John Ary's Aint It Scary Reviews #26 Of 31!! CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON!!
John Ary here with another installment of Ain’t It Scary Reviews. Today, we follow a scientific expedition that is stalked in the water by a prehistoric humanoid.
Many consider Creature from the Black Lagoon the last of the Universal Monsters. He’s the only one of the group that was never human. Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, and the Mummy all started out as regular people, turned into horrific creatures. The Gill-Man seems prehistoric, with a giant claws, superior resolve and an above average IQ. He’s not the kind of animal you want to piss off, but that’s what a scientific expedition does while exploring the Amazon in search of fantastic fossils and new geological discoveries.
We meet the team, each with their own reason for being there. There’s the doctor who loves science, his girlfriend that loves him, a scientist who wants to quickly cash in on the discoveries, the old river boat captain and so on. While going for a swim, the gill-man becomes fascinated with the beautiful Julie Adams. That’s when the face off between the humans on the river boat and the creature in the lagoon begins to get interesting.
The film works on several levels. One, it’s technically amazing. Imagine this as a 90-minute James Cameron project, but done in the fifties. The underwater filming is innovative and impressive. The amazing creature design is stunning in cinematographer William E Syder’s beautiful black and white imagery. The way the mouth moves while it walks on land... it’s perfect. It’s well-paced with action and psychology. I love how the monster and the riverboat crew have to not just out muscle each other, but also use their wits to get the advantage. They constantly swap roles between hunter and prey. Also, just like almost every big-budget studio tentpole of today, this film was shot and produced in 3-D. I would have loved to have seen an original print in the theater.
This film would later go on to spawn a couple of sequels and dozens of other man in suit b-movie spectacles. Those films couldn’t match the technical expertise of director Jack Arnold, the resources of Universal Pictures or the way the audience feels about the creature. I could understand why some horror fans look at him as the bad guy. He does kill several innocent people throughout. On the other hand, he’s protecting his habitat. That’s just another reason I think the monster works so well. I cared about him. I wanted him to live. I wanted him to kill the greedy scientist that shot him with a speargun. I wanted to him mate with Julie Adams, have little gill-man babies and live a long happy life in the Black Lagoon. Now that would be a hell of a sequel.
Creature from the Black Lagoon is streaming on Netflix. It’s also available on the new Universal Classic Monsters Blu-ray set here.
Check back in tomorrow for another Ain’t It Scary Review as the survivors of a crashed starship battle the reanimated corpses of their fallen crewmates.
Here’s a look back at the Ain’t It Scary Review installments that you might have missed:
The Ground Rules to the Project
#1 Son of Frankenstein
#2 Scream, Blacula, Scream!
#3 Black Sabbath
#5 Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon
#6 Invisible Invaders
#7 The Mummy’s Curse
#8 Lord of Illusions
#9 Night of the Demons
#10 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
#11 The House of the Devil
#12 Dr. Phibes Rises Again!
#14 The Catman of Paris
#17 Werewolf of London
#18 Tales from the Hood
#19 The Keep
#20 The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog
#22 Night of the Living Dead
#23 Pit and the Pendulum
#24 Tucker and Dale vs Evil
#25 The Stuff
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Oct. 26, 2012, 9:13 a.m. CST
by Lou Stools
Was HOT in this...like, Jennifer Connelly in her prime hot! Can't really say that about a whole lot of actresses of that time.
Oct. 26, 2012, 9:16 a.m. CST
by Talkbacker with no name
Oct. 26, 2012, 9:28 a.m. CST
by John Ary
I've missed you.
Oct. 26, 2012, 9:29 a.m. CST
...the soundtrack. The Creature has this overly-dramatic theme that blares at you EVERY time he's shown. It takes me out of the movie and actually makes me laugh at the ham-handedness. I'm really surprised Ary didn't mention that.
Oct. 26, 2012, 9:34 a.m. CST
by John Ary
The soundtrack didn't bother me at all. That style of scoring seemed to be the norm for that era's monster movies. I could see why those over-the-top stingers could take you out of the film though.
Oct. 26, 2012, 9:41 a.m. CST
I will partake. I love this movie.
Oct. 26, 2012, 10:05 a.m. CST
It was beautiful. Totally cosmic. This creature is imprinted on my mind as one of the iconic movie monsters. It was far out.
Oct. 26, 2012, 10:13 a.m. CST
To this day, the costume design is simply astounding. Even more so when you consider how technically difficult the construction of the suit must have been using 1950's materials and technology. And yes, Julie is probably one of the all-time hottest movie swimsuit beauties. Classic curves that make you want to drop to your knees and thank god you're a man.
Oct. 26, 2012, 10:39 a.m. CST
Anyone know what happened to the Universal update? Still swimming or did in sink into development abyss? Remembered there were some cool creature designs posted a while way back?
Oct. 26, 2012, 10:44 a.m. CST
I recently picked up the Universal Monsters Coffin box set on Blu Ray and the movie looks gorgeous, the 3D is actually pretty cool too.
by Bradly Durant
Oct. 26, 2012, 10:47 a.m. CST
... as part of the Universal horror screenings at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in LA (it was shown to a packed house, attended by the likes of grinning Guillermo del Toro...). It was absolutely superb; and though it may be difficult to believe, technically it stood up easily to today's standards. And, apart from an occasional spear gun being pointed at the viewer, it was used with great spatial subtlety. Sorry if you don't live in LA, but write your theater and beg them to screen a print; there's at least one out there!
Oct. 26, 2012, 10:50 a.m. CST
Oct. 26, 2012, 10:52 a.m. CST
Julie Adams was there, and was interviewed on stage (before a follow-up screening of "The Invisible Man."); and she's still a knockout! Interestingly, she didn't have very much to say about the shooting process; she preferred to talk , about the general Universal collegial vibe, and riding horses. Imagine that: you've been made an utter icon of beauty over decades, and by a film that you don't really seem to "get." Interesting, isn't it?
Oct. 26, 2012, 10:55 a.m. CST
It was INCREDIBLE! Also saw Revenge of the Creature that same night also in 3D. Wasn't that good... But the first one! OMG! My second best monster movie of all time, after King Kong (1933). 3d place: The 7th Voyage of Sinbad!...
Oct. 26, 2012, 10:57 a.m. CST
…are awesome! How could you not like them, lougarrick? It's all part of the old school 50s horror sci-fi. You should see some more. There was kind of a remake. Some scenes of Jaws are almost shot-for-shot.
Oct. 26, 2012, 11:17 a.m. CST
and I'll say it again: The Creature From The Black Lagoon is the best American monster EVER!!!! Love 'im! And really appreciate all the coverage he's been getting on this site!! Just sayin'
Oct. 26, 2012, 12:06 p.m. CST
by B Arnold Quizzling
Julia Adams is my all time favorite monster babe even beating out Beverly Garland. Julia was so friggin hot I think I will try and bust a nut even though my prostate is gone. YUM!
Oct. 26, 2012, 1:39 p.m. CST
Can't explain why, but they just do. Maybe it's because I'm a musician and the my ears are a little more sensitive to the score. I can't say I've seen a *lot* of 50s horror movies, although I've seen my fair share of schlock films. I love the flicks Elvira and MST3K used to show and I don't remember anything glaring like that.
Oct. 26, 2012, 1:53 p.m. CST
by Tom Fremgen
A classic Chicago TV moment- oui! :)
Oct. 26, 2012, 1:59 p.m. CST
I think one the big reasons is, as you observed, he was the only one who was never human. I also love the underwater sequences. The rich blackness in the water makes a beautiful contrast on film. Love it
Oct. 26, 2012, 2:16 p.m. CST
by Longtime Lurker
For the marvelous creature design. :)
Oct. 26, 2012, 4:49 p.m. CST
This format of allowing both a headline and message window is lame. State your peace in the headline and be done with it. And to all those self important nerds who post a partial sentence thinking we care enough about your little thoughts to click and rea
by Wacky Packages
Oct. 26, 2012, 6:11 p.m. CST
was her boyfriend. It was kinda weird, but, also, made my mom pretty cool. Especially since I'm a really big CFTBL fan. Nice review Jon. Keep 'em coming. You're one of the great reasons I keep coming back to AICN. Thanks!
Oct. 26, 2012, 6:49 p.m. CST
by John Ary
Many thanks my friend.
Oct. 26, 2012, 9:55 p.m. CST
Yaw come on down here and go swimm'n with me.
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