With a title like Creature From Black Lake, that this might be a riff on The Creature From The Black Lagoon. That the monster might be some kind of aquatic horror. That thinking would be a mistake. Creature From Black Lake might be the most of it’s time film I’ve watched for Hooptober. Creature From Black Lake embodies about what you expect from regional film but without any of its charms.
For those unfamiliar, regional horror is a term that’s been popularized over the last few years. It describes horror films made outside of the Hollywood system that carry the stamp of their location shooting. Night of the Living Dead, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and The Evil Dead are all considered regional horror films. The idea being if you had a distributor and enough financial backing, you could shoot a horror film. Folks tended to make a horror films because they were cheap and could be profitable.
Creature From Black Lake displays that its regional filmmaking. Two trappers boating through the Louisiana bayou investigate their traps to see if they caught anything. One by one, it looks like someone or something got to them first. They stop to ponder the situation. Suddenly, an arm grabs one from under the water and pulls him down. The other trapper barely evades capture and goes back into town to tell his story. Two anthropologists from the University of Chicago hear the story. They decide to investigate because what harm is there in investigating a Bigfoot?
This is a very, very 1970s movie. It’s the kind of movie that only could have been made in this period. This is a film made in Louisiana and centered around Bigfoot in a period where folks were fascinated by him. Almost everyone in the cast comes across as a local. Even the two anthropologists supposedly from Chicago come across as locals. The exception is Western regular Jack Elam as the trapper from the opening no one believes. One character frequently brings up his time in Vietnam. The climax involves a CB radio saving the day. It’s a movie about Bigfoot! It’s the 1970s baby!
One of the trade offs with regional horror though is that these movies are low budget. If the filmmakers isn’t a George Romero or a Tobe Hooper, then you definitely feel the budget. For a movie about Bigfoot, there’s more people talking about Bigfoot than there are Bigfoot attacks and there’s a lot of talking. Jack Elam is great but his disappearances throughout the film feel like a cost cutting measure. I hate saying a Bigfoot movie is boring. Yet the number of times I looked at the running time and thought we have how much time left was too many.
Creature From Black Lake might be a regional horror film from the 70s but it’s a dull one. You want Bigfoot in your Bigfoot movie, not people talking about Bigfoot encounters. There’s humor anytime the boys from Chicago get called yankees. Still you wish our city boy anthropologists went in search of a better movie.
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