It can be difficult to go back and watch horror from the 70s and 80s. So much of that Wes Craven and Tobe Hooper stuff, so many of those Italian movies, so many of the myriad forgettable slasher films were mean-spirited and cruel. There was no creative intent behind the cruelty other than shock. It was as pointless as it was effective. Lake Nowhere is a grisly morsel that remembers this. It very nearly keeps a straight face, but it can’t help but crack its goofy Raimi smile. Not a wink, mind you. But definitely a smile.
Of course, it tips its hand early. Since Lake Nowhere barely clocks in at 40 minutes, co-directors Christopher Phelps and Maxim Von Scoy have front-loaded it with a fake commercial and trailers. The conceit is an old VHS copy taped over…well, I don’t know what it’s taped over, but it bleeds through a couple of times. My guess is the overarching story isn’t about people who go into the woods and fall prey to a masked killer. The overarching story is some kids who shot their own horror movie on a VHS camera and then years later used the tape to make a copy of a horror movie called Lake Nowhere. You’re not watching Lake Nowhere. You’re watching a physical slice of 1982.
And not the anodyne 1982 of Netflix’s Stranger Things with its running time of eight hours and its body count of one. These are the aesthetics of 70s and 80s sex and gore, these breasts, that balding forehead, this fake blood, this sickly green cinematography and grainy film stock and questionable lighting, the tracking glitches and distorted sound and popping audio. Lake Nowhere’s low-budget texture is slick filmmaking shrewdly disguised as trash. And at its heart, it is the can-do “hey, let’s go out in the woods and make a horror movie!” enthusiasm and audacity of Cunningham, Carpenter, Coscorelli, Romero, and Raimi.
Lake Nowhere is currently available on VOD. Support Qt3 and watch it on Amazon.com.