Creature From the Black Lagoon-Retro Review (done)


Universal was a studio built on horror, more specifically the Universal Monsters franchise. Throughout the 30’s and 40’s they made sure moviegoers were given a constant stream of; Dracula, the Wolf Man, the Mummy, Frankenstein’s monster and his Bride. Eventually this classical gothic type of horror began to fade in popularity as creature features and science fiction inspired fears became trendy, especially if they could take advantage of the new 3D fad. In order to take advantage of this new demand, Universal introduced the final member of their famous monster pantheon with, Creature from the Black Lagoon. 

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On an expedition to the Amazon River a group of researchers led by the dashing Dr. David Reed, played by Richard Carlson, are searching for fossil evidence of a link between sea creatures and early man. This adventure leads them to the “black lagoon” the home of a creature known by the locals as the Gill Man. Unfortunately they discver this Gill man may not be mere superstition. This fish-like monster develops a fascination with Dr. Reed’s girlfriend, Kay played by scream queen Julie Adams. Not being appreciative of humans encroaching into his domain, the Creature begins attacking the research party and inevitably kidnaps Kay and takes her to his watery home to be dramatically rescued.

Much like Dracula and the Mummy, the driving theme in this picture is a monster being creature2drawn to a beautiful woman, difference in species be damned. For her part in this one-sided romantic tale, Julie Adams delivers a performance far superior to many of the standard “pretty girlfriend of dashing scientist” characters in Cold War-era genre films. But the true star of this flick is the Creature himself, while the head of Universal’s make-up department at the time Bud Westmore received the credit for creating this monster it was actually his employee Millicent Patrick who designed it. The design of the Creature still stands as one of the most memorable monsters to ever hit the silver screen thanks to an intricate aquatic inspired look. For the surface scenes, stunt man Ben Chapman donned the suit, while underwater Ricou Browning (a man who could hold his breath for 14 minutes at a time despite being a heavy smoker) gracefully swam his way into the memories of horror fans.

Utilizing 3D filming paid off well for Creature from the Black Lagoon as it enhanced the already amazing visuals. The beautifully choreographed underwater sequences especially popped thanks to the added dimension and if you ever get the opportunity to see the film this way do not miss out. Even without the 3D effects, Creature from the Black Lagoon is still one of the best sci-fi/horror films from an era full of these pictures. The lush jungle setting (courtesy of filming locations far from the Amazon in California and Florida) and beautiful underwater scenes create stunning visuals. Like his fellow Universal Monsters, the Gill Man is an incredibly memorable monsters who is not only a well developed character but is visually interesting as well.

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