Creature from Black Lake 2002 Horror Movie Review
Horror movies Review
I actually do hate being critical of any horror film because, as a genre, such flicks tend to catch a lot of unwarranted negative comment and there are truly some really superb ones…. in this instance we are NOT discussing one of those superb ones. In fact, Creature from Black Lake might just be the worst horror entry ever produced because it doesn’t even achieve the sometimes revered distinction of a “cult film” such as Spider Baby or Plan 9 from Outer Space. I’m a huge fan of horror and sci-fi movies (especially the older films) and films such as this one simply arm certain critics with more ammunition to bash the genre, which is my biggest complaint here.
So what makes this film so incredibly egregious? Allow me to first make some general observations and then I’ll enumerate the specific problems.
This movie was clearly the brainchild and dream project of one Jim McCollough, Jr., who evidently envisioned this film as a vehicle to launch his writing, acting, and music career on to the fast track. After seeing Black Lake, I was prayerful that the reverse was the case but I checked around and he did evidently produce another film in 1994, St Tammany Miracle, (yet another horrific film where Steve Allen took the hit as the star actor). Apparently either this young man’s sire, Jim McCollough [Sr.] must have funded the Black Lake project, or, McCollough just dropped the “Junior” thing so that the film credits wouldn’t look quite as ridiculous, (it didn’t work), ergo:
Producer: Jim McCollough
Screenplay: Jim McCollough, Jr.
[Character] “Orville Bridges” played by: Jim McCollough, Jr.
“Exits and Truck Stops” composed by: Jim McCollough, Jr.
“Exits and Truck Stops” sung by: Jim McCollough, Jr.
“Exits and Truck Stops” played by: Jim McCollough, Jr.
And so on.
Here’s the story in a nutshell: Two naïve Alpha-male students of the University of Chicago get all excited about their professor’s convincing lecture detailing “Bigfoot Creatures” and they decide to head south and invade the bayou to verify a report of one such monster. The citizens of this backward, one-hoss town are quite unenthusiastic about the young men’s objectives and they are warned off the project in various ways, including a direct threat by the local sheriff. They finally locate one person who’s willing to talk about the region’s dark secret, “Orville Bridges,” (played by Jim McCollough, Jr.!), who directs the two to his home, out in the swamp (Black Lake?) where he lives with his maternal grandfather (played by Dub Taylor, a superb, well-known actor) and grandmother. Orville relates the story, to the two students, of his mother whom had been indirectly killed by the creature, so the Bridges family remained very loath on any discussion that revived this tragic episode.
From there, the boys experience a few brushes with this local “Skunk Ape” and the movie continues to deteriorate from this point. One sub-plot is that the pair pick up a couple of local gals who are lauded as raving beauties (a redhead, the Sheriff’s daughter, whose overall attractiveness is so-so while the second girl is an outright homely blonde)—of course, the Sheriff catches them all in a somewhat compromising situation at the boys’ campsite just as an encounter with the monster ensues, all of which works out badly for the boys. I won’t go further on with the story as the prospective viewer can pretty much envision the subsequent laborious film footage.
The casting for this film, Jack Elam and Dub Taylor excepted, is horrific. This is surely the most dreadful group of actors ever assembled for ANY purpose. The worst of the lot is Dennis Fimple (!?!?!) who plays “Pahoo,” the more gregarious of the two students and the story’s chief protagonist.
The dialogue was written by a conversationally-challenged person (now, WHO was that again?). Here’s a tired line from the scene where the boys are initially driving south in their van: [Pahoo] “Gas… gas!” [Rives] “Thanks for warnin’ me.” (Knee-slappers which are equivalent to this one plague the remainder of the film).
The camera work was carried out on a student level, albeit the opening footage of the bayou is fairly scenic. The film was directed by Joy N. Houck, Jr. (I never heard of a guy named “Joy” but I’m certain that there’s plenty that I’ve never heard of), a fellow who also owned a string of about 200 movie theaters throughout the southern U.S. I can’t say too much bad about him in particular, given the script and actors with whom he was un-empowered—he actually did garner the most from Elam and Taylor who, despite the script, played out their roles to the best that could have been achieved by anyone.
The monster in this one is a bit of an enigma. This Bigfoot is sort of a semi-amphibious one, this aspect being revealed in an opening scene where it dislodges its first victim from a small johnboat down into the depths of the swamp, the critter being re-viewed a few frames later walking away on to the spotty dry land in the bayou. So, I guess that I’m saying that such amphibious activities really do not square with my own limited Bigfoot knowledge… I suppose that in horror films one is permitted some level of artistic license. But this underwater nuance did strike me as a rather strange and unnecessary caveat, perhaps having been installed for the sole purpose of fulfilling one’s expectations of the movie’s title.
As a weak final defense of the film, one might assert that this flick was meant to be a tongue-in-cheek exposition; however, not even that rationalization will fly as they really tried to make the monster and his intermittent appearances seriously scary. So, there goes that one!
Creature from Black Lake, produced in 1976 (lots of period bad haircuts!), is shot in color, the aspect is full-frame, and it runs for a grueling total of 90 minutes. I own the “Silver Series” edition on DVD, a product of Boulevard Entertainment and distributed by Alpha Video.
There’s little need for me to continue beating this dead horse so, in summary, I’ll just point out that this is a tragic entry in the horror genre of film-making and I can only say that I feel particularly sorry and sympathetic for Jack Elam and Dub Taylor that they, for whatever reason, found themselves inadvertently defamed a little of their fine reputations by having sadly included themselves into this mud-pumper.