Sony // 2008 // 91 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // April 1st, 2008
It's Hunt or Be Hunted
Another day another computer-generated creature attacks. Can it be that this one defies the odds and actually provides a good time?
Our adventure begins with a flashback. We see a group of researchers on the shores of Loch Ness, their goal is obvious: to capture Nessie, the legendary deep-sea monster. But those plans quickly go straight down the toilet when Nessie herself appears and starts eating fools.
Fast forward to the present day and at a small lakeside town, mysterious deaths begin cropping up. Brutal slayings, these, with appendages ripped clean off the bodies and the heads missing. The local authorities think an alligator is on the loose until a crypto-zoologist named James (Brian Krause, Charmed) shows up and starts peddling the crazy theory that the real perpetrator is a prehistoric carnivore.
The scene is set for a winner-take-all, fight to the finish, where the victor will either overrun a small town with its lizard offspring or evade becoming dinosaur poop.
I liked Loch Ness Terror. Yes, I am as stunned writing this as you are reading it. On the surface (last body of water pun, I swear), the flick has all the makings of being yet another generic, junk creature saga, trading the Boa or Python or Giant Squid for the Loch Ness Monster. Yes, my expectations were cellar-dwelling when I popped the disc in, but the movie quickly won me over.
Here's Reason # 1: the creature killing action started right away and didn't stop, all the way up the fast-moving, satisfying finale. From the moment Nessie bites an unfortunate soul in two to the mauling and dismemberment of the guy who plays the doctor on Battlestar Galactica to the poor dude who gets gang-devoured by a pack of baby plesiosaurs, the Nessie kills come quick and often.
Reason #2: we see the monster right way. Memo to potential creature feature directors -- Jaws was a long-ass time ago. The whole "hide your monster until the very end" gag has run its course, especially with these straight-to-DVD monster movies. Fellas, I'm not taking this movie for a spin to watch compelling character work and a plot that resonates with a deep emotional core. Just show your hand. And Loch Ness Terror does that. From start to finish, it's all monster, all the time, and not the cop-out, in-the-middle-of-the-night, shrouded-in-darkness footage. No, we get an eyeful.
To be honest, the creature effects are uneven. Sometimes the CGI looks good (the underwater chase scene, the attacks at the tent site), sometimes it looks horrible (the waddling around in broad daylight, the corny EMP microwave laser gun). But at least we're not deprived of the beast, iffy or no. The CGI work is supplemented by some practical, prop effects and those are always welcome.
Reason 3: the characters are surprisingly interesting. Krause does a good job as the quirky monster hunter. His material is funny and he has a nice comic handle on it. A few other familiar faces round out the cast to provide a good effort all-around.
Reason 4: lots of guts. Loch Ness Terror keeps the rubber prosthetics bouncing and the plastic intestines soaked in red dye. This is one of the gorier beastie outings I've seen in some time.
Okay, I know I might have laid it on pretty thick so let's bring this back down to Earth. As fun as it is, Loch Ness Terror is still a low-budget, cheesy monster movie with suspect visual effects and way too many people standing still, screaming, with their arms raised in the air, welcoming the incoming lizard jaw.
The picture quality (1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen) and sound (5.1 Dolby Surround) are decent and up to snuff. Extras: a making-of-featurette that's too heavy on the plot recap and an episode of the anime series Blood+.
If you've endured as many crappy Giant Killer _______ movies as I have, when an entertaining one like this swims along it's like the Lord made the sparrows and bluebirds just for you.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 91 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Bonus Anime Episode