Welcome to Cult Corner where we dive through the bargain bins to determine if a movie is trash or treasure. Today’s pick… James Cullen Bressnack’s Blood Lake.
Blood Lake is strangely both incredibly derivative and kind of original all at the same time. It centers around a summer vacation spot being attacked by killer lampreys. As the experts try and solve the problem, the mayor refuses to take the appropriate measures since he doesn’t want to lose all of that vacation money. Sound familiar? Yeah, Blood Lake is pretty much following a lot of the same beats that every water-based “nature runs amok” movie has done before. There’s obviously some plot points ripped directly from Jaws, but since that whole genre rips off Jaws it’s hard to hold them at fault. To me, this feels like it was a lot more influenced by the more recent Piranha 3D. Which is weird because The Asylum already put out their Piranha 3D ‘inspired’ mockbuster.
What makes this movie slightly original however is its use of the lamprey as its main antagonist. They’re super creepy and alien looking in real life and they are no different in this movie. As Cate (Shannen Doherty) puts it, they “look like an anus with teeth.” On top of this, they’re a lot more mobile than sharks or killer fish, being able to jump out of the water, climb walls using their suction cup mouth, and travel on land by flopping around in whatever direction they want to go. They get into the city’s water system relatively early on in the film and this gives them access to the entire surrounding area. I have to say, this creates a level of danger that most aquatic monster movies just do not achieve and I applaud the filmmakers for that. Sure they may have had to bend the rules of nature to allow for any of this to take place, but it’s not like this debuted on Animal Planet or anything (it totally did).
The pace of the film is very quick and in certain regards that helps a lot. We get to the action fast and never spend more than 10 to 15 minutes waiting for the creatures to appear and cause havoc. Unfortunately this also leaves very little time for the development for any of the characters. Jason Brooks leads the cast as Michael and other than the fact that he is a unreasonable jerk to his family I couldn’t tell you a whole lot about him. The same goes for Shannen Doherty’s Cate, as well as most of the side characters. However, it’s hard to really pin this on any of them as the dialogue is fairly atrocious. Characters are written in a very expository way, just explaining the situation and rarely ever getting the chance to breathe.
There are a few bright spots, though. Ciara Hanna plays Michael and Cate’s daughter Nicole and actually has a few scenes where she gets to show some genuine emotion. It’s hard to say that her character is any more well-written than the others but she definitely ends up being the most likable of the cast. She also has a moment where she destroys a bunch of oncoming lampreys with a weed wacker, so that helps. The other upside comes from Christopher Lloyd as the mayor in a casting choice that screams, “we really wanted to make Piranha 3D.” He’s a total jerk and the circumstances that surround all of his decisions only make him the biggest douche-bag on Earth. There is no grey area with the lamprey infestation. He sees the dead bodies and still refuses to close the lake or warn the public. That being said, he hams it up and ends up being very entertaining to watch.
Cast and bland characters aside I was hoping to have fun with this movie, but it really falls apart in the second half. It’s not that I was expecting gold, but in spite of the fast pace, Blood Lake just gets way too repetitive and I ended up quite bored. The lampreys are generally done with terrible CGI and while the gore is usually practical there just isn’t enough of it. To put this into perspective there’s a scene where a lamprey jumps out of the water and pulls a man’s eyeball out of its’ socket. It’s a good scene and works very well as an early gore shot, but nothing in the remainder of the film tops that scene. Instead we’re treated to characters thrashing around in red water or the camera cutting away over and over again.That’s a problem. On top of that there are a lot of scenes that feature a character being attacked, wrestling with the lamprey for a second, and then going about their day. These fake outs get old really quick.
Blood Lake showed promise, and while I’m always down for a good cheesy “nature runs amok” flick, this one just did not deliver. Bland characters, sloppy screenwriting, and plot inconsistencies could have all been forgivable if the movie were fun, but it wasn’t. It’s too repetitive, too derivative, and needed way more cool over-the-top moments to really pack a punch. If you like this kind of thing you’d be better off watching the aforementioned Piranha 3D or one of The Asylum’s shark movies.
Here at Cult Corner we cover the weird and obscure. Given the low budget that these movies often have we feel the need to recognize that entertainment value and quality aren’t always synonymous. That’s why we have opted for the “trash or treasure” approach in lieu of a typical rating system. After all, Troll 2 is incredibly entertaining but it’s no 8 out of 10.