Director – Joy N. Houck Jr. (Night of Bloody Horror, The Night of the Strangler)
Starring – Jack Elam (The Norseman, The Cannonball Run), Dub Taylor (Starman, Burnt Offerings), and Dennis Fimple (House of 1000 Corpses, Fangs)
Release Date – 1976
Rating – 3/5
Blu Release – 3.5/5
It’s no secret that I have a soft spot for cryptid-based horror films and I especially have a deep love for the bigfoot films of the 70s. The popularity of the Patterson-Gimlin footage lead to a huge influx of no budget bigfoot flicks that flooded the drive-ins for years to come. Most are barely watchable, but they are an experience in their own rights. One film that I had never seen before but was very much aware of was Creature from Black Lake.
I snagged the DVD for this some years back but never found the time to watch it and once I started writing reviews for Horror Society I found myself watching films for myself less and less. That’s why I was extremely excited when I read that Synapse Films was releasing the film on blu. I knew the DVD I snagged years ago at FYE used was piss poor quality so I was looking forward to finally seeing the film in decent quality. I want to thank my friends over at MVD and Synapse for sending this one over for review.
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows two investigators who visit a small rural community after news reports that an ape like creature is terrorizing the residents. They encounter a sheriff that warns them about poking their heads around in the woods before setting out to do just that. After recording some interviews and sounds in the forest they find themselves face to face with the beast. **Spoiler Alert**
Creature from Black Lake is not a good movie. In fact, it’s pretty poor from several aspects. However, I fucking love movies like this. It reminded me a lot of The Legend of Bigfoot which is another from the same period that I enjoy. The faux documentary angle mixed with a lack of budget and cryptid hunting works for me. I know a lot of genre fans will be very critical of this one but I found it enjoyable and charming to some extent.
The acting in this one is rough all around. There is a few scenes that was better to watch than others but the overall acting is very forced. The characters were either written on the fly or created on the spot. Regardless, the cast didn’t have much to grab on to and the performances were underwhelming.
The story for this one is like others from the same time. The popularity of the Patterson-Gimlin footage sparked an interest for many in cryptozoology. Producers and indie production companies were quick to cash in on the craze with films following people searching for the cryptid before encountering them. This film is no different but, as I stated earlier, I found myself enjoying the low budget aspect and the simplicity of the story. Sure, it has plenty of awkward scenes that is dialogue heavy but I kind of enjoy it if I’m being honest. It’s mindless fun that I can toss in from time to time and just watch. It’s nothing amazing or spectacular but enjoyable for the occasional watch.
Finally, the film is rated PG so don’t expect any blood and gore. Deaths take place off screen and the lack of blood is a bit of a disappointment. As for the creature, if you have watched any bigfoot film from the 70s then you know exactly what to expect. Overall, Creature from Black Lake is a forgettable film that is for a specific niche of the horror community. I enjoy it and I know other fans of bigfoot flicks that will appreciate it but for those of you with a hard on for A Serbian Film or foaming at the mouth to talk about August Underground will not enjoy it. I recommend it but you really need to know what you are getting yourself into with this one.
Exclusive slipcover design from Justin Coffee (Limited to only 2500 slipcovers) only available direct from Synapse Films & DiabolikDVD
Brand-new 4K restoration from the original 35mm camera negative
Audio commentary with author/filmmaker Michael Gingold and film historian Chris Poggiali
SWAMP STORIES – All-new featurette with Director of Photography Dean Cundey
Original theatrical trailer and radio spot
Newly translated optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing