Do you like creature features? Do you like comedies? Do you like movies that are so bizarrely unclassifiable that you don’t know how to recommend them to friends other than to say, “Hey, watch this”? Then you’ll probably love LAKE MICHIGAN MONSTER, a new Arrow Video Channel release that won the Audience Award for Best International Film at the 2019 Fantasia Film Festival. Written, directed, and produced by Ryland Brickson Cole Tews—who also stars as Captain* Seafield (*not a captain)—LAKE MICHIGAN MONSTER is a gloriously weird mash-up of genres and decades that revels in its low-budget strangeness and offbeat humor.
The story follows Seafield’s attempts to avenge his father, who was killed by the dreaded Lake Michigan Monster. Seafield assembles “The Team of the Century” to track down and murder the beast: Sean Shaughnessy (Erick West), weapons expert; Nedge Pepsi (Beulah Peters), “sonar individual”; and Dick Flynn (Daniel Long), former NAVY* (*not Navy) officer. No mere plot synopsis can do the movie justice, and I’m not sure I could describe it to you anyway. Suffice to say that the team fails to kill the monster, so Seafield has to take matters into his own hands to avenge his father’s death.
The cast all commit completely to their roles, selling the wacky physical humor and off-kilter comedic pacing, but Tews operates on a different plane of existence entirely. I knew without even looking at the credits that he had to be the writer-director based on his total embodiment of the film’s bizarro charm. His hilarious cadence and unpredictable line readings are a delight throughout the film, which drags occasionally but picks right up again with one of its many laugh-out-loud funny lines or uproarious visual gags.
LAKE MICHIGAN MONSTER mostly riffs on ’50s B-movies, but it’s far too wild and original to be defined as a simple parody of creature features. It combines ’60s horror moments, silent film intertitles, ’80s action tropes, and more to create a black-and-white fever dream of bizarre plot twists, mesmerizing effects, and brief musical interludes. Its titular monster has a genuinely disturbing creature design that features a callback to one of the movie’s funniest throwaway lines (that turned out not to be such a throwaway after all).
I’ve never seen anything quite like LAKE MICHIGAN MONSTER. I highly encourage you to check it out, especially if you enjoy weird cinema, fake sea captains, and/or fish sticks dipped in bourbon.
LAKE MICHIGAN MONSTER is now available on Arrow Video Channel and Digital HD on August 3, 2020, in the UK and the US.