Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Crater Lake Monster - 1977

This movie was an interesting one.  I'll admit to you, my reader, that I might have started a few of these movies and turned them off, only to forget about them and then later start something else, and never get back to these.  So the first half of Crater Lake felt really familiar, and I kept having deja vu.  I wasn't, and am still, not sure if I'd seen the movie already, or if I was simply getting it confused with the countless other science fiction monster movies I've seen.

Filmed in Lake Tahoe and surrounding area, Crater Lake is the epitome of 70's schlocky fun and silliness.  This movie drinks in the fact it's late 70's and uses it's stereotype characters to full effect.  To say that this is comedy is a must.  This movie had to have comedy on it's mind when being made, whether with the awful real jokes that are present, or with the inevitable way that it would age after it was made.

This movie brought a few interesting moments to me, as I watched it last night quite high and a little bit drunk.  First of all, whatever happened to facial hair?  I'm not saying people don't have beards these days.  I'm just saying, like all the styles these days are really conservative and minimal.  The only people that step outside the lines and have more hair are like the "counter-culture" statement makers who do it for dramatic effect.

Now, I basically live in San Francisco, and I am almost certainly jaded by the people I am around.  But then again, it's also not in movies anymore.  In one scene of this flick, 4 men are standing around.  One's got the sideburns and 70's mustache displayed, and looks like a goddamn walrus.  One has the giant beard, like a solid year or more of growth.  One has a minimal lip-stache, the kind you might see today.  Only one was clean shaven.  Here in San Francisco, there's the eternal-stubble, a look I despise, and then there's clean shaven.  That's like, it.  Unless you're some old guy or a "counter culture" type, there is like zilch else out there.

Anyhow, Crater Lake gets hit by a meteorite in the beginning of this movie, raising it's temperature.  Shortly thereafter, a few people start disappearing along with the local fish population.  Sheriff Steve Hanson is on the scene, flaunting his 70's 'stache and trying to figure out what's going on.  But seriously!  Whatever happened to 70's 'staches?  Did people finally realize how they looked, and if that's the answer, why did they become popular in the first place?

When we finally see the monster, pretty early on actually, it's straight up hilarious.  A Ray Harryhausen looking, very dated looking monster made out of claymation.  Now, I love practical effects, but geez, these are pretty bad.  However, they do make the comedy factor more prevalent, even if it's not on purpose.  Now, often these old movies would shoot day for night.  Film in the day, and later apply a series of tints to the films, to make it look as if it was darker when they shot.  This film shot day for night, and simply never tinted the film.  So there are also a few "night scenes" that take place with a really bright sun out there.  Pretty awesome.

The movie was a huge success, making back 30 times it's budget.  It got pretty bad reviews too, and then it seems to have vanished from the public eye.  I guess it's public domain now that it's on the boxset.  It's a good film.  It's very well shot, and the actors are fun to watch even if they are badly scripted at times.  The pacing is adequate, and the setting is of course really nice.  It's a movie that some could complain endlessly about, of course, but then again they can go fuck themselves.  I give it a proud 4 stars.

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