The Crater Lake Monster

August 14, 2012 at 1:43 am (4 Heads, Crater Lake Monster) (, , , , , , , )

The Crate Lake Monster – 1977 – United States

The Crater Lake Monster is producer/writer/director William R. Stromberg’s only credit. The cast and crew are similarly nameless aside from stop-motion animator David W. Allen whose effects work includes Equinox (1970), Flesh Gordon (1974), The Howling (1981), Q (1982), The Stuff (1985), Willow (1988), Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989), Puppet Master (1989), and numerous others. Apparently, he even animated the Pillsbury Doughboy.

In an old mine, archaeologists uncover cave paintings of men battling dinosaurs. The same night, a meteor plummets into nearby Crater Lake. All the fish die off and several vacationers are mutilated before a tough sheriff and some wacky hillbillies investigate. Like Loch Ness, a giant plesiosaur stalks the lake, miraculously unseen even as it wallows ashore to devour cattle. Academics want to study it and hillbillies want to exploit it, but the sheriff gores the beast to death with a bulldozer.

Even for Crown International Pictures, Crater Lake Monster is lousy. The stop-motion dino is sort of cool, but pretty much everything else is a mess. Night scenes are shot in broad daylight. The music is chintzy. Awkward acting abounds. But worst of all: The pacing crawls as uninteresting, unlikable, and unbelievable characters muck about inanely. Time is wasted developing bit parts like a passionate archaeologist, an alcoholic nightclub magician, and a psychotic murderer, none of whom do anything meaningful. However, the biggest offenders are Mitch and Arnie—bromantic comedy relief hillbillies whose endless face time is spent drawling lines such as, “If the sheriff finds out, he’ll throw us so far back in the jug they’ll have to shoot our breakfast to us in a cannon.”

At least the scenic lake is serenely beautiful. Crater Lake Monster wasn’t actually shot at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon, but its misty wooded locations look stunning. Unfortunately, they can’t redeem a dumb and boring flick lacking originality. Chalk it up as another insufferable regional cheapie.

Rating: 4/10 Shrunken Heads. The credits list a “blackmailer” who never appears. Perhaps his role was left on the cutting room floor?

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