During the Summer, my holidays included a week sitting on the banks of Loch Ness in Invermoriston in Scotland. Having read a couple of books on the mystery, before and during my stay, I began to think about how Scotland’s legendary Loch Ness Monster has been portrayed on film.
My initial thoughts go straight to 2004’s Scooby-Doo And The Loch Ness Monster thanks to having kids who used to love Scooby-Doo. Although I secretly enjoyed the film, as it was about Scotland and had Daphne in tartan, it portrayed the monster in a tacky, Highland postcard way.
Next, I thought about a weird mockumentary that I had watched last year, Incident At Loch Ness, featuring Werner Herzog and Zak Penn (X-Men) which I knew nothing about but found very funny. So I thought I’d take a look at how cinema has treated my nation’s most famous tourist attraction.
Monster Hits… Or Monster $hits!
What A Whopper (1961)
A British film, written by Terry Nation who is famous for writing Doctor Who and creating the Daleks. This film stars a number of British stars of the time with heavy influence from the Carry On… films of the period which stars Sid James, Terry Scott, and Charles Hawtrey. With a sprinkle of Clive Dunn (Dad’s Army) and Spike Milligan (The Goon Show).
The story revolves around a young writer from London who tries to drum up interest in his Loch Ness Monster book by travelling to Scotland to fake a photo. Additionally, the story involved the local villagers who also want to fake a monster for their own ends.
IMDB label the film a:
“Yawn inducing non-event”
The Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes (1970)
Written and directed by Billy Wilder (Some Like It Hot), this American entry stars Robert Stephens as Sherlock Holmes, Colin Blakely as Watson, and legend Christopher Lee (Wicker Man) as Sherlock’s brother Mycroft.
As a two-part anthology, it is the second story which is based on the Loch Ness Monster. Where Holmes must investigate a missing engineer and uncovers his brother’s testing of a military submarine, crewed by dwarfs to save space and oxygen.
The Loch Ness Horror (1981)
Low budget and much-mocked entry into the legend. Filmed on Lake Tahoe, California which replicated the Scottish Highlands poorly, and the monster was a puppet on a stick.
2.9 out of 10 on IMDB shows that this one is for the connoisseur of low-budget shlock films.
Freddie As F.R.O.7. (1992)
A British animated film, which is a James Bond parody starring a frog called Freddie in the French Secret Service, voiced by Sir Ben Kingsley (Sexy Beast).
The story revolves around Freddie investigating the disappearance of British landmarks including Stonehenge, and Edinburgh Castle, which are being used to fuel a crystal which will send the world to sleep. When Freddie is trapped by sea monsters, it is Nessie who appears to help Freddie. As a British film, it has a number of recognisable voices for us Brits, Jenny Agutter (An American Werewolf In London) and Brian Blessed (Flash Gordon) to name a few.
Loch Ness (1996)
A more serious take on the subject of Loch Ness with Ted Danson’s (Three Men And A Baby) zoologist setting out to debunk the myth. However, the boy meets the girl, Joely Richardson (Event Horizon) and falls in love with her. At least this American backed film was made in Scotland.
This film also stars Ian Holm (Alien) as the mysterious water bailiff who may know more than he lets on.
The Evil Below Loch Ness (Alternate Title – Beneath Loch Ness) (2001)
Back to low-budget shlock. Patrick Bergen (Patriot Games) is sent to the Loch following the death of the leader of a scientific expedition. Financed by a TV producer, who wants exclusive rights to the discovery, they must both investigate further attacks which eventually leads to a confrontation with the monster.
An IMDB comment reads:
“I found the portrayal of the local Scots to be totally insulting”
Incident At Loch Ness (2004)
A mockumentary starring, written, and produced by Werner Herzog, and Zak Penn. Herzog plays himself, a director who visits Scotland to make a film on the myth of Loch Ness. What starts as cynical piece on collective psychology, wishing to believe in a monster, soon turns sour as the documentary makers are confronted with strange happenings on the loch, and Zak Penn wishing to commercialise the documentary by filming additional scenes behind Herzog’s back.
I quite enjoyed the mockumentary and one of the best scenes is when Kitana Baker goes for a dip in the ice cold Loch.
Scooby-Doo And The Loch Ness Monster (2004)
You know the drill, the crew of the Mystery Machine travel to a location to uncover a mystery and as pesky kids do, they stop the villain getting away with it. Full of stereotypes of the Scottish Highlands with the local villagers tossing their cabers, drinking, and dancing around in their kilts, set in the fictional Blake Castle, on the outskirts of Drumnadrochit.
Unfortunately, the makers appear to have mixed Ireland up with Scotland as Daphne’s cousin is called Shannon and speaks with an Irish accent.
The Water Horse: Legend Of The Deep (2007)
Based on a kids novel this film stars a number of British stars, Emily Watson (Punch Drunk Love), Ben Chaplin (Legend Of Tarzan), David Morrissey (The Walking Dead), and Brian Cox (Manhunter).
The film is set in 1942 with a Second World War military presence on the Loch looking for enemy German subs. Their presence threatens Nessie, and following multiple sightings by the villagers, it isn’t long until the locals and the soldiers are all on the hunt for that lucrative photo. It is down to the aid of a local boy to help Nessie evade capture.
This film utilised Weta Workshop in its creature design and was mostly filmed in New Zealand, which leads to a lot of liberties taken on the locality and appearance of the Loch.
Rotten Tomatoes claimes:
“The Water Horse is a fine family film”
Loch Ness Terror (2008)
A made-for-TV thriller. Zoologist James Murphy is out for revenge against Nessie who killed his father and deeply scarred him 30 years earlier. Somehow, the search finds Nessie and her offspring in Lake Superior!
Anyhoo, the film follows Murphy’s quest for revenge and the building body count of investigators and villagers as the monster causes mayhem on the lake. No big names, nothing to do with Loch Ness, SyFy film of the week…enjoyable.
The Ballad Of Nessie (2011)
An animated short by Disney which accompanied the theatrical release of Winnie The Pooh in 2011, and narrated by Billy Connolly (Mrs. Brown). Nessie is threatened by the construction of a new golf course and when looking for a new home, it inadvertently creates the Loch. The short was nominated 2012 Annie Award for Best Animated Short Subject.
This Is The End Of The Aquatic Journey
I hope you have enjoyed reading this cinematic critique of the beast’s portrayal and maybe you should consider looking for some of these gems next time you are at a loose end. Now, I’m almost definite that there are other films which include or mention the Loch Ness Monster, and I’d like to hear which ones down in the comments below.
What to move on to next… Sasquatch, Alien Greys, Men In Black, Sharknado’s?
Thanks for reading!