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6 Degrees Entertainment

'Lake Michigan Monster: Special Edition' [Blu-ray]
(Bruce Dern, Cliff Potts, Ron Rifkin, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1972) 2020 / Arrow Video - MVD Visual)

Overview: On the shores of Lake Michigan, the eccentric Captain Seafield (Ryland Brickson Cole Tews, who also writes and directs) enlists a colorful crew of misfits in a bid to slay the hellish sea monster that prowls the murky depths.

But as Seafield's obsession with exacting revenge on the creature that killed his father threatens to consume him, can weapons expert Sean Shaughnessy (Erick West), sonar whiz Nedge Pepsi (Beulah Peters) and former N.A.V.Y. Nautical Athletes and adVenture Yunit officer Dick Flynn (Daniel Long) hold the show together?

Shot in gloriously retro black and white on a shoestring budget, with most of the cast also performing multiple roles behind the camera, 'Lake Michigan Monster' is an inventive, irreverent and riotously entertaining ode to the classic monster movies of yesteryear: an absurdist urban legend guaranteed to appeal to the big kid in all of us.

Blu-ray Verdict: This was the film that kicked off the final day of the Nightmares Film Festival. I had heard from a couple guys who were at the festival the night before that this was a wild one from the trailers they saw!

As aforementioned, the synopsis is an eccentric ship captain and crew of specialists plot revenge against the most mysterious creature of the deep, the Lake Michigan Monster.

We start this learning about the crux of what is going on. Ryland Brickson Cole Tews, who is also the writer and director, plays a man who lives in a lighthouse with his wife and his father was killed.

He hires a weapons expert, a sonar technician and a navy man to help him hunt down and kill what took his father. These people he hires Erick West, Beulah Peters and Daniel Long.

They come up with a few different plans of attack. Things take a turn though when one of the members of the team are attacked by the creature and then an egg is found.

It is destroyed and this angers the creature even more. Ryland is keeping things from the rest of his team and there's a much deeper back-story than any of them realized, which leads to him coming face to face with this creature as well as the truth of his past.

Now I wanted to go a little bit lighter on the recap here as there's not a lot to this story and a good portion of it is really at the end which I don't want to spoil.

I should also point out that this is a comedy. Most of it isn't to be taken serious for sure. It is a revenge tale at heart as well. I almost feel like there's the underlying belief that eventually, we have to stop seeking revenge or there'll be no one left or the adage 'an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind'.

This film actually kind of has a Lovecraftian vibe to it that I can dig. There's a sea creature that is kind of similar to being like a Loch Ness monster, in that it is just living down there.

When we finally see it, it has a low budget look, but I definitely dug it. Since I've kind of moved to the effects, I should state that this is mostly done on green screen. If this film was more serious, I would have hated it.

Since this is played for laughs it works. They definitely use the comedy to hide the lower budget, so I can't harp too much. It is also shot in black and white with an old timey feel. That I actually did like.

I'll move next to the pacing of this. With a runtime of 78 minutes, it's perfect. They know what they're doing here, so they came in with a lower running time which actually kind of feels like those sci-fi films from the 1950's.<> The problem I have though is being a comedy, it really did have trouble building tension. Some of the comedy landed for me, especially a gag about how early the liquor stores in Milwaukee close, but some of it felt a bit forced. I did like the ending, even though it was a wee bit outrageous, to say the least!

As for the acting, it is most definitely over the top while still working for me. Tews is pretty funny as the lead here and I think the rest of the team he assembles is as well.

There are really some times where something is said and they just kind of look at each other. That awkwardness is actually something I really dig in films like this. I also thought that Peters was pretty cute as well, if I'm going to be honest. I really like her glasses as well.

Now with that all said, don't purchase this Blu-ray expecting a serious film or even one with the most coherent storyline. It is one to turn your brain off and have some laughs too.

Again, it is a Lovecraftian-inspired revenge tale that just gets more and more outrageous as we go. The acting is wacky at times, well, most all times, but it never outstays its welcome.

The look of the movie is good, but it's a bit too heavy on effects. The soundtrack didn't really stand out to me, but it did fit for what was needed.

Overall I'd say this is a fun film (ala the old British comedy show The Comic Strip Presents ... from the '80s) that you should check out with your friends and have drinks watching.

Oh, and for the record, and not to give anything away, but the waters surrounding coastal Lake Michigan are extremely cold during the spring months in many North American regions, such as Wisconsin. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.39:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative, approved by director Douglas Trumbull and produced by Arrow Video exclusively for this release
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and PCM 2.0 stereo soundtracks
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Two cast and crew audio commentaries featuring writer/director/actor Ryland Tews and actors Daniel Long, Beulah Peters, Erick West and editor Mike Cheslik one sober, one drunk!
Critics audio commentary with Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Emma Westwood
Effects Breakdown comparison of the film's underwater sequence, including storyboards and pre-composited footage
Dear Old Captain Seafield the Captain Seafield theme song, performed by the Seafield Monster Sextet
Interview in a Cabin interview with Ryland Tews and Daniel Long at the Fantasia International Film Festival
Interview in a Bar interviews with the cast and crew at the Beloit International Film Festival
Interview by a Fire interview with Mike Cheslik on Mark Borchardt's Cinema Fireside radio show
The first season and pilot episode of L.I.P.S., Ryland Tews and Mike Cheslik's hybrid animation/live action sci-fi comedy web series
Theatrical trailer
Behind the scenes photos
Reversible sleeve featuring original artwork by Jade Watring and newly commissioned artwork by Colin Murdoch
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Barry Forshaw.

Amazon Purchase Link

Original Trailer

www.MVDvisual.com





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