Lake Placid 3, the latest schlock-fest from the infamous Sy-Fy line of ‘Originals’, is possibly a new low in the network’s output. It isn’t observably worse than any of the Pythons, Mega-squids, Monster-Horse, Mansquito entries, but it’s a clear sign that although the lights might be on, there’s nobody at home in quality control. Unlike the recent Dino-Croc vs. Mega-Gator, which met minimum cheese requirements, Lake Placid 3 is so stripped down content-wise, that it lacks even a single scene of entertainment. What a croc, indeed.
The first Lake Placid wasn’t a classic, and in the summer of 99, it wasn’t even the best aquatic beastie movie released; that prize goes to Deep Blue Sea. It was, however, an amusing diversion that delivered some goofy giant croc goodness, including an inexplicably filthy Betty White feeding cows to the great beast and a battle with a grizzly that was one of the oddes looking cgi scenes I’ve ever seen. Lake Placid 2 replaced White with Cloris Leachman and the already low-par fx with crocs that looked like paper mache and Atari graphics. It was also terrible.
Now, LP3 shows up on the scene, looking like a jumble of deleted scenes from the second film, and dropping in Eureka’s Craig Ferguson as an environmental officer and Yancy Butler as a crazed, backwoods poacher. Along for the eye candy are Kacey Barnfield and Kirsty Mitchell as Ferguson’s wife. Mitchell is also mother to the kid who is secretly feeding the critters, leftovers from Leachman’s reign as croc keeper. Stoicly scowling his way through the picture is Michael Ironside as the sherriff. If you watch closely, you can see him actively regretting every moment of this piffle.
What happens isn’t a surprise, as the crocs get loose and start eating dogs, babysitters, and anyone and anything they can get their jaws on. Butler mugs so violently that one suspects she’s gunning for the Gary Busey DTV award of excellence. Ferguson who is just fine as a quirky officer of the law on Eureka looks tired and bored here, and it seems quite likely he went right from that set to this one without even changing uniform. The crocodile effects are so haphazard that they make the recent Mega-Piranha look flashy. There are the usual death scenes, but not a single ounce of energy has been expended to make us care about who’s being eaten, what’s doing the eating, or how.
In the past earnest silliness has been the mark of Sy-Fy Channel when it comes to these Saturday night monster features, but I’ve recently noticed that the Asylum’s purposefully jokey trash has polluted the whole bin, and there’s zero effort being expended. As it is, LP3 already looks to be a dubious ‘hit’ for the network, and no doubt October’s DVD release will snag a few viewers who remember the original fondly. While it might seem I’m simply screaming into the wind over imaginary crimes–they are SY-FY Originals, for heaven’s sake! what did you expect?– how hard can it be to instill some quality here?
Sy-Fy, if you are insistent upon making a movie about giant gators and the like, may I suggest looking up Robert R. McCammon’s short story GatorMan? It follows a grizzled Cajun croc hunter searching for an elusive swamp legend. That one has a great hook and a cool twist and you could even hire Ron Perlman or Lance Henrikson without them feeling guilty about it.
C’mon, guys. I know you can do better than this. You don’t have to be Jaws level quality. Hell, you don’t even need to be Piranha. At this point, just aim for Frankenfish and I’ll be happy.