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Lake Placid 2

David E. Kelley's deft hand brought a sly comedic touch to the first 1999 romp involving a giant and very hungry crocodile. Alas, there are only blunt instruments in this belated and belabored follow-up, which weds the original with elements of "Jaws 2," as hapless youths provide attractive bait while the sheriff and his posse pursue big reptiles that periodically resemble a rubber flotation device.

David E. Kelley’s deft hand brought a sly comedic touch to the first 1999 romp involving a giant and very hungry crocodile. Alas, there are only blunt instruments in this belated and belabored follow-up, which weds the original with elements of “Jaws 2,” as hapless youths provide attractive bait while the sheriff and his posse pursue big reptiles that periodically resemble a rubber flotation device. Aside from proving that Bulgarian trees can approximate homegrown varieties, this vidstore-bound confection is shoddy on almost every level, and Sci Fi viewers won’t even be treated to the DVD version’s gratuitous nudity.

Every part of “Lake Placid 2” screams low expectations, mostly regarding the audience, which will presumably rent anything with a recognizable title. The principal attraction here is the prospect of seeing people devoured by giant crocs, though most of the early glimpses exclude the actual beasts, as the victims are whisked through the mud or water by unseen monsters that leave behind lots of severed, spurting limbs.

Once again, the town sheriff (John Schneider) is left with the task of trying to end this unsavory picnic, working with a naturalist who happens to be his former girlfriend (Sarah Lafleur) and a hunter with a penchant for blowing things up (Sam McMurray). Meanwhile, the sheriff’s disaffected teenage son (Chad Collins) and a local girl (Alicia Ziegler) have embarked on a camping trip with eager-to-strip teens, which, as any horror fan knows, means they’re quickly destined to become croc food.

Writers Todd Hurvitz and Howie Miller also recycle the original pic’s best gag, with an old lady (there a riotously foul-mouthed Betty White, here former “Mary Tyler Moore Show” co-star Cloris Leachman, playing her sister) taking a maternal interest in the crocs and having no compunctions about serving up the local citizenry to keep them fat and snappy.

In a sense, this half-assed sequel adopts the “Tremors” formula, figuring the more crocs (or worms; whatever) the merrier — at least, within budgetary constraints that mandate creating this cold-blooded threat through computer-generated images of varying quality and what appear to be pool rafts that are meant to look menacing. As for the actors, being eaten seems the only honorable way to escape the cumbersome dialogue.

Having earned prestige with series like “Battlestar Galactica,” Sci Fi has created its own little swamp for cut-rate exploitation fare Saturday nights, perhaps assuming that certain young males will be too loaded to recognize how cheesy the effects are and too inept to have much better to do. However well the strategy is working, even that demo would have to be pretty desperate to brave another dip in “Lake Placid.”

Lake Placid 2

Sci Fi Channel, Sat. April 28, 9 p.m.

  • Production: Filmed in Bulgaria by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment and Sci Fi Pictures. Executive producer, T.J. Sakasegawa; producers, Jeffery Beach, Phillip Roth; director, David Flores; writers, Todd Hurvitz, Howie Miller.
  • Crew: Camera, Lorenzo Senatore; editor, John Quinn; music, Nathan Furst; production designer, Kes Bonnet; casting, Rob Richards, Jonas Talkington. Running time: 120 MIN.
  • Cast: Sheriff Riley - John Schneider Emily - Sarah Lafleur Struthers - Sam McMurray Scott - Chad Collins Kerri - Alicia Ziegler Ahmad - Joe Holt Thad - Ian Reed Kesler Larry - Justin Urich Sadie Bickerman - Cloris Leachman