Don S. Davis
Computer-generated creature feature
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Loch Ness Terror (2007)
22nd Apr 09
A horror movie fan from the 1950’s travels forward in time five decades to check out the advances in special effects within the genre. He rents “Loch Ness Terror”, and loses all hope, returning to his own time with a weird, unexplained desire to bludgeon babies to death with hammers.
We open in Loch Ness 1976, though for some reason it feels like we’re in Vancouver, 2007, despite the prominent presence of two (count ‘em!) Scottish accents. Creature p.o.v. shots are the order of the day until a full-on early reveal of a long-necked CG incarnation of “Nessie” with dragon-esque features destroys the kind of mystery old-school creature features would preserve until late in the day. An American teenage boy witnesses his dad and fellow Nessie-hunters getting gruesomely munched on by the allegedly mythical plesiosaur. To make it easier for the creature, the ill-fated characters, like a lot of folks in this film, cower pathetically in fear and remain rooted on the spot until they are duly eaten. These cheap CG monsters are too ropey and dumb to chase after anyone Getting The Fuck Outta There.
Cut to the present day at Lake Superior - though for some reason it feels like we’re still in the version of 1976 Loch Ness we saw at the outset. The lake boasts a mad, heavily medicated old-fart version of Fox Mulder: he Wants To Believe but can’t do much of anything once all his limbs are chomped off in the first half-hour. Also hanging around are the obligatory group of bitchy teens (including the kind of sexy foreign exchange student who only exists in Movie Land) and a characteristically beleaguered police chief ( Twin Peaks / X Files veteran Don S Davis) who is practically tripping over armless torsos in his once-peaceful small town.
As locals queue up to be part of an All You Can Eat Monster Buffet, it becomes apparent that the creature from the opening sequence has somehow made its way to Lake Superior. This element of the plot was clearly created by the person who came up with the notion of a cruise ship travelling from Camp Crystal Lake to Manhattan in the eighth Jason movie.
Enter Brian Krause, once the heart-throb teenage star of popular but naff 90’s movies like Return to the Blue Lagoon (he shagged a barely legal Milla Jovovich!) and Sleepwalkers (he shagged his on-screen mum!), now the washed-up star of likeable but naff movies like this. Walking into town with dark glasses, iconic hat and sucking on a cigarillo, he looks like a guy who just came third in a “Be Clint Eastwood Circa 1968” contest, but he’s actually the grown-up kid from the prologue. He’s now a plesiosaur-hunting monster-expert and brings with him to the troubled town a full arsenal of Nessie-fighting weaponry.
In a movie that peaks fairly early with a scene of a local, bemused fisherman reeling in “Nessie” and then peaks again with an amusingly rubbish CG head-biting, everyone is very sincere and serious as they boldly deliver reams of sub-par B movie dialogue. Special kudos to the poor sap who has to say “So we’re not just going to kill the Loch Ness Monster, we’re gonna cook it?” Director Paul Ziller knows this territory well - you’ll see his name crop up frequently on these Sci-fi Channel type monster epics, and his lack of shame is commendable.
As usual at this budget level, the Nessie FX are extremely hit and miss: the cheapo CG budget also stretches to a quartet of cute / vicious baby plesiosaurs, but the quality level is roughly on a par with Lake Placid 2. Which means if you squint or watch it without your glasses on, the monsters look pretty good. And as usual at this budget level, anything involving CG water, CG splatter and (particularly) CG explosions and fire looks like something your 9 year old nephew could come up with if you locked him in a room with a couple of old computer programs and a vat of Sunny Delight.
Still, as these things go, it’s brisk, diverting and oddly amiable. There are worse ways of spending 88 minutes. Like getting your fingernails ripped out one by one and embedded into your scrotum by the same guy that raped you in a burnt out Cortina in 1990. Damn childhood flashbacks.