At first, I saw Evergreen trees, then a muddy beach with sawed off tree trunks where the Scottish scientists had set up their base camp. The film was already not off to a good start. Thankfully these same scientists had convincing accents because this Scottish Loch was really starting to look like Vancouver. Loch Ness Terror joins The Water Horse, as the other Loch Ness Monster movie released this month on DVD. However, Loch Ness Terror eventually takes place at Lake Superior.
In 1976 a young James Murphy (Sam Laird), an American raised Scotsman, returns home with his father to study Loch Ness. His father (Paul McGillion) makes a startling discovery and awakens the terror of Loch Ness causing his and his research team’s demise. James is the only one to survive. Scared from the event, James dedicates his life to hunting the creature and becomes a Cryptozoologist. Thirty two years later James, now played by Brian Krause, comes to Lake Superior to investigate the rambling of a crazed old man (Donnelly Rhodes) who says he saw the Loch Ness Monster in the lake.
To start, this was Sci-Fi Channel original movie. Yeah, I know. What was I thinking? There are several templates for a Sci-Fi Channel movie that usually spell disaster. First there are always actors in the film that are on a Sci-Fi Channel series. Donnelly Rhodes (cigarette smoking Dr. Cottle from Battlestar Galactica) and Don S. Davis (Major General George Hammond from Stargate SG-1) both play significant roles. Low budget computer generated effects will supply both the gore and the monsters, ending inevitably with a big shoot out where guns and explosions supply all the thrills. The movie uses these templates but as basic as the plot was, it wasn’t as terrible as most Sci-Fi Channel original movies (Lake Placid 2 and Sands of Oblivion being the two most recent on DVD) for two reasons: Brian Krause and its Land of the Lost quality.
Brian Krause as the orphaned son and Cryptozoologist brought a believability to the role. As cheesy as the part was, it could have been a lot worse. Krause layered the performance with a dark heroism making all of his scenes with the town sheriff’s son, Josh (Niall Matter), seem more important than they really were. Yet, even with his cheesy bad scar and thousand mile stare I found myself wondering where has Krause been? Any one of the Law & Order or CSI shows usually take hold of an actor like this and make them into household name. Finally, here was someone to root for in a Sci-Fi Channel original movie. He was the saving grace to the cheese-ball bonanza called Loch Ness Terror.
This film did suffer from some very stereotypical horror/ monster genre motifs. However, watching the “lambs to the slaughter” teenagers interact with the CGI Loch Ness Monster and puppets I was instantly reminded of the creatures in Sid and Marty Krofft’s Land of the Lost TV series. When the Loch Ness Monster would walk (yes, walk) across the land and attack the camping teenagers I had this nostalgic feeling of watching the Marshall family fend for the lives. It made the Loch Ness Terror less idiotic and, at times, more fun. Unfortunately, it wasn’t supposed to be funny it was supposed to scary and that is where the film fell flat. Too bad Sid and Marty weren’t in charge of this one.
You’re not missing much if you never see Loch Ness Terror. Brian Krause is the highlight of the film but its Land of the Lost quality can be better viewed by actually watching the 70’s television series. Besides, I know there are still better Loch Ness Monster movies to watch. I recommend Loch Ness starring Ted Danson and Ian Holm (yes, May Day Malone and Bilbo Baggins in the same movie).