I’ve watched a lot of movies in my time. I’ve seen just about all of the genre cliches and tropes, and nothing really surprises me anymore. Of course, that doesn’t stop me from searching for new stuff any chance I get. When I chose to review Lake Michigan Monster (2018) for Fantasia International Film Festival 2019, I hunted down the trailer and found this insanity:
What the hell did I just watch? I knew one thing, however… this movie is different, and I just had to see this movie.
Lake Michigan Monster synopsis:
An eccentric ship captain and a crew of specialists plot revenge against the most mysterious creature of the deep — the Lake Michigan Monster.
Now that I’ve seen it, I can officially say that Lake Michigan Monster is ludicrous, nonsensical, facetious and brilliant in every way. L.I.P.S.’ Ryland Brickson Cole Tews gathered a small group of multi-talented cast and crew members to make this black and white gem, including L.I.P.S. alumni actor Daniel Long and visual effects artist/editor/producer Mike Cheslik, as well as actor/producer/camera operator Beulah Peters, actor/prop creator/camera operator/makeup artist/producer Erick West, actor/prop creator/singer/songwriter Wayne Tews (who wrote and sang “Dear Old Captain Seafield” for the film) and set decorator/makeup artist Alyssa Gagnon (Forget About Tomorrow 2019). The Lake Michigan Monster creature costume was created by Joe Castro (Bonehill Road 2017 – read our review here, The Haunting Of La Llorona 2019).
The whipsmart humor in Lake Michigan Monster is top notch, especially for those of us with a little nerd in our bloodstreams. I laughed out loud – no exaggeration – over a dozen times. It’s rare for me to laugh at a film I’m watching by myself, so the fact that so many lines, scenes, props and effects struck me as funny is a true testament to the comedy here. Sure, there are puns, and yeah, there’s a guy that looks just like Painty the Pirate from Spongebob, but hey, that’s what I like. If you’ve ever seen John Dies At The End (2012), you’ll know the kind of comedy I mean. Look past the exploding eggs, naked seamen and staticky film effects, and you’ll see gorgeous visual effects tucked away in this film. They’re supposed to be cheesy, but VFX Artist Mike Cheslik is way too talented to submit anything but perfection. It’s almost surreal to see these meticulously done effects over something like a hand written, duct tape sign.
The main characters in Lake Michigan Monster, Captain Seafield, Sean Shaughnessy (West) – weapons expert, Nedge Pepsi (Peters) – sonar individual, and Dick Flynn (Long) – former officer of the Nautical Athletes adVenture Yunit (also known as the Navy) are hilarious. For newly minted actors, they did a great job all around. The comedic timing was spot on, which is also a testament to Editor Mike Cheslik. I’d love to see these guys go on more adventures together. I also liked the revenge plotlines. They made the story flow nicely and kept the action at a brisk pace.
I only wish that Nedge Pepsi and Dick Flynn had stayed with Captain Seafield for the entire movie. Once they left, the film became almost too nonsensical and felt drawn out. The individual scenes that were shot to fill this time were spot on as far as cinematography and effects, but they were completely unneeded for the storyline. I did love the final confrontation at the end between the captain and the Lake Michigan Monster. Revenge!
If you like your films surreally funny, beautifully shot, and full of cheesy yet fantastically rendered effects, than look no further than Ryland Brickson Cole Tews’ Lake Michigan Monster.