“The Loch Ness Horror”

the-loch-ness-horror-movie-poster-1981-1020467281What’s shocking in “The Loch Ness Horror” isn’t that multiple people encounter the legendary beast – it’s that this apparently has never happened before. In real life, the Loch Ness Monster has been one of the great mysteries of the natural world for the simple reason that no one’s ever gotten a good look at it. In this movie, Nessie is far more likely to be found galumphing along the shores of the lake in broad daylight and clamping her rubbery teeth around someone’s head than posing for a blurry photograph. With her tendency to gobble up anyone who comes within a half-mile of Loch Ness while screaming and blowing steam out of her nostrils, it’s hard to believe scientists still know so little about her when the movie begins.

Perhaps because there’s so little mystery surrounding this supposedly mysterious creature, “The Loch Ness Horror” goes to great lengths to make the search for Nessie only the second or third most-important thing going on in the movie. There’s also a group of unsavory divers who want to sell one of Nessie’s eggs, a military cover-up of a sunken Nazi bomber in the lake, and a limp romance between an American scientist and a Scottish girl. Between all of those things, Nessie lurches around devouring people like a killer parade float.

The movie begins with a Scotsman looking out through his telescope at Loch Ness in 1940. Not only does he get a great view of Nessie rearing her head back out of the water, but he also catches sight of the aforementioned Nazi bomber crashing into the lake. Fast-forward 40 years, and an unscrupulous pair of divers are looking for signs of Nessie in the lake. They find the sunken Nazi bomber and a monster egg, but Nessie eats one of them before they can get away scot (hee-hee) free. The man who witnessed the plane splash down is now an old man who cares for his sheltered granddaughter, and soon he’s asked to rent a room to an American scientist looking for Nessie. Here’s the extent of the American’s meet-cute with the Scottish granddaughter:

GRANDDAUGHTER: Is it true that all you Americans go to the picture show more than once a month, and you spend the rest of your time reading magazines full of pictures of naked women?

AMERICAN: (as flatly as possible) Yes.

(Granddaughter turns around and goes upstairs without another word, scene ends.)

With such explosive chemistry between the two of them, it’s hard not to root for these two to get together by the end of the movie.

The American somehow convinces the granddaughter to come out on the lake with him as he searches for Nessie all by himself. The scoundrels from before are scheming to sell their stolen monster egg, but Nessie attacks their campsite and eats one of them, leaving a lone survivor to escape with the egg. The granddaughter runs afoul of this guy later, and he kidnaps her to prevent her from spilling the beans about the stolen egg. Fortunately for her, Nessie attacks again and crushes the thief’s skull with her jaws. We’re left to assume Nessie also unties the granddaughter and opens the van doors for her.

Meanwhile, the British army has arrived at the lake to seal off the area before anyone else discovers the sunken Nazi plane. You see, there’s a very complicated reason why a certain high-ranking officer doesn’t want anyone to see the damaged fuselage of this plane, and the old man tells us the whole story. But who the hell cares? There may very well be an interesting way to connect the Loch Ness Monster with a sunken Nazi bomber plane, but it’s not in this movie. The Brits hire a diver to go down and blow up the plane, but Nessie catches up with him and he blows himself up along with the plane. The American and the granddaughter dump the egg back into the loch. Movie’s over, that’s it.

As famous as the Loch Ness Monster is, there have been surprisingly few movies made about her, especially compared to her American cryptozoological cousin, Bigfoot. I would imagine that’s because all you really need for a Bigfoot movie is a modified gorilla costume, and filming on the water is expensive as hell. It’s probably also expensive to film on location in Scotland, which is why writer/producer/director Larry Buchanan substituted the crystal clear waters of Lake Tahoe for the famously murky depths of Loch Ness. It is most likely also why there are no true Scotsmen in this movie. The old man in particular approximates a Scottish accent by rolling every “r” worse than Groundskeeper Willie. Pardon me, I meant, “RRRRolling eveRRRRy “RRRR” woRRRRse than GRRRRoundskeepeRRRR Willie.”

There are very few entries in the tiny subgenre of “Loch-sploitation,” even less when you take out the family movies that feature a cuddly, E.T.-like Nessie or star Scooby-Doo. Even the SyFy Channel has only dipped its toes in the fabled Loch Ness just once with a made-in-Canada cheapie. If you’re looking for a movie that utilizes all the horror potential of a giant beast lurking under the loch’s surface, “The Loch Ness Horror” is like the famous “Surgeon’s Photograph” – enough evidence to suggest that it might exist, but not convincing enough in its own right.

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