While investigating a remote area of the Amazon, a team of geologists stumble upon the Creature From the Black Lagoon.
While looking at fossils around the Amazon, the fossilized hand of a missing link between land and sea creatures is found. Doctors Carl Maia (Antonio Moreno) and David Reed (Richard Carlson), and Mark Williams (Richard Denning) decide to travel back to the area to search for more fossilized skeletal remains along with Reed’s girlfiend, Kay Lawrence (Julie Adams) and another scientist named Edwin Thompson (Whit Bissell). After returning to the site and finding the research team has been killed, the group comes upon the eponymous Creature AKA the Gill Man.
Universal horror films are the watermark (pun intended) for the genre and by 1954, Creature From the Black Lagoon was not only horror but branching into the increasingly popular science fiction genre. The result could easily have been sloppy or silly but it’s actually quite intense. Out of the entire Universal stable, I’ve always had a strong fondness for the Gill Man. The effects used in the costume are still pretty damn good and he is still a unique monster today.
What makes Creature From the Black Lagoon perhaps most impressive to me is that it was originally released in 3D using polarized lenses (essentially the same technology used now) but also largely shot underwater. The Gill Man is obviously a man in a suit but he is supposed to be the missing link, he is humanoid but still totally unearthly and menacing. Actually, there were two Gill Man suits, one for underwater and one for land, each with a different actor inside. It’s not something easily spotted in the movie but there are some slight differences between the costumes and the two actors were very different heights.
I watched Creature From the Black Lagoon as part of the Universal Classic Monsters blu-ray set and it does not disappoint. Not only is it presented in 3D (and also 2D) but the special features are incredibly interesting. The soundtrack is lossless and helps create a huge amount of tension and the picture is, of course, amazing. Even if you’ve seen Creature From the Black Lagoon a dozen times before, I would definitely recommend the blu-ray as the way to watch it.
While Creature From the Black Lagoon obviously takes a backseat to Dracula and Frankenstein, I would argue that the film should be held with the same esteem as those that came before it. The story is simple almost to a fault and there are certainly parts that could be laughed at now, but Gill Man poses a threat that Dracula and Frankenstein’s Monster simply don’t, at least for me. Creature From the Black Lagoon may not be technically one of the best movies ever made but it’s still one of my favorite monster movies.
I give it 4 stop-motion fan clips out of 5.