Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Brian Krause, Carrie Genzel, Donnelly Rhodes, Don S. Davis, Niall Matter, Amber Boryicki
Directed by Paul Ziller
Distributed by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
The image of the Loch Ness Monster with a pair of human legs dangling out of its mouth perfectly encapsulates the Sci-Fi Channel original movie Loch Ness Terror. Seeing this 40-foot quadruped aquatic dinosaur rise from the depths to wreak havoc, a pair of human legs hanging from its jowls as it chases down another victim, how any fan of old fashioned monster movies could watch this and not have a smile on their face is beyond me. If that pic doesn’t instill in you an ounce of glee then this is not a movie for you. The monsters of Loch Ness Terror are Pac-Man and everyone else is just a dark blue ghost monster trying not to get chomped. It’s all about dino monsters head-butting, tail-slapping, and chomping people to their hearts desire, waddling their way to carnage, while a revenge-minded human character lives out his own personal Death wish for the “130” Dewey Decimal System crowd.
The man eating monster movie extravaganza that is Loch Ness Terror opens with a team of cryptozoologists on the shores of Loch Ness that have just made an incredible find by bringing to the surface a large egg they believe to be that of the Loch Ness Monster. Their sonar gizmo’s begin going wild, water starts bubbling, and then the Loch Ness Monster erupts from the lake with slightly less fanfare than Godzilla arriving in Tokyo Bay. Its long neck rising from the waters so high its head nearly blocks out the sun; the beast growls in disapproval of their thievery. Time stands still as it stares down these egg-stealing scientists who can only stare back in absolute awe of the very creature they’ve dedicated their lives to proving the existence of despite much ridicule from their disbelieving scientific contemporaries. Yet no one seems to think now might be a good time to snap a picture.
Instead the cowardly cryptozoologists roll the egg back into the water in hopes of not raising further ire of the mighty behemoth of the loch. Nessie sinks back underwater with her egg as everyone onshore breaths a sigh of relief. Then, without warning, the Loch Ness Monster storms the beach and begins laying waste to every Fortean theorist in sight. 12-year old James Murphy watches in horror as his scientist father and his comrades are devoured one-by-one by this very pissed off water horse. A gash to his face aside, James’ small stature and hiding abilities save him from also ending up in the belly of the beast.
Young James Murphy grows up to follow in his father’s footsteps as a cryptozoologist in pursuit of the Loch Ness Monster, though he’s not in it for the science so much as he is the blood lust. The filmmakers appeared to be striving to make adult James Murphy into a monster hunting adventurer what with his Indy hat, blue jeans, and Van Helsing trench coat, yet the way Brian Krause (of the series “Charmed”) initially talks and carries himself, the scar on his face, the cigarillos he smokes, his James Murphy comes across less Indiana Jones and more Sergio Leone. This guy is just one poncho away from being ready to star in a spaghetti western monster movie entitled A Fistful of Nessies.
James Murphy lives only for the day he can finally avenge his father’s death by personally killing the monster that ate his poppa, or at the very least, members of its species. The way Murphy talks it sounds like he believes this particular creature is the same one that killed his father but that seems a bit hard to believe given the amount of time that has passed and the distance between the two lakes involved. He’ll explain that these creatures usually hide in the deepest uncharted depths of the sea until it comes time to spawn when they’ll seek shelter in landlocked lakes, such as Loch Ness and now Lake Superior.
Correct me if I’m wrong but doesn’t landlocked mean having no direct access to the sea and isn’t Lake Superior a freshwater lake? But… But… Nevermind. I just need remind myself before looking for logic that I’m watching a Sci-Fi Channel original movie called Loch Ness Terror that is set on the US-Canadian border.
A crazy old man has sighted a plesiosaur in one of the Great Lakes and posted about it on James’ message board. Naturally, James believes every senile old loon who posts on his website and shows up to investigate sightings of this prehistoric monster using such traditional cryptzoological research equipment as a military grade sonar gun, a hunting rifle that shoots cyanide-tipped cartridges, and a custom made EMP gun that fires electromagnetic waves (AKA a heat ray that would make Ming the Merciless envious). How exactly this guy can afford such high tech weaponry on a cryptozoologist’s salary I’d like to know?
Speaking of questionable cryptozoology, he and everyone else keep describing the creature in the lake as a plesiosaur despite all the very un-plesiosaur-like frills adorning its head and neck. I think they should have just called it a “displeasiosaur” since it only resembles a plesiosaur and it’s very displeased. The “Pimp My Plesiosaur” monster design teeters between being only slightly menacing and actually kind of endearing. The little pot-bellied baby versions of the creature are a little on the cute side in spite of their people unfriendly demeanor, which in a way adds to the perverse thrill of seeing them getting their heads blown off with a sniper rifle during the finale.
James is initially assisted on his monster hunt by young bait shop employee Josh, who’s crazy Uncle Sean – soon to be monster bait himself – was the one claiming to have seen the Loch Ness Monster in Lake Superior and alerted James via the Internet. This does not please Josh’s skeptical mom, Sheriff Karen, until she finds herself investigating a series of animal attack deaths at which time she seeks James’ assistance in hunting down what she thinks to be an alligator. He’ll tell her he’s there to kill a prehistoric monster, she’ll think he’s nuts just like dead, torso-less Uncle Sean, but you just know she’ll eventually come around once she sees it with her own eyes. Surprisingly, rather delightfully I might add, the script does not get bogged down with a romantic subplot between these two.
No; the romance is saved for young Josh, the cute blonde girl he likes, the jerk that picks on him, and their friends that all head out on a coed camping trip near the lake. The otherwise brisk movie starts grinding to a halt whenever the focus shifts to anyone under the age of 30. Fortunately, most of the young’ens are short for the world.
Important safety tip: Do not shoot fireworks at giant monsters – they don’t like that. Also, hollow logs do not make good hiding places from giant monsters.
Things also begin to lag during those thankfully brief occasions when the action devolves into scenes of characters on a boat looking at their radar screen and screaming about how close and how fast whatever it is underwater is heading towards them. There’s also the matter of the rather blah Sheriff Karen who is one of those means-to-an-end characters that’s necessary to the plot yet still doesn’t seem to have much of a purpose and, frankly, she’s always a bit on the shrill side.
Characters also keep failing to hear loud monster growls or the sounds of victims screaming in terror not that far away from them. Not to mention trees getting knocked over in an unnatural manner go unnoticed. So much goes unseen and unheard by the locals that I was beginning to wonder after awhile if these were the same lakeside woods from AVP-R.
But just when you think things might be taking a turn for the lame James will bust out his trusty heat ray that fires laser rings in the air just like the ray guns seen in 1950’s space operas and we’ll see actors getting munched on by baby plesiosaur neck-head hand puppets. Those moments were when I knew I was in B-movie bliss.
Yeah, it’s all hokey and formulaic, but somehow it still manages to be a monstrously good time. Loch Ness Terror delivers the rompin’, stomp’in, chomp’in monster mayhem previous prehistoric carnivorous lake monster movies like The Crater Lake Monster, Monstroid, The Loch Ness Horror, and a few years ago similarly titled Beneath Loch Ness failed to. Loch Ness Terror might be the best movie of its kind, though that’s not saying much.
My biggest beef with the film is the title; Loch Ness Terror. It just doesn’t capture the enthusiastically campy flavor of a lively man eating monster romp like this. “It Came From” or “The Beast From” or “Attack of the”: this needed an old school monster movie title that started with phrases like that. It just needed a more memorable moniker like It Came From Lake Superior. Even A Fistful of Nessies would have sufficed.
3 out of 5
2 out of 5
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