I've seen an advert for a video of 'The Secret of the Loch' which touts this as 'the first sound movie about the Loch Ness Monster' ... implying that there were several *silent* films about Nessie. I'm absolutely certain that not a single movie was made about the Loch Ness creature during the silent-film era ... because the creature was almost totally unknown until the early 1930s, when a new road brought increased traffic along the banks of the loch. Before that time, only the local people had any reason to be near the lochside, and they had better things to do than go monster-hunting.
There is *one* ancient text, purporting to describe an encounter between Saint Columba (not 'Columbia') and a bizarre creature in the River Ness which feeds the loch ... *not* in the loch itself. Except for that one account, there is absolutely no mention of any Loch Ness Monster sighting prior to the 1930s. I can think of at least two movies -- 'Doctor Dolittle' (1967) and 'The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes' (1970) -- which are set in Victorian England, and which *mention* the Loch Ness Monster -- but in both cases the reference is an anachronism. Very few Victorians had ever heard of the creature. Witness that the notorious libertine Aleister Crowley moved to Boleskine (a lodge on the banks of Loch Ness) in 1900; Crowley devotes a substantial portion of his autobiography to his exploits at Loch Ness, yet never once mentions the alleged monster. Nessie simply wasn't well-known until the 1930s.
When I made my own attempt to spot the Loch Ness Monster at Drumnadrochit, I was amused to notice that the local litter bins bore signs reading 'Look for Nessie, but don't be messy', and a snack wagon was selling Nessie Burgers. I saw plenty of tourists, but no plesiosaurs.
SPOILERS COMING. 'The Secret of the Loch' is enjoyable hokum which is full of unintended comedy, largely due to its incredibly small budget. The first shot in the film is the figure of a panic-stricken Scotsman fleeing in terror from some unseen horror ... but it's laughably obvious that this actor is actually jogging in place, in front of a stationary camera.
I was pleasantly surprised to see Gibson Gowland in this film. Born in England, this burly actor appeared in several major Hollywood films -- including 'Greed' and 'Frankenstein' -- so I was astonished that he turned up in this low-budgeter in his native Britain. Here, Gowland ponces about in a kilt and speaks his dialogue with a burr as a Highland ghillie.
Well, there's trouble at t' loch, squire, and the actors spend most of this movie trying to verify the rumours of a monster in Loch Ness while the locals mutter darkly. There is one taut scene in which a diver goes beneath the surface, communicating via radiophone. Something goes wrong down there, and his air-hose comes up without him. Was the diver eaten whole? (I'll mention here that the actual Loch Ness -- being a loch, not a lake -- has a strong current, and its waters are pitch-black. The divers in this film go below the surface with no lights, yet the water is clear and there's no current.) At the climax of the film, we do actually encounter the Loch Ness Monster, and it's a letdown that's doubly laughable. Firstly, the 'monster' is very obviously an iguana with a few extra spiny bits glued on, and photographically enlarged to seem gigantic. Secondly, the scenes depicting the monster are taking place underwater, yet it's hugely obvious that the iguana was filmed in an open-air terrarium, not a water tank. Not only does the creature look unconvincing, it even fails to convince us that it's underwater.
I'll give the makers of this film some points for trying, and some points for ingenuity in making this movie on a tuppenny budget. 'The Secret of the Loch' is enjoyable, but more for its ineptitude than anything else. Still, that scene with the vanished diver is very well done. All in all, 5 points out of 10.
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