Monday, January 28, 2013

The Crater Lake Monster (1977)

Amateurish, boring, and clichéd, this low-budget creature feature is built around special effects that wouldn’t have passed muster in 1957, much less 1977. Yes, The Crater Lake Monster employs the rickety old technique of stop-motion critters poorly superimposed onto normal live-action footage. Yet while true stop-motion masters such as Ray Harryhausen employed the process to fill cinema frames with armies of supernatural beasties, the makers of The Crater Lake Monster merely present a single dinosaur. Amazingly, the poorly executed stop-motion shots of the prehistoric killer are the best parts of the movie, because the filmmakers also use silly mock-ups of the dinosaur’s full-sized head for close-up shots in which interchangeable characters are eaten. Grade-school kids putting on a pageant could have generated more impressive visuals. The story, which loses interest after about a minute and a half, begins when archeologists exploring caves in rural Oregon uncover ancient drawings suggesting a dinosaur lived there up to the time of man, contrary to scientific theories about how long ago dinosaurs went extinct. Then a meteor falls in a lake and cracks open a long-buried dinosaur egg, after which the newly born creature immediately matures into a full-sized carnivore that lives underwater—except when it ventures onto land to eat people. None of this makes any sense, and every aspect of The Crater Lake Monster is as inept as the storyline. The acting by a slew of no-names is terrible, the dialogue is wooden, and the thrills are warmed-over silliness borrowed from an infinite number of better movies.

The Crater Lake Monster: SQUARE

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