Gill-Man

Creature from the Black Lagoon explores the terror of the deep. Although Universal-International was slowly phasing out their monster movies, there was still time for one more. Even in 1954 when color was slowly starting to take over. Creature from the Black Lagoon is another original idea based on myth. A half-man, half-fish sea monster was too unique to ignore. My brother and I knew we needed to watch Creature from the Black Lagoon, but most of our viewings were on TV. Science fiction director Jack Arnold shot the film in widescreen with early 3D effects. Black & white is put to effective use with otherworldly underwater cinematography. Everything shot underwater is impressive for the 1950’s.

Creature from the Black Lagoon is different from other monster movies since it begins at creation. The Gill-Man is a million year old Devonian amphibious humanoid lost to time. His iconic appearance consists of armored scales, webbed hands, and sharp claws. The Creature also possesses superhuman strength and can survive on land for a short period of time. The amphibian makeup is especially impressive when worn underwater. Ben Chapman creates a menacing monster on land, while stuntman Ricou Browning makes him a majestic swimmer. A small but memorable cast elevates the movie further. A team of scientists are assembled for an expedition in the Amazon. The hispanic Antonio Moreno plays Dr. Carl Maia, the leader of the expedition who found a fossil belonging to the Creature’s race.

Richard Carlson plays hunky ichthyologist Dr. David Reed. Richard Denning plays David’s slightly unhinged love rival Dr. Mark Williams, the hispanic Nestor Paiva plays the hardened Rita boat Captain Lucas, and Whit Bissell plays the unfortunate Dr. Edwin Thompson. They all provoke the Gill-Man into picking them off one by one, but the real star of the movie is the beautiful Julie Adams as fellow scientist Kay Lawrence. Much like Beauty and the Beast or King Kong, the Creature is immediately drawn to her. The most iconic shot is Kay and the Creature swimming in tandem. Kay fears the monster, but it’s easy to sympathize with him. Marilyn Monroe, Guillermo del Toro, and I all agree that the Creature deserved to be loved. Rather than shot dead in its own territory. Creature from the Black Lagoon pulled another classic creation out of the water.

33. Creature from the Black Lagoon

The Creature carries Kay

Followed by: Revenge of the Creature

12 thoughts on “Gill-Man

  1. I always have mixed feelings with this one: on the one hand I liked the creativeness of the Gill Man and Universal’s attempt and trying something unique to revive its Horror cycle, but at the same time felt like it was one of those ideas that would only work once, and any attempt at sequels would just be a disaster.

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