shot of it).  The bit where they accidentally harpoon the plane is one of the stupidest things I've ever seen in a movie.  Seriously.  You'll be amazed at how retarded it is.

Well, they kill the giant crocodile while there is still plenty of film left.  What could that mean?  That's right: more giant crocodiles.

At one point, Riley calls the police station, and a female deputy answers.  He is annoyed with her and tells her that when he returns he'll throw a dart at her.  That's not really much of a threat, considering what we've seen of John Schneider's dart skills.

There is a big continuity error. Riley gives Struthers his rifle and takes Struthers' grenade launcher, and then goes off to find his son. But then after he uses the grenade launcher to kill a crocodile, and rescue his son, he suddenly is carrying the rifle again, and the grenade launcher is nowhere to be found.  Whoops.  There are other problems too, of course.  When Larry finds Scott and Kerri, he tells them that Rachel "didn't make it." But he doesn't say what killed her.  He doesn't say, "Hey, there is a giant crocodile."  The screenwriters forgot that at this point Larry has no idea whether Scott and Kerri have seen the crocodile too.  And then later - and here's where I should warn you that this is a spoiler - Scott finds his father and tells him that there are actually four crocodiles. And Riley seems surprised by this information.  But he already knows there are four, because he just killed the third one and saw another one.  Whoops again.

As stupid as this film is, it's still kind of fun.  That is due almost entirely to the cast.  John Schneider is always enjoyable, and he seems to be having a good time no matter how bad the film is.  Good for him. And, as I already said, I love Cloris Leachman. So there you have it.

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