Lake Fear 3
You know how a lot of the times, these dollar store movies have a spectacular cover that the film can’t possibly live up to? Sometimes it’s the opposite, and the cover just doesn’t do the movie justice.
At first glance, Lake Fear 3 looks like it’s going to be a ghost hunters knock off. We begin with spooky intro credits from one of those ghost hunting shows on discovery, complete with a goofy cameraman doing his thing. We pull out of the TV and into a bar where people are watching the program. A man wanders in, ripped shirt, and bloody. His name is Remmington and he brings some surprise gore and demons with him. While I’m confused and don’t know for the life of me what’s going on, I sure do like it.
We cut to the credits burning in the sky over a spectacular drone shot, and switch to a desolate phone booth and gas station. A girl is trying to post “missing” posters in this one horse town, and one of the locals tells her that if the person in those posters was lost around here, she’s just dead.
The next 10 minutes are full on, gore fueled, relentless, monster attacks. It’s largely practical as well, with Aftereffects really only providing glowing elements to the whole affair. And just when you think they can’t keep this pace up, they do.
Vincent and Remmington toss Chloe into the backseat, bandaging her up as best they can and head out. No one‘s talking much, everyone’s pretty well in shock. Everyone that is, except Remmington. It’s not enough to flee though, monster Revol materializes in the car and goes after Chloe again. The evil is following them. A quick shotgun blast to the face is enough to propel her through the window and out of the car, but monster Revol picks herself up and puts her self back together, getting ready for another go around.
46 minutes in, we get our explanation. Apparently Remmington went on vacation to a cabin and unleash some unspeakable evil from the TV that now follows him (The flashback is inexplicably told in a bizarre and cheap looking flash animation). Now his plan is to lure it back to its own home, and he’s going to need Vincent and Chloe to help.
I’ve read in several synopses that Revol is looking for her sister who originally went to the evil cabin… I can only assume they’re referring to one of the four girls in the original film, because this movie was shot in Texas (and it LOOKS like Texas), where as part two is obviously in Florida. Still, the connection is never firmly made, and the film could’ve benefited from a stronger tie to the original Lake Fear. Likewise, I’m perplexed at why our flashback scenes were these weird flash animations rather than simply cutting to shots of the original film. It’s been the same distributor all along, I would hope that that would smooth over any rights issues.
The filmmakers very much wear their influence on their sleeves, you can totally see Evil Dead and The Thing represented here. While I criticize the make up in the original, Gerald Crum’s creature FX in this are stunning and excellent. The monsters are every bit as chaotic as what we see in Carpenters The Thing, and many of these effects shots are comparable. There’s a definite Evil Dead vibe once we get to the cabin, but these creatures supersede anything that I ever saw in Raimi’s classic. I love it when people succeed, and Michael and Gerald Crum have both knocked it out of the park with this one. It’s astonishing what a difference four years makes.
Of the three films, this is far and away the best, and worth sitting through the first two to discover this one, And it’s enough to actually make me want to go back and take a second look at the original Lake Fear!
Lake Fear 2
Besides the name, this is going to be unrelated to the previous entry. (and yes, that was a while ago – way back in August!) While Lake Fear was supernatural horror, all ghosts and zombies and stuff, Lake Fear Two : The Swamp is firmly within the hillbilly horror genre.
It’s subtitled The Swamp for a reason. The film really leans into the swamp vibe, with some rockabilly music playing over the credits. We didn’t get flashes of carnage and terrible scenes to try and set the tone. It’s trying to give us some history here, and it’s obviously not from The previous film. Right off the bat, you can see this is a very different kind of movie. It’s professionally shot with good actors and a cohesive style. Nudity abounds, because these aren’t amateurs.
The credits kick us off with a psycho stalking and killing a couple of teenage girls,… Enough to set up the news report we get post credits about missing college students.
We shift to Fort Lauderdale at spring break because, bikinis.
It’s normal spring break shenanigans, with a quick cameo from Linnea Quigley (Who we also got to see this past weekend! but more on that tomorrow) behind the bar, but there’s a shadow over the festivities, because one of the girls has been late on her period for a couple months. One of her friends finds her pregnancy test, but we already know how this is going to end.
Meanwhile, back at the bar, Linnea tells the kids there’s a snake catching event going on in the Everglades and they should go down and try their luck. $500 if they grab one. So they decide to forgo getting drunk and partying in favor of driving out to the swamp to catch snakes.
They charter a boat, and somehow It feels more like New Orleans than Florida,… With jazz and bluegrass music and Southern accents and gators in the water. Over the course of their travels they come across an old camp, with a shady past. It even freaks the boat driver add a little bit, bad karma he says.
That’s when the propeller on the boat stops working, and the driver collapses. The boats dead, the drivers dead, and they’re running out of daylight. They can’t stay on the boat, and they decide their best bet is to head to the cabin for shelter.
The reach land, and start trying to get into the house. Seems locked and abandoned, and the entire scene is shot in a disjointed manner. They are quick cuts and POV night vision shots, as if it were a found footage movie. Everyone, especially the girls are freaking out and attention already high before anything even had a chance to happen.
Suddenly, we cut back to the boat. The driver is alive, he only faked a heart attack to Lure the kids to the cabin… And now he’s talking with his sons. Chance of a lifetime… Ton of them, and they’re gonna slice and dice them real nice.
College kids find moonshine and start to get plowed on moonshine and high on weed as the rednecks creep up on the cabin with their large, rusty machetes.
A couple of the girls start to feel sick, and excuse them selves from the party, and the killing begins just a few minutes past the halfway point.
Two more of the kids head off looking for something resembling a shower (I am amused that even stranded in a swamp, the film manages to squeeze in an obligatory shower scene), while another two slip away for some giggity action. Separated, they find themselves easy prey for the rednecks, Who target the boys first before assaulting the girls.
It’s a predictable pattern, another couple splits from the group, and another, as we watch the redneck Brothers bludgeon and slice their victims … All while doing their best impression of Bill Moseley. They seriously seem to be channeling Otis Driftwood through this entire film (not to mention the obligatory deliverance moment).
At least we get a quick alligator attack. I’m pretty sure he’s the real hero of this movie.
We get a seriously freaky ending With a ritual colts killing. Lots of blood, gore, and violence that feels more on par with the bloody quick cut massacre that punctuated the credits. It’s a stark contrast to be rather dull, conventional murders that we seen through the rest of this film. Up until now, though violence has been largely bloodless and on interesting. All the sudden we have this bizarre ending, and it feels undeserved. There’s no build up or reference to why it happens, and quite frankly it feels like it belongs in an entirely different film.
There’s a good premise here, but they failed to really take advantage of the spookiness of the location. For the most part the only time I felt tension was when the college coeds were bickering and arguing over the dead boat… That and the strange ending. It’s a sort of film that you do flashbacks to and include the best bits on a compilation tape, but not really the sort movie you go out of your way to seek out.
The first main obstacle is a foggy river with no passable bridge. It’s really just an excuse to strip the girls down to their underwear… There’s no nudity in this film… But at the same time, the filmmakers are going for some symbolism as well, they say the girls are crossing the river Styx. That may be just a touch too pretentious for this film, but I certainly do see how it marks them leaving the normal world and crossing over into whatever darkness is fueled by the evil cabin. Symbolism yes, but mostly, girls in their skivvies.
Finally, they emerge from the woods into a clearing, and spy the cabin in the distance. There’s still plenty of light, but the day is fading and nobody is there. Fortunately, the door has been left unlocked for them.
As night falls, cat girl is the first to get it. While one of the girls is outside and exploring the outbuildings looking for a place to relieve herself. She finds a creepy button a doll, and this seems to kick off the bad juju. Cat girl wanders outside looking at the foggy night air, and starts to see a figure, moving unnaturally in the woods. This flickering ghoul lures her deeper into the night, where she sinks into the wet darkness and mud, ultimately dispatching her.
The other girls are asking where cat girl has gone and noticed some strange footprints on the wood floor of the cabin.
There’s screaming outside.
They go to investigate, trying to best to find Cat girl. A tape recorder starts to play in another room, ala Evil Dead. It warns of the evil presence in the cabin, and yet when the lights go out, they’re still convinced it’s just a power outage. In the living room, the TV flickers showing images very reminiscent of The Ring. The girls are almost hypnotized by it, and in the corner, The doll watches. Jordan collapses and Tina rushes over to her, she notices a figure in front of the TV… and a ghost girl with dirty long hair turns menacingly, then charges her. We cut and see Tina staring aimlessly, Jordan looking strange, and weird lights continue from the TV along with unnatural movements. There’s more people now in the cabin then we started with, in the haunting itself gets strange… Disjointed . There’s flashing lights and crawling and chains and strange haunted house noises going on all around. Kathy trips and falls and gets a rotary saw stuck in her hand. The doll is sitting in this corner as well, and there are rubber monsters With slimy teeth in the dark.
We cut to zombie cat girl with a zipper face dragging Tina out to the woods, covering them both with blood. Tina breaks free, swinging a large stick and fleeing back in to the cabin with Jordan. The tape player continues to recite it ominous commentary. The TV shines with such brightness and fog that it is practically a portal now. In the kitchen, a bloody figure strokes for dolls hair, and quick flashes of eyeless faces keep us off balance. Headless bodies, bodiless heads, random dire inserts coming from the television. And the girls are hypnotized again, until the fiendish creatures around them start to go wild. They’ve finally had enough and smash the TV.
At this point, our hero Remmington shows up… he’s a strapping young man with prodigious sideburns and a very Texas belt buckle and he informs them that when they smashed the TV, they let the evil out. He explains that he was the one who trapped the evil in the television. I’m not entirely sure how that works, but even more confusing is where Remmington came from. I don’t understand. Was he also stuck in the TV? Was he just walking by? Did aliens drop himdown the chimney with Santa Claus? This sudden inclusion of another character, our demon fighter, is confusing to say the least, especially happening as it does, at the 56 minute mark of an 81 minute film.
Remmington and the girls are in for the fight of their life, in this blue tinted horror cabin with Demons sensuously dancing and crawling around them. We get some stitch face make up and the horrifying spectacle of a tongue split on naked blade, before Remmington gets fed up with this nonsense and flat out stabs the demon in the head.
There’s blood and monsters and blue fog all around them. The demons move in jerky staggered ways, taunting them in disturbing, distorted voices.
And the rag doll sits and watches.
Remmington does his best Bruce Campbell, slashing and slicing through the demons and getting hosed down by various color fluids.
“It looks like we’re about to get a lot better acquainted” he says, then turns to the doll. “What else you got?”
That’s really about it as far as the plot goes. But this movie is not about the plot. Sometimes I’ll notice that a movie got made because there’s a bunch of make up artists who really want a vehicle to showcase their talents. These movies tend to be over the top in gore, and they tend to linger on the fantastic shots of torn flesh and bloody carnage. You can spot one of these by the lack of story and the bad acting. This film is in the same mold, only in this case, we’ve got some people who know some visual effects and want to show off their time lapse warps and quick cutting skills in the editing bay.
They brought on some people who kind of know make up and lighting, but it ends up being sufficient, but never quite professional. It’s haunted house skills… Minor make up with blood and stitches… Even an honest to God super face. Stark lighting that gives color but not mood. I genuinely felt like I had walked out of a haunted attraction after this movie.
The end result is they managed to create some interesting imagery, but never create a story, or develop enough sympathy with these characters for me to care when they get knocked off. It’s the sort of thing you put on in the background at a nightclub because there’s great visuals, and no story to follow. Unfortunately, Lake Fear is just a disappointment.
How the heck are there two more of these???