★★ out of ★★★★★
Ok…here’s the deal, this movie a) doesn’t really involve a monster, and b) isn’t filmed at Crater Lake.
Oh no, it’s filmed on a lake, but it’s Huntington Lake and that’s 557 miles from Crater Lake in Oregon. Not to be a stickler, but again plesiosaurs aren’t monsters and this lake looks nothing like THE Crater Lake — again, in Oregon. But, and a big but here, the plesiosaur gets in to a knockdown drag-out throw down with a snowplow at the end of the movie. That’s worth something, right?
The internet will tell you that this 1977 flick isn’t a great film. This didn’t make my guilty pleasures list on Episode XI of the Scariest Things Podcast. The soundtrack is ripped-off from a 1950s monster movie. The acting isn’t all that. Definitely an odd hodgepodge of actors who all take a rather earnest approach to their craft. That doesn’t mean that this isn’t a fun movie to sit down and give a try. In fact, everything about this film is earnest. The poor attempt at the Ray Harryhausen-inspired beastie, the somewhat guerrilla film-making, and even the characters and their meager character development. All earnest.
The film is simple, well sort of. A meteor, because they were big in the 1970s, hits the lake, heats it up, and wakes up American-Nessie. The plesiosaur is pretty pissed, hungry, and ready to snack on the inhabitants of “Crater Lake.” People get chomped, stomped, and de-stroyed. The local sheriff is having none of this. He sets out with the local scientists and a couple of tweedle-dums to figure out who’s gobbling up the town. Along the way, the sheriff gets in to it with a robber, who subsequently gets in to it with American-Nessie. While the sheriff doesn’t see this smackdown, he does see the aftermath and he’s not pleased.
With nowhere to turn, the sheriff decides to hold a public forum at a local tavern. Unbeknownst to him, beer and public discourse just aren’t super-compatible. The locals, including the uppity scientists want to use American-Nessie as a part time science experiment/part time tourist trap. The sheriff, needless to say, is having none of this gibber-jabber. The booze-filled public forum comes to a close, American-Nessie closes in on the town square, and the sheriff goes to blows with American-Nessie in a snowplow — yes, that’s not a typo, a snowplow.
Certainly not the most inventive movie ever made, the Crater Lake Monster is earnest. Sometimes that authenticity, no matter how poorly executed, really matters. Not to mention the fact that I’ve never actually witnessed a snowplow being used in such a dynamic way. Have you? No you haven’t, and that’s why you should turn off your ol’ thinking machine and give the Crater Lake Monster a try.