Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Creature from Black Lake|
Actors: Karen Brooks (II), John David Carson, Jack Elam, Dennis Fimple, Cathryn Hartt
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Classic Drive In Flick
Timmy D. | Whitehall, PA USA | 02/01/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I first reviewed this great drive in flick over in the VHS section (review titled "Late Show Movie Classic"). Since that time I was very surprised to see it come to the DVD format. Unfortunately the quality is substandard to say the least. Horrible streaking & scratches, a pinhole of light on the righthand side of the print, pitiful color saturation...just like my old beat up VHS copy. My only concession is that being on DVD, it should last indefinitely unlike my old VHS tape. As for the movie, my old review still stands. Lots of fun, uniformly good acting (for this type of picture), great music & sound effects add to the chills, excellent cinematography by the great Dean Cundey (of "Halloween I, II, III", "The Fog", "Escape From New York", "Romancing The Stone", "Back To The Future II, III", "Jurassic Park", "Apollo 13", "Big Trouble In Little China" fame), tons of back water swamp atmosphere, genuine scares, a clever twist ending, and of course...the old "guy in a chintzy bigfoot costume". There's no high tech effects or gore & it's fairly slow paced, but it has a genuine charm & it outshines 95% of the other horror dreck that is out now-a-days. Old timers Jack Elam & Dub Taylor chew up the scenery while John David Carson & Dennis Fimple yuck it up as the two college guys who track the beast. The DVD back boxcover mistakenly identifies John David Carson as "Pahoo" (one of moviedom's all time classic character names) & Dennis Fimple as "Reeves" while in fact, it is the other way around. So that shows you the poor care Sterling Entertainment exhibited in making this DVD. They tout "Guaranteed Superior Quality" on the boxcover... I know it's just a low budget horror flick that they figure nobody will care about so they just throw something against the wall to see what sticks & sell a few copies. But come on, you can't even get the facts correct on the boxcover, let alone getting a better print to master from? I'm sure the original film makers have a decent print but I'm sure Sterling doesn't want to have to pay them their due but using their materials. As for the extras...they are worthless as well. So unfortunately, a shoddy piece of junk quality wise, but it's no worse than my VHS copy. So, enjoy the flick & try to excuse the poor quality. Make sure you watch for Pahoo's 70's-style jersey that sports his name on the back! Classic. I love this movie but I wish they'd have taken a bit more care in the quality department. I docked the film one star for this unfortunate sorry print they used to master. It kind of adds to the 70's drive in feel none the less. Thanks to the creators Joy Houck & Jim McCullough for all the years of enjoyment I've gotten from this scary, campy & funny flick! The DVD is a welcome addition to my "Creature" poster & lobby card set despite the poor hackjob Sterling did in mastering the DVD. Thanks to Amazon for offering yet another great "lost find" to their growing list of offbeat films & stuff you'd never find at your local stores. Bravo!"
B-Movie about Bigfoot's cousin down in the Louisiana bayou
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 03/03/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Creature From Black Lake" (a.k.a. "Demon of the Lake") is one of a string of "Bigfoot" inspired low-budget horror flicks made in the Seventies. This when is set down in the Louisiana bayou country where a couple of anthropology students from Chicago named Rives (Dennis Fimple) and Pahoo (John David Carson) show up to search for the local creature (their professor thought this would be a good idea). The boys immediately get on the bad side of the local Sheriff (Billy Thurman) whose name is, I swear, Billy Carter (the film came out in 1976, which is the year Jimmy Carter was elected but still before the "Billy Beer" period of his time in the White House). Things get worse when the young students find a couple of local gals to have some fun with; of course, one of them turns out to be the sheriff's daughter. Meanwhile, all the older folks in town keep muttering things about the creature. This explains why the "stars" of this film are the veteran character actors Jack Elam as Joe Canton and Dub Taylor as Grandpa Bridges. Eventually the guys wander off into the wood and darn if they do not meet up with a creature out in the Black Lake area. As you might suspect, this a film where the chills come from strange noises in the woods, because once the creature actually shows up there is going to come a point where we get a good look at it and the bubble is going to burst. Fortunately it is a brief look and does not do too much harm to the climax. "Creature From Black Lake" does get points for capturing local color, since it was filmed in Louisiana, which just means the locals playing the locals add some authenticity to the film. The hand-held camera approach works in the film's favor as well. Elam and Taylor have fun playing those crazy old coots that kept them employed for several decades (Elam wants to get his shotgun and turn the creature into a rug), always threatening to take the film over the top, but that is to be expected. In terms of Bigfoot movies "Creature From Black Lake" is not as good as "Legend of Boggy Creek," but maybe a bit better than "Sasquatch." Depends on how much you like movies where the creature is out there, just beyond the light of your campfire. Overall, not a bad little Seventies B-movie for this genre. Note: director Joy N. Houck Jr. plays Professor Burch."
A Hairy Situation
William R. Hancock | Travelers Rest, S.C. United States | 01/11/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"After having acquired the DVD version of "The Legend of Boggy Creek", a movie I enjoyed "way back when" (and find I still do), I noticed a lot of media association between it and this film, "The Creature From Black Lake". I also noticed "Black Lake" starred Jack Elam and Dub Taylor , two of the greatest character actors who ever worked in the film business . These connections made me purchase this movie.
I am not sorry I did. Is this the be-all-and-end-all of scary movie making? No, it isn't. Is it a "dud", a "stinker", a waste of money and viewing time. No, it isn't THAT either!!! It is a "B" picture, what used to be called a "Drive-In Flick" and an entertaining one at that.
It was obviously inspired by "Boggy Creek". It begins with
the same kind of spooky photographic tour of creepy, desolate swamplands (both movies have turtles jumping off logs into the water). These are the opening credits sequences, alive with the
sounds of croaking bullfrogs and screeching waterfowl. VERY "Boggy Creek". Add to that the musical score , which was composed by the same composer who DID "Boggy Creek", Jaime Mendoza-Nava, and you get a very similar "feel" with the material.
The difference in the two films is that "Boggy" is re-created , basically non-fictional docu-drama, whereas "Black Lake" is fiction based on alledged anecdotal fact. "Lake" uses no narration, as "Boggy" does, and moves along as a typical "booger" movie except for the fact that it really doesn't become truly frightening until close to the end.
Jim McCullough and Joy Houck, Jr., the producer and director, respectively, have taken a cue from some classic old time movie directors like Val Lewton and learned that an audience has more empathy for characters in danger if they feel they KNOW these characters and have "bonded" with them, than if they are just "faces" to be stalked and slaughtered. The old masters knew you got more audience involvement, feelingwise, if ONE character you "knew" and "liked" was being terrorised upstairs in a house by a maniac than if 1,273 anonymous running individuals got stomped by Godzilla. That's how human psychology works.
In this movie you are introduced to a gaggle of pretty likeable characters early on; two University of Chicago cryptozoology students (Dennis Fimple and John David Carson), a cranky local sheriff with little time or patience with monster foolishness, cute eye-candy girls and colorful locals...some of whom have SEEN the "booger". A great deal of the movie is likeably amusing, somewhat comical, only mildly frightening. This is the "set up" part of the film, the part which engages you with the characters. It comprises about the first 80% of the movie. Then "Black Lake" takes a sharp turn into frightfulness and becomes quite brutal and nerve-wracking. It turns into the scary thing the promos claimed it was, and it does so very effectively. The mechanical and make-up effects are quite good for a low budget effort and the acting is decent all the way around. Elam and Taylor, of course, are superb, but Fimple and Carson as the students are good in their roles as well. The only quibble I have with Fimple's character, "Pahoo", is that he is supposed to be a Vietnam vet and he comes closer to depicting a beardless "Shaggy Rogers" without a Scooby Doo. The sense of weaponscraft and camp security a real such ex-warrior would realistically possess are just not there. The two young leads are told this is a vicious killing thing, but they go after it with only one weapon and at a crucial plot turn it is found to be not loaded. They "forgot". A typical Hollywood plot device...utterly unbelievable...that serves no purpose than to set up a dangerous confrontation that puts the principals in jeopardy.
Despite some plot holes like this (which almost ALL "B" pictures are encumbered with) "Black Lake" moves along pretty darn well and ultimately satisfies. I think some reviewers want high-tension, blood-and-guts savagery thoughout the movie (like "Jason" or "The Creeper" might provide them) and this one isn't structured that way. Taken as a whole, though, it is a nice little "old school" chiller that is well worth watching."
FUN TO WATCH BEFORE GOING CAMPING
J. W. Coleman | Port Orchard, WA United States | 06/12/2003
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I first saw this movie on a rented VHS tape back in the early 80's, and fell in love with it. I kept a copy of this movie through the years and watched it probably 50 or 60 times. It's an excellent - though low budget, sometimes campy and sometimes boring - yarn about a search for the elusive Bigfoot. The comedy comes from the acting, which leaves a lot to be desired. But overall, this is an excellent "good time" campy B-rated movie that has brought me much joy throughout the years, and will likely continue to do so long into the future."