Son of 31 Nights, 31 Frights: Lake Placid

Son of 31 Nights, 31 Frights

In observance of that autumn spell when we celebrate the primal, compulsive instinct of fear, Rainestorm once more highlights 31 days of spooky scares to season the eerie atmosphere of Halloween.

For those who tuned in last year, I subjected you to a daily dose of diabolical dread and devilish distress. Just as every good horror movie deserves an inferior sequel, I offer this follow-up of also-rans, not bads, and perhaps a couple of you’ve-gotta-be-kidding-mes.

Unleashed: 1999

Bridgette Fonda, Bill Pullman and Brendan Gleeson in 'Lake Placid'

Any excuse to get Brendan Gleeson in his underwear…

What evil lurks: The rampaging crocodile at the center of this film is merely incidental. It’s really just a flimsy excuse to get a bunch of likable actors together (Bridget Fonda, Bill Pullman, Brendan Gleeson, Oliver Platt, Betty White) and riff on David E. Kelly’s playful script. Veteran horror director Steve Miner nicely balances the horror with the humor, always keeping an emphasis on the latter. Fonda has never been better as the city girl banished to the Maine woods after losing her boss/lover to her best friend. Brendan Gleeson is an agreeably grumpy snark as the town sheriff with an appreciation for multitudinal kinds of sarcasm. As expected, however, it’s Oliver Platt’s eccentric millionaire crocodile enthusiast who carries the film’s funniest bits, forming a slow and uneasy friendship with the sheriff as they clash repeatedly over how to deal with their unusual problem.

Highlight from hell: Bridgette Fonda’s Kelly Scott can’t seem to keep from falling out of boats… or trucks… or…. dry land.

Terrifying trivia: Brendan Gleeson’s sheriff tells Betty White’s character, “I’m sure PETA would be annoyed at how you treat your cows.” Betty White is a noted animal rights advocate.

Diabolical dialogue: “Aren’t you supposed to say ‘go’ in karate? You’re supposed to say ‘go’!”

Son of: Tremors (1990). Nearly a decade before Lake Placid, this delightful little monster movie took its cue from the atomic creature features of the 50s and put a comic spin on all of its small town characters. Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward are hilarious as a couple of day-by-day handymen, and Michael Gross and Reba McEntire nearly steal the show as a survivalist couple with firearms to spare.

Shoddy sequel syndrome: The snappy dialogue keeps this film from drowning in a lake of monster movie clich├ęs.