|Reviews & Columns|
TV on DVD
Reviews by Studio
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
DVD Talk Radio
The M.O.D. Squad
DVD Talk Forum
DVD Price Search|
Customer Service #'s
Lake Placid Vs. Anaconda
The line between spoof and blatant incompetence can be a tough tightrope to navigate. Take for instance a Mel Brooks genre-heavy spoof such as "High Anxiety" and any entry in the modern "[Insert Genre Here] Movie" films and a viewer can see it takes a lot more than grabbing recognizable elements and writing silly or crude jokes. One such movie that did get the spoof formula right, albeit in a decidedly underplayed fashion was "Lake Placid" a 1999 horror-comedy from the pen of David E. Kelley that one could make the argument lit the fire that in the coming decade rocketed Betty White back into the cultural spotlight, giving the actress once known for playing a naive goof on "The Golden Girls" a few raunchy one-liners that stole the show. Two years prior to "Lake Placid" (which for thoroughness' sake I'll mention was a giant killer alligator movie), "Anaconda" came and went at the box office, unlike "Lake Placid," "Anaconda" was a straight faced attempt at horror, but largely due to it's cast, namely a truly bizarre performance from Jon Voight, it managed to straddle that line of blatant incompetence and by sheer luck inadvertently stumble into unintentional parody. After three straight-to-DVD and/or made-for-TV sequels, the two collided over 15 years later in the slyly titled, "Lake Placid vs. Anaconda."
On the surface, if it weren't for blatant inclusion of "Lake Placid" in the title, one would mistake the cheap looking cover art for yet another [Animal/Cryptid] vs. [Animal/Cryptid] offering from Asylum. Sadly, "Lake Placid vs. Anaconda" is a very confused film that seems to be more directly connected to "Lake Placid 3" and "Lake Placid: The Final Chapter" and merely loosely connected to the bevy of pointless "Anaconda" sequels. What they all share in common is their horrifying origins as SyFy original films, a fact I was unaware of when initially watching the film, but quickly was able to sniff out when the hallmarks of low-budget cable TV began to fester on my screen. Despite having watched the film throughout its 92-miserable-minute runtime, I still sit scratching my head at the fact that "Lake Placid vs. Anaconda" was in fact written by just one screenwriter. The film's semi-coherent plot involving genetically modified crocodiles being implanted in anacondas resulting in both running amok in a Amity-esque town mixed in with a dose of sorority girls, local law enforcement, and a grizzled hook-handed Robert Shaw knock-off (Robert Englund in a textbook definition of what one would expect in an "and Robert Englund" credits billing), all feel like story ideas for different follow-ups to "Lake Placid: The Final Chapter" (because if Jason taught us one thing, there is no Final Chapter) crammed into one.
Honestly though, poor plotting is entirely forgivable in such a genre film, IF, said genre film at least offers some legitimate horror film moments. Bluntly put, there are no such moments here, both monsters (I will refrain from using the term titular monsters, since, well, the crocodile isn't known as Lake Placid, despite the title...nevermind) are CGI abominations that actually manage to look worse leagues worse than their late-90s big screen ancestors. To make matters worse, the film's origins as a primetime cable TV movie pull the reins in on any true opportunities for gruesomeness. While the DVD is billed as Unrated, this marketing gimmick merely means a few insert shots of bloody aftermath (mostly played for laughs), perhaps some CGI blood additions (I can't be sure what was added), and a few random extended scenes with gratuitous nudity added in to wake up drowsy viewers. There is nothing clever whatsoever to be had from the film and to scrutinize the acting would be just cruel; the cast is largely young hopefuls possibly getting their first "big" break and TV-has-beens Corin Nemec (who doesn't even get front cover billing despite having a key role) and Yancy Butler cashing paychecks. Robert Englund is the only offender worthy of true scorn, as there is no reason after years of charismatic performances as Freddy that he should be as dull and wooden as he is here.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is for the most part serviceable. I would argue most of the mediocrity lies in the low budget origins, still there are enough technical flaws in the transfer that I have to take it to task, especially from a 2015 DVD release. Compression artifacts are mild, but noticeable, especially with a lower level of detail. Colors are garish and the contrast is high, a mix of poor mastering and poor cinematography. All in all, it looks like a minor step down from an original HDTV broadcast.
The Dolby Digital English 5.1 audio does little to enhance the viewing experience. Surrounds are underutilized and the sound mix as a whole is flat; making matters worse, there are instances of either audio-sync problems or truly dreadful ADR, I can't tell for sure, but either way you slice it, it makes for a poor listening experience. French and Spanish 5.1 tracks are included as well as English, English SDH, French, and Spanish subtitles
Who would have thought two films from the late 90s and then inexplicably revived for a handful of mediocre, pointless sequels, would result in crossover of baffling bad quality? Furthermore, who would have thought said film would get a DVD release with a mediocre transfer and poor audio? Truly incompetent in every sense of the word, "Lake Placid vs. Anaconda" can go around calling itself horror-comedy all it wants, but it fails in every sense of the term. It's neither scary, nor gruesome and at the end of the day, the only thing I found funny about the whole endeavour is the nonsensical title. Those looking to get their giant alligator and giant anaconda fixes are best served seeking out the two films that started two really odd-franchises and leave this one at that bottom of the lake/Amazon.