LAKE MICHIGAN MONSTER Review – An Absurdist Adventure Tale Told In Glorious Black & White
Directed by Ryland Brickson Cole Tews
Written by Ryland Brickson Cole Tews
Starring Ryland Brickson Cole Tews, Erick West, Beulah Peters, Daniel Long and The Lake Michigan Sea Monster (itself)
It’s rare when a movie doesn’t necessarily remind you of anything that came before. At first, the only other film that came to mind after the experience of Lake Michigan Monster is the bizarre post-apocalyptic teen beach movie The Beach Party at the Threshold of Hell, a small hit on the festival circuit circa 2006. Both movies capture a singular mania from two directors that aren’t visionaries but there’s no doubt that they had a vision and followed through. Ryland Brickson Cole Tews (yes, that’s one person) wrote and directed this unique blend of 50s sci-fi, super hero team-ups, and sea faring epics to deliver an eye-popping comedy that your brain won’t soon forget. Maybe the mashup of Lake Michigan Monster is so filled to the brim with cinematic ingredients, that really, it feels like every movie rolled into one.
Yes, there really is a sea monster the size of a lion in Lake Michigan, and it’s up to a drunken buffoon named Seafield (Tews) to avenge his father’s death and defeat the creature before it strikes again. He puts together a rag-tag group of Milwaukee miscreants to help in his quest but, understandably, they’re a little skeptical. Frighteningly, weapons expert Sean Shaughnessy (Erick West) may be the most competent of the new recruits but sonar “expert” Nedge Pepsi (Beulah Peters) isn’t far behind. Dick Flynn (Daniel Long) completes the team as a wannabe marine getting in on all the action shots while Seafield is usually the one drinking shots. After a flurry of failed mission attempts with names like “Operation Master Baiters,” they muster one last underwater battle filled with enough DIY visual FX to qualify as a poor man’s Aquaman.
There’s an absurdist dreamlike quality drenching every frame, and with a run-time of a little over an hour, the visual gags and quick zooms never tire and the film’s bag of tricks is never quite empty. Under the banner of National Lampoon Presents, Lake Michigan Monster could fit right in with its college brand of humor and general irreverence for traditional moviemaking. Ryland Brickson Cole Tews and his theatre company of cynical idiots are weirdly lovable and it feels like they would all be just as happy making this movie in their swimming pool with a robot pool cleaner as the monster. The level of stupidity is infectious and the technical wizardry keeps wowing even when the jokes aren’t hitting.
If Lake Michigan Monster was spit out by a short-circuiting blender mixing a few movies up in a suspicious looking slush, a lot of Monty Python and a little smidge of Creature From the Black Lagoon would be mixed up with some mushrooms and a copy of Virgil’s The Odyssey. 1983’s swashbuckler parody Yellowbeard also springs to mind. There’s even a little bit of that regional charm you get from filmmaker Matt Farley and his creature feature Don’t Let the Riverbeast Get You! In other words, you can’t really watch this movie, you just have to let it flow over you.
Lake Michigan Monster is available now on Arrow Video Channel. You can also get involved in a competition to design your very own Michigan Monster in a fun contest going on right now. The winners will be judged by the Ryland Brickson Cole Tews, the film’s director, and Mike Cheslik, the film’s producer shortly after the closing date of August 23. Check out more contest details HERE.
Ryland Brickson Cole Tews and his theatre company of cynical idiots are weirdly lovable and it feels like they would all be just as happy making this movie in their swimming pool with a robot pool cleaner as the monster.