SYNAPSE BLU RAY RELEASE: Creature from Black Lake (1976)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was first on the site on September 22, 2018. It’s back as Synapse is releasing it on both DVD and blu ray, which you can get from MVD by clicking on each link. Both options have a brand-new 4K restoration from the original 35mm camera negative, audio commentary with author/filmmaker Michael Gingold and film historian Chris Poggiali, a featurette with Director of Photography Dean Cundey, the original theatrical trailer and a radio spot.

If I’ve learned anything from my week of watching Bigfoot movies, it’s that Yankees aren’t wanted in the places where Bigfoot resides. You can also rewrite that sentence to cover city folks aren’t wanted when Bigfoot decides to walk on through Western Pennsylvania or Southeastern Ohio.

This one is all about two dudes: Rives (John David Carson, Empire of the Ants) and Pahoo (Dennis Fimple, House of 1000 Corpses). That’s right, Pahoo. Dennis Fimple was 36 when he played this young twenty-something just back from ‘Nam and looking for something, anything, maybe even Bigfoot. Rives is more concerned with hamburgers, fries and Cokes. And oh yeah, redhead goddesses. Well, everyone gets what they want in Black Lake.

You get a lot of character actors in here, like Western star Dub Taylor as Grandpa Bridges, Bill Thurman whose career stretches from The Last Picture Show to Mountaintop Motel Massacre, and Jack Elam, who is the best part of this film as the tracker Joe Canton.

Elam lost an eye to a sharpened pencil at a Boy Scout meeting as a child (he also literally grew up picking cotton) before serving in WW II, becoming a studio accountant and even managing the Bel Air Hotel in Los Angeles. A character actor in numerous gangster and Western films, as well as TV, Elam came up with a quote that many have stolen over the years in relation to how Hollywood sees people. He said that casting directors would say this about him:

  • Stage 1: “Who is Jack Elam?”
  • Stage 2: “Get me Jack Elam.”
  • Stage 3: “I want a Jack Elam type.”
  • Stage 4: “I want a younger Jack Elam.”
  • Stage 5: “Who is Jack Elam?”

He shows up in some crazy roles, such as Doctor Nikolas Van Helsing in the Cannonball Run films and in The Norseman, Charles B. Pierce’s bonkers ode to Vikings that stars Lee Majors.

This was re-released theatrically in 1982 as part of a multi-film package called “5 Deranged Features”. Also on the bill were Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971) (under the title They’re Coming to Get You so perhaps people went thinking they were about to see the American cut of All the Colors of the Dark), The Wizard of Gore under the name House of Torture, Shriek of the Mutilated and The Corpse Grinders under the title Night of the Howling Beast.

If you’re up for seeing college students try and get laid while eating burgers and hunting Bigfoot, then this is probably the exact movie you’re looking for.

What this movie really has going for it is cinematography by Dean Cundey (HalloweenThe FogWho Framed Roger Rabbit?, Rock ‘n Roll High School and many, many more great movies). There are some interesting shots and it’s not your typical dark swampy seventies affair.

2 thoughts on “SYNAPSE BLU RAY RELEASE: Creature from Black Lake (1976)

  1. Great review, Sam, and an even better set of ad mattes. I was at a five-feature, dusk-till-down show at the long-gone Altoona Drive-In way back when, but I recall different films: (1) Horror of the Blood Monsters under a different title, which could have been Vampire Men of the Lost Planet; (2) House of Torture a/k/a Wizard of Gore; (3) Night of the Howling Beast (the Paul Naschy werewolf/Yeti film); (4) They’re Coming to Get You, which really was All the Colors of the Dark; and (5) Night of the Living Dead.

    Perhaps it was a 1983 or 1984 show and not 1982. (And I have no idea what Screams of Flesh and Blood is.)


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