The Monster of Phantom Lake [Movie review by the Drudgeon]
Originally posted at:

A great flashback to the drive-in classics.

* * * * (Four stars!)

Do you remember those days when things where more simple and when you went to the drive-in and had that big speaker attached to your window, popcorn in-between you and your girl, waiting for the scary moment when you girl wants you to hug her tight, which then leads to making out and fogging up the windows? Me neither. I've never actually been to a drive-in so I've never been able to experience that feeling. But this movie is a perfect example of those days. The movie really feels like it jumped from the drive-in screen and into your DVD player. Mr. Mihm knows his drive-in monster movies and nailed this one.

So the story follows Professor Jackson (Josh Craig) and his graduate student Stephanie Yates (Leigha Horton) as they are testing the water around Phantom Lake. While they are doing science stuff and flirting we also have a group of five teenagers fresh out of high school dancing and having some fun before college starts. Among them are George (Brad Tracy) and his girl Penny (Lindsey Holmes), Jonathan (Justen Overlander) and his girl Amy (Rachel Grubb) and finally scared-of-everything Elizabeth (Deanne McDonald). Jonathan tells the story of Lobo, a military man who came back from the war, killed his wife and now lives in the woods where they are staying. The story turns out to be true and when we do meet Lobo (Mike Mason), the poor guy (well actually he is kinda crazy) falling into the water where atomic waste is being poured, and he mutates into the title monster (played by Michael Kaiser) that then begins killing anyone that happens upon him. Can the scientific man, Professor Jackson, use his great mind to stop the monster or will it take the power of rock n roll?

Considering the movie is trying to recreate the feel and look of the classic drive-ins, you really can't approach this as you would a normal movie. The acting isn't going to be up to today's standards and the effects aren't even going to come close to the effects of modern movies, but then again that's really the point. Now unlike a parody or a movie that is just mocking the older films, this one really takes a close look at what makes the older movies tick. The acting is spot on with the characters acting like they're supposed to and not over acting (like I was really expecting). They really do act like they do belong in an older film as do the effects.

My only real complaint is that there are times where it hangs on something for a bit too long. It's really nothing that breaks the movie, but that did bother me a bit.

I have a feeling that if you showed this movie in an actual drive-in, most people wouldn't even be able to tell that it's a new movie. That says volumes about the skill (and love) of everyone involved, especially Christopher R. Mihm (writer and director). Plus, who can go wrong with cops in a canoe?

"I do like the rock and roll."