Lake Michigan Monster
by Brandon Thomas
Sometimes, you stumble upon a movie so farcical and so nonsensical that you can’t help but sit up and pay extra attention. With its over-the-top cast, flamboyant direction, and zany plots, Lake Michigan Monster is exactly that kind of movie.
Eccentric nautical extraordinaire, Captain Seafield (played by director, writer, producer Ryland Brickson Cole Tews), has hired a crew of professionals to help him kill the sea monster that murdered his father. Along for the ride are “weapons expert,” Sean Shaughnessy (a name that will stick with you in its repetition), “sonar person”, Nedge Pepsi, and former Nautical Athletes adVenture Yunit (NAVY – get it?) officer Dick Flynn. Together, these heroes scour the shores of Lake Michigan hoping to reel in and kill the vicious creature.
There’s a crackling energy to Lake Michigan Monster that’s reminiscent of the early films of Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson. The devil-may-care attitude that led The Evil Dead and Bad Taste to cult royalty is present in every frame of this entertaining creature feature. Tews begins his movie at a sprint and never lets up on the gags, monster attacks and cheesy jokes for the next 78 minutes.
Have I mentioned how funny this movie is? The jokes have a juvenile charm to them that keeps the tone light-hearted. Mean humor doesn’t appear to be in Tews’s vocabulary. Yes, characters die, but they do so with such whimsey way that you end up smiling and laughing more than weeping.
The characters in the film are essentially live-action cartoon characters. Leading the pack is the director himself as Seafield. Tews’s comic timing is impeccable as he plays the fearless sea captain as a mix between Popeye the Sailor and Homer Simpson.
It would be a mistake not to mention the incredible look of the film. Shot on grainy, black and white 16mm film stock, Lake Michigan Monster looks right at home next to the old school monster movies it’s paying homage to. The film’s visual effects often look way better than its $7,000 budget should allow. Sure, these aren’t Lord of the Rings level effects work, but they more than suffice for this B-movie throw-back.
Lake Michigan Monster manages to make the most out of its limited resources. What the movie lacks in budget, it more than makes up for with old fashioned ingenuity and enthusiasm.