Considered the last of the classic Universal Monsters, Creature From The Black Lagoon
first appeared in the film of the same name in 1954. The movie was directed by Jack Arnold(The Incredible Shrinking Man
) and starred Richard Carlson and Julie Adams. Filmed in 3D near the end of the 50's fad, Creature From The Black Lagoon
was a large success and has become one of the most well-known monster movies of the 1950s.
A team of scientists studying fossils in the Amazon soon learns of the existence of a half human/half fish man that lives in the jungle depths. The monster develops an attraction to Kay, one of the team, and attacks the males while trying to keep them in the lagoon. After great loss, the scientists are able to sedate the monster, free their boat and rescue Kay while driving the creature back into the water.
I'm really having a hard time collecting my feelings on Creature From The Black Lagoon
. There's no doubt that it's a great monster movie. I always enjoyed it as a kid and I still enjoyed it with this viewing. I think I'm having a hard time classifying it. I feel it's more part of 50s Sci-Fi movies than the Universal classics of the 30s and 40s with which it usually gets grouped. Regardless of whether it follows in the footsteps of typical Universal horror, it is a great movie.
The Gill-Man costume is probably the best monster of the 50s, if not all of the classic monster movie era. You can believe that a monster like this could exist. The Creature's labored breathing and moving gills help to sell that this is an actual creature.
I don't think the "Beauty And The Beast" plot really works, though. While the Creature mirroring Kay's swimming is a wonderfully creepy scene and could be seen as a mating ritual, Gill-Man just isn't capable of displaying the human emotion needed for such a theme.
I will say that Mark, who is kind of the antagonist of the movie, gets a raw deal. At first, he wants to kill the Creature, which would have saved many lives, but is talked out of it. He also wants to leave once they capture the Creature but is again shouted down in the name of science, and the Creature escapes thanks to a limited crew watching him. He also saves David after almost getting knocked out by him and ends up being killed by the Creature. The crew would've been better off if they had listened to the opportunistic member of the expedition instead of trying to further science.
Overall, Creature From The Black Lagoon
is one of the all-time greats. The story is simple yet effective and never boring. The Amazon setting and underwater photography are fantastic. I find the rickety old boat traveling down the river adds to the charm of the story even in the creepy atmosphere. As Kay says, it's beautiful, but you can never forget that danger is everywhere.
The opening. Archeological digs always make great settings for horror movies and the scene of the claw sticking out of the dirt is a neat opening. The Creature's claw coming out of the lagoon, while not overly sensical, gives a great indication of what's to come. His claw reminds me of that of the pet turtle I had when I was 10.
The Creature attacking the men in the tent. This scene sets up that the Creature is very strong and dangerous. It has a creepiness similar to the original The Mummy
The Creature following Kay swimming. This is the most famous scene from the movie. It really is great underwater photography and quite creepy as the Creature reaches for Kay's ankle.
The Creature trying to board the boat, striking out at the lantern, and then being caught in the spotlight in a shallow area of the lagoon. These scenes have great suspense and even better monstering.
The creature getting hit with the lantern. What a great scene! It’s set up brilliantly with the Creature poking its head up repeatedly through the bars of its cage. After its escape, it tries to get to Kay but one of the scientists hits it with a lantern, causing the creature to burst into flames and retreat into the lagoon.
David trying to remove the trees from the entrance of the lagoon and Mark coming to his rescue with the spear gun as the Creature attacks. Great action, suspense and underwater photography in these scenes.
Creature From The Black Lagoon trailer
The Creature was played by two actors: Ben Chapman on land and Ricou Browning underwater.
Richard Denning, who played Dr. Mark Williams, appeared in other 50s Sci-Fi movies like The Day The World Ended
, Creature With The Atom Brain
and The Black Scorpion
. He was married to Evelyn Ankers(The Wolf Man
) from 1942 until 1985.
The Colgate Comedy Hour featured a promotional short in which Abbott And Costello Meet The Creature From The Black Lagoon
"Uncle Gilbert" made a guest appearance on an episode of The Munsters
called "Love Comes To Mockingbird Heights". I don't recall ever seeing it.
You can watch Creature From The Black Lagoon
Creature From The Black Lagoon
Next time: Revenge Of The Creature