It would seem that the makers of Lake Placid: The Final Chapter and Syfy, the network that aired the movie in 2012, have an inexact grasp of the word “final.”
How else can one explain the return of the killer crocodiles from Black Lake, Maine, in Lake Placid vs. Anaconda?
Robert Englund, who starred in The Final Chapter, suspected all along that the title was a lie.
After all, why end a film franchise while it’s still a success? “Some of the best ratings Syfy gets are with the ‘Lake Placid’ films,” he noted.
And sure enough, three years later, Englund is back — even though his character, crazy poacher Jim Bickerman, was eaten at the end of the fourth movie.
The new monster movie mashup premieres at 8 p.m. Saturday on Syfy.
By adding the slithering stars of the long-running ‘Anaconda’ series, Englund can argue that there’s even more for fans to love about this guilty-pleasure treat.
“My theory is there’s something subliminal about spiders and snakes and alligators and sharks,” Englund says. “The animal kingdom gives us great villains. When animals attack, it’s a primal fear.”
But we enjoy this kind of fright, as long as it washes over us while we’re safely seated on our sofa. “It’s a kind of pop culture that we’ve decided to embrace,” Englund says.
The actor knows a thing or two about this genre. He’s a horror movie icon, thanks to his performance as Freddy Krueger in the ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ movies.
Executive producer Jeffrey Beach savored the opportunity to smear Lake Placid’s peanut butter all over Anaconda’s chocolate.
“We wanted to refresh the brand a little bit and thought it would be a good idea to bring in the anacondas,” says Beach, who has been involved in every ‘Lake Placid’ flick except the 1999 original. “By combining franchises, it breathes new life into both of them.
“What’s fun about this one is we’ve finally given our creatures a formidable adversary. Until now, our crocs didn’t really have an opponent that was equal in power. Humans were basically just food. So we introduced the snakes and ramped up the stakes.”
There’s a celebrated cinematic tradition of movie monster crossovers. Memorable ones include Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943), King Kong Vs. Godzilla (1962) and Alien Vs. Predator (2004).
Englund was devoured in the previous Lake Placid. But his Jim Bickerman character spewed so much bile that he apparently didn’t satisfy the croc’s appetite.
Bickerman survived, but now he has a prosthetic leg, a hook hand and an eye patch.
Beach notes that, even though the oversized predator animals get top billing in the title, they wouldn’t succeed without charismatic, scenery-chewing human co-stars like Englund.
“Even though it’s a creature feature, it’s really all about the characters,” Beach says. “You want them to live — or sometimes you want them to die — but you’re always with the characters on this journey, so casting is extremely important.
“I think we did well on this one. Not only do we have the great Robert Englund, but we also have Corin Nemic as our lead, who’s a wonderful, engaging actor, and Yancy Butler, who’s such a fireball, back from the previous two Lake Placids.”
There’s nothing radically new in the Lake Placid vs. Anaconda plot. It’s the standard nature-goes-nuts premise. The crocs are confined to Black Lake, but the fence is destroyed and they escape to another lake, where sorority girls are doing hazing rituals. Then the snakes are introduced. It’s chaos.
Englund enjoys this movie franchise, because there’s a subversive sense of humor attached.
“There’s the element of horror, but there’s always been room for a little bit of comedy,” he says. “There’s always something a little over the top in them.”
Lake Placid vs. Anaconda
▪ 8 p.m. Saturday