Film (1977). Crown International Pictures. Produced by William R Stromberg. Directed by Stromberg. Dinosaur animation by David Allen and Jim Danforth (uncredited). Written by Stromberg and Richard Cardella from their original story. Cast includes Richard Cardells, Bob Hyman, Glen Roberts, Sonny Shepard and Mark Siegel. 85 minutes. Colour.
Near Crater Lake, California (not the implied Crater Lake, Oregon) a pair of young college students show Scientist Richard "Doc" Calkins (Hyman) an example of cave art which appears to show humans fighting off a plesiosaurus, a prehistoric aquatic Dinosaur. A meteorite lands in the lake and causes the cave system to collapse; the three just manage to make it to safety outside. The meteorite has heated the lake's water considerably, resulting in the hatching of an ancient egg somehow remaining fertile on the lake bottom. Within months, a plesiosaur-like creature appears in the lake and begins devouring people both on its surface and near the shore. At first nobody realizes what is happening, although several people disappear including a vacationing US Senator. Investigating this, Sheriff Steve Hanson (Cardells) eventually learns that the Senator's severed head has been found in the water, and a local forensics doctor reports that he was killed by some sort of animal. The Sheriff spots a hold-up man (Shepard) who is wanted for the murders of two people in another town nearby, and pursues him to the lake, wounding him in the leg. The robber is hiding on the shore when the Monster quickly snatches him away, leaving only bloodstains. The Sheriff is attacked next, but escapes. During a meeting of the town's people to discuss what to do about the creature, it attacks a man outside, leading to a brief battle with a small bulldozer which Hanson uses to kill the beast.
The film is not well made, aside from the animation of the plesiosaurus; too much time is spent on comedy relief with Arnie Chabot (Roberts) and Mitch Kowalski (Siegel), who rent boats at the lake. The subplot with the robber seems to have been added mainly to extend the running time. Cardella has said that Four Crown International interfered with the film in several ways, including altering the script, which would otherwise have made the film play more smoothly. It is difficult to imagine that it could have been significantly improved. [GSt]
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