Beasties from the Water

Three films with monsters from the deep, but in a couple of cases not so deep, and come to that not so monstrous really.

Shark Night (2011)

Beauty Sara and five of her friends return from college for a weekend away at her family’s island in a lake retreat, and to do the things that people do in such situations, such as lounge around in bikinis and water ski. So far, so good, except en route they have a confrontation of sorts Sara’s old boyfriend Dennis who was disfigured in a diving accident that he blames on her. And before long the young studs and studettes are being picked off by an assortment of sharks for the entertainment of a pay per view audience. So, a no star cast, with Sarah Paxton and Katharine McPhee as the only names I recognise. I suspect photogenic looks was more important than acting ability, and yep, they all look suitably buff and tanned as they meet their shark du jour. Except for the bad guys of course, who are as ugly on the outside as they are on the inside. Plotwise, the pay per view angle seemed to stretch credibility, especially given the required shark smuggling, and I was rather confused as to why Sara wanted to come back to the island given its unhappy memories for her. Those things apart, well it was an entertaining thriller, with the requisite number of deaths and the bad guys getting their comeuppance at the end. I liked it more than not, but the version I saw wasn’t in 3D.

Zombeavers (2014)

This is pretty much a replay of the above, set at a different lakeside location and with dead beavers in lieu of sharks. A toxic spill takes out the residents of the local beaver dam and they come back as zombeavers, with everything and/or everyone they bite going down the same undead highway. So three girls turn up for a girls only weekend in a cabin, to help Jenn get over her boyfriend’s infidelity, and then their three boyfriends turn up to have sex (two of them get lucky). But then the zombeavers go on the rampage and there goes the neighbourhood. This is billed as a horror comedy (the title is a big clue), and I’d say it works tolerably well as such, though the inevitable prevalence of “beaver” jokes gets a bit tiresome. I loved the opening titles with pop up beaver cut outs and the end titles with the hilarious theme song, and the two toxic waste framing episodes were very amusing. The most laughs though came from the blooper reel added to the end of the feature – padding, but extremely funny. Throughout the film there are references to Night of the Living Dead, from whose plot it borrows heavily, even down to the fate of final girl Zoe. And, on a more visceral level, if you can ignore the dreadful animatronic beavers, the action itself is rather compelling, with some gore scenes that make you query the 15 rating. The three female friends are well drawn, but not so much the males (two of them appear to be walking erections, though the third has a bit more gumption), and some of the other characters are entertaining, particularly the elderly couple in the next house over with their in your face attitude. On balance, it’s all a lot of fun – I just wish the beavers hadn’t looked so much like over worn novelty slippers with LED displays.

Lake Placid 3 (2010)

Ah yes, the lakeside eat all you want buffet for crocodiles gets a third outing. We open with a couple of skinny dippers, one of whom happens to be former Brit soap star Roxanne Pallett (fallen are the mighty), getting chomped on by tiny but voracious crocs. Skip forward a bit, and the local zoologist and his family move into the cabin/house that was the centre of past croc activity, having been assured by the sheriff that the lake is empty, and the young son of the family starts to feed the no longer quite so tiny crocs his Cheetos. Skip forward two more years, and the boy is feeding parcels of meat to the by now rather large crocs. And now the fun starts, with the cabin group and hangers on, a group of hitchhikers, and a group of hunters, all getting to go man to croc with the giant lizards, culminating in a winner takes all showdown in the local supermarket and garage forecourt. Seen one giant crocodile movie and you’ve seen them all, but all the same this one was mildly entertaining, with some tense scenes, great monsters, and engaging characters (I particularly liked the feisty female hunter). The one thing that annoyed me was the boy who fed the crocodiles because his mother and father ignored him and subsequently caused all this mayhem (it probably means I’m a nasty person, but I think the selfish brat deserved to get eaten up), and I’m surprised that the family didn’t notice all this meat going missing from the freezer given that it took place over two years. Such quibbles aside it was film with plenty of bite and one that I enjoyed a lot, though of these three aquatic adventures I have a slight preference for Zombeavers.

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