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  • Alistair Braidwood

You Have Been Watching… A Loch Ness Horror Special

What links Robin Hood, 1983 fantasy Krull, Cheers, and Fitzcarraldo? Since the title of this post is ‘A Loch Ness Horror Special’ you have probably guessed that people involved in all of the above are forever linked by appearing in films based on the myth that just won’t die, and in the three featured here it’s about the only thing that doesn’t, reputations included.

Let’s start with the best, or at least most interesting. The initial reason I set out to watch these movies was because I had been told about a Werner Herzog film called Incident at Loch Ness. As a fan of his films I had to get a copy to see just what the incident was. Of course, in true Herzogian style, it proved to be incidental. Incident at Loch Ness is a mock documentary, a mockumentary if you will. It starts with Herzog being filmed by another film crew as he sets out for an ill fated attempt to examine the myth of Nessie, and try and understand why people feel the need to believe in such phenomenon. His producer, real life director and writer Zac Penn (who has worked on many of the recent Marvel movies) wants credibility from working with Herzog, but is also determined to make a form of blockbuster on the fly, complete with bikini clad Kitana Baker and a distinctly non ‘CGI’ monster. It’s a commentary on Hollywood that doesn’t quite come off, but it’s worth a watch for Herzog having a ball playing up to his own mythology. For Herzog completests only. Here’s the trailer:

Unfortunately, Incident at Loch Ness proved to be a gateway film to some very dark places. “If you like (insert purchase here) you might also like (insert recommendation here)” is one of the more useless aspects of modern life, but when I saw the names of two of the films on offer then I felt obliged to see what they were like. Not only is it a dirty job, but, it turns out, also a soul destroying one.

The first recommendation was The Evil Beneath Loch Ness, and it’s a classic bad movie. Close readers of movie posters will already have spotted the warning signs to my left. Patrick Bergin, who recently turned up in The Wee Man, is the promising headline act, but don’t be fooled. Lysette Anthony will be fondly remembered only by lovers of fantasy film of the 80s, terrible British sitcoms, and those brave souls who followed Highlander on to TV. And then you have that eye. When the monster itself is looking that concerned on the cover then audiences should beware.

It’s based so closely on Jaws that I’m sure Spielberg and Benchley could sue if they were bothered. I’m positive someone actually says ‘We’re going to need a bigger boat’, but I’m not going back to verify. Let’s run through just some of the ‘coincidences’. Hero who doesn’t want to get in the water? Check. Glimpses of the ‘monster’ rather than spoiling things by showing how rubbish it is until near the end? Check. Eccentric local who becomes obsessed with catching and killing the beast? Check. Local dignitary who worries that reports of a killer animal in the water will hit tourism? Check. Pranksters who build a wooden ‘monster’ to scare people? Check. Young folk being punished for having a good time. Check. But these comparisons prove to be completely superficial. The dialogue, acting and nearly everything else is just woeful. Then, just as you’re reaching for the off button, Bergin turns up dressed as M.Gibson/W.Wallace, in full Highland gear, face painted in blue, handily waterproof, wode, ready to don scuba gear and dive to face his destiny full on. Sure it may be nuts, but at least it’s entertaining.

Which is more than can be said for Loch Ness Terror. If The Evil Beneath Loch Ness is the stuff Bad Movie Club was made for, Loch Ness Terror is just plain awful, and is actually false advertising of the worst and most blatant kind. It is also known in the US as Beyond Loch Ness which begins to tell the true story. Here’s a brief synopsis that fills in the rest:

‘James Murphey is a rugged cryptozoologist, who thirty years earlier, during a trip to Loch Ness, Scotland, had a fatal encounter with the fabled “Nessie” creature that killed his father, and left James with a deep facial scar. Twenty years later, James is hunting for Nessie, when his search leads him to the sleepy town of Pike Island, Ashburn, on Lake Superior.’

Which is about as far ‘beyond Loch Ness’ as it is possible to imagine. If The Evil Beneath Loch Ness aspires to be Jaws, this isn’t even Jaws IV: The Revenge. In fact it’s not even Lake Placid 4: The Final Chapter. Don’t even be tempted to watch this for a laugh, cos there is none to be had and you’ll never get that time back. The scariest thing about the movie is the poster, and that’s a lie as well. Just to satisfy the curious, here’s the trailer:

Of course, in terms of horror set at Loch Ness, none of the above terrify like the creature that found its way onto Ted Danson’s head in the 1996 film Loch Ness. Och, the humanity!


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