The Crater Lake Monster (1977)

PG | 85 mins | Horror | 14 September 1977

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HISTORY

End credits carry the statement, “Filmed in Fantamation,” a dimensional stop motion animation process, according to a Summer 1977 Cinefantastique review. End credits also include the following written acknowledgment: “The Producer thanks the communities of Huntington Lake and Palomar Mountain, California and the U.S. Division of Forestry.”
       The onscreen writing credit attributes the original story and screenplay to both producer-director William R. Stromberg and Richard Cardella. However, according to AMPAS library production records, the producers submitted the film for Academy Award consideration crediting the screenplay to Stromberg and Cardella, but the original story solely to Stromberg.
       According to a Fall 1977 Cinefantastique article, Stromberg and Cardella’s preliminary idea was to write a Bigfoot movie. They decided to switch to a dinosaur when a number of other Bigfoot-type monster films appeared. In addition to writing, producing, and directing, and initially financing the film himself, Stromberg also played the role of “Richard Calkins.” Shooting did not go well, however, and Stromberg determined the production needed additional funding. Crown International Pictures agreed to finance the rest of the film. Everything filmed up to that point was reshot with Bob Hyman replacing Stromberg. A Summer 1977 Cinefantastique review stated that Davie Allen turned down a “Director of Special Effects” credit. Allen supervised the composite effects, merging the images of the animated model dinosaur with those of the live humans. The animation work was completed in two-and-a-half months at Allen’s Burbank, CA, studio with the help of assistant animators Randy Cook and Phil Tippett. Allen estimated he did half of the animation, with Cook and Tippett doing the rest, except for a few shots animated by Jim Danforth. ... More Less

End credits carry the statement, “Filmed in Fantamation,” a dimensional stop motion animation process, according to a Summer 1977 Cinefantastique review. End credits also include the following written acknowledgment: “The Producer thanks the communities of Huntington Lake and Palomar Mountain, California and the U.S. Division of Forestry.”
       The onscreen writing credit attributes the original story and screenplay to both producer-director William R. Stromberg and Richard Cardella. However, according to AMPAS library production records, the producers submitted the film for Academy Award consideration crediting the screenplay to Stromberg and Cardella, but the original story solely to Stromberg.
       According to a Fall 1977 Cinefantastique article, Stromberg and Cardella’s preliminary idea was to write a Bigfoot movie. They decided to switch to a dinosaur when a number of other Bigfoot-type monster films appeared. In addition to writing, producing, and directing, and initially financing the film himself, Stromberg also played the role of “Richard Calkins.” Shooting did not go well, however, and Stromberg determined the production needed additional funding. Crown International Pictures agreed to finance the rest of the film. Everything filmed up to that point was reshot with Bob Hyman replacing Stromberg. A Summer 1977 Cinefantastique review stated that Davie Allen turned down a “Director of Special Effects” credit. Allen supervised the composite effects, merging the images of the animated model dinosaur with those of the live humans. The animation work was completed in two-and-a-half months at Allen’s Burbank, CA, studio with the help of assistant animators Randy Cook and Phil Tippett. Allen estimated he did half of the animation, with Cook and Tippett doing the rest, except for a few shots animated by Jim Danforth. Allen also designed the dinosaur-monster and one 15-inch model was built. Jon Berg assembled the model’s armature, Allen sculpted the head, and Tippet sculpted the body, tail, and flippers. Steve Neill constructed a full-scale head for use in close-ups. Neither Cook, Tippett, Danforth nor Berg were credited onscreewn. Toward the end of production, Crown International asserted more control and Stromberg had little input in the editing. The film was made for less than $200,000, exclusive of distribution and advertising expenses.
       A 16 Sep 1977 LAT review described the film as “poorly made” and reported that it played on a double-bill with the Greek film Land of the Minotaur. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Cinefantastique
Summer 1977.
---
Cinefantastique
Fall 1977
pp. 35-36.
Los Angeles Times
16 Sep 1977
p. 17.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A William R. Stromberg production
Filmed in Fantamation
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
2d unit dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Orig story and scr
Orig story and scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Key grip
Grip
Grip asst
Grip asst
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Illustrator
FILM EDITORS
Asst to eds
MUSIC
Songs
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec mechanical eff
Stop motion supv
Spec miniature effects
MAKEUP
Make-up
DETAILS
Release Date:
14 September 1977
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 14 September 1977
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Metrocolor
Prints
Filmed in Fantamation
Duration(in mins):
85
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

At nightfall, near a mountain lake, scientist Dan Turner summons Richard “Doc” Calkins, to see his latest discovery. They meet Susan Patterson, Dan’s girlfriend and fellow scientist, at an old mine that was formerly a cavern used by Native Americans. Dan and Susan show Doc cave drawings, estimated to be at least 1,000 years old, depicting men fighting what appears to be a dinosaur. Meanwhile, Sheriff Steve Hanson witnesses a large, fiery meteor hit the lake. The meteor triggers a cave-in at the mine that Dan, Doc, and Susan narrowly escape. The next day, Steve takes Doc, Dan, and Susan out on his boat to find the meteor. Dan and Susan dive and locate the meteor fifty feet down, but it is extremely hot and will need to cool for weeks before they can study it. Months later, a large marine reptile with a long neck, broad body, and flippers, emerges from the water and attacks a hiker. Afterward, a bird watcher witnesses the monster swimming in the lake, and calls the sheriff. Steve does not take the call seriously, until he receives another call from a rancher whose prize bull has disappeared. A fisherman from out-of-town rents a boat from locals Mitch Kowalski and Arnie Chabot. The monster knocks the fisherman from the boat and eats him. Mitch and Arnie see their boat adrift and discover that it is full of blood. Doc surmises that the man fell and hit his head, bleeding to death from a scalp wound while clinging to the side of the boat. Steve assumes the body will eventually wash up. Later, Ross and Paula Conway, an alcoholic magician and his assistant-wife on their ... +


At nightfall, near a mountain lake, scientist Dan Turner summons Richard “Doc” Calkins, to see his latest discovery. They meet Susan Patterson, Dan’s girlfriend and fellow scientist, at an old mine that was formerly a cavern used by Native Americans. Dan and Susan show Doc cave drawings, estimated to be at least 1,000 years old, depicting men fighting what appears to be a dinosaur. Meanwhile, Sheriff Steve Hanson witnesses a large, fiery meteor hit the lake. The meteor triggers a cave-in at the mine that Dan, Doc, and Susan narrowly escape. The next day, Steve takes Doc, Dan, and Susan out on his boat to find the meteor. Dan and Susan dive and locate the meteor fifty feet down, but it is extremely hot and will need to cool for weeks before they can study it. Months later, a large marine reptile with a long neck, broad body, and flippers, emerges from the water and attacks a hiker. Afterward, a bird watcher witnesses the monster swimming in the lake, and calls the sheriff. Steve does not take the call seriously, until he receives another call from a rancher whose prize bull has disappeared. A fisherman from out-of-town rents a boat from locals Mitch Kowalski and Arnie Chabot. The monster knocks the fisherman from the boat and eats him. Mitch and Arnie see their boat adrift and discover that it is full of blood. Doc surmises that the man fell and hit his head, bleeding to death from a scalp wound while clinging to the side of the boat. Steve assumes the body will eventually wash up. Later, Ross and Paula Conway, an alcoholic magician and his assistant-wife on their way to Las Vegas, Nevada, have car trouble. The local mechanic suggests they go down to the lake while they wait for their car to be repaired. Ross and Paula rent a motorboat from Mitch and Arnie. On their wat to a dance, Mitch and Arnie get into a fight, fall into the lake, and find the head of the missing fisherman. Steve instructs them not to rent any more boats, but they neglect to tell him about the couple in the motorboat. On the lake, enjoying the moonlight, Ross and Paula hear a noise. When the boat is jolted from below, they race to shore, skidding onto the sand. Ross is knocked out, and when he awakens, the monster emerges from the water, Ross pours gasoline on the boat and lights it. The fire scares off the monster. In a nearby town, a man attempts to rob a liquor store, and shoots the clerk and a female customer. Meanwhile, Doc performs an autopsy on the fisherman’s head and determines that a large animal in the water caused the wounds. He suggests to Steve that this creature, whatever it is, may be responsible for the disappearance of the area’s fish and game in the six months since the meteor hit. Back at the lake, Mitch and Arnie find Ross and Paula in shock. Steve reprimands Mitch and Arnie and sends them home, where they get drunk, and wander off into the woods. Outside the café, Steve sees an unfamiliar car in the parking lot. Inside, the liquor store robber watches from the window. When Steve goes to his police car to make a report, the robber sneaks out, exchanges shots with Steve, and flees in his car. Steve pursues the robber, and the man’s car drives off a cliff. As the robber escapes, Steve chases him on foot to the lakeshore and shoots him in the knee. Steve reloads his gun behind a tree, but the monster devours the robber, leaving only a pool of blood. Steve calls Doc and decides they need to search the lake. Driving to Doc’s, Steve hears a noise from the lake and investigates. As the monster emerges from the water, Steve fires shots, and barely escapes in his car. Steve brings Doc to the lake and shows him the prints the monster left in the dirt. They show photographs of the prints to Dan, who thinks they are playing a trick. When Steve describes the creature, Dan and Susan hypothesize that the meteor could have disturbed a dormant aquatic dinosaur egg with the extreme heat incubating it. Once the dinosaur hatched, it proceeded to empty the lake of fish. Steve wants to kill the beast, but Dan, with Doc’s support, creates a plan to capture it by luring it to a remote bay. The next day, they hold a town hall meeting to explain the plan to locals who are divided between killing the monster and exploiting it as a tourist boon. Meanwhile, in a nearby field, the town’s mechanic is attacked while working on a snowplow. Steve, Doc, Dan, Susan, Mitch, and Arnie go to confront the monster. Steve climbs into the snowplow, and Arnie recklessly jumps in the back, brandishing a shotgun. Arnie falls to the ground and the monster picks him up in its mouth and tosses him aside. Steve repeatedly rams the monster with the snowplow, killing it with the blade. Steve checks on Arnie, but he is dead. Mitch mourns his friend’s stupidity. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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