Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Crater Lake Monster - Plesiosaur Pandemonium

The Crater Lake Monster
D: William R. Stromberg
W: William R. Stromberg &Richard Cardella 

S: Richard Cardella, Glen Roberts & Mark Siegel 
Rated PG - Approx 85 Min.
Crown International Pictures

 - A beast more frightening than your most terrifying nightmare!

Alternate Titles:
Το τέρας της λίμνης (The Monster of the Lake)  Greece

" shoes hurt."
                                 - Mitch

For as long as man has been around, there have been stories of monsters.  Stories of large hairy beasts that bridge the link between man and ape.  Stories of giant Thunderbirds who could swoop out of the sky and steal animals and children.  And of course, the stories of lake monsters.  Perhaps the most famous lake monster is of course, Nessie (better known as The Loch Ness Monster).  Many people think that Nessie is a modern myth, but in fact sightings date back as far as the 6th Century.

Woah!  Cavemen killed the dinosaurs?!

That there is a meteorite.  

I mention this because as The Crater Lake Monster begins we join a scientific team who have discovered a cave painting depicting cavemen fighting a dinosaur.  Unfortunately as they are examining the ancient cave art, a meteorite lands in Crater Lake which causes the cave to become unstable and collapse.  Luckily our scientific friends get out in time.  Unluckily, the meteorite has awakened something in the lake.  I don't think it's really a spoiler to let the dino out of the bag and just tell you up front it's a plesiosaurus......just like Nessie!

The film follows the monster on the loose formula to the T.  A few suspicious disappearances followed by the later discovery of the corpses.  A few reports of a monster running rampant are disbelieved by the sheriff until he himself runs smack dab into it.  There are some fantastic moments of cinematic cheddar, such as the conversation Sheriff Hanson and Doc Calkins have on a boat while divers are searching for the meteorite.  The dialog is straight out of a 50's monster flick with lines such as "After what I saw in that cave, the scientific community will have to change many of it's theories!" and other such vague and scientifically nonsensical bits.  The acting fits the dialog like a glove as well.
Sheriff Hanson

Best cheesy dialog in the whole film
There's also the comic relief duo Artie and Mitch...a couple of local yokels who rent boats on Crater Lake.  They're your classic Abbott & Costello or Laurel & Hardy duo....though neither one of them is really the straight man.  They're both a pair of bumbling idiots, but I found them quite endearing.

And then there's the monster.  Most of the time we get a nicely animated stop motion creature, while the close-ups of it's head us a giant puppet head.....again lending itself quite nicely to the 50's monster vibe.  The creature is not "over shown" nor is it hidden until the very end of the film....this is one of the few films that I think really gets the monster ratio right.

Artie & Mitch:  Hillbilly Yucksters.  

He just wanted to HEAD out onto the lake.  Get it?  GET IT?  

There's not a ton of blood, but the blood we get is of the Cherry Kool-Aid variety.  Very watery and a funky bright red color.  We do get a pretty nifty severed head too, which was sort of surprising considering the film's PG rating!

Nope.  Sorry boys.  Monsters killin' people is gonna have to suffice on this one.

One big-ass fresh water Plesiosaur!

That's enough to make your sphincter tighten!

Final Thoughts:
I really had a lot of fun with this one.  It's a great flick for a rainy or a (I'm my case) snowy afternoon.  Nice cup of hot chocolate and perhaps a donut.  It's a heck of a lot of fun.  If you like monster flicks then give it a shot.

The Sheriff takes on the monster in a tractor!


  1. I'm glad to see you back at the old grind again, Matt. I'd like to offer my most sincere condolences on you and your family's recent loss. My heart goes out to you all.

    They just don't make 'em like The Crater Lake Monster anymore, and they never will again. I'm curious - did you watch this on the Mill Creek Cult Terror Cinema 12 Movie Pack? If so, I hope that means you're creeping up on a review of The Creeping Terror from the same collection. There are several gems on that set, many with reasonably good transfers. Of course, picture quality is everything for The Creeping Terror. You've gotta be able to clearly see the feet sticking out from beneath "the monster".

  2. Thank you, my friend. It's good to be back into it again! I've actually still not had quite as much time as I would like to get reviews done, but I'm going to be doing my best to crank out at least one every other day!

    You are correct sir, there's something kinda special about Crater Lake. Perhaps it's the throwback stop-motion creature and wooden 50's style acting....but I really have a soft spot for this one. This particular version I watched was off the Mill Creek Drive-In Cult Cinema 200 Film Collection. I do have The Creeping Terror in my sights though! It's been at least 10 years since I've watched it, so it's due for the Midnight Cinema treatment! There's nothing more awesome than a shag carpet with sneakers slogging around eating people!

    I've actually been contemplating reviewing the Mill Creek sets and making a comprehensive guide, listing which films appear on multiple sets and what-not. It would certainly be an interesting experiment....and with hundreds of films to get through, I may need to call on my blogging brethren to help me out!

    1. The Mill Creek Experiment would be a massive undertaking, but I dare say it would be a great "evergreen" post. There's so much overlap in the Mill Creek packages.