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Taking place 8 years after the original (and practically ignoring it), Lake Placid is once again beset by monster crocs eating throwaway characters. Sheriff Bo Duke, er, James Riley (John Schneider) finds himself investigating a series of attacks on swimmers at the same lake. Joined by an EPA agent, his ex-wife from the Fish and Wildlife service and a big game hunter, Riley discovers that the two crocodiles from the original left behind four little ones who share their parents taste for human blood. Cloris Leachman has replaced Betty White as a foul-mouthed old lady caring for and feeding these lizards, and the audience goes out for more beer.
While creature features aren't high up on my list of favorite genres, the original LAKE PLACID was a fun little ditty that proved once again that swimming can be hazardous regardless of whether it's a lake or the ocean.
Unlike the original, LAKE PLACID 2 is neither fun nor original, and fails to deliver regardless of the fact that director David Flores went back and inserted 4 minutes of nudity and gore after the film's debut on Sci-Fi (you know your film's in trouble when you go back after a lukewarm reception and insert boobs and blood to peak interest). As a general rule for sequels, you make mention of the original in some way or fashion, but not in a half-assed way like this one. Instead of acknowledging what transpired in the original, the sequel has the balls to refer to the prior events as an urban legend! No mention of the folks from 8 years past except for the explanation that the new old lady Bickerman (played by Emmy award-winning actress Cloris Leachman) is the sister of Betty White's character, and that Leachman's character moved into the house after White's character “went missing a couple of years ago”. Right, so no survivors from the original spoke about what happened, no newspapers or websites caught wind of the story, and that was that. What the hell?!
The script was garbage, borrowing from the original, JAWS 2 (the lame 'teens trapped in serious trouble' subplot) and JURASSIC PARK III (the equally lame 'angry mom lizard wanting her eggs back' subplot), it's obvious that these were put in there to eat up time (no pun intended). Too bad the teens involved are annoying as hell and spit out putrid garbage like, 'Don't mind me, guys, I'm gonna make sure my little monkeys there don't get toasty' (and yes, he's talking about one of the pairs of boobs in the film). Then again, almost every character has lines that'd make anyone reach for the Wild Turkey (Cloris Leachman is up at the top with lines like, 'I’d invite you folks in for a nightcap, but you’d look better in a dunce cap', followed closely by Schneider's one-liners just before killing one of the crocs). You can also see where the writers tried to pay homage (if you can call it that) to characters from the original by copying mannerisms and shoehorning them into new characters, but instead insult the intelligence of fans from the original and infuriate the rest of us for trying to pull it off. Yay for originality!
Of course, the other big characters were the four crocs, and even these sucked. Now, even though I'm still an amateur CG Artist myself, and I have to say that the crocodiles were modeled fairly well, but that only goes so far when these animals are supposed to move around, because one they start, that appreciation stops. The realism goes further out the window when you see how badly these critters are integrated into the film, and it gets worse when the crocs start ripping off limbs. Yep, CG blood that disappears once it's done spurting, and bloody stumps that change locations or switch to practical effects in the following cut . Even a CG head that flies through the air looks nothing like the actor it was supposed to portray. If you're going to do CG effects, at least make them believable instead of something you'd see on one of those Discovery Channel documentaries on dinosaurs. Hell, we even get a CG plane and boat that look just as bad! You'd think that director Flores was afraid of practical effects, and ironically, the few that are in the film aren't that bad (sure, they still look fake, but at least you can work with them and make them believable).
So is there any redeeming qualities to this sequel? Sort of. Flores did give us hetero males (and like-minded females) some mammaries to look at, even though the 3 characters who drop top are dispatched soon after, and one of the special features makes the movie go by really fast so the harm to your brain is negligible, but we're pushing it. Throw in some bad dubbed-in lines here and there, and you have a floater of a film that not even alcohol can cure.
Video: The anamorphic widescreen transfer looks okay for a Sci-Fi Channel premiere/direct-to-DVD film, but you will see some compression artifacts along with some interlacing errors. Colours are strong, as are black levels, but even that works against the film: The video looks so 'good' that you can really see just how bad the CGI is, and there's a lot of it. You'd think they'd try to cut it so you wouldn't see enough of the CG for it to register that it was crap, but no. An average transfer at best.
Audio: The English 5.1 Dolby Surround track (the only one on the disc) is very good. Rain sounds pretty good, taking advantage of all speakers. Forest noise is subtle yet effective, and the crocs do a good job of sneaking around (though their roars are kind of weak and lack a heavy bass punch). Explosions don’t fare too well, either, as they too lack an effective rumble. Let's not forget about some of the terrible dubbing that was put in for some actors, as you can clearly see when it was done. This is probably the best aspect of the disc, but it still doesn't escape the fact that it lacks in parts. English, Spanish, and French subtitles are included.
As stated before, the unrated version contains 4 minutes more nudity and gore, but it's hard to see where it was integrated.
As for the rest of the special features, first we get a throwaway 4-minute short called "Sex, Guns, and Croc-n-Roll" that 'covers' the making of the film, and gives some behind the scenes footage to the tune of a generic rock soundtrack.
Next up is another throwaway in the form of "Surviving a Crocodile Attack", where scenes of the film are intercut with title cards giving survival tips for crocodile encounters. This, too, runs 4 minutes short.
Probably the best feature is the "LAKE PLACID 2: The 'Gnawed Up' Version", which as mentioned above, speeds the film through only stopping at important points (namely boobs and CG blood with some bad lines in the mix). I say it's the best feature since you skip the majority of the crap (though listening to characters scream, 'Help me!' in a high pitched whine is good for a chuckle) to see the crap that's at least worth some of your attention. This probably should've been the main feature instead of the actual film.
If Steve Irwin were still alive, even he'd justify killing these crocs, along with the rest of the film, for that matter. I'm sure someone out there has made a quip about how this flick should've been called LAKE FLACCID 2, so I won't repeat it. I will say that this film is just another sorry addition to the likes of KOMODO, PYTHON and the rest of the subpar creature feature garbage that's been shoved our way. Why Leachman and Schneider agreed to this when they've been enjoying their successes on TV is beyond me. Stick with the original or JAWS, as this one belongs with JAWS: THE REVENGE: at the bottom of a very deep body of water.