Wednesday, September 05, 2007
The Creature from the Black Lagoon!
I've written here before about "The Creature from the Black Lagoon," especially after watching it on TCM or one of the other movie channels you get with basic cable.
It's funny, but I think a lot of people tend to group the Creature in with the other classic Universal Monsters (such as Dracula, the Frankenstein Monster, the Wolf Man, and the Mummy), but it was really part of a different era, in my opinion. Of course, Universal's done its share of work to group the Creature with the rest!
But the classic monsters were products of the 30s and 40s, while the Creature was absolutely part of the 50s... perhaps not part of the atomic monster stage of monster movies (i.e. "Them!", "Tarantula," etc.), but still too late to be a last gasp of the classic monsters. I suspect that because the Creature had a few sequels, plus he's more or less man-sized, it's convenient to group him in with the others. (There were other movies with "classic" monsters from Universal in the 50s, but they were the Abbott & Costello Meet... series)
Anyway... from what I've read, I believe there were actually two different Creature costumes, as well as two people playing the Creature... one actor and costume was used for underwater sequences, while the other was used for out-of-water stuff. There are some subtle and not-so-subtle differences between them, but it's more fun to look for them yourself.
In case you've never seen it, the basic premise is that an archaeological expedition in South America finds the fossilized remains of a creature that seems to be a missing link between aquatic and surface life... or perhaps between man and fish. It's suggested that more fossils might be discovered in the area of The Black Lagoon, and an expedition is set out to look for more. Of course, nobody suspects that there could possibly be any surviving members of this species still around!
The Gill Man, as he's been referred to in some texts, is apparently the last of his kind... putting a bit of an ecological spin on things here. One wonders just how long ago the other members of his species passed on, as well as what it was that caused his species to become extinct! It's actually some of this thinking that's got me wondering if it would be possible to not only remake this movie today, in a modern setting (using the destruction of the rain forests and mass extinction of unknown species and plants in South America and other places), and possibly be able to make one of those rarities... a remake that's better than the original!
Back to the movie... apparently the Creature is a very territorial beast (maybe this is why the species started dying off; battles for prime feeding grounds?), as the incursion by humans gets its dander up, and it starts attacking people with no other provocation (if it was remade, I could see it first perhaps attacking fishermen who drag a net from a boat to make their catch, putting them in competition with the Creature for food).
By the time the expedition arrives, the people they're supposed to meet are all dead, leaving the captain of the little ship they arrived in, four scientists (two of whom are more or less competing for the affections of one other, played by the lovely miss Julie Adams).
Of course, the Creature becomes intersted in her, too... so apparently females of his species must've had curves, or otherwise were in some way reminiscent of human females, because why else would he seek her as his mate?
There are quite a few twists and turns in the storyline once the party realizes the Creature exists... sometimes it seems to be getting the better of them, and sometimes the tables are turned!
As with so many classic monsters, the Creature more or less plants the seeds for his own defeat...
...it's his aggressive pursuit of the babelicious Miss Adams, and kidnapping of same, that really gets the hero's dander up, and causes him to hunt the Creature down!
The Creature would return in two sequels, neither of which I've ever seen, Revenge of the Creature, and The Creature Walks Among Us. In the latter film, the Creature is captured and has surgery performed on it to make it more human!