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Today is round #3 of our Classic bracket and I want to take a moment to clear something up. I originally stated that this bracket would consist of only Universal Monsters, from their old shared universe.
Correction, Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde is not part of the Universal Monster Universe. The film "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" was released by Paramount.
That being said, today we have 2 awesome competitors for you! Frankenstein’s Monster and Gil Man, AKA the Creature from the Black Lagoon! Let’s get to it!
Does this guy even need an introduction? One of, if not the most iconic face in horror is Boris Karlof as Frankenstein’s Monster. The image is emblazoned on t-shirts and posters across the world, to this day! The film “Frankenstein” was released in 1931 by Universal and spawned one of the most quoted lines in film... “It’s Alive!” (Admit it, you all used your “mad scientist” voice when you read that!)
Dr. Henry Frankenstein was obsessed. Not with science itself, but with the notion of creating life. In other words, he had quite the god complex. He worked feverishly until he succeeded, but he did succeed. He created a living being out of body parts gathered from fresh graves and hanged criminals.
Dr. Henry Frankenstein sent his hunchback assistant, Fritz to collect a brain for the monster. Only Fritz ends up dropping that brain, and with no chance of anything possibly going wrong, replacing it with the brain of a killer. This, of course, goes wrong, and after being misunderstood, rejected and feared he is hunted down and villagers and burned. That’s the Universal film's version. That’s the version you picture in your head and that’s the version that made the Monster so famous.
However, the film was based on a novel, Mary Shelley's “Frankenstein” or “The Modern Prometheus” and this tells a very, very different story. The description of the Monster, first of all, is not even close to the same. Apart from its size, it looked vastly different. Its skin was yellowish-brown, wrinkled and loose. It looked dead and decaying.
Frankenstein’s Monster was SMART! In the novel, it teaches itself to speak, and even write! That’s right! If you’re unfamiliar with the novel, this may be quite the shock! It learns two freaking languages! It’s even said he can move faster than the speed of an eagle and can swim the English channel. He is strategic and quite cunning, as well. In most cases for this bracket, I am taking all lore into account, but falling on the films as the main source. For Frankie (yes, we’re going to call him Frankie), I am only going to use the film.
The two versions are just too damn different to round it out. They're practically different monsters. Frankie is super strong, can withstand severe punishment, freezing temperatures, and most attacks. On top of that, he does massive damage! He is not mindless, and though he can speak, he does so very rarely. When he does speak though, you better listen. Because it’s usually something heavy, cryptic and double-edged. He does have weaknesses. For instance, he is afraid of (or doesn’t understand) fire. He’s slow (in the films) and he stands out in a crowd. Frankie isn't sneaking up on anybody… not happening. His main weakness though is his deep desire to belong. Poor Frankie…
Creature from the Black Lagoon (Gil Man)
I’ve got a soft spot for the Creature, always have. I was a little kid when I saw “Creature from the Black Lagoon.” What really started my love for Gil Man though, was Monster Squad. (Hey, I’m an ‘80s baby. Not my fault.) Universal’s “Creature from the Black Lagoon” came out in 1954… in 3D! It spawned 2 sequels, “Revenge of the Creature” (1955) and “The Creature Walks Among Us” (1956).
In the Amazon, Dr. Carl Maia (Antonio Moreno) and his party discover a skeletal fossil of a hand with webbed fingers dating back to the Draconian period, believed to be the link between sea and land animals. Things go awry when they stick around to investigate.
Gil Man sees them, and the curious Creature kills Carl’s assistants right after he leaves camp. (In fairness, they attacked him first.) Carl arrives back at Camp with his colleagues David (Richard Carlson), Mark (Richard Denning), Kay (Julie Adams), and ship Cpt. Lucas (Nestor Paiva). They realize the assistants have been killed and Lucas suggests it may have been a Jaguar. No one really buys it.
While looking for the remainder of the skeleton, Lucas mentions the “Black Lagoon.” A paradise no one ever returns from. Of course, they go to this place and are followed by Gil Man. They explore and collect samples and upon their return, Kay decides to go swimming. Because, why not. Obviously, the Creature stalks her from the shadows of the murky water.
After eventually kidnapping Kay, the Creature is tracked down and by David, Carl, and Lucas. Gil Man is filled with bullets and then sinks to the bottom of the Black Lagoon.
The creature is much stronger than your average man, and is able to toss a full-grown human around like a rag doll. It can travel on land but did not develop “lungs” until the 3rd film. (Outstandingly ridiculous film, by the way!) It has razor-sharp claws and teeth for days! Its senses are heightened, and it’s shown to be highly intelligent and intuitive.
Gil Man’s weaknesses limit him. He can take more damage than a normal man but is not impervious to attacks of any kind. He can be harmed, just like you or me. It might take a little extra oomph, but it can be done.
The Monster flees through the forest as 30 torches glow red behind him. Confused, alarmed and frightened, he runs. He goes as fast as he can, his sewn-together body bends unnaturally as he clunks along.
They hate him, and if he stops, they will kill him. Or at least, try. If he keeps going, it will never end. Only a matter of time until more people find him and chase him out of wherever he settles next. He’ll always be running. This is the choice his maker damned him with, the life he damned him with. The monster comes into a clearing and stops, suddenly decided.
He looks back, expecting a mob to descend upon him. Instead, there is nothing. The torches, now growing smaller and smaller as their respective holders’ head in the opposite direction. The Monster keeps walking, with nowhere to go but forward.
After a while he comes to a small body of water. It was murky and dark. Flowers lined the side of it. He likes flowers. They’re pretty. Not ugly like him. He bends down to examine one, lifting it out of the ground and smelling it gently. He throws it into the water. He then picks another, and another, tossing them into the water, too. A game he learned from a young girl. She was nice. He wonders why she didn’t come back to play again. Oh well…
He watches the ripples caused by the flowers hitting the water and moves closer, fascinated by it. He bends down, sticking his hand in the water, then removes it. He gazes into ripples again fascinated. As the ripples dissipate, a face becomes visible just below the surface. It’s green and covered in scales. Its eyes are inhuman.
It wasn’t home, but it will do. The water was dark, and the humans were scarce. Good enough for now, he thinks as swims through his new home. Hopefully, he can find peace here. Like he used to have. Before they came.
He hears the commotion from below the surface. He knows what it sounds like to be hunted. After all, that’s why he left the Amazon. Immediately he swims up to get a look. There’s a giant, man-like creature smelling the flowers just above the water. He imagines that’s who they were chasing. Heathens. Scared of something because it’s different. The thing seems gentile enough. He swims closer to the surface to get a better look. Maybe he can help.
Frankenstein’s Monster steps back, scared by the sight of the eyes in the water. The Creature emerges, water dripping from his body. His gills open and close as he walks towards the Monster. His wet claws glisten in the sun. Gil Man raises his hand, a gesture of peace.
Unsure of what this creature is, Frankenstein’s Monster becomes defensive immediately. He mistakes the upraised hand for an attack and grabs for the Creature’s appendage. CBL is fast and dodges the attack, unsure of the Monsters anger toward him.
This only enrages The Monster, who charges forward again, leaving the Creature with no choice but to attack. Gil Man’s claws go deep, cutting to the bone and exposing the rib cage on the right side. No blood comes from the wound. This confuses and alarms the Creature.
He pivots to the side as the Monster attacks again. His claws tear into the cold dead flesh again, this time slicing his right cheek wide open. A flap of skin hangs from the Monsters face like a forgotten hangnail as lets out a yell in frustration.
He runs at Gil Man again. Anger fills his eyes as he closes in. This thing was just going to keep coming back. Time for plan b. He taunts the monster as he maneuvers himself into place. Goading him to charge again.
Frankie takes the bait and barrels toward the Creature, enraged. The Creature moves to the side, attempting to shove the Monster into the water. His push isn’t enough to knock the monster off balance, however, and Frankie grabs a hold of the Creatures arm, ripping it from the body.
The Creature screams out in pain, then slashes the Monster across the chest. It attacks again, opening Frankie’s other cheek. The Monster feels nothing as the Creature slashes away with his one good arm. Still, the behemoth refuses to go down.
Frankenstein’s Monster lifts the Creature by the head with both hands, picking him up off the ground like a small child. The Creature flails and swings his claws but the pressure building against his cranium is immense. He tries lifting his arm again, but it is incapable of doing so. His vision fades fast. He thinks of the Amazon, his home and how he was chased from it. He thinks of how he will never be accepted in this world, not by them, and wonders if this monster is providing him a mercy.
The world around him blackens. There’s an audible crack, then squishing sound as his skull collapses beneath the raw strength of the Monster’s hands. The limp body of the Creature falls to the ground, discarded like a toy that has lost its interest.
Completely unaware of their similarities and the irony in what he had done, Frankenstein’s Monster walks slowly to the edge of the water, picking one last flower. He throws it in and watches the ripples as they fade away.
Was anybody else rooting for them to become friends? There is almost a poeticness in the outcome here. Both just want to be accepted. In the end, Frankie misjudged the Creature, just as the people he's grown to hate have misjudged him.
I did say I have a soft spot for CBL but come on. There’s just no way he bests Frankie. Not even toned down “movie Frankie.” Sure, CBL could get him in the water. In all fairness though, I’m not even sure that would stop Frankenstein’s Monster. It would take quite the punch or clever planning to get the big guy off his feet.
For me it came down to the fact that while I was writing this, I just couldn’t come up with a logical and believable way for CBL to win this fight. I couldn’t see it. Every possible scenario I played out in my head, ended with a win for Frankie! I knew this would be a close-up fight. No teleporting or tricks to be played. I wanted this one to be less cat and mouse and more toe to toe. In my opinion, this is how it would play out. Badly for CBL. Sorry, I still love you!
What do you think? Am I way off here? Does CBL have what it takes to put the big guy down? Yell at me in the comments and don’t forget to upvote your favorite fighter! Don’t miss next week’s fight, round #4 of our Classic bracket! The Wolf Man VS the Mummy! Who’s your money on? Thanks for reading and until next time, keep on geekin’ on my friends!
Joshua “Prometheus” Scafidi