Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Creature from the Black Lagoon - Inter-species Stalker

Creature from the Black Lagoon
Directed by Jack Arnold
Written by Harry Essex, Arthur Ross & Maurice Zimm
Based on an idea by William Allend
Starring Richard Carlson, Julie Adams & Mark Williams


-Not since the beginning of time has the world beheld terror like this!
-Centuries of passion pent up in his savage heart!
-Terrifying monster ravages mankind!
-Amazing! Startling! Shocking!
-Clawing Monster From A Lost Age strikes from the Amazon's forbidden depths!
-Creature from a million years ago!... every man his mortal enemy... and a woman's beauty his prey!
-From the Amazon's forbidden depths came the Creature from the Black Lagoon

Alternate Titles:
Black Lagoon - USA Alternate Title

El monstruo de la Laguna Negra (The Monster from Black Lagoon) Argentina / Mexico 
L'étrange créature du lac noir (Creature from the Black Lagoon) Belgium / France
O Monstro da Lagoa Negra (Creature from the Black Lagoon) Brazil / Portugal
A fekete lagúna szörnye (Creature from the Black Lagoon) Hungary
Das Ungeheuer der schwarzen Lagune (The Monster of the Black Lagoon) Austria (dubbed version)
Der Schrecken vom Amazonas (Creature from the Amazon) West Germany
El monstruo de la laguna negra (Monster from the Black Lagoon) Venezuela
Het monster der moerassen (The Monster of the Marshes) Belgium (Flemish title)
Het monster van de Amazone (Monster from the Amazon) Netherlands (informal literal title)
Il mostro della laguna nera (Creature from the Black Lagoon) Italy
Kara gölün canavari (Land of the Lake Monster) Turkey (Turkish title)
La mujer y el monstruo (The Woman and the Monster) Spain
Monstret i den Svarta Lagunen (Monster of the Black Lagoon) Sweden 
Skräcken från Svarta Lagunen (Creature from the Black Lagoon) Sweden (TV title)
Mustan laguunin hirviö (Black Lagoon Monster) Finland
Ο τρομος της μαυρης λιμνης (The Terror of Black Lake) Greece 
Odjuret i den svarta lagunen (Beast in the Black Lagoon) Finland
Uhyret fra den sorte lagune (Creature from the Black Lagoon) Denmark


USA   5 March 1954
Argentina 16 June 1954
West Germany  24 September 1954
Sweden 29 November 1954
Austria December 1954
Finland 10 December 1954
Denmark  24 January 1955
France 13 April 1955
Portugal 2 May 1955
France 13 July 1955 (Paris)
France 7 November 2012 (3D digitally re-mastered)
USA 27 January 2013 (New York 3D digitally re-mastered)
I had this VHS as a kid!

Goodtimes Home Video                               
MCA Video 
Universal Home Video

Universal Home Video

Blu Ray:
Universal Home Video



David Reed:  An ichthyologist and a man of action!  Not only does this poor guy have to contend with The Gillman, but he's also gotta keep half an eye on the lecherous Mark Denning, who's got his greasy gaze on David's main squeeze, Kay.

Kay Lawrence:  The object of the bizarre love triangle that exists (kinda sorta) between David, Mark and The Gillman.  What's a girl to do?

Mark Denning:  David and Kay's boss, also financier of the expedition to The Black Lagoon and one hell of an evil lech.  Nice hair, though.

Carl Maia:  Found a fossilized (kinda) arm/hand belonging to an unknown species, so he went to David to put together an expedition to dig out the rest.  So basically, it's all Carl's fault.  That bastard.

Lucas:  The lovable boat captain!  Seriously, if I ever charter a boat on the Amazon, I want this guy.  He's like a grubby Popeye!

The Gillman:  The amphibious creature in question.  I always felt bad for him.  So first, a bunch of people come crashing into your back yard....shoot you, try to poison you, and then cage you!  THEN they get mad at you for attacking them.  Douche-bags!

Creature from the Black Lagoon is another film that instantly sparks childhood memories.  This one is another of the Universal flicks that my Aunt introduced me to.  I can quite vividly remember watching this one on a rainy Friday afternoon.  Aunt Patty was taking my sister and I for the weekend.  She took us to Plymouth Rock on Saturday so she picked us up on Friday so we could get an early start.  I think she was going to take us somewhere Friday afternoon as well, but it was raining, so instead we stayed in and watched movies.  I was completely enthralled with this movie and asked to borrow the movie so I could watch it again at home.  I must have watched that tape about thirty times over the next week or so.  That Christmas, I received my very own VHS copy, which still sits up in my old bedroom at my parent's house.

"Can we hold hands and sing Kumbaya?"

Creature from the Black Lagoon is 100% Universal monster matinee goodness.  Helping to bridge the gap between the moody Universal monsters of the years past (i.e, Frankenstein, Dracula, The Mummy) and the atomic age monster movies, The Gillman was at once ancient and modern...at once representing our primal ancestry and the mystique of unknown scientific advances that his study would provide.

Sure, on paper, Creature looks almost cookie cutter formulaic:  Scientist finds bizarre specimen, scientist gathers up expedition to find more specimens (or a complete specimen in this case), things go horribly wrong and monster wrecks havoc.  There is something within this film that sets it apart.  Maybe it's the humanistic element of the Creature.  Maybe it's because we feel sorry for him.....he didn't ask for these scientists to invade his home, after all.

It might help ya find The Gillman if ya turn that light on.....just sayin'.

There has been much talk about the scene in which Kay (the ever lovely Julie Adams) goes for a swim in the lagoon.  Unseen by her, The Creature swims alongside her, mirroring her.  There have been some that say that this scene is a metaphor for sexual intercourse.  Other's say that it's meant to show us the more humanistic side of The Creature and allow us to feel his longing for Kay.  I say poppycock.  Let's take a look at that scene, with the appropriate music:

See what I'm saying?  Complete stalker.  Only instead of lurking in alleyways and such, Ol' Gillman lurks in the seaweed, watching lustily as Kay swims seductively around the lagoon.  Now, for 1954 this scene WAS incredibly sexy and racy.  The swimsuit that Julie Adams wears was custom made for her, which revealed just a little more than your regular off the shelf swimsuits.  I'll be perfectly honest, I never really saw a King Kong/Fay Wray connection between Gillman and Kay or sense a Beauty and the Beast vibe.  It's primal....deep, dark, primal instinct.

They do keep some fresh sushi 'round here!

William E Snyder's cinematography is gorgeous and crisp, and the Lagoon is almost it's own character.....dripping with atmosphere.  The score is quite good as well, though it does become a bit grating when The Creature's theme plays EVERY SINGLE TIME HE APPEARS.  Maybe if it wasn't the same trumpet blast of three incremental notes it wouldn't have been so bad......other than that, the score was quite good.

Midnight Cinephile Tally:

Body Count:  5 Dead and one dude seriously maimed!

Boob Count:  No boobs, but we do get to see Julie Adams in her racy little swim outfit.

Beast Count:  One certified Gillman.

Final Thoughts:
This should be on any serious cinephile's list of must-see films.  Everything about this film works.  Maybe it's because of the first time I saw it, but Creature from the Black Lagoon remains one of my all time favorite "rainy day" movies.

Final Rating:
Five out of Five Pizza Rolls!


  1. Great post! I love this movie and I re-watch it about 2 to 3 times a year. Good pick and great pics too. Thanks!

  2. Hey Vic!

    Thanks so much! glad you liked it! Black Lagoon is one of my favorites!