Lake Placid (1999)

6.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 5/10

Fun tone for the movie with a story that doesn't quite go the direction you plan

Visuals sometimes work but generally haven't aged well

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Lake Placid

Studio:  Phoenix Pictures

Genre(s):  Horror

Release Date(s):  July 16, 1999

MPAA Rating:  R


Hey fella, you don’t look well…you’re guts are kind of falling out and stuff

There is something living in an isolated Maine lake.  When a researcher is killed in front of Sheriff Hank Keough (Brendan Gleeson), the suspect seems unlikely…an alligator.  Paleontologist Kelly Scott (Bridget Fonda) finds herself sent to Maine and teamed with a games officer named Jack Wells (Bill Pullman) and an alligator expert named Hector Cyr (Oliver Platt) in trying to track down the creature.  When they confirm the giant alligator’s existence, a race to save the creature begins.

Director by Steve Miner, Lake Placid is a man-vs-nature horror animal horror film.  The movie was a financial success and received mixed reviews from critics.


Please don’t feed the alligators

I love monster animal movies but never made much of an effort to see Lake Placid.  With the rise of the bad giant animal movies on SyFy, Lake Placid seemed a bit pointless.  Now having watched the film, I wish I had seen it a bit sooner.  It was a fun, goofy popcorn horror pic.

The plot is not exactly what I expected it to be and was a bit more Jaws than a mystery beast film.  I thought that the movie would go the route of everyone doubting it was an alligator for most of the film and end up in an “alligator fight” at the end.  Instead, the alligator aspect of the story is pretty apparent from the beginning to the characters, and it becomes a question of how to capture it.  It loses some of its originality from a similar episode in The X-Files—Season 3 called “Quagmire” which had Mulder and Scully tracking a killer alligator in Georgia.


Giant Alligator vs. Giant Bear…Sunday on SyFy!!!

The cast is quite strong.  You have Bill Pullman and Bridget Fonda holding down the leads (and Fonda’s New York rival played by Mariska Hargitay).  Oliver Platt is generally entertaining and does bring even more humor as the alligator loving Hector Cyr.  Brendan Gleeson (who has gained more fame in recent years) plays the Maine sheriff but isn’t always great about hiding his real accident.  The scene stealer however is Betty White as Mrs. Delores Bickerman who has an odd tie to the alligator.  White shocked some of her fans as the foul mouthed Bickerman after Golden Girls, but since Lake Placid has become a hot commodity again as a bit of a foul mouthed comedian.


I’ll swallow your soul!!!

The special effects are so-so as the movie has aged.  The movie definitely is a higher quality than many of the SyFy films, but it also seems to be better than the Lake Placid films that followed it.  The alligator is a combination of computer generated imagery and model versions and at points does a decent job (but also does look pretty lifeless sometimes).

Lake Placid is a film with an interesting tone.  It gets a lot of comparisons to Anaconda which is a very similar film in feeling, and while there are a lot of deaths in the film, it does manage to keep a rather light feel with humor mixed in.  It would have been hard to take a giant alligator movie seriously and Lake Placid does a lot to get it right.  Lake Placid was followed by the Lake Placid 2 in 2007 which did air on SyFy.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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