Horror cross overs are a funny old thing. Packed with so much potential they are sadly often times much less than the sum of their cinematic parts.
Ignoring the idiotic made up monsters from the made for TV movies continually churned out for SyFy (a TV station that can’t even spell its own name properly!) there have been very few horror crossover films with Freddy vs. Jason, King Kong vs. Godzilla, Dollman vs. Demonic Toys and two Alien vs. Predator’s none of them really reaching the status of killer classic that each series managed independently.
It was with trepidation then that I approached Lake Placid vs Anaconda perhaps because I had been disappointed before. I was well aware that I would not be watching a film starring Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube , Jon Voight, Owen Wilson Danny Trejo, Bill Pullman, Bridget Fonda, Oliver Platt and Brendan Gleeson all of whom somewhat surprisingly starred in the 1997 Anaconda and 1999 Lake Placid respectively.
With both films running up 3 sequels since the big budget star studded originals diminishing in talent, effects, budget and quality as they went along and increasing in ridiculousness and subtitle length Lake Placid vs Anaconda looked like it could be a turkey vs skunk rather than a croc vs snake film but you know what it turned out to actually be really good fun.
The film opens with Robert Englund who reprises his role as Jim Bickerman from Lake Placid: The Final Chapter helping a group of scientists from a company run by the daughter of John Rhys-Davies character from Anaconda 3: Offspring and Anacondas: Trail of Blood (I told you those titles got crazier!)
With Bickerman’s help the company have gotten their hands on a giant crocodile from a fenced off area near Lake Placid full of the beasts and we discover that their nefarious plan is to crossbreed the croc with a large genetically altered green anaconda to produce a hybrid Crocaconda because well they are in the evil pharmaceutical business is because.
Obviously everything goes wrong and all the animals escape flooding the area with a menagerie of killer crocodiles, evil anacondas and a pregnant snake with the potential to bring a whole new breed of evil into existence.
With the town and surrounding lake in potential peril it is up to no nonsense Sheriff Reba (the excellent Yancy Butler reprising her role from Lake Placid 3 and Lake Placid: The Final Chapter) to get control along with the help of Fish and Wildlife officer Will Tull (Corin Nemec) whose daughter just happens to be at the lake with her sorority sisters for rush week.
As stupid as it all sounds, and it is very stupid, novice director A.B. Stone and script writer Berkeley Anderson make the very wise decision not to play Lake Placid vs Anaconda totally for laughs and although it’s not scary as such the death and destruction is done straight most of the time with perhaps not as much gore as most horror fans would like but still providing some satisfying kills.
The effects are a bit naff, there is some dodgy dubbing and it takes an hour till we actually see a fight between the giant mutated killer animals however the cast are actually all very good and there are a raft of strong female characters from the authoritative stoicism of lead Reba to the villainous vitriolic Sarah Murdoch played by Annabel Wright to Tull’s daughter who finds her own strength to save her college sisters all of which is a welcome innovation on the usual meat headed male heroics in action horror.
Perhaps the issue is that all these horror crossovers including Lake Placid vs Anaconda have occurred during the decline of each series rather than at their height and you can’t help but feel they have been used by the film companies as one last cash in on the popularity of the characters rather than a real exploration of each individual world.
With the amazingly well executed multi-faceted cross overs of the Marvel cinematic universe it seems that Hollywood is finally seeing the potential in pitting titanic and iconic creations against each other and with the proposed reboot/remake of King Kong vs. Godzilla which comes after Gareth Edwards epic Godzilla movie and a upcoming new telling of the King Kong tale, maybe more well-made Vs films may finally arise.
Till then however Lake Placid vs Anaconda is extremely enjoyable and for all its flaws there is enough fun to keep any horror fan entertained while providing the perfect climax to a 9 film Lake Placid and Anaconda movie marathon which now seems like a brilliant idea to me.