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The Lake Erie Monster

There are films that demand undivided attention. Lake Erie Monster is one of them…

Although there are rumors of a past life as a professor of English and a shady investor in real estate, almost all of what we know or need to know for certain of Lee Lambert is what we can glean from his films. In this respect, he is the most pure of filmmakers. Whether the subject matter was cannibal Cajuns in the Louisiana bayou, teenage hotrodders in Baja California, or spectral aliens in East St Louis, Lambert always brought a literate, nineteenth-century consciousness to bear, infusing his sometimes dismal stories with a warm, aching humanity impossible to achieve in any other medium. To watch his films is to experience a poetic attentiveness to time and place and character that rivals Balzac…

Although Lorentz Szsaszy is credited as cinematographer – his sole credit, according to Halliwell – the penny-pinching practices of producer Vito I. Cohen were known to include forcing his non-union technicians to perform multiple duties. Given that the look of Lake Erie Monster is consistent with earlier Lambert films, particularly Blue Hell, we can only assume that Lambert himself was responsible for the luminous, mysterious Cleveland that appears in the film. The alteration of lingering shots of toxic sludge bubbling on the shores of Lake Erie with the frightened faces of the lead characters, the delicate and moving tracking shots following the monster’s point of view, the strangely pastoral Cleveland skyline… these masterful techniques generate powerful emotions in the viewer that are difficult to describe or explain – they can only be experienced…

Lake Erie Monster is presented as a simple ecological scare drama, but when it presses the right buttons, it is a poem worth untold fortunes.

Francois Truffaut. The Films In My Life. 1978.

Lake Erie Monster poster copyright 2011 by Jake Kelly, review copyright 2011 by Todd Whitten

Clipping from The Plain Dealer, Friday, August 31st, 1973.


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  1. […] pieces of this exhibit were comic book covers for film #1 The Lake Erie Monster. After the  exhibit ended, they decided to move forward with an “adaptation” of […]

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