01st Jun2014

‘Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lampreys’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Jason Brooks, Shannon Doherty, Christopher Lloyd, Zack Ward, Ciara Hanna, Rachel True, Yar Koosha, Fred Stoller, Jeremy Wade, Mark Christopher Lawrence | Written by Anna Rasmussen, Delondra Williams | Directed by James Cullen Bressack

Blood-Lake-Doherty

After scoring it big with Sharknado, The Asylum spread their wings, moving from Syfy to Animal Planet with Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lampreys, which sees Michael, a fish and wildlife expert, move to a small Michigan town with his wife, Cate (Doherty), after being summoned by the town mayor, Akerman (Lloyd), to help deal with its growing lamprey problem after they slide their way into the city’s sewer system. With their giant-toothed, funnel-like mouths attacking all those in their path, the town’s residents quickly learn that a casual dip in the pool, fishing trip or routine trip to the toilet can turn deadly as the killer lampreys hunt for their next victim(s).

Doing for lampreys what Jaws did for sharks, Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lampreys takes a page out of Joe Dante’s Piranha playbook by taking a terror-filled tale and adding a tongue in cheek twist – in this case a twist as only The Asylum does… Think puerile humour meets blood and guts!

Having previously worked with the company, The Asylum have once again tapped James Cullen Bressack to direct their direct-to-TV latest creature feature. However unlike their last collaboration, 13/13/13, this time round Bressack isn’t working from his own script; which means there’s none of his trademark style, or flair, in this particular film. In fact Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lampreys is so far removed from Bressack’s previous, more extreme, horror flicks that it’s hard to even call this a “James Cullen Bressack film” – this is very much a director for hire job, although as a fan of his previous efforts, I’m happy to report this film does show how far he has come as a director.

As is The Asylum’s wont, Blood Lake features a bunch of familiar names and faces, thrown into the mix no doubt to bring in fans and an unsuspecting audience who’ll tune into a film as long as it has someone they know in the cast – in this case we have Charmed and Beverly Hills 90210 star Shannon Doherty, Back to the Future‘s Doc Brown, aka actor Christopher Lloyd and for US soap opera fans (something which probably won’t translate over here when the film airs on the UK arm of Animal Planet), Days of Our Lives actor Jason Brooks, who will probably be a familiar face to crime drama fans, having also guest-starred in the likes of The Mentalist, NCIS, CSI: NY and Castle.

Yet whilst Jason Brooks is the star, it’s left to Christopher Lloyd to steal the film. His role as Mayor is essentially an extended cameo, but it turns out to be the most memorable – especially given the characters mean-spiritedness (his behaviour echoes that of Murray Hamilton’s Mayor Vaughn in Jaws) and they way he finally gets his comeuppance in one of Blood Lake‘s most memorable, and standout, scenes.

However, like Sharknado, the real “stars” of this movie are the killer creatures: the titular lampreys. They squirm, wriggle, jump and chew their way through the cast in scenes that could’ve stepped straight out of Piranha, that’s if Piranha had relied on CGI rather than practical effects! Yes, like many, and by many I mean all, of The Asylum’s production’s Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lampreys is incredibly CG-heavy. Some of which works and some of which doesn’t – sadly there are a number of gory scenes that are rendered laughable by poor CGI, which even proliferates the film when they’re not really needed; in particular there’s a shot of a face that has been annihilated by the lampreys which could have easily been a practical effect instead of the CGI mess it actually is. But hey-ho, you know what you’re getting with a production from The Asylum: low budgets, excessive CGI, ridiculous plots, cheesy scripts… and a whole heap of fun!

If, like me, you like your creature features dashed with a whole heap of cheese, then you’ll enjoy Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lampreys. The film premieres at 9pm on Wednesday 4th June on Animal Planet, Sky Channel 523/562, as part of Monster Week.

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