Wednesday, October 24, 2018


Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) d. Jack Arnold (USA) (79 min)

A team of scientists (led by Richard Carlson, Richard Denning, and Julia Adams) head into the wilds of South America in search of a mythical “living fossil,” a scaly humanoid amphibian that could serve as a missing link between land and sea creatures. The testy love triangle between the eggheads provides the melodrama until the monster makes its presence (and its ardor for the lone female member of the expedition) known, leading to a fierce battle of wits and sheer animal instinct that will leave the Amazonian waters red with blood....

The last of Universal’s classic movie monsters was the brainchild of producer William Alland who blatantly riffed on King Kong’s storyline of a legendary beast sought out by civilized man for selfish designs, with screenwriters Harry Essex and Arthur Ross working alongside director Arnold (It Came from Outer Space, Tarantula, The Incredible Shrinking Man) to create an onscreen antagonist so fantastic and anthropomorphized that audiences could not help but empathize.

Though makeup department head Bud Westmore received sole credit, it quickly became common knowledge that the memorable monster design came from the skilled mind of Millicent Patrick, brought to life by suited performers Ben Chapman (on land) and Ricou Browning (swimming sequences). The famous aquatic ballet between Adams (or, more accurately, her swimming double Ginger Stanley) and the lovestruck Gill Man remains one of the most iconic sequences in horror history. Credit to Scotty Welbourne and James C. Havens for their excellent underwater photography, made all the more challenging for being shot in 3D.

Creature’s famous three-note trumpets-blaring theme music was composed (uncredited) by Universal staff composer Herman Stein, with additional contributions from his studio staff colleagues Henry Mancini and Hans J. Salter, as well as cues from Universal’s stock music library.

One of the best sci-fi/horror efforts of the 1950s, this is must-see material for any card-carrying genre fan.

Trivia: Browning would play the Creature again for the underwater sequences of the two sequels that followed, Revenge of the Creature (1955) and The Creature Walks Among Us (1956) before going on to create the hit television show Flipper in 1964.


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