After recently witnessing the DVD release of LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK and SHRIEK OF THE MUTILATED, it didn't shock me to discover that another 70s "Bigfoot" entry had joined the format: 1976's CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAKE. This one was directed by the guy who gave us the trio of NIGHT OF BLOODY HORROR , WOMEN AND BLOODY TERROR and NIGHT OF THE STRANGLER. Like most of the classic Bigfoot films, this was shot independently on location (in this case, Louisiana).
John David Carson (EMPIRE OF THE ANTS) and Dennis Fimple ("Petticoat Junction) play anthropology graduate students who drive their van from Chicago to Louisiana in search of a mysterious, legendary creature. When they arrive, they run into trouble and are warned by the local sheriff when they make mention of the notorious monster. They end up at the home of Dub Taylor (in one of his typical "king of all hicks" roles) and his grandson who strums a mean guitar and relays a flashback about how his parents were killed in an auto wreck after witnessing the beast. The students hook up with some chicks, make recordings of the creature's growl, and later come face-to-face with him while camping out.
A dull and talky film that takes unwanted characterization too far (Vietnam vet Fimple constantly rambles about his love of hamburgers and his loathing of chicken), CREATURE FROM BLACK LAKE only has a few effective scares, and when we get a glimpse of the creature, it is expectedly a disappointment. Veteran support not only comes from Taylor, but also from wild man Jack Elam who plays the kind of hillbilly that lives in a newspaper-walled shack near the lake. He has not one, but two violent encounters with the thing.
Originally distributed by Howco International, the film has been released on DVD by a company called Sterling, and the transfer is a big disappointment. First off, the film is letterboxed at about 1.85:1, but it was actually filmed in the wider 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The beginning and end titles are squeezed and the rest of the feature is badly cropped on the sides. Colors are very faded looking, with fleshtones taking on a pink or orange shade. The image is always soft, and the print source is beat to hell--full of lines and dirt. The audio (showcasing an eerie score by Jaime Mendoza-Nava) is acceptable. The only extras are poorly written and factually challenged bios on Elam and Taylor, and a lame fact sheet. (George R. Reis)
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