A few weeks back, I went into a coffee shop. The two girls working there picked up on my accent, and enquired as to where I was from. Unusually, they wouldn’t just accept “the US” as an answer. And when I specified Wisconsin, the girls gleefully shouted, “HELLO WISONCONSIN” and proceeded to compliment our cheese.
And really, those are the two things we’re known for, I guess! Whether it be nationwide or the rare case anyone has heard of us outside of the US: it’s cheese and That 70s Show. There’s plenty worse things to be known for (err…McCarthy).
Beyond that, though, the state has a really weird, kooky soul. Think Violent Femmes, giant fish statues, hodags and Brady Street. It’s the part of Wisconsin that I always miss the most.
Lake Michigan Monster exemplifies exactly what I’m talking about. This movie is kooky as hell. It’s really incredible that Arrow picked this up for distribution, and I’m here for it.
The film follows the actually-not-a-sea-captain sea captain Seafield (played by writer and director
Ryland Brickson Cole Tews). Following the death of his father, Seafield assembles a team to help him kill the Lake Michigan Monster. Why? Well, the beast supposedly killed his father during a fishing trip.
Despite the team’s trust in Seafield, it’s quickly apparent that he’s not at all competent. Sailor Dick Flynn winds up becoming father to the monster’s baby. Sean Shaughnessy, weapons dealer, is killed off. All while Nudge the scientist unravels Seafield’s lies.
The later half of the movie veers from camp, low-budget fun to a wild turn involving ghost monks (?). It was at that point that I put down my pen and let the movie unfold without me taking notes. There’s no way for me to really describe the going-ons in the third act.
Its clear that inspiration was taken from many places, including other Midwestern weirdos like Sam Raimi and the Mystery Science Theater 3000 crew. There’s certainly dashes of things much more psychedelic.
As always, it’s so good to see new regional movies being promoted, especially by a company like Arrow (see also, The Stylist, which loves highlighting its Kansas City local). I loved seeing iconic locations like the North Point Lighthouse and Street of Old Milwaukee making appearances.
Lake Michigan Monster is absolutely bizarre. It’s not going to be for every horror fan. But it’s creative, funny and has love bleeding out of each scene. Low-budget monster-movie lovers: this one is for us.