COMPANY: UFO International
RUNTIME: 86 minutes
PLOT: Giant crocodiles go head to head with giant anacondas and the town sheriff must find a way to destroy these monsters before they kill the whole town.
As for Lake Placid vs Anaconda, I've watched it twice now (Once for pure enjoyment and then again a second time for the purposes of this review) and honestly I'm still not sure how I feel about it. There's a lot I enjoyed about it, but also just as much that I disliked about it, making me kind of feel like I'm sitting on the fence here, which I guess goes with the theme of my reviews, since one set of movies I disliked and the other I loved.
The movie is definitely more Lake Placid than it is Anaconda or even a fair mix of the two. The story centers around Black Lake (the lake from all the Lake Placid movies) and it's nearby companion, Clear Lake, as the massive crocodiles get loose from their electrified fence enclosure set up in Lake Placid: The Final Chapter and heads to the next nearest lake on the search for a massive food source, it includes two returning characters from the Lake Placid sequels (Reba as played brilliantly by Yancy Butler and The poacher Bickerman played by Robert Englund, now missing an eye, a leg, and a hand after his fate at the end of The Final Chapter), and tons of crocodiles. Tons. As in, every five minutes or so. In contrast, the Anaconda portion of the movie deals with no returning characters (though the daughter of John Rhys-Davis' character from the Anaconda sequels is here as the main villainess type character, now in charge of her dad's company), and the anaconda snakes themselves, after the intro scene, don't even show back up in the movie again until after an hour into this hour and 25 minute movie, and than only gets two or three quick scenes before the movie is over. It almost feels like this was always planned as a Lake Placid 5, but someone decided to last-minute rewrite the script to make it a brief crossover with SyFy's failed Anaconda franchise.
It also didn't help that the very brief portions of the movie that did focus on the Anaconda storyline was pretty much just yet another identical rehash of both Anaconda 3: Offspring and Anacondas: Trail of Blood, something that I was already complaining about come Trail of Blood, and after watching all these movies back-to-back I'm just getting really sick of now. See, this go-around the daughter of John Rhys-Davis' character is now in control of the company and has continued the Blood Orchid/anaconda experiments, and wishes to combine the DNA of her genetically-engineered snakes with that of the rare Black Lake crocodiles in the hopes of getting better results, so her and her team of mercenaries hire Bickerman (having somehow survived The Final Chapter, though not unscathed) to escort them behind the electrified fence and into the crocodile zone of Black Lake to capture one such croc. Of course things go wrong, people die, the fence gets destroyed, and both the snakes and the crocodiles get loose. Sheriff Reba (Yes, you read that right, she's a sheriff now – more on that in a bit) and a Wildlife Official (played by B-Movie regular Corin Nemec) must hunt down the escaped crocs before they make a meal out of some vacationing sorority sisters, while Bickerman, the evil company woman, and her mercenaries travel through the woods and try to hunt down and recapture her escaped snakes. Just like in The Offspring and Trail of Blood. Even bringing Robert Englund's Bickerman back from the dead served no purpose whatsoever, seeing as how he played no real part in the movie other than to just follow other people around and complain the whole time, and than get killed off again (well, sort of). That's the extent of his role in this movie, so it confuses me as to why they felt the need to bring him back from the dead just for that.
Likewise, I really can't get behind making Yancy Butler's Reba the Lake Placid town sheriff. Not only does it not make any sense from a legal standpoint (the amount of years it would take her to get to that position, not to mention her criminal record would have prevented her from ever even being able to get into law enforcement) but it also makes no sense from her character's standpoint from what we know of her and her personality from the previous two Lake Placid movies. Sure, in The Final Chapter there was even a scene that showcased how much she hates dealing with regular town folk in an official capacity and how awkward she feels having people coming up to her looking for answers. However, this character has remained consistently hilarious, and played to perfection by Ms. Butler each and every time, that I'm willing to overlook any leaps in logic with her new career choice simply because I love having her in these movies. She's one of those characters that every time she so much as opens her mouth, you know you'll be rolling on the floor with laughter soon after. Plus, there was a nice little inside joke for fans of the series in regards to the fact that there's been a different sheriff of the town in each Lake Placid sequel so far.
Unfortunately, other than Yancy Butler and one of the more comedic and self-respectful sorority sister 'hopefuls', the acting in this outing is pretty atrocious, even from Corin Nemec who usually turns in a better performance than this. Adding to that, the movie also tries to play as more of a comedy than any of the previous entries from either series, and while some of the humor I admit was pretty funny (mostly when it came to dialogue from Yancy Butler or the aforementioned single interesting sorority sister character), the majority of it just didn't hit well with me and I found myself rolling my eyes and groaning more at the majority of the stuff I was meant to laugh at. It also certainly didn't help that there was hardly any characterization on display here and absolutely zero chemistry between anybody. That mixed with the many failed attempts at humor caused most of the scenes to feel as flat and lifeless as an anaconda victim.
Speaking of anaconda victim though, the attack scenes were actually loads of fun for the most part. Sure, some of the crocodile attacks got a bit repetitive after a while, since there's only so much you can do with them and they did take up most of the movie's focus (and really, once you have a crocodile hiding under a person's bed and attack them out of anger when them having sex causes the bed to repeatedly hit the croc on the head, or when you have a stubborn self-centered sorority sister get angry at the crocs for ruining her day and ends up punching one in the face, there's not really any place else to go after those, hahaha), but we also got some fun deaths and chase scenes involving the snakes once they finally did show up, including an awesome-looking car-crushing shot, a wink back to the 'snake comes up close to person's face' shot from both The Offspring and Trail of Blood (and done a second time in this movie as well but involving a crocodile instead of an anaconda), a nest of baby crocs swarming over someone, and of course any time that the anacondas and crocodiles squared off with one another, with both species' winning a battle or two, depending on the scene. The movie may lack quite a lot of things, but fun and/or cheesy animal attack scenes is certainly not on that list.
As for the CGI effects for these animals...well like with the Lake Placid sequels, they're kind of back and forth depending on the scene. In some shots they actually look halfway decent, but in plenty of other shots, especially when they have to interact directly with the actors, they more often looked pretty terrible, even by SyFy Original Movie standards. The designs of the CG models actually looked pretty good to be honest, with what is probably the best-looking snakes in a SyFy Anaconda movie yet, but when it came time to interact with real people or objects, that's when the effects fell apart. And even though the crocodiles' design looked great, it also looked totally different from the design of them in all the other Lake Placid sequels, creating a bit of a visual continuity gap. Not a big issue mind you, but still worth noting as I do love continuing continuity whenever I can get it in these movies. Although speaking of continuing continuity, I have to mention that I do love the fact that the electrified fence surrounding Black Lake that was constructed during Lake Placid: The Final Chapter is still up around the lake. I had convinced myself and prepared myself for the possibility that the new filmmakers would ignore/forget about that aspect from the previous movie (an aspect I loved), just because that's usually how things go in these kinds of movies, so I was super-thrilled to see that it was not only included but part of the plot actually revolved around it as well!
As you can tell, I'm very on the fence here. As a pretty big B-Movie fan, especially of the SyFy Originals variety, there were indeed some aspects of Lake Placid vs Anaconda that I loved and had a blast with, however there's just as much that I also hated as well. It also doesn't help that the movie ends quite suddenly and abruptly, having left me feeling robbed of a proper climax, especially since the movie very heavily hinted at some new crossbreed Crocaconda creature showing up, I had thought for sure that was going to come into play for the climax, but frustratingly absolutely nothing at all came from it other than some characters briefly talking about the possibility during the intro scene.
If I had to place it somewhere in the rankings of the other SyFy Anaconda and Lake Placid sequels, I would certainly place it above both Anaconda movies but below all the Lake Placid movies, and while it ended up not being what I hoped it would be, it was still an entertaining enough quick ride for at least a one-time watch, and despite how frustrated I was at a lot of things in this movie, I'd still be pretty excited for another one if they ever decided to do a sequel. I just hope they remember to include the damn Crocacondas in the next one.
5/10 Rooms in the Psych Ward